Apple 'Charles Ross'

Planting a Traditional Orchard

Growing top fruit, particularly apples and pears, is a particular joy and this can easily be done at home or in the allotment by using a combination of cordons, espaliers or stepovers. However, if room is available, why not consider the more traditional approach of an orchard of apples and pears using semi-dwarfing rootstocks? By planting such trees a fair distance apart – say 3m (10ft) – you will be able to have grass pathways with the promise of picnicking under the trees in years to come! Using the rootstock M26 for apples and Quince A for pears, trees can be kept to a maximum height of around – 2.4-3.6m (8-12ft) and this is exactly what I have done in three ‘community’ orchards that I have designed and planted. I reckon that if you can find space for at least five trees you have yourself an orchard! Continue reading

Gooseberry 'Hinnonmaki Red'

Gooseberries: A Forgotten Fruit

In my opinion gooseberries have become a forgotten fruit as I rarely see them grown nowadays. I suppose that in a way I can understand why because most varieties have thorny stems, berries that are regularly covered with mildew and are rarely eaten ripe which means that the intense flavours are missed. But don’t let any of these factors put you off because you can grow gooseberries as cordons so thorny stems aren’t a problem, there are varieties which are resistant to mildew and above all there are varieties which are so luscious when perfectly ripe that you will assume they are exotic fruits! I know that I labour the point a  lot about eating soft fruit, in particular, direct from the bush but this is so true about gooseberries – I promise you! Forget those hard bullets that you may be able to find in the shops – grow some large sweet berries in your own garden or allotment. Continue reading

Pomona Fruits

Planting in Wet or Frozen Conditions

In an ideal world, when it comes to planting bare root fruit trees and bushes, soil and weather conditions will be perfect, but, of course, in reality, this is rarely the case. We therefore have to manage as best we can as we need to ensure the planting of bare rooted stock is undertaken in what is often the worst period of the year for weather – December to March! So how can we obviate the problems caused by adverse weather conditions? Continue reading

Hawthorn - A fast growing hedge producing masses of scented white flowers in the late spring followed by small bright red berries (haws) in the autumn. The fruits are edible and can be made into jellies, jams and syrups.

Planting an Edible Hedge

Yes I really mean an edible hedge! It’s certainly a much cheaper and more attractive way of creating a boundary than erecting a fence or building a wall and if you don’t have space for a boundary hedge or have an existing hedge which you can’t convert, how about screening a compost bin, shed or vegetable plot? Perhaps the best thing is to consider an edible hedge as an extension to your existing fruit plot thereby extending your range of fruit cultivation to the very limits of your garden. Continue reading

Pomona Fruits

The Benefits of Autumn Planting

Over the years there has been much discussion as to whether it is best to plant fruit trees in the autumn (late November/December) or spring. So much so in fact that the novice and often more experienced gardener becomes totally confused! I have always been an advocate of planting in the autumn and I preach this message wherever I go; most certainly I very rarely plant anything in my garden in the spring unless there are real extenuating circumstances. But why plant in the autumn when there is still so much to do in the garden? Continue reading

Pomona Fruits

Selecting & Preparing the Planting Site

In order to grow fruit well – and this applies to any other garden plants and trees – it is essential to carefully consider where you are going to plant your trees and plants and also undertake careful site preparation before planting. Indeed I believe this element is one of four major cornerstones which act as a foundation for either success or failure (the others being the careful selection of the varieties and kinds of fruit to grow, keeping the plants and trees healthy and an early identification of any pest or disease problems). Continue reading