Saturday 27 May 2017

Gardening: Sweet return from the simple fruit of the land

Gerry Daly

Fruit trees and bushes of all kinds can be planted at any time of year because they are practically all supplied nowadays growing in a pot. But the traditional planting time of November to March is still the best, allowing the plant to take root naturally before the spring growing season.

Unlike vegetables that have to be sown each year, many kinds of fruit need relatively little attention. Loganberry is a good example. This old-fashioned fruit was once common in cottage gardens because it was easily propagated by pinning down a shoot tip.

The fruit is a cross between blackberry and raspberry, and originated in California. It is named after its breeder, one Judge Logan, who made the cross between these two fruits in 1881. It has some of the characteristics of blackberry, such as long trailing stems and a white plug in the fruit when picked, and the earlier fruiting of raspberry.

In Scotland, crosses carried out between blackberry and raspberry in the Seventies produced the tayberry, named after the River Tay. The tayberry is similar to loganberry but with larger, sweeter fruit, produced in July rather than the July to September fruiting of loganberry.

As loganberry ripens over a longer period of time, this is a good feature if the fruit is to be eaten fresh, spreading out the picking season but, for jam-making, it is best that most of the fruit comes in at the same time. The tayberry is a heavier cropper and more suitable for jam as it needs less sugar added, but many people enjoy the sharp taste of loganberries.

Both kinds of fruit are available as varieties with prickly stems or smooth stems. Both are easily grown planted against a fence or wall and neither suffers much from diseases or pests. They grow best and carry most fruit in a sunny spot but they are sufficiently vigorous to give a crop even when grown in a north-facing position.

Usually one plant is enough, spanning a length of fence of four metres or more, and no pollinator is needed. When the stems have finished cropping, or at any time during winter, the shoots that have cropped are pruned out close to ground level and the new shoots tied in as replacements.

These fruits and many others are available to buy in garden centres now and can be planted at any time in the coming weeks. Choose the site carefully and prepare the soil well, working in some compost to get the young plant off to a good start.

Sunday Independent

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