Choice of Fruits for Growing in Your Greenhouse


Once the greenhouse is in place and all the necessary equipment is installed, and this doesn’t really amount to any more than you would need for a greenhouse anyway, there comes the choice of fruits to grow.

To begin with, it is possible for you to grow kinds of fruit that wouldn’t stand a chance outside in Britain. Bananas and pineapples have already been mentioned, but, to these, we can add the many different kinds of citrus fruits (oranges, lemons etc.).

Then there are the fruits that are borderline for growing outdoors successfully. They survive outside and, in a good summer, they crop reasonably well, but they operate far better with the protection of a greenhouse for all or just part of the year These include fruits such as peaches, nectarines and apricots, figs, grapes and melons. We should really add Kiwi fruit (Chinese gooseberries) to these because, quite honestly, they are far from a success outdoors in the mainland UK. In fact, the only people growing them commercially are owners of large heated greenhouses in the Channel Isles; many of them gave up tomatoes to do so.

Leaving aside the kiwis, which would be planted in the greenhouse soil, the others can be planted either in the greenhouse borders or in pots so that they can be moved in under cover at critical times of the year but otherwise stay outside. This system will stretch the list to include our own perfectly hardy apples, pears, plums and cherries.

Lastly, the greenhouse can be used to produce fruit out of season, and this can mean either early or late. Strawberries are an example of this kind.


Citrus Trees

Unfortunately, genuine exotics need rather special conditions to be successful and these can be very costly for the ordinary gardener to achieve, especially when it comes to the heating. However, provided that the frost can be kept out and that just a little extra warmth is available, citrus fruits are perfectly simple to grow. In fact, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be grown from pips, but you do run the same risk as with apples and pears; namely, that it’s unlikely that the progeny will be anything like the parent. For this reason, it’s always better to buy young plants from a specialist nursery rather than to take a chance.

growing lemons in greenhouse If you propose to grow trees in the greenhouse border, you must first make sure that the soil is well drained and slightly on the acid side. Very few fruits are a success in alkaline soil.

For pot cultivation, John Innes Potting compost No. 3 is a good choice. A soil-based compost like this is preferable to a peat compost because it adds far greater stability to the plant and the loam content acts as something of a buffer against sudden changes in temperature and water content. Clay pots also add weight, but they are by no means essential if a soil-based compost is being used.

If only a minimal amount of heat is available, oranges will still be quite all right, but the temperature must not be allowed to drop to freezing and the plants will need to be kept only just on the moist side of bone dry in the winter. Growth will start in March/April and the plants usually flower in the summer. This leads to the fruitlets over-wintering in a small and green state, after which they will grow on and mature in the summer.

For those gardeners with a little more heat at their fingertips, a minimum of 45-50°F (7-10°C) will bring them into flower in February, which will give rise to ripe fruit in the period October-January.

With both these systems, there is no reason why, if the trees are growing in pots, they should not be put outside in a sunny and sheltered position from June-August.


Grapevines and Peach

Trees It has been the practice for countless years to use the greenhouse to produce better and larger crops from kinds of fruit which are normally quite happy growing outdoors. There used to be scarcely a large house anywhere that didn’t boast a peach tree and a grapevine growing under glass. More often than not, a whole greenhouse would be given over to their cultivation. These were normally lean-to houses in the walled garden with grapes occupying the lower portion of roof and peaches, nectarines and apricots fan-trained to the wall behind. This can still be seen in some of our larger and older country houses, but the sight is becoming rarer every year. Most have been replaced with crops like tomatoes which can be sold to defray some of the ever-mounting costs.

Grapes and peaches are still popular, though, and there is no reason why they should not be grown in all but the smallest greenhouse. To give you an idea, you will need an area of at least 6ft square (4sq.m) to house a fan-trained peach tree.

Grape Vine (Vitis vinifera) growing in greenhouse Today, grapes are usually planted outside the greenhouse and then led through a hole in the wall before being trained to the roof This isn’t the best method as, in the spring, the top growth starts growing before the roots, but it does leave the greenhouse border free for other crops, such as tomatoes. It is so much easier to use growing-bags for the tomatoes though, and it means the vine can be planted indoors.

Grapes are not too fussy as to soil type, but it must be free draining and contain plenty of organic matter A good way of doing this is to prepare a planting position 3ft square (1sq.m) and 3ft (1m) deep. Early spring is the best time for planting, but autumn and mild spells during the winter are quite acceptable.

Always try to buy a two-year-old plant that is growing in a pot. This is planted with the roots teased out of the rootball and only the strongest shoot retained, if there is more than one. This is cut back to a bud about 1ft (30cm) from the ground or, if planted outside and brought in, to the first two buds inside the greenhouse.

Black Hamburgh is probably the best black grape for growing under glass in Britain and it has excellent quality.

We cannot adopt quite the same routine with peaches, which must be planted in the greenhouse and then trained up a wall. This makes a lean-to house more or less essential. With an ordinary shaped house, it is better to grow the vine in a pot. Although there are other good varieties, Peregrine peach and Lord Napier nectarine are hard to beat for all-round performance.

Peaches and nectarines need much the same soil conditions as grapes, but the border should be about 6ft (2m) long by 3ft (1m) wide with adequate drainage. The trees should be planted 5-6in (13-15cm) from the wall and leaning slightly towards it to make tying in easier.

Train the tree as a fan; this means that you will need horizontal training wires 6in (I 5cm) or two courses of bricks apart on the wall.

A fan-trained tree must never be neglected, which means that quite a lot of work will be needed during the summer, such as nipping out unwanted shoots, pinching back and tying in retained ones and two sessions of thinning the fruitlets. If you think that this is going to be too much to cope with, the answer could be to grow the tree in a pot instead.

14. May 2011 by admin
Categories: Fruit Gardening, Greenhouse Gardening | Tags: , | Comments Off on Choice of Fruits for Growing in Your Greenhouse


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