Diary of a Rocket Gardener: Preparing for Fruit

I’ve nearly completed two years working on my kitchen garden now. I started in February 2015 with a completely overgrown patch of land approximately the size of a double tennis court.

It honestly was head high in brambles and other weeds and ridden with old rotting tree stumps. With the help of a mini digger and a day of brush cutting, the wasteland was rapidly transformed to expose the soil and old pathway. A few weeks later, with an awful lot of digging and weeding, the first few raised beds went in and I started growing that spring. I brought in some chickens to help keep the weeds down (they’re not very hard workers as it turns out, but they do lay die eggs) so that I could concentrate on the veg patch.

Since then, I’ve levelled out a few areas, put in extra beds using empty wine bottles as edging and sorted out some pathways using weed mesh and wood chip. I’ve now divided the plot in half, with the lower half dedicated to growing food, and the upper half acting as the chicken run until I get round to sorting it out next year (I want to make it into a bit of a cottage grade/cutting garden).

In the meantime, I have the last few things to sort out in the lower half which I hope to get underway this winter; growing fruit and starting an asparagus bed. The latter is something I can start now but I’m not sure I’ll be able to plant for another year as I understand that it is best to grow asparagus in a weed-free bed, a luxury that I don’t currently have. Hopefully a year spent under black plastic will do the trick!

The lower half of the plot this autumn

So now I am turning my attention to growing fruit. I’m not much of a fruit fan if I’m honest. Bananas send shivers down my spine and melons to me are the most bland tasting things. But I do enjoy crumbles and pies with a few berries, and I like the idea of being able to offer friends and families the chance to take a punnet of homegrown berries home with them when they pop in for a cuppa! I’ve already got a little strawberry patch on the go, and now I want to add some raspberries, blueberries and also I fancy trying honey berries and tayberries as they look fun and different.

I’ve had a strip of soil covered with black weed membrane since last spring, and I hope this will have killed off the worst of the weeds ready for me to plant some bare-rooted fruit in the next couple of months. I’m not sure yet whether the soil is suitable for growing blueberries, as I understand they like an acidic soil. A trip to the garden centre is in order to get a testing kit and determine the pH of my soil, and then I can either add in some sulphur chips  (I don’t even know what these are or whether they are eco-friendly, so need to investigate!) to change the pH or plant them in pots of ericaceous compost instead. I think honey berry plants have much the same requirements, and both honey berries and blueberries perform better when planted in pairs for cross-pollination, so I’ll definitely get 2 or 3 of each on the go.

I think I will stick to autumn fruiting raspberries as they don’t need support and seem easier to prune. I’m relatively new to growing fruit so I want to keep things straightforward if I can! I want to get a good yield so will try and plant a few canes. The biggest problem will inevitably be birds stealing my raspberries, so I may need to build a fruit cage, although I don’t really want to. I’ll sit on it for a week or two and then decide!

The tayberries will need some support so I plan to plant a few of these against the iron railing wall. I should be able to train them in easily that way without needing to build any extra framework. Fingers crossed it works!

I will keep you posted as I get closer to planting my new fruity friends, and will let you know how they grow!


Looking in from the outside of the plot last Feb

The lower half of the plot this summer