By Sarah Buchanan. First published by Rattan Direct on 15 May 2016.
Plant for fruit from your garden – rhubarb!
Not a fruit, but we eat it as a fruit, rhubarb is celebrated in Wakefield, the centre of England’s ‘Rhubarb Triangle’, in a February Rhubarb Festival. Plant now for fruit from your garden and grow tender stems for crumbles and pies.
Rhubarb is easy to grow and the huge leaves look good in your garden too. Choose a moist and sunny site with soft soil: don’t hide your rhubarb behind the shed.
- Buy a good sized, healthy pot grown crown in local garden centres or superstores.
- Dig a hole at least four times the size of the pot and fill with soil mixed with plenty of rotted manure or compost.
- Plant the crown in the hole, with the top just level with the surface of the soil.
- Firm the soil gently around the crown (press down carefully with your foot) and water well.
- Next winter cover the crown with an old dustbin or chimney pot or a rhubarb pot which will encourage (‘force’) stems for early puddings.
Plant for fruit from your garden – apple trees and apple blossom!
Apple trees in blossom mark the beginning of my summer: buds go from green to red and then open to pink or white flowers and the promise of fruit to come. When baby apples appear summer is underway! An apple tree makes a great feature in any garden. Many people choose a tree that can offer the variety of apple they like to eat. Almost more important is to consider how that apple suits your garden: how warm or cool, sunny or windy is your garden? How big will the tree grow? What other apple trees are in the area? This last point is essential if apple blossom is to be pollinated to produce fruit.
So if, like me, you are tempted by blossom, don’t buy the first tree you see. Spend (and enjoy) some time to find out about what will grow well where you live. Hundreds of varieties of apple tree exist, some have been grown for hundreds of years and are local to different areas. The fruits taste different, are ready at different times, and the blossom is different too. Finding out is part of the fun of planning for fruit from your garden.
Good sources of information to help you choose the apple for you include the Common Ground Orchard Network, apple orchards and farmers in your local area, the Royal Horticultural Society and specialist growers of fruit trees.
And if it all feels too much to do, or you are more concerned to have apple blossom in your garden than apples, you might plant a crab apple tree. The blossom is lovely and, while you need to consider a tree that will like where you live, there is less to worry about in terms of what the fruit is like (all crab apples make delicious jellies). Local garden centres and specialist tree nurseries will be happy to offer advice.