I’m really happy to introduce a guest blogger onto my Grow & Eat series.
Vicki Munro is an Art Director by day and a letterpress printer by night and she grows cherries on a wonderful sounding plot in Tadcaster.
Over to you, Vicki!
I live in Tadcaster, a brewery town, and a lot of the allotments here are owned by Sam Smith’s Brewery. Sam Smiths was founded in Tadcaster in 1758 and in many ways they still do things the old fashioned way. Like deliver their ale to the many local pubs on a trailer pulled by Shire horses and charge their allotment tenants an old fashioned £9.50 per year, with as much horse manure from those Shire horses as you can shovel!
We got our plot about 5 years ago. It’s huge, it was knee deep in weeds but it’s in a lovely spot with walls on 3 sides which trap the heat. I had absolutely no knowledge of gardening, having only grown a few salad leaves in a pot in my back yard before. I just read a lot of books and got stuck in.
A year or so after clearing the weeds I planted a few fruit trees. 2 apple and a cherry. We aren’t allowed to grow fruit trees that will grow any taller than 8 feet so this restricts us to growing dwarf root stock trees. There’s a few varieties of cherry to choose from on a dwarf root but I went for ‘Celeste’, purely because it had the words ‘easy’ and ‘sweet’ on the label.
I dug a hole, planted it and waited 18 months for something to happen. We got 3 whole cherries the first in year but wow, did they taste good. The next year we got about 9. The birds got a greater share so there began what has become known as the ‘cherry fortress challenge’. Crudely constructed structures made from cane, nets and egg custard tin foils. They’ve worked, to varying dregrees with a greater crop year on year. This year’s fortress is worthy of an architecture award. Erected after the bees had had their fun, but before the birds got greedy. And this year we’ve had a great crop. Tasty, sweet, deep red cherries. We picked the last today.
Up to now I’ve never pruned the tree. I have the fear of doing it wrong and never seeing a cherry again but I think I’ll have to build up some courage this autumn. This year we’ve also had a problem with black fly. They attack the leaves at the end of branches and the leaves turn brown and curl. I was advised to spray the leaves with diluted washing up liquid. I thinking it’s working. I’ve also planted a second cherry tree alongside it.
I’m sure there’s loads of lovely recipes you could enjoy with cherries but ours never get that far. I just love to eat them out of a bowl, there’s something about it that reminds me of sitting in the garden with my grandad and eating his cherries.
If we get a super huge crop next year I’d like to make jam or cherry scones. I also had a lovely chat with a National Trust gardener about cherry vodka. I like the sound of that!
Thank you so much to Vicki for joining me on Margot & Barbara. If you’d like to follow Vicki’s letterpress work, visit Porch Press.
If you’d like to be a contributor to Grow & Eat, please do get in touch.
And do let me know what you’re growing and eating in the comments!