Tips For Creating A Soft Fruit Garden

March is a good time to move deciduous trees and shrubs and there is just time still to plant raspberry canes and other soft fruit bushes if you did not do so over the winter or very early in the spring. Creating a soft fruit garden is a great step to take if you are beginning the journey of growing your own. Raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries and strawberries are pretty easy to grow and will do well in most gardens, while currants and blueberries will need more acidic soil and if your soil is naturally a more alkaline pH then these are usually best grown in containers.

The important thing to remember with most fruit bushes and fruit bearing canes is that although they will do fine in partial shade, the more sun you can give them the more fruit they will tend to produce. A sheltered spot against a south or west facing wall is a good spot for growing raspberries, blackberries and other related berries. You can create a structure of horizontal wires or a trellis work to which you can tie your raspberry canes. Any reasonably sunny and sheltered spot will be fine for a fruit garden and a little dappled shade cast by a deciduous tree would not be at all problematic. It is usually best to consider a location where the fruits can easily be caged or netted later in the year.

Beneath your raspberries you can plant some alpine strawberries or wild strawberries which will not mind the shade and can give you a bonus soft fruit crop. Companion plants such as borage and tansy can complete the guild and give your soft fruits the best possible chance of successfully fruiting prolifically. Layering your fruiting crops will allow you to make the very most of your space.

Creating a strawberry bed will give you a fruiting crop that will just get better year after year as runners appear to bulk out the space between the parent plants. Get an earlier crop of strawberries by bringing your strawberry plants under cover this month. Strawberries grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel may easily fruit a couple of weeks earlier than those that have been left outside. Just make sure that you give them enough water, especially as the fruits begin to form. If you do not have space for a dedicated strawberry bed then strawberries can also make a good edging plant in the front of mixed beds or borders.

Both the canes and the strawberries will also work just fine in a container garden – even the smallest space can be used to create a soft fruit garden that will delight you throughout the summer and autumn. Growing soft fruits in containers can also give you a lot of flexibility when it comes to arranging and re-arranging your outside space. Do not forget to think vertically as well as horizontally, especially in smaller spaces. Strawberries can be grown in hanging baskets or vertical garden shelves or stacks which not only look good but can also elevate your crop, thereby making it a little more difficult for slugs and snails and other pests to eat them all.

Remember that a soft fruit garden should be bountiful and lush, a place to relax in. Consider how it will be to pick the fruits and time you will spend there when deciding on a spot for your soft fruit area. You are a part of the ecosystem of your garden and it all has to work for you.