Planning (more) fruit futures

The weather is dank and dark, the heating still isn’t working and the dog refuses to recall but I find I drift easily away from all of these petty everyday issues when I think of summer and the bumper soft fruit crops I hope we’re going to get. I’ve become increasingly irritated by supermarket soft fruit over the years. I can’t be the only one shocked by the prices charged for such shoddy merchandise. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve opened an eye-wateringly priced punnet of strawberries or similar on the day of purchase, only to find that half of them have hidden furry sides. Things came to a head a couple of years ago when a well-known veg box charged me £4 for a box of strawberries that turned out to have just five fruits in it, two of which were inedible. From that day on I always made sure we grew our own and even on our tiny London patio we still had a decent handful of berries from our vertical wall planter every other day for a month or two. So imagine my excitement when I look forward to future summers here on the smallholding now that we’ve braved the winter weather to plant 40-odd fruit bushes and more than 120 raspberry canes! I do hope they don’t all keel over and die. Bare-rooted things are so much cheaper but so much more nerve-wracking to plant! The last few bushes went in this week, six different blueberries and a cranberry, all planted in pots to ensure they got the nice acidic soil that they need to crop.

Bluebs and Cranbs (as they’re affectionately known here) ready to sprout!

I think that these plastic pots are so much uglier than the ceramic ones but they’re cheap and I reason that in their eventual home in the kitchen garden their harvest rather than their pots will be what attract attention.

A rather enthusiastic-looking cranberry

My little boy loves blueberries and enthusiastically hoovers them up straight from the plant. I’ve found it quite hard to find any indication of yield per bush online but hope that these will suffice! These were by far and away the easiest things we’ve planted since moving in and hysterically deciding that the dormant period mustn’t be wasted. No digging stony clay soil in freezing winds in an exposed paddock, just emptying a few bags  into a pot having made a few drainage holes in the bottom, and then burrowing the plant inside. Voila, fruit in pots!

Slight snag was hit when the dog, espying the remaining hardy plants (mainly blackberries and tayberries that we want to plant along our boundary stock fencing once it’s been repaired) made a mad dash across the garden with a precious blackberry clenched in her teeth. We can only suppose the wretched hound assumed we’d dutifully provided her with a bunch of sticks to play with. That poor plant was a goner by the time we negotiated its return, but the others are currently sitting on the patio being guarded by spare pots until we can get them safely in the ground in the next couple of weeks. It’s a peculiar trait of this dog to uproot plants from pots but not the ground. We need to move fast to keep ahead of her!

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We farm a three acre smallholding in Hampshire, England, having fled London in pursuit of the good life for our little family. We mess about with an assorted menagerie and try to be as self-sufficient as possible in meat and fruit and vegetables whilst enjoying our plot and an outdoors lifestyle with our son. I am the luckiest person that I know.

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