The long mild autumn seems ages ago but we are still feeling the effects of it. Deciduous plants need to become dormant before lifting so the soft fruit we normally expect in early November has only just arrived.
Blueberries: are becoming increasingly popular and are easy to grow provided you keep the soil acid. This means watering with rainwater as our local tap water is very alkaline. Some blueberries are not self-pollinating so you may need two different varieties although bees fly a long way and another plant in your neighbour’s garden will do! If you are short of space Blue Pearl is a dwarf variety suitable for growing in a pot – and self-fertile.
Gooseberries: Modern gooseberries have been bred to be mildew resistant so if you have an old one which is giving you trouble it is worth digging it out and starting again. We have some very nice half standards which look wonderful in a potager. They also have the advantage of being easy to net if you have bird problems.
Grapes: If you have ever tasted a home-grown grape you will realise how watery the supermarket ones are – there is no comparison. The Black Hamburg plants we sell from our own vine and will grow and crop happily outside on a sunny wall. The original cutting was given to us by a customer who had it growing outside and fruiting prolifically. We generally stock only three varieties of edible grape but we can get others, so please ask.
Strawberries: Goodness knows what the supermarkets do to them but they don’t taste like they used to. Elsanta is very widely grown commercially but tastes completely different when picked from your garden. Both Elsanta and Florence get high scores in the Taste tests. Elan and Toscana have alpine strawberries in their parentage so crop continuously all summer. Elan has fewer runners so is good for containers and Toscana has really large pink flowers so is ornamental as well. Both taste delicious.
Raspberries: There are two kinds – floricane, the summer fruiting ones and primocane, which fruit from mid-summer to the frosts.
Floricane raspberries fruit on last year’s wood so each year you tie in the best of the new canes and prune out last year’s growth and any weak canes. These tend to crop over quite a short time – a couple of weeks maybe – so if you are limited in space or want to freeze them or make jam, these are a good choice.
Primocane raspberries fruit on the new season’s growth so generally you cut down all the old growth in February. They fruit over a long period so if you have room for enough canes you can enjoy fresh raspberries from July to October. When they are well-established you can even leave a few of last year’s fresh canes which will crop in June and extend the season even further. Primocanes have the advantage of needing little or no support and being disease resistant.
The most popular and widely-grown primocane is Autumn Bliss but we have been trialling the newer Polka on the nursery – they are even better and have really attractive berries and fruit slightly later into the autumn.
If you are really short of space, a pot of dwarf floricane Ruby Beauty will give you a rewarding crop.
Here’s a link to the RHS page on raspberries to whom thanks for the use of the image
Here’s the link to our plant list pages but details of the specific Soft Fruit newly arrived in January 2018 is listed here. Please remember, as always, we give details of the plants we have ordered in good faith but cannot guarantee their availability on the day you visit.
Here are the varieties below. The full list with helpful comments will be on the plant list pages (above) in the next few days.
Blueberry Blue crop Blue Pearl Grover Chandler Liberty Northland Patriot Sunshine Blue
Blackberry Loch Ness Loch Tay
Gooseberry Captivator Invicta Invicta Rokula
GrapeBlack Hamburg Flame Lakement
Raspberry Alpen Gold Autumn Bliss Glen Ample Glen Clova Glen Prosen Golden Everest Polka Ruby Beauty Tulameen
Rhubarb Timperley Early Victoria
Strawberry Elan Elsanta Florence Toscana Tayerry
White Current Versailles