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Growing Fruit

Fruit is an appealing crop to grow, especially in summer when an abundance of soft fruiting berries are available and can be picked and eaten fresh from the plant. If you have space to spare you could plant different varieties to have fruit all year around.

Why would I grow my own fruit when such a wide range is available in supermarkets?

Fruit picked straight from the plant, with
the warmth of the sun still on it, is one
of the garden’s finest offerings.

There are many good reasons for growing your own fruits. Commercial fruit growers concentrate their efforts on varieties that produce uniform crops that will travel well and have a long shelf-life. But many varieties do not store well and need to be eaten straight from the plant, making them ideal for home growing. Additionally, much fruit sold in supermarkets is imported and has travelled hundreds, even thousands, of miles. Any gardener concerned with their carbon footprint is likely to prefer locally grown produce. Home grown has the best flavour of all.

Which are the best fruits for a sunny, sheltered garden?

If your garden is sheltered, it is well worth trying to grow fruits such as peaches, apricots, figs and some of the pears that need considerable warmth to ripen the fruits adequately. You may still need to protect the blossom, which opens early in the year, often coinciding with hard frosts.

Which fruits can I grow in a cool garden?

Certain fruits appreciate cool conditions. Blackberries and the hybrid berries (for example, loganberries and tayberries) do well in damp climates. The morello cherry can be trained against a cool wall. Alpine strawberries do well in shade. All fruit need some sun to ripen fully.

Do any fruits need special soil conditions?

A well-drained, fertile soil suits the majority of fruiting plants. Blueberries, however, must have acid soil. If you garden on alkaline soil, they can be grown successfully in containers filled with an ericaceous (acid) potting mix such as is used for rhododendrons, camellias and other acid-loving plants. Cranberries grow wild in acidic bogs, which are difficult conditions to replicate in most domestic gardens 

Should I water my fruit plants?

All new plantings should be kept well watered during their first growing season to make sure they establish properly. Thereafter, supplementary watering is necessary only during periods of drought in the summer.

Should I feed fruiting plants?

Regular applications of garden fertilizers are beneficial. Most products recommended for fruiting plants are high in potassium (K), as this ensures good flowering and fruiting. Fork fertilizer around the base of plants 
in mid-spring, with a second dose in mid-summer. A third application 
in late summer can help firm woody growth, improving the plant’s hardiness. Mature trees such as apples can crop well without extra feeding.