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Which selection of fruit to grow?

I have inherited an allotment plot with a fruit cage (2.1m high). It is approx. 6m (18') square. Currently there are some current bushes which look rather old but still productive. My first problem is (ignoring what is there currently) what selection of fruit bushes and trees should I put in there considering I like Current, Raspberries (and friends), Blackberries (takes a lot os space!), Red Gooseberries but also want a pear, apple and perhaps a cherry. OK, you say, you've got it! But what varieties to select assuming I chuck the existing away and I want fruit next year. Some guidance appreciated.

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  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 15,853

    Don't expect a lot of fruit next year from brand new plants. Even if you buy long cane raspberries, the crop the first year will be small.  Most fruit trees take up to three years to get up to a good cropping levele. If you are only buying one pear, make it self fertile like conference.

     Reuben blackberry are primocane and use little space, they can be grown up a post.

    I have four varieties of raspberry, to crop from June to September.  They occupy more than 18 ft square on their own.

     A blackcurrant bush will occupy a square metre at least, and will give around 3 to 4 kg of fruit in a good year.

    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,336

    As far as the fruit trees go, the main thing to look for are ones on dwarfing rootstock as 2.1m isn't very high for the majority of free-standing trees.  A better solution might be to grow cordons or espaliers if you can construct a frame.  Many suppliers now stock 'patio' fruit trees which are meant to be grown in large containers but will have all of the attrributes required.  You are not going to get fruit from a new apple tree for at least a couple of years (well, you shouldn't let any fruit set in the first year at least to allow the roots to establish) and perhaps longer for the cherry and pear.  My cherry trees took 3 ot 4 years before they even started blossoming.

    You can buy compact varieties of blackberry - have a look at Chris Bowers site.

    Last edited: 20 August 2017 17:29:23

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,535

    what's the soil like - pH and texture - and is it an open site? Sunny, windy?

    If it's reasonably sheltered, you can get fruit trees on very dwarfing rootstock - M27 for apples, for example, so you can get quite a lot in a small area. If it's a windy site you need to go up a size or two for the rootstock (depending how windy). Basically dwarf rootstock is weak, so the tree grows small. If it's windy, it may not grow at all. There's no need to have apples or pears inside the fruit cage if you have some space outside it. Both generally are not self fertile so you need at least two trees of each and you need to pick varieties that flower at the same time - unless there are lots of other apple and pear trees on the allotments around yours. Bramleys need two other apple trees close by to produce fruit. Some other cooking apples only need one other tree. 

    Cherries you should grow inside the cage or you'll probably never see a ripe one.

    Raspberries are better in cooler parts of the country, don't mind a bit of shade. Autumn fruiting are generally more productive than summer fruiting. Blueberries need acidic soil. Josta berries are a nice combination of gooseberry and blackcurrant. You'll never need more than one redcurrant unless you plan to open a jam factory. Blackberries, tayberries and loganberries are all climbers so don't take up ground space if you can train them up, so maybe run a trellis of some sort along one or two (south and/or west facing, for preference) sides of the cage so you can do that. 6m is plenty of room for one of those, but more than one could require very diligent pruning and you will get into a tangle. They can overlap though, if you're up for the challenge, as long as the roots are well spaced. Don't bother with goji berries. Strawberries are best in hanging baskets.

    What else?

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
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