Why not try growing something new in your garden or allotment this year? The last few years have seen many new delicious, super healthy soft fruit varieties available for us gardeners and growers to buy. These varieties are often crosses between fruit species, providing you with fruit which is quite unique and not commercially available at the supermarkets.
Benefits of growing unusual soft fruit varieties.
- Often packed with more vitamins and minerals
- The wow factor! Your friends will think you’re a gardening genius when you produce an apple that has pink flesh, or a stun them with a yellow topped raspberry pavlova
- Make your taste buds zing with new recipes including these interesting new varieties. From jams and preserves to deserts and smoothies, soft fruits are so versatile as to what you can make with them. Most freeze exceptionally well so no food waste here!
- Be in control. Unless buying organic we have no idea of the pesticides and fertilisers used in the commercial production of soft fruit purchased at the super market. By growing your own you are in complete control of what is used to feed plants and any chemical control that may be needed for pests and diseases.
Pink Lemonade Blueberry
A pink coloured blueberry that tastes of sweet lemon! Well I never.
The Lemonade blueberry is packed full of the same vitamins and minerals as a standard blueberry but the taste is more of sweet lemon with a hint of blueberry, think tangy sweetness.
All blueberries thrive in an acidic soil so if your soil is not naturally acidic consider planting in containers / planters. Choose a planter however with plenty of root space, this plant can get to an impressive 1.5m in height.
Blueberries need an acidic soil to thrive . You have a couple of options when planting in containers. You can either plant in an ericaceous compost (acid) or use normal compost with a mulch of pine needles around the base which turn the soil based compost acidic as they break down.
Top tip….. although the Pink Lemonade Blueberry is self fertile consider planting in pairs for a bumper crop!
Ka Pow Chilean Guava Plant
This is another soft fruit that looks like one thing and tastes like another.
‘Ka Pow’ is a variety of Chilean Guava that has been bred here in the UK by James Wong, ethnobotanist (did he make that title up?) and TV presenter.
Soft pink scented flowers appear in Spring followed by round, small blueberry looking fruits (red however). Looking like blueberries, tasting like strawberries. Some have likened the taste to bubblegum.
Ka Pow is a non invasive shrub so do not worry about where you plant it, next to the house or by a patio is fine. It will thrive in full sun but will also do well in a semi shade position. It will do best in a well drained but moist soil. Plant in containers if you struggle with clay soil or only have a balcony garden. What particularly attracts me to growing this soft fruit plant is, as an evergreen shrub with small leaves it can be clipped into a semi-formal shape after fruiting. Perfect to small to medium hedges in the garden or allotment! Box replacement?
Honeyberry (Lonicera Kamtchatica)
A wonderful form of honeysuckle that is edible.
As its name suggests, the honeyberry has purple, elongated fruits that have similar colour and taste of blueberries but with a hint of honey.
Honeysuckles are vigorous climbing plants so back of border for this plant trained on trellis or wires on the fence or wall.
Full sun would be best and a hard prune in late winter once established to aid ventilation and light.
Honeyberries are very hardy so do not need any winter protection, just a good dressing of blood, fish and bone fertiliser in Spring.
Pruning Soft Fruit Bushes
I always recommend looking up each individual plant types pruning requirements as they normally differ but, as always, please use a decent, clean, sharp set of pruners.
Feeding Soft Fruit Bushes
All will benefit from a good dressing of fertiliser in early Spring and a good mulch of well rotted manure to aid in keeping weeds down and retaining water in Summer.
Birds and small mammals can be a problem when growing soft fruits. If you are setting up a fruit garden, small or large in your garden or allotment then I strongly recommend investing in a self-assembly fruit cage.