Ask Monty Don: How can I encourage my pear tree to produce more fruit?

Pears on Tree

The best time to prune a pear tree is either in July or August

Q I have a very productive pear tree and, in 2008, I pruned it back hard.

Since then it has produced a lot of new wood but much less fruit.

How can I encourage it to fruit more?

Brian Cooper, Leamington spa, Warwickshire 

 A I rather suspect that you pruned it in winter, whereas the best time to prune a pear tree is either in July or August.

Pears are produced on spurs that only develop in the second and third year of a new shoot. So leave some of the new growth to develop fruiting spurs and then remove the excess this summer. 

Q Recently, I discovered extensive little pockets and runs on my back lawn, which have been made by some small animal  -  mice, I think, judging from the droppings. Could they be field mice from the wood next door?

Mrs Brigid Fladgate, Kinross, Scotland

 A  What you are describing are the result not of field mice, but voles, which can be a severe problem. They will eat bulbs, roots, seeds and flower buds, and gnaw bark.

The short-tailed field vole tends to follow lemming-like population explosions, causes huge damage, and then eats itself out of house and home.

As far as repairing the lawn goes, rake it with a wire rake to gather all loose material, then fill the holes with a mixture of sharp sand and potting compost  -  rake it level and thinly sow grass seed over the bare patches.

QCan moss go in a compost bin?

Sue Coster, Oxford 

 A Yes! the rule is that anything that has lived will make compost  -  except meat and fats.

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