Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Allotment Holders Urged to Get Fruity; GARDENING Plot-Holders Are Being Encouraged to Grow Fruit as Part of National Allotments Week (August 5-11). Hannah Stephenson Discusses Which Types of Fruit Will Flourish in These Spaces

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Allotment Holders Urged to Get Fruity; GARDENING Plot-Holders Are Being Encouraged to Grow Fruit as Part of National Allotments Week (August 5-11). Hannah Stephenson Discusses Which Types of Fruit Will Flourish in These Spaces

Article excerpt

IT'S not only the humble potato or common carrot which can thrive on allotments - you can also grow a cornucopia of delicious soft fruits like summer berries and blackcurrants.

What's more, fruit bushes and trees are long-lived. Gooseberries and blackcurrants can do well for 20 years, trees can produce for decades and raspberry canes can last more than 10 years.

"Plot-holders are better off looking at soft fruit because it takes up less space than fruit trees and is easier to manage and pick," says Mike Thurlow, horticultural adviser to the National Allotment Society, which is running this year's National Allotments Week campaign with Kelly's of Cornwall.

Summer fruits are generally easier to care for than larger fruit trees. Many currants can be grown as bushes, while raspberries and blackberries need to be trained against a framework structure, usually a post and wire system.

"Soft fruit can't be shoved away in a cold corner," Thurlow explains. "Full sun is needed to ripen the wood rather than the fruit because it is ripe wood which gives you the bountiful harvest the following year."

If you are growing bushes or training trees, plan them as part of the structure of your allotment, as they are likely to be permanent fixtures. Most fruit trees are pollinated by insects so you'll need to avoid windy sites, and add plenty of organic matter to the soil, which needs to be well-drained.

Strawberries, one of the nation's favourite summer fruits, should be placed in the sunniest border and should be moved around on a three-year cycle.

Few allotments allow trees to be grown because they shade other plots and sometimes can't be moved when a new tenant arrives. So if you want to grow fruit trees, you may have to buy dwarf rootstocks to train, creating espaliers, cordons or fans.

"Redcurrants, white currants and gooseberries can be fan-trained and turned into espaliers and cordons. It's a bit of fun. You could train them up the side of a shed or make make a support from stakes and training wires," Thurlow explains.

"Fruit which is trained takes up less room and is easier to manage because the fruit has air and light around it so there are likely to be fewer disease problems. …

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