How to Grow Fantastic Fruits
How to Grow Fantastic Fruits
Fruits are fantastic, easy, tasty, productive, nutritious, little work, aesthetic, flexible and ecological.
I find there are few other foods that have the range of colour, texture and flavour, and few other plants that can give me the satisfaction offered by a or bush laden down with a ripe crop. Yet it is easy to be successful with fruits; they’re tasty, productive, nutritious and little work; are aesthetic and flexible, fitting into almost any design; and most of all a garden of fruit makes complete ecological sense.
Fruit culture is not only rewarding, but also rather easy, especially compared with vegetables. It is the nature of fruiting plants to fruit — we must simply provide suitable conditions. Some fruits will even grow on shady sites where vegetables would fail completely. Fruits are easy because they are so much less demanding than highly bred vegetable crops, such asor , which are being asked to give a terrific performance in ways that they wouldn’t left to themselves.
Fruit is easy to grow organically because the plants tolerate poorer soils and conditions and, being perennial, their pests and diseases are more simply controlled by the natural ecology. Because the majority of fruiting plants are, there is no annual digging or seed-bed preparation, no sowing and planting out, while harvesting and storage is easier for fruits than vegetables, with less bending and no mud. Pruning is easy compared to digging. Thus is ideal for the lazy or hard-pressed gardener, as even total neglect is less detrimental. Most fruit trees will crop for years with no care or attention as nearly all the work is done when planting and then we only need to harvest — and even that can be left to the birds.
The delicious taste of a really good fruit is a subtle blend of flavours and aromas, with the balanced by sweetness. Shop-bought fruit can rarely be as really fresh or well ripened as your own grown at home. The varieties in the shops are invariably of commercial varieties chosen predominantly for their high yields. Growing your own at home you can choose old-fashioned varieties with exceptional flavour. Furthermore, as you can grow your fruit organically and pick it when perfectly ripe, you can eat it without peeling thus savouring all the textures and flavours. It’s the fruit’s good clean taste that tells you it has even more value than fruit grown conventionally.
Of course most people with a large enough garden plan to grow some fruit, but makes sense to fit fruit into even the smallest plot. Economically fruit can give much better returns in weight or cash value than most vegetables using the same area. For instance, onebush can yield a baby’s weight of fruit yet occupies little more space than a cabbage or . Although the initial cost may be higher for trees and bushes, it is an investment that you will recover in the first years of fruiting. The costs of , on the other hand, both occur and increase annually.
Vegetables will be cropping the first season, but many fruits are not lagging far behind.and autumn-fruiting can be cropped a year after planting, all the currants and berries give good crops the second year after planting, and even tree fruit, such as apples, and , will start to crop in their second or third year.
Yields increase every year for most fruits, reaching peak production after five to ten years. Some maintain this level for many decades with little expense or work required in return.
Although some fruits may contain fewer vitamins and minerals by weight than some vegetables, it is far more pleasant and easier to consume much more fruit. There is almost exactly the same value in drinking a glass of mixed fruit juice as munching your way through a whole plateful of salad — and which would you rather have more often? It is certainly much easier to get children to eat more fruit and fruit juices than more vegetables!
Fruits are most valuable nutritionally when picked really fresh, ripened naturally and kept uncontaminated. So home-grown can be much more health-giving than commercial fruit which is sprayed with chemicals and picked under-ripe so that it can withstand being transported great distances.
makes much more sense than growing vegetables, yet gardeners who go to the effort of cultivating a vegetable patch often don’t consider making their garden over to this labour-saving form of cultivation instead. Care is needed to establish the plants well, but thereafter little work is needed for top fruits and not much more for the soft. Fruit-bearing plants benefit from soil enrichment, but it is not essential.
Pruning is required most by the soft fruits, but it is not arduous and far less effort than digging. Trees or bushes of top fruits can be left unpruned for years and still give excellent crops, and some, such as stone fruits, are best left well alone anyway. As I said, it is easy to be organic when growing fruit, and even if pests and diseases do strike, a fruit crop is often still usable for preserves. Although fruit will benefit from careful watering when fruits are swelling, it tends to withstand droughts better and still produce good crops inwhen the vegetables fail.
It is easier to make an attractive and productive garden using fruit trees, vines and bushes than it is with vegetables, and the length of their season of interest is longer.can have a pleasing appearance even out of leaf when the bare branches are silhouetted against a winter sky. The changing months bring the green shoots of spring, the billowy masses of blossom, the ripening fruits and the leaf colours of autumn. Trained fruit forms can enhance a wall or be used as screens to divide up or block unsightly views. Climbing vines can be encouraged over trellis, or used to cover sheds and eyesores.
Many fruiting trees, such as pears and , are very floriferous and can be planted instead of ornamental trees. Quinces and have interesting shapes and leaves and are much more attractive than many alternatives featured on small front lawns. In Europe as least they are cheaper too, because fruit trees currently carry no VAT. Fruit trees and bushes are also good competitors, and may still produce crops when grown amongst vigorous plants in overcrowded borders or in , where vegetables would be overwhelmed.
The ecology around us is, of course, of vital importance to all of us, and the permanent nature of most common fruiting plants means their cultivation makes fewer demands on, heat and consumables than other types of , such as ornamental bedding schemes or the vegetable patch. Once established, most tree fruits can be grassed or mulched around leaving no bare soil to erode or leach. Their long season in leaf fixes much carbon dioxide and their root systems go deep enough to utilise more of the soil’s nutrients than do other plants.
Fruiting plants necessarily have flowers in quantity which are especially valuable to the pollinating, parasitising and beneficial predatory insects. The permanence of fruit makes it easier to build up a beneficial ecosystem around them and they support wildlife with nest sites, shelter, and of course food – especially if we are not very careful to protect it Indeed, if we do not utilise, and protect, our crops then the wildlife can, and will, take advantage of it. Whereas rows of surplus vegetables are mostly only good for.
We can, therefore, choose to make a fruit garden partly for wildlife, adding the shelter, water and other conditions needed to encourage them. If we are cunning, we can have sufficient fruit for ourselves and yet have enough spare to share with all the other. Indeed, the birds are not only nature’s guardians, controlling insect pests, but also the heirs to the crop. Much of the fruit gardener’s work goes in to preventing them and other pests from making off with the results of our efforts. However, with cunning and nets, we can prevent them stealing more than a modicum Nature intends them to eat and spread her fruits, so we should not take their depredations too personally. After all, a fruit encourages us, and other creatures, to eat some of the sweet flesh, if in exchange we distribute the plant’s seeds.
Thus it is with a clear conscience that we consume fruits, the plants give them freely, providing food so we can travel on and spread their seeds as we go. How different this is from growing cut flowers, which we take to a sterile death indoors, and vegetables, which we so thoughtlessly hack to pieces, possibly even while we feel righteous about giving up meat!