Gardening Blog – Healthy Fruit

Henley Herald autumn

The year is up. We’ve been in our new house for long enough to watch the garden go through four seasons. Now it’s time to tweak it a bit.

I’d like to find space for some fruit. We had apple trees and a fig where we lived before. We all enjoyed picking them – even the dogs when I wasn’t watching. It was quite a wrench to leave them. It’s good to know that the fruit we eat is as fresh and healthy as it can be.

Last year we loved eating the plums from the small but very productive trees in the garden of the house we were renting. This year we’ve been living in a fruit-free zone. Stepping outside the back door to pick an apple or a plum is something I’ve missed. The problem is this garden is small. But is it too small?

Apparently not – I found an article on-line by Dan Pearson full of ideas for growing fruit trees in small gardens. Dan recommends the RHS ‘The Fruit Garden Displayed’ as a useful book to have around. It’s out of print but I’ve managed to track down a second hand copy.

Another article, this time by Mark Diacomo, talks about cordons and step-over fruit trees. I might not have much space but I do have walls and borders so both of these are possibilities. The next couple of months are the best time to plant bare-root (not grown in a pot) fruit trees so I need to get on and do some research.

Growing varieties that suit our South Oxfordshire soil is something else I’d like to think about. Heritage varieties would be even better. It would be good to play a part in keeping some of our old varieties of apples going. I know from past experience that we miss a lot if we only ever eat the fruit the supermarkets supply. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Berries are said to be very good for us: blackberries, gooseberries, blueberries, strawberries and raspberries all provide us vitamin C and fibre. Now is the time to plant or to prune them. I’ll be replacing the old gooseberry and blackcurrant bushes on my allotment plot as neither of them produced any fruit this year. I’ll be thinking about growing blueberries in a pot as my soil isn’t acid enough for them to be happy in the garden. As for blackberries, we’re lucky to live in an area where we can just go out and pick them.

Tips from the allotment:

  • Clear away old leaves from rhubarb plants
  • Harvest cauliflowers (full of B vitamins and fibre)
  • Use a fork to dig up leeks (high in vitamins A and K) to avoid snapping them
  • Continue harvesting beetroot (good source of iron and folate)
  • Clear away old plant material and compost everything that is free of disease.