Growing Fruit

January 19, 2009

A wonderful list of soft fruits that can be easily grown in containers...

The subject of growing fruit is one I have barely touched on – and I think it’s one that even people who enjoy growing some salads and tomatoes tend to turn away from, thinking it’s all too complicated.
Gardening books can make the topic of growing fruit seem overly specific, engendering fear in would-be fruit growers. There is the worry that if you don’t know the exact routine, nothing will happen.
Well, it isn’t true. Plants will grow, flower & fruit, it’s in their nature.
Gardening books divide fruit into soft & hard, which more or less means bushes or trees.
Today I’ll focus on bushes. There is a wonderful list of soft fruits that can be easily grown in containers or in the garden – blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, red, black and white currants, blueberries, grapes, kiwi fruit and strawberries are the most common and satisfying to grow.
There are varieties of each of these which have been selectively bred to produce bigger, better fruit and its worthwhile finding out what is especially good in your part of the world.
Nature Hills nursery in the US has a great website which features a map of the growing zones and a plant finder to locate which plants are suitable for each zone – from small fruits and fruit trees to roses and vines – a great place to start!
The only thing a first time grower has to think about is that many of these fruits prefer an ‘acid’ soil to an alkaline one, which is why it can be a good idea to grow young fruit bushes in containers – that way you can choose the compost they are planted in – and if you do plant in the ground you will have the best results if you adjust the soil around the plants to suit their needs.
When you have thought what fruit you would like to eat (and of course, whether it can be grown where you live) start with two or three large pots or containers (unless you are lucky enough to have a planned space in a garden) and choose some nice young bushes (often they will look like a healthy handful of twigs) from your local garden shop or center.
Be kind to your new fruit bush.
If you can’t plant straightaway, then keep its roots good and damp in some cool place until ready.
Plants these days often come with basic instructions and you’ll find that gardening friends are often very willing to advise.
Next week I’ll write more about planting and pruning.
Happy horticulture,