So you would like to grow your own fruit but you’re impatient because you know that a lot of fruit trees take quite few years to mature and produce edible fruit in sufficient quantities. While you’re waiting, why not try growing the following fruits which are quick to harvest and you can enjoy their delicious flavor in just a few months
- Berries - Strawberries will produce fruit in their first season of planting. You can purchase bare rooted strawberry runners in winter, plant them into your garden and you will have luscious fresh strawberries to enjoy in spring/summer. You can also plant strawberries in hanging pots but make sure they are kept well watered and give them a regular feed with liquid seaweed. If you remove the runners as they form the plants will put more energy into producing fruit and you can plant the strongest of the runners elsewhere for the following year’s harvest. This means you’ll always have a constant supply of strawberries in the warmer weather.
Raspberries and other bramble fruit will take a year to produce but will keep producing for years to come. You purchase bramble fruit as bare rooted canes and plant them along a fence or trellis as they do need some support. The canes will produce foliage in their first year and fruit in their second year after which they will die down. While all this is happening your plants will produce new canes each year for the next year’s harvest. All you need to do is keep the plant well mulched as it is shallow rooted, apply some liquid seaweed fertilizer and remove the old canes once they’ve finished fruiting.
2. Passionfruit – Although passionfruit vines may take 12 to 18 months to produce their first viable fruit they are prolific growers and will produce fruit for most of the year. Plant your vine in a sunny, frost free spot and give the growing plant some support such as a fence, trellis or pergola to climb over. Passionfruit vines also produce an extensive root system so give them plenty of room to grow and when fertilizing use either chicken manure or citrus food to stimulate flowering and fruit production and remember to mulch and fertilize over the entire root system. You can train the plants to grow in the direction you want by attaching the tendrils to the support you’re using and prune lightly to control the size and spread of the plant and to allow sunlight to filter through to the ripening fruit.
3. Melons – Melons such as cantaloupe and watermelons grow on vines similar to pumpkins and take only 80 to 100 days to produce harvestable fruit. The vines prefer loose, well drained soil and full sun. You can let your vines sprawl along the ground, or even grow them up a trellis but you will need to find a way to support the fruit as the vine is not strong enough. You could try making little hammocks for the fruit using an old t-shirt but make sure you tie it to the trellis and not the vine itself. If growing along the ground use some kind of mulch such as sugar cane or pea mulch to keep the fruit clean and to avoid soil borne diseases. The young plants need to be well watered but try to only water the roots and avoid getting the leaves wet to avoid fungus diseases. Once the fruit start to grow reduce the watering as this helps to concentrate the sugars in the fruit, making the melons sweeter. Only water the plants when you see the leaves wilting a little. To determine when your cantaloupe are ready to harvest, check for a very sweet smell where the melons join the stem and they should come away from the stem easily. Melons do not continue to mature if they are picked before they’re fully ripe. For testing watermelons for maturity make sure the curly tendril near where the watermelon attaches to the stem is dead or brown and the skin of the fruit should be slightly dull.