Growing Soft Fruits for Beginners

[Music] Hello! They don’t look like much now, do they? But in a few weeks these fruit bushes will be bursting into leaf, ready to start a new season of delicious abundance. In fact, many soft fruits are both heavy-cropping
and surprisingly easy to grow, and when you consider how
much they cost to buy in the shops there’s every reason to grow them. If you’ve never tried growing fruit before because you
think it’s too difficult, this video’s for you: because we’re going to show you which soft fruits
are best for beginners. Strawberries need no introduction, and with early, mid and late season
varieties to choose from you could be picking fruits from spring all
the way through to autumn. Strawberries will crop the first summer after
planting, and because they’re not woody plants the only pruning they need is
trimming back the leaves after fruiting. Fruits that lie on bare soil or are splashed
with mud can rot, so protect them by laying straw around plants
when they begin to flower. You can even enjoy a late crop of strawberries by
planting an autumn-fruiting or perpetual variety then protecting plants from the cold
with row covers or cloches. Raspberries offer exceptional harvests for the
effort involved in growing them. There are two types of raspberry – summer-fruiting and autumn-fruiting, or fall-bearing. Autumn-fruiting raspberries are
the easiest to grow because they need only minimal support to stop them
flopping over, and pruning couldn’t be easier too – simply cut back all of the old
canes in late winter, ready for new canes to replace them in spring. Autumn-fruiting raspberries produce a steady supply
of berries from late summer right up to the first frosts. Banish thoughts of viciously spiny blackberry canes: most modern varieties are thornless, while the fruits tend to be bigger and
sweeter than their wild counterparts. The canes are vigorous and generally
trouble-free. Simply tie them to supports to maintain
order, and cut out old canes to encourage new growth. Hybrid berries such as loganberry,
boysenberry and tayberry are the result of a cross between the blackberry and other cane fruits,
often raspberry or another hybrid. The result is a treasure trove of tasty berries – all easy
to grow, and all juicy and delicious. With red, white and black currants to choose
from you’re immediately spoiled for choice. All currants crop well, producing heavily laden
clusters (or ‘strigs’) of currants to eat fresh, blitz into sauces,
or perhaps turn into flavorsome jam or jelly. They also go wonderfully
with apples in a tempting pie. Red and white currants prefer cooler climates,
and will even grow well in shade. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, opt for whitecurrants, which tend to be a little sweeter than reds. Blackcurrants require very little care indeed,
even cropping when neglected, but prune them in winter to remove
some of the older and crossing branches and you’ll encourage lots of new healthy growth
and plenty of those tempting fruits. The near-indestructible gooseberry
will thrive in seemingly any soil, though it prefers cooler climates
and some shelter from the wind. Choose between culinary varieties for cooking
up into jams, pies and jellies, or dessert varieties to enjoy fresh. Gooseberries will produce their fruits even when they are neglected, but show them some care by feeding, pruning and mulching, and you’ll have bumper
pickings to enjoy every summer. Historically, the cultivation of gooseberries and currants
was restricted in many areas of the United States. The reason is that they serve as an intermediary
host for the disease White Pine Blister Rust, which is fatal to white pines,
an important tree for the lumber industry. Thankfully, modern breeding has created varieties
resistant to the disease, and restrictions have been lifted in most states. However there are still restrictions in some areas, so
check the situation where you live before planting. Soft fruits generally
require less space than tree fruits, and they’re quicker to reach maturity so you
won’t have to wait long before your first pickings. Container-grown soft fruits
may be planted at any time of year, while bare-root fruits are best
planted from late winter to early spring, or in milder climates from autumn
onwards. Keep your soft fruits thriving by watering thoroughly
once a week in dry weather, especially in the first year. A spring top-dressing of
organic mulch such as compost will help to feed the plants while improving soil structure. Lay it at least a couple of inches (5cm) thick, taking
care to keep it clear of the canes or trunks of the plants. You may find birds
like your fruits as much as you do. Netting or, for a more permanent solution,
a walk-in fruit cage will keep them off. While soft fruits are delicious eaten fresh,
most currants and berries can also be easily frozen or dried to enjoy later
on in the year. Every garden of every size should have at least a few berries. And I hope this video has given you some inspiration for what you might like to try. If you’re already growing fruits, then please tell us in the
comments section below what you have, and whether you’d recommend it for beginners too. And make your year even more fruitful
by subscribing to our video channel – we’d really welcome your company. I’ll catch you next time [Music]