There are few more luxurious or cost saving crops to grow than soft fruit - eaten straight after picking, or even straight from the bush, there is a texture and freshness you simply don’t find in shop bought fruit.
Many people assume that you need a huge garden or allotment to make growing soft fruit worthwhile, but with modern high yield varieties and many small scale solutions for protecting your crop, there is room for a few of your favourites in even the smallest space.
Corden-trained currants against a warm, sunny wall on one side of your patio or against a fence at the back of borders that face south or west will produce a surprising amount of fruit, which is also easier to pick than on a traditional bush. Some, such as gooseberries, can be bought standard-trained and look fantastic grown in flower borders.
A grapevine adds a Mediterranean touch grown over a pergola or gazebo and trailing cane fruit such as blackberries and tayberries can work particularly well over arches or screens – with the added bonus of easy to reach fruit.
As long as they are kept very well watered in summer most soft fruit can even do well in containers – for example Blueberries need a lime-free soil so container growing in ericaceous compost is ideal. Being able to move the pots and get all around the plant easily not only helps with harvesting but also makes pots particularly easy to net when the fruits are ripening – the Domed Roof Fruit Cage works well over pots or within the border.
Strawberries can be grown in hanging baskets to keep them out of reach of many hungry pests and our Strawberry Table Top and specially designed Strawberry Planters are a good way to guarantee a bumper crop – why not try a few different varieties and see which is the sweetest?
Of course if you have a little more room for growing then a walk in fruit cage offers total protection and ease of cropping on a potentially industrial scale for jams, puddings, cordials and liqueurs.
So whether you are growing ornamentally or for fruit, to get the most out of your plants you will need to feed and mulch them in the Spring with well rotted compost, protect the plants from birds using net or a cage and keep the watering up in Summer to help the formation of the juiciest fruits for you to pick regularly and enjoy!