Cherry wine. Cherry liqueur. Cherry beer. It’s one of the booze maker’s favourite fruits, but we’ve not grown a single plump red cherry ourselves.* This year it’s time to put that right.
Since moving house, I’ve had a space at out front earmarked for a cherry tree and, while it’s still officially winter, now is a good time to plant one. I just had one decision to make: should I go for a sweet variety or sour?
It turned out that decision was as easy as plucking cherries from a tree – thanks to the genius of grafting I can have two varieties growing from the same rootstock. My new ‘duo fruit tree’, dispatched by online plant retailers yougarden.com, will give me both the bright red sweet variety ‘cherry stella’, perfect for plucking and munching in one swoop; and cook’s favourite ‘morello’, the deep red juice-giver that has launched a thousand pies.
Both varieties are ‘self fertile’, meaning they don’t need another tree nearby to help them with pollination. Everything happens within the one tree. I have hit the fruit tree jackpot.
The tree was supplied as ‘bare root’ – naked of mud, dry, and trimmed ready to be lowered into its new home. Before the roots made their acquaintance with fresh compost they received a two hour soaking in water to help get liquid goodness flowing in the right direction. The hole I dug for them was twice the size of the roots which, when filled with tree and earth, was firmed in with a few weighty clumps of my boot before getting another good soaking with water. It can get a bit windy at the front of my house so the tree has been secured to an oversized stake to give it a bit more security.
I’m hoping it won’t be long before the famously attractive blossom begins to divert eyes from the shabby pebble-dashing up the front of my house, and according to the website I can even expect a small harvest this year.
Then the next decision will be wine, liqueur or beer…
*Our book contains a recipe for ‘fortified cherry wine’. It’s delicious. We bought the cherries from the greengrocers.
Thanks to yougarden for the offer of a tree to try out. You can find out more about their cherry duo tree here.