Back in October, I blogged about how I was edging towards growing more fruit than veg. We’re eating lots of berries in particular, but with summer long gone, choices are limited.
After buying some frozen local berries in the shop recently, I’ve been inspired to try and grow enough fruit for a freezer full through the winter, and so I’ve been fruit plant shopping.
The dormant winter period is the perfect time to plant fruit bushes, and if you’ve just taken on a plot and are looking to splash out for next year, here are 6 allotment fruits for beginners.
There are two types of gooseberry – the green cooker or the sweeter red. Reds can be eaten straight from the bush, but the greens will often need some cooking.
I like to stew the green ones with a little bit of sugar and eat with yoghurt, but the reds make some of the yummiest jam I’ve tasted. If the jam isn’t your thing, gooseberries freeze really well too.
I’ve often thought that the bang for the buck from blackcurrants isn’t great, but no berry mix would be the same without them. I recently bought a frozen pack of local berries, and I must confess the blackcurrants were the best bit!
Like red gooseberries, blackcurrants make great jam too.
Up until recently, I never understood why anyone would use valuable growing space for something that is so prolific in the wild. That changed when I was bought some blackberry plants as a present, and now I’m a convert.
Cultivated blackberries are bigger, tastier and juicier, and freeze really well. The plants can be trained upwards, making them a good choice if you’re short on space.
Rhubarb is really low maintenance but high cropping fruit, and one of the first harvests of the new season. It’s a great feeling, tasting the first fresh fruit of spring after a long winter.
Rhubarb needs cooking before eating, and the best and simplest way I’ve found is to bake 2 inch long chunks in honey.
The stems also freeze well if you cut into chunks.
The important distinction to make when buying raspberries is whether to go for summer or autumn fruiting canes or indeed both. Polka and Autumn Bliss are excellent later croppers that extend the raspberry season into November.
I’ve fallen in love with blueberries recently, especially on top of my pre bike ride porridge or sprinkled onto some other fruit and yoghurt after dinner.
I have one blueberry bush which as never been all that productive. I planted in a pot of ericaceous compost as blueberries need acidic soil to thrive, but I’m now considering three or four bushes in one of my raised beds as I kind of feel that fruit needs to be in the ground to get the most moisture.