Planning a Fruit Garden

Blossom from a Dobies 'Red Love' apple tree
Fruit is such a necessary ingredient to one's diet, yet it is expensive and that which you buy in the shops and supermarkets is rarely ripe and more often than not quite tasteless! Fitting suitable varieties into your garden or allotment space may take a little planning and re-organisation, yet it is perfectly possible. Obviously, you need to consider available space – including the use of walls, trellises and fences; but also types of fruit. Soft fruits grown on the ground (strawberries and rhubarb) or bushes (gooseberries and currants), on  canes (raspberries) or ‘vines’ (grapes and blackberries) and trees on dwarfing stock – hard fruit (apples and pears) and stone fruits (cherries, peaches, apricots and plums). Then there are the ‘exotics’ (figs, lemons, and even oranges). Doesn’t it make your mouth water?

Just look at the Fruit
section within these pages
Take a look into the Dobies ‘Best Value Plants’ Spring 2012 catalogue that will have arrived in your post-box this last week. Pages 39 – 43 are packed with quality fruit plants that will have you checking every available space where fruit will flourish. (And if your catalogue copy has not arrived, go online to the Dobies fruit section). Consider seasonality – spreading the cropping period with different fruits, and you could be enjoying your own fruity delights throughout the summer and autumn. All fruits have their own generic cropping time, with early, mid and late-season varieties to extend availability. Any surplus (or gluts) can be made in jam, or be frozen or bottled or, as described in our Christmas Day post, into wine, juice or cordial.

Young strawberry plants in the author's garden (note the supports that will carry netting
once the fruit starts to ripen
Everyone can grow strawberries! If not in beds, then in pots on the patio, even in hanging baskets; so try the ‘Top Taste’ collection, or any of the other varieties listed. Unusual new Dobies 2012 soft fruit includes blueberries and the decorative fourberry, ‘Black Pearl’, plus the blackberry, 'Primocane Reuben’ which crops in its first year on upright canes.

Planted against a
wall 30 years ago
in the author's garden
Exotica: Dobies are supplying a variety of early-maturing fig, ‘Peretta’ , ideal for the UK climate and claimed to withstand the coldest winter once established. Best planted against a wall or fence. Also available are hardy citrus plants – lemon, lime, orange, mandarin and grapefruit; perfect for a conservatory though also suited to being grown in a pot in a sheltered spot outdoors (hardy in most parts of the UK down to -5°C).

Perfect for protecting fruit bushes from bird-attack
Soft fruit will need PROTECTION, from pesky birds! We encourage them into the garden to consume pests (at which they do a brilliant job), but expect them to lay off the fruit! You can use fleece, or netting, make your own frame, or buy an off-the-peg fruit cage. If you are starting from scratch, fit your planting to available frame sizes – but do check that netting is taut and cannot entangle birds' feet and claws. The ‘Natural Bamboo Fruit Cage’ is particularly conducive to small gardens.

Juicy, sweet and succulent berries from the author's fruit patch
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