When talking about fruit growing most people would relate to fruit grown on trees such as apples, pears, peaches, apricots, figs and citrus. However there are plenty of fruit varieties which grow on vines, bushes and even on the ground. Here are 3 varieties that are the easiest fruit to grow.
1. Berries – Berry fruit include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and of course the ever popular strawberry.
Strawberries are probably the easiest to grow as they need no structure to support them. You can purchase strawberry runners bare rooted in Autumn and these can be planted in late winter or early spring. Usually plants will produce their best crop in the first year but can be left for another year as long as you remove the runners to avoid overcrowding and lack of air flow around the plants. Strawberry plants prefer a regular spray of seaweed fertilizer and this will also help with any fungal problems. You can replant the runners you’ve removed into a different area to start your second crop. When planting strawberry runners its best to apply a layer of mulch around the plants to control weeds and to keep the fruit clean. Strawberries like plenty of water but don’t like wet leaves so drip irrigation is best. If you have a lot of bird life in your garden you may like to construct a frame over your strawberries to cover with some bird netting to protect the fruit.
Blueberries actually grow on bushes up to 2 metres tall, depending on the variety, and are the perfect plants to grow for an edible hedge. Blueberry bushes require good drainage so its a good idea to mound up their growing beds. They also like a humus rich soil so adding some compost to the soil can be very beneficial. And to help create the correct pH which they prefer (4 to 5.5) you could add some coffee grounds or pine needles to the planting hole as this mimics the plant’s natural environment. If you’re going to create a blueberry hedge try mixing your varieties as this can extend your harvest period as different varieties crop at different times.
Raspberries lose their flavor, texture and color within hours after picking so the only way to experience this most delectable fruit is to grow your own. Raspberries grown on canes and are actually suckering shrubs. For this reason they need to be planted with a support of some kind. You could use lattice, attach 3 horizontal wires to a fence or even plant them around a tripod like structure which you can make from simple garden stakes. Like blueberries, raspberries like a well drained soil and slightly acidic. If you look after your raspberry plants well they can remain productive for over 30 years. Raspberries should be planted in Autumn or Winter and prefer a sheltered site with shade from the afternoon sun. Once the canes have finished fruiting, prune them at ground level and new ones will shoot up which you can then tie to your supports. To promote fruiting use an organic fertilizer high in potassium or a seaweed tonic.
Blackberries are grown the same as raspberries.
2. Passionfruit – Every garden needs a prolific passionfruit vine. It’s both extremely attractive with its dark green leaves and showy flowers and produces beautiful large round fruit which we know so well for their use as a garnish on cheesecakes and pavlovas. A healthy passionfruit vine also makes a very effective screen and needs to be grown on a strong trellis as the plants have very strong tendrils which like to have something to cling to. You can train the plant as it is growing to produce really good coverage of a fence or other structure that you’d like to hide. Passionfruit vines do really well if you give them a bit of a prune in early Spring taking off about 30cm. The vines do prefer a well drained soil and really appreciate a fertilizer high in iron such as chicken manure. Mulching around the root system will help to keep the moisture in and the roots cool. Keep well watered especially in the growing season.
- Tomatoes – Yes tomatoes are actually fruit although we tend to consume them as a savory food. If you’ve never tasted a juicy home grown tomato then you will be pleasantly surprised and will wonder how you ever put up with those tasteless grocery store bought ones. Tomatoes can be purchased as seedlings – look for strong looking squat seedlings rather than tall lanky ones. Because of their prolific growth habit, tomatoes need to be staked or they will fall over once the fruit starts growing. They prefer a slightly acidic soil and a fertilizer high in potassium to stimulate flower and fruit growth. Sulphate of potash is a good choice. If you notice a yellowing off of the leaves once the plants start growing this could mean a soil deficiency and can be fixed with a dose of Epsom salts or chelated iron. Tomatoes really like their roots well watered so you may like to make a small circular trench around each plant to direct the water to the roots. Tomatoes are also very easily grown in pots on your patio or balcony however you need to ensure that the soil does not dry out.