It’s easy to create a pick-your-own garden
A pick-your-own garden with climbing fruit like blackberries, raspberries, blueberries and grapes doesn’t need much room. Plants make use of vertical space and can even thrive on a balcony, with pretty foliage and blossom early in the summer.
During the summer the fruits develop, which can then be harvested in late summer and autumn. Seeing the fruit growing (and eating it) is a fun and educational experience for children.
Which climbing fruit is suitable?
Good choices are the thornless blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), raspberry (Rubus idaeus), grape (Vitis vinifera) and blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum).
All the plants come in many varieties, including compact forms. Breeding has made them stronger, more productive, and easier to maintain than before.
Climbing fruit facts
- Bramble: – a form of the old Germanic word ‘bram-bezi’, which became ‘brombeere’ in German, ‘braambes in Dutch’, ‘bramble’ in English and ‘(f)ramboise’ in French. The blackberry is really the European ancestral berry.
- The blueberry is often confused with the bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), but is a bit larger, doesn’t stain and has foliage in the autumn that changes to fiery red.
- The raspberry is also known as the ‘caviar of fruit’ and is viewed as one of the tastiest berries internationally.
- From eastern China to southern Europe, the grape has had a special status as the basis for wine for over 9000 years. Breeding means that the plant can now also thrive in cooler regions such as Britain, the Netherlands and Scandinavia.
Many climbing fruits are members of the rose family. The blackberry grows throughout Europe, but also in the high mountains of South America.
The raspberry is another European classic and has been spreading from Italy and Greece since the 16th century.
Blueberries are native to woodland areas in the eastern United States and have only been growing in Europe since the start of the 20th century. Grapes spread from the Middle East.
What to look for when buying
- By late June, the plants should be fully grown, have plenty of leaves, and be bearing blossom or even fruit.
- Check the ratio between pot size and plant, the length of the supports and a good spread of leaves, flowers and berries.
- Check for caterpillars, snails, aphids or other pests such as mildew or Botrytis.
- Climbing fruits can be grown in containers, pots or beds, and prefer a sunny spot to ripen the fruit.
- Blackberries, raspberries and blueberries like nutrient-rich, slightly acidic soil. Grapes prefer a chalky soil.
- Do not allow the soil to dry out. The plants use a lot of water for growing the berries.
- Provide support for the plant to climb up, such as a rack, frame or pergola.
- Give suitable plant food once a fortnight during the growing season.
- Most climbing fruits are self-pollinating, so there’s nothing more you need to do to enjoy fruit.
- Prune in late winter or early spring.
For more information, visit Thejoyofplants.co.uk.