Plan now for a fruit-filled summer garden, says Louisa Gilhooly
Plan now for a fruit-filled summer garden
Q How can I grow fruit in my small urban garden?
YOU DON’T need acres of land to grow your own fruit. You can train many fruit trees up walls or grow them as miniature forms, and plant soft fruit in patio pots. Even the smallest back garden can provide its owner with fruit all year round, space for relaxation and nectar-rich flowers for wildlife. This design aims to create an attractive cottage-style garden using plants that are both edible and ornamental. It centres on a working/sitting area, surrounded by fruiting and flowering plants that spill over onto the pathways. Functionality is key and here the different terracing levels of the existing space offer the perfect opportunity for making a feature of raised planters. The tiny lawn has been replaced with four small beds separated by brick paths and the shed moved to provide an extra vertical growing area in sun. Decorative obelisks support climbing plants such as gourds or sweet peas for cutting. If allowed to grow naturally, most fruit trees will easily become too tall for most small gardens. To overcome the problem, choose trees grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks, which have a more compact habit. These generally grow to around 2m (6½ft), or smaller if grown in a pot. You need an M27 rootstock for a tiny apple tree, Quince C for pear, Gisela 5 for cherry and Pixy for plum. Small fruit trees and shrubs happily grow in pots on a patio. Blueberries hate alkaline soil, but will thrive in a tub of ericaceous compost; ‘Top Hat’ and ‘Nelson’ are both partially self-fertile. Tender plants such as small citrus trees can be taken inside in their pots to protect them from frosts. Lemon ‘Meyer’ is a compact, reliable choice. Planting fruit trees in pots will help to restrict their height, allowing you to produce monsters such as a ‘Brown Turkey’ fig. Underplant them with low-growing herbs or annuals.
Growing trees in pots will help restrict their height