Apricots require a
soil containing plenty of lime and so grow best
in a limestone soil. Where this is not possible,
give the soil a liberal dressing of hydrated lime
or lime rubble (mortar) and the plants a handful
of bone meal at planting time. This slow-acting
nitrogenous fertiliser will encourage the formation
of new wood. This is important, for apricots have
a tendency to suffer from ‘die back’,
in which established shoots, for no apparent reason,
die back entirely.
Plant in autumn against a warm wall. Fan-trained
trees give the best results with this fruit. Plant
at least 5.5m (18ft) apart, for they make long
shoots. Allow the main shoots to grow on, pinching
back the side growths in summer to about 5cm (2in).
Though self-fertile, apricots will set a better
crop if hand-fertilised. This is done by dusting
each flower with a camel-hair brush as they open.
Hand-fertilising is essential for those grown
indoors. Apricots flower early and if they are
grown against an outside wall, it is advisable
to hang muslin over the plants as soon as the
blooms begin to open.
When the fruits have set and have started to swell,
thin them to three in a cluster and to about 8cm
(3in) apart as they make size, removing perhaps
the centre one. Allow the fruit to become fully
ripe before removing it with care to trays lined
with a layer of cotton wool.
Apricots fruit on the old and new wood. To prevent
overcrowding, remove the old spurs after the plants
have borne fruit on them for two years.
The plants will benefit from a mulch of strawy
manure each season in early summer. Once the fruit
has set never allow the trees to go short of moisture
at the roots.