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Unusual Fruits Growing Guide

Unusual Fruits quick links

Unusual Fruits Growing Guide

The great thrill of growing your own fresh food can’t be overstated. It’s all about the joy of experiencing the cleanest, purest-tasting fruit and vegetables you simply can’t find in the shops. It’s also the journey of discovery in trying out something a little different from the usual run-of-the-mill offerings.

For example, you only have to compare the choice of salads on display in the average supermarket with the epic number of varieties on offer to the home grower. Gardening enthusiasts enjoy a wider range of produce flavours, colours and textures – no wonder we’re a happy bunch!

But even the vast pool of crops open to us can eventually become well tried and tested. Where does the adventurous kitchen gardener turn to for something truly unusual, to get the tastebuds tingling in anticipation? The answer lies in the many fruiting shrubs and trees that we all too often overlook or simply don’t know about. These include relatively under-planted stalwarts such as the quince and cranberry-like lingonberry, which many will have heard of if not grown, to rare curiosities that deserve wider recognition.

You may well already grow some of these unusual fruits, without realising that those shiny berries are in fact an edible treat! Take the hardy shrub varieties of fuchsia, the pretty myrtle or the fruits of the mahonia – all are edible, yet how many of us have thought to eat a few of their berries? With space limited in the majority of British gardens, fruiting shrubs with both decorative and edible appeal are set to gain attention in a big way, while opening up a whole new world of taste.

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Growing Unusual Fruits month-by-month

January

Continue planting bare-root and container-grown varieties as the weather allows. Carefully firm back any plants that become loose in the winter frosts.

February

Continue planting bare-root and container-grown varieties as the weather allows. Carefully firm back any plants that become loose in the winter frosts.

March

This is the last month to get your bare-root crops into place and a good time of year for planting container-grown trees and shrubs before they set into active growth.

April

Apply a top-dressing of general-purpose organic fertilizer to established plants and top up with a generous layer of organic mulch, such as well-rotted compost.

May

Continue planting container-raised stock and begin watering newly planted trees and shrubs in dry weather.

Must do this month!
June

Water recently-planted trees and shrubs during hot and dry weather. Check tree ties and loosen them as trunks swell. Keep the soil weed-free by removing any unwanted plants that appear by hoe or hand throughout the summer.

July

Water recently-planted trees and shrubs during hot and dry weather. Check tree ties and loosen them as trunks swell. Keep the soil weed-free by removing any unwanted plants that appear by hoe or hand throughout the summer.

August

September

Cooler weather kicks off the planting season. While bare-root types will not yet be available, this is a good time to set container-raised trees and shrubs into place. Many plants will now be cropping.

October

Autumn is the best time to get bare-root plants into the ground. Prepare the soil by digging it over and incorporating plenty of organic matter. Stake trees if needed to prevent them rocking in the wind.

November

Autumn is the best time to get bare-root plants into the ground. Prepare the soil by digging it over and incorporating plenty of organic matter. Stake trees if needed to prevent them rocking in the wind.

December

Continue planting bare-root and container-grown varieties as the weather allows. Carefully firm back any plants that become loose in the winter frosts.

Caring for your Unusual Fruits plants + problems

Any new plant will require some attention until it has found its feet. If you have planted in autumn watch out for harsh frosts, which can lift crops proud of ground level – simply push them back into place. For at least one year after planting you will also need to water in dry weather and remove all weeds.

As plants grow they can mainly be left to their own devices. However, better results will be had if the soil in which your fruiting tree or shrub is growing stays well fed. In most instances this is simply a matter of top-dressing in spring with some general-purpose organic fertilizer before topping up with a layer of organic mulch. Take care when mulching that it does not touch the central stem as this can cause rotting.

Plants grown in containers will need extra care as they depend almost entirely on you for their supply of water and food. Such trees and shrubs are likely to need more regular watering and should be given an occasional liquid feed during the summer. As roots fill the available space, pot plants on to the next size up and once the final container size is reached, remove the top few inches of compost each spring and replace with fresh.

How to harvest Unusual Fruits

Most fruiting plants will yield a big enough haul for both your needs and those of visiting birds, but if you find feathered visitors are ravaging your chances of a decent crop then net plants in good time.

Make sure the net reaches down to the soil and is pegged into position so that ground-feeding birds don’t wander in and become trapped. Knowing when fruits are ready to harvest is down to observing colour. In most cases this will be obvious – berries will take on a richer, deeper hue to attract the birds to come and feed. This is also your cue to start picking! Check over plants regularly to make sure that you are getting every last berry, currant or fruit. Most may be eaten raw but those that have a sharper taste will make delicious jams and pie fillings.

Or, try combining flavours for an unusual but totally tasty fruit salad. Some fruits, such as those of the buffaloberry, sweeten after the first frost.

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