MUL­BERRY

Garden Answers (UK) - - Gourmet Grower -

What is it? An in­tensely sweet, tangy black­berry-like fruit that starts to dis­in­te­grate on pick­ing and stains ev­ery­thing nearby, hence you’ll never find it in the shops. It’s not new, hav­ing been grown on these shores since Ro­man times, but these fruit trees are cu­ri­ously un­der­val­ued and un­der­planted. How much space do you need? Mul­ber­ries are renowned for the spread­ing gnarly shape they ob­tain with age, grow­ing into sub­stan­tial trees up to 6–10m (19–33ft) high and just as wide. Lower limbs some­times need prop­ping to stop arms split­ting. Which should I grow? ‘Chelsea’ (also sold as ‘King James I’) is an ex­cel­lent cul­ti­var with large tasty fruits that start to crop slightly ear­lier than the species, per­haps af­ter just five years in­stead of 10. New on the mar­ket from Sut­tons is the dwarf mul­berry ‘Char­lotte Russe’ that reaches only 1.5m (5ft) high and fruits from a very young age. The teeny plant I bought this spring car­ried 10 fruit this July – not enough for a pie, but pretty ex­cit­ing. Where’s best to plant one? These fairly ac­com­mo­dat­ing trees do best in full sun on fer­tile, well-drained soil. Pick a shel­tered spot if you gar­den in a cooler re­gion. When should I plant it? You can plant con­tainer-grown mul­ber­ries in Septem­ber or spring; bare-root Novem­ber to March. Do they need spe­cial treat­ment? Not

es­pe­cially. Clear the ground of peren­nial weeds and break up com­pacted soil. Fin­ish with a mulch of well-rot­ted or­ganic mat­ter and water deeply dur­ing dry spells for the first cou­ple of years.

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