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Planning the fruit garden

UK Garden Centre - How to plan a fruit garden

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Fruit-growing is a satisfying occupation and by careful planning it is possible to enjoy home-grown fruit all the year round and have sufficient in the deep freezer for out-of-season use.
Both dessert and culinary apples should be grown for they are the most useful of all fruits. Where space is restricted those which are spur-bearing may be grown as dwarf pyramids or as cordons. Ten or twelve apple trees will provide fruit from August to March if it is stored carefully.
Pears are best grown as espaliers (horizontal-trained), on a sunny wall or along one side of a path, and in this way will take up little space. For a late dessert, plant William’s (America’s Bartlett pear) and Conference; these two pears will pollinate each other and are delicious straight from the tree or marinated.
Of the stone fruits, peaches need the most sunshine to ripen the wood, without which they will not bear well. They may be grown against a sunny wall as fan-shaped trees or as bushes in the open where the climate is warm and dry. Duke of York, Hale’s Early and Peregrine are reliable.
Damsons are grown on the side of the prevailing winds, for they are hardy. The best is Bradley’s King. Plums and gages can both be grown either against a wall, as fan-shaped trees, or in the open, in the bush or standard form. Czar is the best early plum and Denniston’s Superb the best gage, followed by Victoria and Jefferson. If standard trees are used, plant gooseberries beneath them, spacing them 90-120cm (3-4ft) apart in the bush form and 60cm (2ft) as cordons. For dessert, plant Whitesmith, Leveller and Gunner; for culinary use, Careless and Howard’s Lancer. Gooseberries grow well in a cool climate; blackberries prefer warmth. They also require an open situation whilst gooseberries do well in semi-shade. For early fruit, plant 120cm (4ft) apart, Laxton’s Giant and Wellington XXX, followed by Westwick Choice and Amos Black. Redcurrants require similar conditions to gooseberries and the best are Laxton’s No. 1 (early) and Red Lake (mid-season) raised in the USA.
Plant strawberries in double rows between the bush fruits, spacing the plants and rows 30cm (12in) apart. The best early crops are Cambridge Premier and Royal Sovereign, which do not make too much leaf. For late summer, plant Montrose and Talisman.
The cane fruits crop later than the soft fruits, and the hardiest are blackberries, which may be used as a hedge, trained along wires, or alongside a path. They may be grown in semi-shade. Bedford Giant is the earliest, followed by Himalaya Giant and Oregon Thornless. All freeze well.
Loganberries are not so hardy. They do not like cold winds and the canes are more brittle. They also require full sun. Like raspberries, they fruit on the new season’s canes; blackberries fruit on both the old and new wood, hence they bear more heavily. Plant loganberries and blackberries 240cm (8ft) apart, raspberries at 45cm (18in). Glen Clova is the best early raspberry, followed by Malling Promise and Admiral. The autumn-fruiting varieties will prolong the season, and September and Zeva are both suitable for this purpose.
There should be a place for a vine, either against a trellis or trained along wires. Vines are able to withstand -7°C (20°F) of frost, and varieties of the Chasselas type may be left outdoors until the first winter frosts. Outdoor grapes require a sunny position and they grow well in a greenhouse with a winter temperature of 6°C (42°F).

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