We all love receiving a parcel, and none more so than ones containing lovely new fruit bushes.
Autumn and Winter are the perfect times to plant fruit bushes as they are dormant during this period. Essentially, they’re hibernating, and no growing occurs until Spring.
There are loads of great places to buy your fruit bushes, from local nurseries to excellent online suppliers. But if you’re a beginner looking to order fruit bushes for your allotment or garden, what do you need to know before you go browsing?
Bare Root & Container Bushes
The main advantage of a container-grown plant is that they can be planted at most times of the year, and can sit in their pots for several weeks before going into the ground.
Bare root bushes are cheaper and having been grown in a field at the nursery they do not use as many resources as container plants. They’ll arrive freshly lifted and with no soil around the roots.
If you choose bare-root plants, try to be prepared. They will need to go into the ground as quickly as possible, but if life gets in the way the plants will be okay in the packaging for a week or so. Just make sure the roots are kept moist and stored somewhere cool. Don’t put them in your greenhouse or in the sun!
Self Fertile and Soil Preferences
Most fruit bushes are now self-fertile, and will generally be clearly marked as such online, but it’s worth checking if you’re unsure. Many online retailers, such as Blackmoor Fruit and Victoriana Nursery are incredibly helpful.
Research the soil preferences of each variety before you place any orders, as this can make or break the success of your harvests. For example, blueberries like acidic soil, blackcurrants are greedy and require very rich soil, whilst blackberries need good drainage.
Read up on diseases and if you’re after an easy life, choose varieties bred to resist the nasties. Lots of modern gooseberries, such as the heavy cropping Invicta, are now replacing the older varieties that were very susceptible to mildew.
Big Ben is new blackcurrant that is resistant to mildew and leaf spot and Ben Sarek is resistant to mildew and leaf curling midge.
Prickles and Saving Money
Watch out for the prickly bushes! Gooseberries and blackberries will draw blood if you’re slapdash with your handling and harvesting. Thornless varieties are now available, such as Pax gooseberry and Loch Ness blackberry.
And of course, think about what you like to eat. It’s easy to get carried away (I know!) and order something of everything, but if you only ever eat gooseberries and blackcurrants, focus on growing these.
Soft fruit is expensive in the shops, so getting good yields of fruit that you eat lots of will also save you cash – particularly as most bush fruit freezes well.