Use small outdoor space to create a fruit garden

Monday, 21st May 2018, 8:16 am
Updated Monday, 21st May 2018, 9:19 am

Create a pick-your-own garden with climbing fruit, for the summer.Fruit such as blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes do not need much room. They can grow upwards along a wall, fence, frame or pergola, or even on a balcony.They also offer attractive foliage and blossom in the early summer months.During the summer the fruits develop, which can then be harvested late summer and autumn. So there’s always something going on with climbing fruit. Seeing the fruit growing (and eating it) is a fun and educational experience for children and incorporates the growing trend of wanting to know where your food comes from. Any fruit that you don’t eat yourself will delight the birds in autumn.RangeThe range of climbing fruits offer plenty of choice. For June, there is the thornless blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), raspberry (Rubus idaeus), grape (Vitis vinifera) and blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum).All the plants come in many different varieties, including compact forms which are suitable for small spaces. Breeding has made them stronger, more productive, and easier to maintain than before.Origin Many climbing fruits are members of the rose family. The blackberry grows throughout Europe, but also in the high mountains of South America. The raspberry is another European classic, and has been spreading from Italy and Greece since the 16th century. Blueberries are native to woodland areas in the eastern United States, and have only been growing in Europe since the start of the 20th century. Grapes spread from the Middle East.What to look for when buyingClimbing fruits are offered in various pot sizes and stages of growth. By June the plants should be fairly fully grown, have plenty of leaves, and be bearing blossom or even fruit.Check the ratio between pot size and plant, the length of the supports and a good spread of leaves, flowers and berries.Check for caterpillars, snails, aphids or other pests such as mildew or Botrytis.Care tipsClimbing fruits can be placed in containers, pots or beds, and prefer a sunny spot where it does not get darker than partial shade. Sunlight is required to ripen the fruit.Blackberries, raspberries and blueberries like nutrient-rich, slightly acidic soil. Grapes prefer a chalky soil.Do not allow the soil to dry out. The plants use a lot of water for growing the berries.Provide support for the plant to climb up, such as a rack, frame or pergola.Give plant food once a fortnight during the growing season, matched to the fruit in question.Most climbing fruits are self-pollinating, so there’s nothing more you need to do to enjoy fruit.Prune in late winter or early spring.