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If your fruit trees aren’t bearing fruit, then you may have problems with cross pollination. Some varieties won’t fruit unless they can be cross pollinated with another variety. Cross pollination occurs when bees carry the male gametes (pollen grains) to the female gametes (ovules) from one tree to another. But with some fruit varieties, male and female trees are required so nature can takes its course.

Other creatures also carry pollen, such as wasps, butterflies, hummingbirds and fruit bats. But bees are by far the most efficient. A study by the University of Bristol in 2015 showed that other carriers were not as successful as bees. So if you have male and female trees and still no fruit, it may be that you need bees in your orchard.

The trees that require cross pollination are apples, pears, cherries and plums. If you are planning to put in new trees, check with your neighbors to see what varieties they may be growing. You may not need to plant more than one variety of a fruit if cross pollination can occur from your neighbors’ trees.

Even then, it is not as simple as just planting two different varieties. Depending on the variety that is your first choice, you will need to choose another variety that cross pollinates successfully with yours.

For example, the Jonathan apple will cross pollinate with a Granny Smith, and these are actually two of the best apple varieties to plant, as you will have apples for eating and apples for cooking that are compatible with each other. If you want two varieties of eating apples, Gold Delicious will cross pollinate with Jonathan.

Cherries that are not self-fertile may require more than one variety for pollination. Other varieties, happily, are self-fertile and do not require cross pollination to bear fruit. These include the popular Celeste and Sweetheart. Before you plunge in and buy a young tree, check with your supplier whether your favorite variety is self-fertile or needs one or more different varieties for cross pollination.

The Japanese plum variety Satsuma is an excellent cross pollinator with other varieties such as Santa Rosa, Mariposa and the thrillingly named Ruby Blood. If you want to grow European plums, they won’t cross pollinate with the Japanese, but most European plums will cross pollinate with each other.

Pears require a lot of cross pollination to bear fruit. You will need two different trees at the least, and as they grow to around 40ft, you should choose dwarf varieties for a small garden. Cross pollination is an issue, as most insects are not attracted to pear blossom. So a good supply of bees is a priority if you want good fruit.

Just remember, a thriving orchard needs sunshine, good drainage, fresh air and bees – lots and lots of busy bees.

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Five of the Best (Free!) Things to Do in Paris

Winter may be your only time to travel, but it is also a great time of year to avoid crowds and the high costs that come with being a tourist. And despite its expensive reputation, Paris is a diverse modern city with a variety of delights to see – even in winter. Whatever you’re into, a memorable trip to the French capital doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Go ahead, call up your farm sitter and plan your trip using our suggested list of things to see and do. Check the weather, pack your bags accordingly and you’ll be sipping on mulled wine and shopping in no time, or bringing in the new year with parades, fireworks and champagne!

Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris

The world famous Notre Dame Cathedral is a stunning example of some of Europe’s finest Gothic architecture. While it costs to climb the 422 tower steps to see the incredible view over Paris, the rest of the cathedral is free to enter.

You can also appreciate the architecture at a leisurely pace via a walk along the Seine or from the park at the rear of the building. Notre Dame is an iconic symbol of Paris and is generally considered essential viewing by most visitors to the city.

Parc du Champ de Mars

Stretching out southeastwards from the base of the Eiffel Tower, the Parc du Champ de Mars offers visitors a free alternative experience of the tower by avoiding the costly lift to the top. Named after the Roman god of war, the park was formerly used as a marching ground for the French military but now provides unparalleled views of the Eiffel Tower for tourists and locals.

Take a picnic and some drinks and relax in the shadow of one of the world’s most recognizable and well-loved structures. There are very few places in the world that rival the view looking up from the Parc du Champ de Mars.

Belleville

The streets of Paris are a warren filled with chic and interesting delights. Take a stroll around the district of Belleville to experience the rebellious and multicultural culture and history of its people. Grab some lunch in Chinatown and then visit the spot where Edith Piaf is thought to have been born. The vibrant history and atmosphere of Belleville is found on every street corner and splashed across many walls in the form of sensational street-art. When you tire of district’s lively streets you can take a break in the Parc de Belleville to take the weight off with a lovely view of the city.

Musée de la Vie Romantique

Situated at the base of Montmartre hill in the 9th arrondissement, the Museum of Romantic Life is dedicated to the life and works of writer George Sands and painter Ary Scheffer. The permanent exhibitions are free to enter and offer a well organised and fascinating look into works of the Romantic period.

The museum is set in Scheffer’s picturesque former home and visitors can enjoy a bite to eat in the charming garden cafe in the warmer months. For a romance themed getaway in the world’s most romantic city, a stop at the Musée de la Vie Romantique is the perfect way to kill a few hours.

Canal St-Martin

The tree-lined Canal St-Martin is the ideal place to take a stroll or to watch boats potter by on any stretch of the 4.6-kilometer canal which was constructed under the orders of Napoleon I in 1802. The canal’s quaysides make for a perfect chill-out spot all through the week, but especially so on Sundays when they’re closed to cars.

Locals and visitors can be found relaxing along the edges of the canal enjoying a drink and a bite to eat, so it’s a great place to soak up some authentic Parisian atmosphere at zero financial cost. The canal stretches across much of the city, so it can be used as an idyllic thoroughfare to and from many places throughout Paris.

Contrary to some opinions, the varied and impressive history of France’s number one city can be experienced without paying a small fortune. The city’s world famous landmarks can be viewed and the streets can be explored without breaking the bank. In a city known around the globe for its culture and sophistication, the savvy traveller need only spend a little time planning ahead of time to enjoy all the tremendous attractions Paris has to offer for little or no cost. The city of love is a lot more accessible than you think!


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