Fruit is one of those garden essentials that every gardener – novice or expert – loves to hate. After all, you can do everything right and there is no guarantee that your fruit will appear that year. Many curse the UK weather, but many also just accept that it is a luck of the draw. It can feel like a game of maybe’s and cross-your-finger for it to happen. Which isn’t how anyone wants to spend their time gardening.
With that in mind, here is our quick and easy guide to growing fruit in your garden – no matter what level of gardener you are currently.
No matter what method you use to plant your tree, vine or bush, you need to make sure you water them well before they even reach the planter or soil bed. A good layer of mulch – a few inches thick – is also important as it can retain moisture much longer than typical soil, meaning less need to water your fruit plants on your part (also good if you happen to forget). Mulch is also beneficial for controlling weed growth.
Stakes for fruit trees, especially if you live in an area prone to windiness, is also important. This can help support it to grow as straight and possible and withstand any adverse weather that it may come to face. Avoid tightening the stake to the tree with a wire, as this can damage your fruit tree and impede its growth. After a year or two, you can remove the stake in order to allow the tree to grow its own sturdy trunk.
Unlike some of your other flowerbed inhabitants, a fruit-bearing plant or tree will need pruning in order to keep producing. How often depends on the fruit in question. But, if you notice any dead or diseased branches, these need to be dealt with as soon as possible to prevent harm to the healthy part of your fruit producer.
Pruning tends to be most effective during late Autumn, Winter or even early Spring as this is when your fruit tree, shrub or vine will be leafless and easier to handle. A prune prior to its prime growing season also gives it a chance to rejuvenate in time to produce new fruit.
These plants need constant water levels more than any other type of plant in your garden. Particularly if you want them to create consistent, juicy, fruit which you will be able to eat. An irrigation system may be the best way to achieve this, as it is the least effort and allows you to reach your whole garden without fear of missing a spot. This type of system also reduces water waste in the long term, making it much more efficient.
Feeding your fruit plant can be a difficult thing, as after all; what do you feed a fruit plant to ensure good overall growth and health? Understanding the type of soil in your garden or planter is the first step to determining this. Once you understand the environment, then you can add the right plant fertiliser and food necessary for growth. Never over fertilise your plants, however, as this can cause burning in the plant roots.
When growing fruit, pests can be the worst part of your maintaining your garden. As they can eat all of your hard work if left and allowed to get out of control. And pests might not necessarily be what you expect, if you have wild rabbits in that like to chew on your plants, they may very well become a pest for your allotment/garden fruit growing efforts.
Erecting fences, wire meshes and other obstructions is often the easiest way to secure your garden from larger pests – especially things such as deer and rabbits. Bird netting can also stop feathered pests from eating all of your fruit.
At the end of the day, once you have the fruits of your effort before you, you will want to enjoy it. Having the perfect outdoor furniture to do this from is the best way to sit and look at the fruits of your labour (pun intended).