Gardening with Children

Family Zone

Why not grow your own fruit this year, have a look at our guide to getting started

Date Posted: 01 January 2015

Last year was an exceptionally good year for fruit, if you want to grow your own now is the ideal time to start planning and planting.

Bare Root plants ideally should be planted November-March but not when the ground is waterlogged or frozen, container grown plants can be planted at any time of the year if the weather is suitable.

Wheelchair Easy Access Raised Beds - Adults

Preparing the Bed

If possible choose a sunny, sheltered site which isn’t prone to waterlogging, if this is a problem grow in Raised Beds which have improved drainage, a few weeks before planting your fruit trees/bushes dig over the bed incorporating compost, well-rotted manure or garden compost, remove any weeds or large stones and sprinkle a general fertilizer on the surface. To protect your fruit crop from birds and animals consider planting your fruit bushes/canes inside a fruit cage, this will also protect any vegetable crops too.

Mycorrhizal fungi

Mycorrhizal funghi is a natural organism that has been present in the soil for thousands of years it has a symbiotic relationship with plants enabling them to extract nutrients and hold onto water, especially in poor soil conditions, by extending the plants natural root system. One application, when planting, is all that you will need, your plants will benefit from better growth, a healthier and denser root system which will absorb nutrients faster and more efficiently, more flowers and fruit, they will establish faster after planting and will be able to cope with drought better. When planting, Mycorrhizal funghi should be applied directly on the roots or at the bottom of the planting hole so that it comes into contact with the roots.

Raspberries

Raspberries are available container-grown or bare-root, there are two types available:

Summer Fruiting - these will have fruit July-August

Autumn Fruiting - these will fruit August-October depending on the variety

having both types will give you a long cropping season, but bear in mind Summer varieties will be at their best during the school summer holidays.

Raspberries need to be replanted to the same depth that they were grown at, look for the soil mark on their stems. Dig a shallow hole about 30cm wide and 3cm deep, spread the roots out and fill in with soil and some compost/well-rotted manure, firming it down around the roots, removing any air pockets, allow 45-60cm between plants and 1.8m between rows, water in well even if the ground is wet, prune the cane to about 30cm high, above a bud, you do not need to prune newly planted container grown varieties.  Next year’s new canes will need tying in to a support or frame to prevent wind damage.

Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants

Available to buy container-grown or bare root, to plant bare root plants dig a hole wide enough for the roots to spread out, the old soil mark on the stem needs to be at least 5cm deeper than it was originally, planting deeper encourages young vigorous shoots to grow from the base of the plant. Backfill the hole with the soil and some compost/well-rotted manure, firm in well and water. Prune all the stems down to 3-5cm above the soil above a bud, allow 1.5m between plants and rows.

Redcurrant bush

Red and Whitecurrants

Although closely related to Blackcurrants they are grown more like Gooseberries, available either container-grown or bare root. To plant bare root plants dig a hole wide enough for the roots to spread out, they need to be replanted at the same depth that they were grown in, look for the soil mark on their stems, pull off any suckers that are below the soil level, backfill the hole with the soil and some compost/well-rotted manure, firm in well and water. Prune back to the stem any branches that are less than 15cm above the soil level, cut back the rest of the stems by half their length to an upward facing bud, allow 1.5m between plants and rows.

Burgon & Ball Berry Picker

Gooseberries

Gooseberry bushes have large thorns on their stems it is advisable to wear the correct gloves when handling, planting, pruning and picking the fruit. Available either container-grown or bare root, to plant bare root plants dig a hole wide enough for the roots to spread out, they need to be replanted at the same depth that they were grown in, look for the soil mark on their stems pull off any suckers that are below the soil level. Backfill the hole with the soil and some compost/well-rotted manure, firm in well and water. Prune back to the stem any branches that are less than 15cm above the soil level, cut back the rest of the stems by half their length to an upward facing bud, allow 1.5m between plants and rows.

Blackberries and Hybrid Berries

There is a lot more choice than just the humble Blackberry now that breeders have been crossing them with Raspberries and Dewberries to produce Loganberries, Tayberries and Boysenberries to name a few, each one has a different flavour and growing habit, some varieties are completely thornless and ‘child friendly’.

Blackberries need to be replanted to the same depth that they were originally grown at, look for the soil mark on their stems. Dig a shallow hole about 30cm wide and 3cm deep, spread the roots out and fill in with soil and some compost/well-rotted manure, firming it down around the roots, removing any air pockets, allow 1.8-4.5m between plants (dependant on variety) and 4.5m between rows, water in well even if the ground is wet, prune the canes to about 30cm high, above a bud. Blackberries need strong supports for their thick, sturdy stems; all varieties can be grown tied onto strong wires stretched across walls, fences and between posts, thornless varieties can be grown over arches.

Fruit Trees

There are many different types of fruit trees that you could plant, Apple, Pear, Plum, Damson, Cherry and many varieties of each type, choosing a tree can be difficult some of the main things to consider are height of tree, and spread of tree and if it is self pollinating or if it is not have you the space to plant another tree to pollinate it or are there trees already planted nearby that will do the job, your tree can live up to 60 years so make sure that it bears fruit that you like and will eat.

New fruit trees are either supplied bare root or container grown, both will require a stake for support.

Bare Root – Dig a hole wide enough to allow the roots to be spread out evenly and to the same depth at what the tree was previously grown at, it is important that the graft is above ground level. Drive a stake at least 30cm below the bottom of the planting hole, it should be on the side from which the prevailing wind blows. Place your tree in the hole and space out the roots. The stem should be about 8cm away from the stake; the top of the stake should be just below the lowest branch. Half fill the hole with the soil mixed with compost, lightly shake the tree to allow the soil to get between the roots and firm down, add the remaining compost up to the original level and firm in well again then lightly loosen the surface building the soil up slightly around the stem and falling away to create a shallow ring to retain water, water well. Fix a tree tie near the top of the stake, tie up loosely at first then tighten after a few weeks when the plant has settled, check regularly to make sure that it is not too tight or rubbing the stem.

Container grown – Dig a hole 8-10cm wider and deeper than the container and deep enough to ensure that the level of the soil ball is approx. 3cm below the surface after planting. Water the container well before planting, place 7-10cm of soil mixed with compost in the bottom of the hole and around the sides, firm down well, create a shallow ring to retain water, water well. Drive a stake into the ground outside your planting hole on the side away from which the prevailing wind blows at an angle of 45 degrees and fix a tree tie to the stake and stem, check regularly to make sure that it is not too tight or rubbing the stem.

  

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