Choosing Varieties of Fruit to Grow

 

This brings us on to varieties of fruits because, not only do different fruits vary in their hardiness and in the times at which they flower, but so also do varieties of the same fruit. For example, the pear Louise Bonne starts flowering over a week before Cornice. Clearly the early flowering varieties should be avoided in frosty and exposed areas.

Once hardiness has been considered, those fruits that have qualified must be submitted to the ‘vigour’ test. With most tree fruits, it is the rootstock which determines how strong or weak a tree is going to grow. This will tell you not only how fast the tree will grow, but also how much room they will eventually occupy. Remember, although a ‘standard’ tree will start off the same size as a dwarf pyramid, that is where the similarity ends.

With fruit trees, the main consideration is likely to be the type of tree to grow (half-standard, bush, cordon etc.). It may not always be possible to buy locally a tree of your chosen variety on the rootstock you would like. However, you will certainly be able to get it from a specialist fruit nursery, the only difference being that you’ll have to wait until the winter for it to be sent. Incidentally, I prefer to buy bare-root plants (available during the winter) to those in containers. On the whole, they transplant better.

apple trees in blossomWith all fruits, the size and vigour of the tree or bush will also depend on the variety.

Closely tied in with the space that a tree will take up is the position in the garden that it is to occupy. Choose a sunny and sheltered spot for the best results; never regard a fruit tree as something that can be planted in any old space that there might be. The chances are that it will not be a success.

More thought is needed when planning for tree fruits than for soft fruit bushes and canes, simply because there is a greater choice and they will live for much longer, but soft fruits still need careful consideration. Luckily, most have their vigorous and weak varieties so it isn’t too much trouble to make the choice.

Good examples are the gooseberry Invicta, which is a very strong grower, and the new black currants Ben Sarek and Ben Connan, which is considerably more compact than others. Invicta, therefore, needs more room than other gooseberries and Ben Sarek and Ben Connan less than other black currants. Clearly, these characteristics must be considered before any varieties are chosen.

However, just because a given variety of any kind of fruit may be a strong grower, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it has to be rejected. For example, gooseberries and red or white currants can perfectly well be grown as a ‘U’ cordon. This often makes it possible to grow something that would otherwise be a non-starter.

Except for autumn fruiting raspberries, all cane fruits will need a permanent post and wire support system, but this can be either in the open garden or against a wall or fence. If against something, try to make it a sunny aspect.

Raspberry 'Mailing Delight'Raspberries, both summer and autumn fruiting, are rather a special case. Although they occupy relatively little ground, they form what is in effect a hedge and, thus, will cast a heavy shadow on one or both sides of the row. For this reason they should, whenever possible, be sited at the end of a plot so that the ground on only one side will be shaded. Similarly, and if possible, the rows should run north-south so that they do not cause a permanent shadow.

Strawberries are the easiest of all fruits to accommodate because they take up the least room and are only normally kept for a maximum of three crops. Some, indeed, are best grown for just one crop and then replaced with fresh plants. The most convenient place for them is in the vegetable section but, in fact, you don’t even need a garden. They will grow perfectly well in pots or growing-bags, provided that these are placed in a sunny position outdoors. An even more attractive way of growing them is in either purpose-made tower-pots or strawberry barrels; these are available in either wood or terracotta. Growing them in a container also means that they are mobile and can be brought under cover to protect them from spring frosts or simply to advance them.

Besides hardiness and vigour (that is, space required) other factors have to be considered and obviously flavour will come high on the list, if not actually top. This, though, is back to personal preference. While some people would say that the apple Golden Delicious is first rate, others regard it as uneatable.

Another difference in many fruits is that there are cooking, dessert and dual-purpose varieties, though it has to be said that dual-purpose ones are seldom better than mediocre for dessert.

Lastly, as regards variety, and maybe most important of all, is the time at which different ones ripen. Most gardeners like to have a succession of fruit; having everything ready together is not only rather boring but it can, in some instances, lead to waste simply because circumstances may not allow any surplus to be stored. Whether or not this happens will depend entirely on the varieties you choose,

One final tip — if you are in any doubt about the choice of either the fruits or the varieties, play safe and consult a good local nursery.

14. May 2011 by admin
Categories: Fruit Gardening, Fruit Trees, Organics | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Choosing Varieties of Fruit to Grow

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