Making Room For Fruit
It’s a good time to be thinking about fruit beds and if I were starting from scratch I would plant several bushes of Xenia (see above) an early cropping red gooseberry. It’s much easier to see and pick than the green one and this variety is virtually spine-free- a huge plus. The fruit is sweet and delicious and can be eaten straight from the bush and the plant is resistant to mildew.
I would also make room for a bush or two of Jostaberry. Essentially this is a cross between a gooseberry and a blackcurrant and it’s also thornless and very heavy yielding. The fruit is similar to a blackcurrant in appearance but is twice the size with a delicious sweet flavour.
Tayberry also appeals and the thornless hybrid Buckingham Tayberry produces fruit the size of loganberries but sweeter and more aromatic. These can be eaten fresh or made into jam or summer puddings and the long cropping season from early July to mid-August extends the soft fruit season.
As indeed do Autumn Bliss raspberries. These in the past have ripened in mid-September so I was despairing of filling the freezer but now it seems there will be plenty in a month or so.
Fruit trees on the allotment need to be limited to a M26 rootstock which is a semi-dwarfing tree that on average grows to 2.2 metres. This size restriction is to avoid large spreading trees casting shade over other plots. These smaller trees fruit readily for many years and are easy to pick. I fancy the East Malling Collection from D.T.Brown namely Park Farm Pippin, Tydeman’s Late Orange and Meridian. The three would fit in a row at the end of my plot and would provide a great variety cropping August to November.
Last Autumn I planted a blackberry ‘Loch Ness’ against the stone garden wall here and supported it along horizontal wires. It put on a substantial amount of growth and fruited well but the fruit disappeared overnight. I’ll re-plant on the wide side of the allotment shed since it’s a thornless variety and easy to train and blackberries growing wild seem to thrive.