Soft fruits are easier to grow than you might think. Sweet yet tart and perfect picked fresh from your garden, they’re a real treat through the summer and through the autumn, depending on which varieties you buy. The most popular soft fruits are easy to grow in most gardens as long as you give them a bit of love and enough shelter to make sure that the elements – and the garden pests – don’t ruin them. Follow our tips and learn how to grow raspberries, strawberries and currants and take a look at this link for gardening and landscaping tools to get started.
There are two raspberry types: summer fruiting, whereby the plants can be harvested in the summer, and autumn fruiting, whereby the plants can be harvested from late summer right through to early autumn and the first frost. Summer raspberries give you a huge crop, while autumn berries grow a little more slowly but are equally as delicious. Pop them in a sunny yet shady spot with nutrient-rich soil that has plenty of drainage.
Plant the dormant raspberry canes when it’s colder – autumn and winter – and cut down so that they’re only about 15cm in height. In the first year, the canes will establish a healthy root system, and then the following year you’ll be rewarded with lots of lovely fruit. Ensure that there’s a support system in place so that you can tie them as they grow and in the spring add a layer of mulch and manure.
Strawberries should be re-planted every three years – new plants should be put in and you should shift the strawberries to a different spot in the garden. They rot quite easily and need perfect growing conditions, so it’s really important that you don’t just let the fruits languish on old plants. Plant them in the late summer to the early autumn for a bumper crop the following year. They need to be in a sunny spot, with well-drained soil that isn’t chalky, ideally. Water frequently, pop protective mats underneath the plants as they grow and pick off runners – baby plants – as they appear.
All currants – white, red and black fruit in the middle of the summer. They need just a little bit of shade but they also need to be protected from the wind. Blackcurrants need protection from frost and plants need neutral soil to grow well. Use nutrient-soil and plant out in late autumn, leaving a good 4-5 feet in between each plant. Prune really well and keep on top of it frequently to increase fruit yield. When spring comes, add a fertiliser that contains nitrogen and potassium and use plenty of organic mulch to improve soil quality. If the bushes are mature, prune them back by a third each year and get rid of a lot of the old wood so that new, strong stems can flourish.
Source: BBC Gardens