Thursday, 18 September 2014

THE BEST FRUIT VARIETIES FOR BEGINNERS

Lets be honest. If you’re completely new to fruit growing the subject can be daunting. You just want to get some things planted that will provide you with some encouragement, a stepping stone to more complex things, and a sound investment for your money.
You can’t really approach the subject with no or very little knowledge, plant just anything and expect to get an avalanche of produce in return, it doesn’t work like that – unless you’re lucky!
All of this isn’t meant to be discouraging and shouldn’t be taken as such. It’s practical guidance. And here’s the helpful bit; the following are my top 6 recommendations for varieties that WILL likely provide you with a great crop of delicious fruits more-or-less no matter what. Varieties that won’t expect a huge amount of involvement or skill and which are frost resistant and disease free. These are standbys that will provide you with some basic skills and the encouragement required to further your fruit growing exploits….
1] Ben Sarek Blackcurrant
If you just want pounds of Blackcurrants, from very little space, and with very little upkeep then here’s your answer. Ben Sarek is naturally compact, frost resistant and probably THE most heavily croppinf variety you can plant. Space just 3’ apart and get pounds of fruit per bush. It’s really that simple. Blackcurrants are in general easy to grow anyway and suit most soils and situations. You can hardly go wrong.
2] Apple Red Falstaff as a supercolumn
This is the ideal marriage. A supercolumn is the easiest pruning method of all to master when it comes to fruit trees. Simply trim the side shoots back to 2 or 3” once each late summer. That’s much, much easier than trying to train a bush tree or an espalier. And Red Falstaff is the number one most reliable apple variety you can get, and it’s self fertile too so you don’t have to worry about pollination. It’s hardy, disease resistant and has good crisp juicy fruits which colour well and are impressive. You only need to allot 2’ in space to accommodate this, ‘your starter fruit tree’.
3] Gooseberry Invicta
Gooseberries are a great fruit to grow. They freeze, make jams and pies and are productive and not the sort of soft fruit you can buy readily in shops. Invicta should be your first choice because it’s very, very mildew resistant and will yield prolifically every year. Plant bushes 4’ apart.
4] Plum Jubilee as a supercolumn
Following on from the principals of Red Falstaff apple described above, here’s a like-minded Plum variety that does exactly the same. Jubilee is self fertile so it will crop well on it’s own. Super-reliable and hardy, the delicious oval red/purple fruits ripen in August and have a good flavour. Suits eating fresh as well as cooking! A space of just 2’ is adequate and it’s very easily pruned.
5] Rhubarb Timperley Early
A rhubarb clump is a sound standby and will give you pounds of luscious sticks every year for donkeys years [whatever that means] You can plant in a spare corner and it will grow and need litte if any looking after and – no pruning! Just clear away the old growth over winter and leave the crown be. Timperley Early isn’t the most glamorous variety but it’s super-reliable, prolific and versatile.
6] Blackberry Loch Ness
Loch Ness is an easy-to-accommodate compact Blackberry with no thorns that bears beautiful glossy black fruits in July. It’s easy to train as the shoots are compact and easy to pick. Plant just 4’ apart, or even in a pot if you want and it will do well. Much less vigorous than standard Blackberries, that makes it much easier to control and handle. Blackberries are tolerant of poorer soils and will even take a little shade.

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