Harvest: July – August
Conditions: Full sun, well-drained soil.
A cherry tree is a wonderful addition to any garden because not only are they hardy, productive and come in self-pollinating varieties, but they’re also beautiful in flower. Cherry trees will flower between April – May each year but may not begin fruiting until the third year, so if you’re buying a tree, you might want to get one that’s already two years old.
The first thing to do is make sure you buy a fruiting cherry tree like ‘Stella’ or ‘Sunburst’, rather than an ornamental one that will only flower. Plant the tree in a deep hole filled with lots of rotted compost and make sure you stake the tree as they will need support as they grow.
Cherry trees can grow up to 20ft tall so check the variety and rootstock before choosing your tree. Many varieties are surface rooting too, which can be a problem if you plant them near a lawn or too near the house. You could put your tree in a pot but, depending on the size, it’s likely to become rootbound in a few years and require planting out.
If you buy a dwarf or compact variety, you could keep your cherry tree in a large pot for a long time – they’ll need a larger pot that most fruit trees (approx. 18 inches across). Use a soil-based, multipurpose compost and as with all pots, keep an eye on the watering. However, as overwatering is a common cause of death for container-grown plants, it’s a good idea to vermiculite or bark to provide drainage and never let the .
An important thing to remember is that trees grown in pots will definitely staking for support on account of the restricted space for root growth. It’s a good idea to re-pot the tree every couple of years in order to replace the compost and trim off any large roots.
Freezing – wash the cherries and remove the stones, then lay them in a single layer on a baking tray and freeze. You can put them into a bag or container once frozen.
Dry – If you have a food dehydrator, you can dry cherries, just wash and pit them first.
Preserving – Check out our recipes for cherry jam and brandied cherries.
GOOD: Garlic, Onion, Nasturtium
BAD: Potato (There’s some debate on this – some say it’s good and some say it’s bad. Best avoided, just to be on the safe side.)