A brilliant way of helping the environment (and you) is to grow fruit trees in your garden. We’ve been planting some over the last few years and we’re now reaping the rewards. We also have fruit bushes we’ve grown from cuttings and strawberry plants that we have been propagating every year. It’s been a bit of a fight though, as the birds love our cherries – and the chickens are very keen on raiding the strawberries.
Last year, I was fed up with looking at empty cherry tree branches, so I made some ‘sleeves’ from some old netting to protect them from pesky predators. Hey presto – fabulous cherries for us, and I did leave a few for the birds too.
The beauty of fruit trees is that they come in all shapes and sizes, so even if you have a small garden, you can still grow some. Look out for dwarf rootstock plants if you need small trees. They will survive perfectly well in pots if you make sure you feed them well, so even if just have a patio, you’re good to go. And, if you have a sheltered garden with a wall that gets plenty of sunshine, you’ll also be able to get away with growing more ‘exotic’ fruit like apricots and peaches in front of it.
Taking cuttings from blackcurrants and redcurrants couldn’t be simpler – just wait until the bushes have lost all their leaves in the winter (so you know the plants are dormant) and then remove stems from the base of the bush – choose the strong healthy ones. I just plant them into a spare space in the garden or into a pot full of earth. For blueberries, take a 6 inch cutting from the end of a stem when the plant is actively growing and place in a pot of compost. You can easily grow blueberries in this country, but you’re better off using ericaceous compost as they need acidic soil. They will need protection from the birds too!
We don’t use any pesticides on our trees. One of our good friends is an apple farmer and we asked him for the best advice for growing our fruit organically. He told us that if we didn’t use pesticides, the young trees would probably get diseases in the first couple of years, but then they would become resistant. That’s exactly what happened, and our trees are now healthy and bear fantastic crops of fruit.