Growing your own fruit and berries
Planting some fruit now for a homegrown harvest this summer
Now is the perfect time to pick out your favorite fruit plants, get them in the ground or in containers for homegrown flavour that is unrivalled in terms of taste. Apples, Plums, Pears or Rhubarb, Strawberries, Blueberries - all good to grow now. One of the best and easiest Apple trees to grow is the Coronet Dwarf Apple tree.The Coronet is developed by a great grower in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, Dr. Pat McDonnell, who specialises in miniature fruit trees. Pat has developed and grown the Coronets for over 30 years. Coronets are a miniature apple tree, ideal for small spaces. They remain miniature permanently, they fruit on the first year of purchase and are easy to grow. They can be kept in a large pot on a patio or planted in the garden and make a fabulous gift
My own favorite is the “Family Apple Tree” - so this is a tree that has 2 varieties growing on one stem and with this, one variety pollinates the other so a second tree or a partner tree is not needed. They stay small in height, with a mature height of around 5 or 6 feet, produce beautiful tasty apples, which are regular in size, easy to grow and perfect for growing on a patio, a balcony or out in your garden. They make an excellent gift being so unique and rewarding not only with fruit in the Autumn but also the beautiful blossom in the Spring. The different varieties that are available on the family trees are tasty and easy to grow - the likes of James Grieve, Elstar, Cox’s Orange and Katy- all really tasty and reliable varieties - the James Grieve is a very versatile apple, you can pick it early, perhaps around late August and use it as a cooking apple or pick it later and allow it to ripen and have as an eating apple - so that’s the family apple trees - all staying small, produce fruit on the first year of buying them, easy to grow with little or no pruning required.
If you decide to grow them in pots, which can be great if your soil is not suitable or you have limited space, you should select a container of at least 25 litres - so a nice big pot - a large wooden barrel looks really good when planted with a Cornet. Use a good quality compost, our Seaweed enriched multipurpose is ideal, top dress with a small amount of Sulphate of Potash to promote flowers and fruit and perhaps mulch over the container with some decorative gravel or bark. You could also plant some strawberry plants around the edge of the container which would be a great project to do - you’d be well looked after for fruit from just one large container! Water thoroughly after planting and in dry weather in the first year remembering that trees in tubs or containers must have moist compost throughout the year. Coronets need permanent staking so use a long lasting stake and tie the tree firmly using an adjustable tree tie. Every March give them as small a feed of slow release fertilizer and a little sulphate of potash - taking care not to over feed them. The only pruning needed is to cut out any dead, diseased or damaged branches. We also have miniature plum trees - again easy to grow and suited for containers or out in your garden - lots to choose from and suitable for every home and make a wonderful gift.
Another interesting option are Blueberries and we have a 3 plant selection that will produce fruit in July and August and September - so you get a nice continuous crop across 3 months. Blueberries are perfect to grow in containers, using some ericaceous compost and also are an attractive shrub to grow - beautiful white bell shaped flowers and great autumn colour on the leaves. With the 3 plant selection you’ll get a great yield from each plant and with Blueberries being a somewhat expensive fruit to buy, having your own at the back door or in the garden will be a great option to have year after year - lovely to sprinkle on top of a bowl of porridge or deserts or for those keen on baking you can try your hand at Blueberry muffins - and I’m sure you’re all aware of the free tasting service provided by myself or Alan on all Blueberry muffins. So if you’re new to growing fruit or fancy growing something that you haven’t grown before perhaps this is the year to give it a go - you’ll find it easy and very rewarding
A few jobs for the week ahead:
- Onion sets and shallots and garlic are all available to buy at this time of year - pick up your favorite varieties and even try a new type - you’ll see them close to the seed potatoes. You can start them off in small pots inside to help get a head start and an earlier harvest
- With Spring soon approaching you can dig some farmyard manure into beds to condition and enrich your soil - they’re on offer at the moment buy 2 get 3rd free
- Summer flowering bulbs are available to buy this time of year - Dahlia, begonias, Lilies, Agapanthus and Gladioli - all great for Summer colour and easy to grow
- Winter tree wash can be applied to trees and roses - this will help remove any overwintering unwanted bugs and keep your plants pest and disease free
- Seed potatoes are available to buy now and you can “Chitt” or sprout your seed potatoes - this will help give you an earlier harvest and a bigger yield - and you can also grow potatoes in containers if you don’t fancy a whole lot of digging - early varieties like Orla, Charlotte or Homeguard would be a good choice.
For any help or advice, pop into Keanes Garden Centre and we'll look after you.
All the best,