Fruit trees are wonderful things to have in your garden. From apples and pears to cherries, plums and damsons, they’re Mother Nature’s very own sweets stash.
Of course, you can eat the fruit in its natural state. You can also make cakes, pies, preserves and pickles. There’s only one obstacle to overcome before you can get started in the kitchen: you need to get the ripe fruit off the tree.
Here are the various ways you can go about it.
Use a fruit picking tool
If you have a tall fruit tree in your garden, you need to invest in a manual fruit picker. They’re widely available and come in handy year after year. This garden tool looks a little like a rake with its prongs forming a circle and a little basket made from cloth, wire or plastic basket attached to a long (and often telescopic) pole.
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They’re easy to use too.
All you do is extend the pole until the basket is underneath the piece of fruit you wish to pick. Then jiggle it around until you’ve caught the apple, pear or whatever safely in the basket. It’s time-consuming and tiring but well worth it if you want to harvest your fruit without damaging it in the process.
Use a tripod ladder (aka orchard ladder)
Climbing up a bog-standard ladder to try and pick fruit from a tall tree is something I don’t recommend! You’re asking for trouble.
Instead, consider buying a tripod ladder. These babies are perfect for working on your own to reach the tops of tall trees. They have a wide base area on the rung-side and a third leg on the opposite side to create the tripod effect and provide extra support.
Tripod ladders tend to come in different heights with extendable/adjustable legs.
Have a quick watch of the video below to see a set by Henchman in action.
- Tripod Garden Ladders with built-in Platform by Henchman 8' - (2.4m) All 3 Legs Fully Adjustable. Three adjustable legs allow for level and stable steps on very uneven or sloping terrain.
- Uniquely, all Henchman Tripods include the 7" deep "Platform" rung for safety and comfort. Tuck your legs in, gain added support against your thighs, without hitting shins on rung above. Top rail for...
- Wide, clawed feet are designed to "grab" soft ground and so prevent slipping or sudden sinking. The 3-leg 'milking stool' principle makes it impossible to wobble and extremely difficult to topple....
Pick on the ground
Obviously, you can pick the low hanging fruit without much trouble and without getting off the ground, perhaps using a step stool or sturdy kitchen ladder for assistance to help reach up a little higher.
Don’t forget that overripe crops will fall to the ground of their own accord, so do check for usable fruit lying below. You could also give the tree a good shake to encourage it to jettison more ripe fruit.
Yes, the crops may be bruised and therefore may not keep for long, but unless anything is actually rotting or full of worms, it may be perfectly OK to use in many delicious recipes.
Climb up and pick
If you’re physically nimble (or have a little helper who is), and depending on the structural shape of the tree in question, you may be able to climb up and pick fruit straight off the tree.
Don’t try to be a hero though; only climb into the tree if it’s safe to do so.
To collect up the picked fruit, take a bucket or long-handled bag with you and wedge it in between the branches or hang it from a sturdy branch.
It’s advisable to have a second person on the ground on standby for assistance, so he can point out the location of any fruit you have failed to spot, and to catch any falling fruit, or the bucket – but hopefully not the climber!
Video: How to use a Fruit Picker to Pick Fruit on Tall Trees
Source: Huws Nursery
Rent a cherry picker
If you have several tall fruit trees in your garden or even an orchard, why not save yourself an awful lot of time and use a cherry picker? Also known as boom lifts, elevated work platforms or basket cranes, they were designed to – you’ve guessed it – pick cherries.
These days, these high level powered access platforms mounted onto trucks are mainly used for commercial maintenance. From window cleaning and roof & gutter work to tree surgery, construction and overhead power cable repairs, cherry pickers can enable operatives to work at height without fear.
Whether you’re hiring one for picking cherries, plums or pears, the boom arm has a people basket (or another safe platform) at the end and can lift and manoeuvre you safely to the top of the highest tree where we all know the sweetest fruit is always to be found!