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Grow Your Own Fruit

For the past 3 years we have increased our sales of vegetable and herb plants, seeds and propagators by over 30%. Our customers have clearly seen the benefits of growing their own herbs and vegetables. However, when we suggest growing fruit bushes and trees many customers worry it will all be too difficult.

It is true that a fruit garden takes longer to establish than a vegetable garden. However, unlike vegetables, once established they can be cropped year after year and the cost savings are greater. Fruit tends to be more expensive than vegetables and one can use any glut to make jam, juice, wine and chutney. Furthermore, one can grow excellent varieties of fruit not generally available in the shops. Given that the present economic conditions are forcing people to move house less frequently, it is certainly worth spending the time to establish a good fruit garden.

Contrary to common opinion, you don’t need much space or even a garden to grow fruit. You can grow fruit in containers on a balcony. Strawberries are particularly suitable. Furthermore, pot grown fruits can be moved around the garden to avoid frosts and because the roots are restricted, the plant is forced to crop more quickly than trees or shrubs in open ground.

There are two categories of fruit, namely trees (also called top fruit) and soft fruits. Trees are suitable for larger plots and although they are slower to bear fruit, they produce a greater and longer lasting yield. A standard apple tree for example will bear 200 to 400lbs of fruit over 20 to 60 years. Beginners should avoid buying bare-rooted one year old trees (feathered maidens) as they need much pruning and training to form the correct shape.

At Dunscar we stock a wide selection of 2 year old trees in containers. Soft fruits come in many forms ranging from strawberries and cane fruit (e.g. raspberries), to bush varieties (e.g. blackcurrants) and the tender varieties such as figs. Almost any garden will be big enough to house at least one variety of soft fruit. The best time of the year to buy them is in October or November when we have a greater choice of new stock available, but container grown varieties are available much of the year.

As always, our staff are available to guide beginners through the selection and care of the most appropriate fruit trees and plants for your garden and needs. We also recommend and sell two excellent beginners’ guides, The Fruit Expert by Dr D G Hessayon, and Grow Your Own Fruit by Carol Klein.