This month – Container-grown fruit
April is the perfect month for planting container-grown fruit trees and bushes.
Even if your garden space is limited you can still grow fruit trees and bushes. You can even grow them in containers on a balcony.
The trick is to read the label. Look for dwarf varieties that won’t grow too large for your pot or garden. It’s a good idea to buy self-fertile plants too, especially if you don’t live in an area where lots of people grow their own fruit.
Even on a small plot buy the biggest pot you can fit into the available space. Bigger pots hold more compost, so they contain more food, more water and more space for strong root growth. Make sure the pot has drainage holes and cover the base with drainage material. Handy hint – if wind is a problem on your site use heavy material like broken crockery or stones to add weight, whereas if you will need to be able to move the pot easily use polystyrene chunks, which are very lightweight.
Fill the container with a loam-based potting compost. Remove the tree or shrub from its original pot, spread the roots a little and plant it in the new container to the same depth. Water the compost well initially and then whenever the surface is dry.
If you want to plant your fruit tree in the garden dig a hole as deep as the root system, and about three times the width. Place the plant into the hole and refill it. Then firming the soil with your foot. If the tree is in an exposed area you might need to stake it.
Fruit is very easy to grow, and there are a huge variety of fruit trees or bushes to suit every garden size and aspect, so you’re bound to find the perfect plant for your space.
Dwarf apple trees, which provide interest all year round as well as fruit in the autumn.
Any of the currants. Blackcurrants are particularly nice. They are low maintenance and great in jams and pies. They like a sunny spot and plenty of water
Raspberries are lovely. They fruit in summer and like a sheltered sunny spot. You buy raspberry canes rather than bushes. Look for a thorn-free variety.
Blueberries grow really well and are great for growing in a container because they like acid soil and in a container, this is easy to provide. Look for ericaceous compost which you should keep moist because like most soft fruits they are quite thirsty plants. Collect rainwater for the purpose as blueberries are not keen on tap water.
I like to grow strawberries in large hanging baskets to make the most of the space. They are easy to grow this way but make sure you keep them well fed with a high potash fertiliser as nutrients leach away from hanging baskets very easily.
I protect all my container-grown soft fruit with netting my garden birds tend to view my patio display as a rolling all-season buffet laid on especially for their benefit.