THE TOP 6 FRUITS FOR GREENHOUSE GROWING
Possibly the most exciting possibilities in fruit growing lie in the greenhouse. It enables us to cultivate more predictably varieties that either lie on the borderline of hardiness, or which will yield more reliably given a protected environment. A greenhouse extends the boundaries of what can be achieved. Here are my suggestions to use this valuable space wisely!
1] Apricot ‘Isabelle’
Apricots are probably the most temperamental temperature-wise of all the top fruits that can be cultivated in the UK. Whilst they can certainly provide good crops during some years when grown outdoors, the crops achieved, and the flavour, in a cold greenhouse are quite simply mouthwatering. The blossom is very early so it will gain the frost protection it needs when grown indoors. Infact, if the greenhouse is even slightly heated, the flowers could appear by late February. I have chosen ‘Isabelle’ because it is naturally compact and easier to accommodate than the larger varieties. If you can plant direct into the soil or border and have alean-to when why not grow a fan trained Apricot. Moorpark, Tomcot and Alfred are all superb varieties.
2] FIG Bianco Gentile
Some Figs do well enough outdoors but I wanted to include this variety because it is requiring of a warmer environment to yield and ripen well and it is so worth it! The large, Pear shaped and super-sweet pale green fruits have a luscious super-juicy and nectar sweet interior white flesh. An absolute eating sensation. Can be contained in a large pot, which will enhance fruiting even further.
3] Peach ‘Saturn’
Known as the Honey Peach, whilst hardly new [we exhibited it at Chelsea over 20 years ago] just recently it has begun to appear in the shops, and apparently is finding a ready demand. This popularity has resulted in renewed enquiries for trees to grow at home. These curious, flattened little Peaches are super-sweet with a pale creamy white juicy flesh that is as sweet as honey, which has led to the common name being coined. Saturn is self fertile and a joy to see when bedecked with it’s beautiful rose pink blossoms. Peaches can do well outdoors but Saturn is a little less hardy than most so it requires either a warm patio – or a greenhouse where you can harvest many of these delectable and unique Peaches. Self fertile.
Grow it in a 20” pot containing loam based compost.
Other Peach varieties [Rochester, Wassenberger and Royal George are particularly good] can be fan-trained as noted under Apricots above.
4] Kiwi fruit ‘Jenny’
An ideal glasshouse constituent, Jenny is self fertile so you only need one vine, and it less vigorous than traditional varieties, producing a great crop of fruits which will ripen better in a greenhouse environment.
Crops can be very heavy and they should be harvested as late as possible and can be further ripened on a sunny windowsill if need be and enjoyed through November and beyond. I think the joy of cultivating Kiwi fruits successfully can exceed that of almost any other fruit.
5] Nectarine ‘Nectarella’
A handy genetic dwarf, which needs no pruning and will naturally stay dwarf, handily taking it’s place in a sunny corner of your greenhouse and happy with life in a 18” pot. Although the tree, at just 4’ fully grown, is miniature, the fruits certainly aren’t. Full sized and sweet and juicy. Nectarella is self fertile and needs no pruning.
The best part of growing Nectarines in a greenhouse is that the chances of getting leaf curl are much reduced.
6] Grape Vine ‘Rembrandt’
An old hot-house variety that was popular in Victorian times. I am pleased to maintain a stock of this rare and hard to find variety. Although the Victorians used to cosset it, it actually needs no more than cold greenhouse protection [it can also succeed outdoors on a sunny South or West facing wall] The reason this variety deserves space in your greenhouse is the results achieved. No other Grape variety produces such large, sweet and aromatic fruits and the bunches can be extremely impressive, large and well filled. Superb table decoration for the fruit bowl and you can say – ‘I grew those’!
In common with most grapes, Rembrandt does not need a whole lot of space to yield well and suits life in a container and intensive pruning systems – or, if you are blessed with a large greenhouse you can let it loose to cover the roof!!
Finally, don’t forget to leave some room for a few strawberries [pot or growbag] for extra-early fruits!