We like soft fruit: blackberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, loganberries, redcurrants, raspberries, strawberries, whitecurrants...
Where the wooden border to the bowling green was removed and the ditches filled in, we have a drop in height, the remains of a (very robust) L-shaped concrete border less than a foot down but also some introduced rich top soil.
We have had a lot of enthusiasm for planting soft fruit, including in one of these borders inside the old green (furthest from the gate).
This area is also opposite the hedge with most blackberries growing and so could be a good place to pick informal fruit from the tarmac path - good for birds too.
Design and planting
Between 11 and 15 January 2016, as a group, we did some design and measuring for a central path into the former green area and soft fruit on either side. We have purchased and have just planted them:
Three thornless loganberries, which have been donated (self layered, from a nearby garden). We can grow these along wires from strong stakes (just purchased). Eventually they all took.
Three blackcurrants (Ben Connan, Tiernan and one other - need to look it up!) and three Hinomaki gooseberry bushes (three different colours: yellow, red, green), which don't need stakes.
Later, we were given another gooseberry bush by a regular garden volunteer.
About 48 raspberry canes, which will be grown between double wires from stakes.
We bought Autumn and Primocane raspberries because they fruit very well and require less training than summer ones. We have bought some yellow ones (Autumn Gold), as a contrast to the usual red ones (Autumn Bliss, Polka and Zeva).
Not all of our canes have taken - we haven't had the best weather and not enough water and people to keep them going. In December 2016, we rescued some canes from a local garden and hope at least some will take.
On 25 January 2016, we transplanted some strawberry plants, which were a gift from a local garden and make good ground cover. When they sent out runners, we tethered them down to propagate from them.
We might get some fruit from them this year but more in subsequent years.
In December 2016 and Spring 2017, we added more varieties, propagated from a local allotment.
In general, we aimed to use propagated and donated plants, and then locally purchased plants, especially from independent nurseries and social enterprises. But sometimes, we also need to plant at the right time, which can be when we also have people keen to do the planting.
For the fruit aisle, we aimed for different types of plants for a longer flowering and fruiting season. We think it should be interesting to see which varieties work well in our odd soil and show how you can get different colours of the same fruit with different tastes.
We were also keen to try not to use netting, because it doesn't look very nice and because of the worry of trapping wildlife in it.
'When can I pick?'
It takes a while for new fruit bushes and canes to get established but, once they are big enough and happy, they should be productive for several years. This is why we wanted to get them in early in the garden's development.
We got a few berries in 2016 but should expect more in the two years following. Gardening is all about being patient...
While the new fruit bushes and canes get established, we have underplanted with strawberries, including alpine strawberries grown from seed.
In late February, we created a Rhubarb Row across the path from the soft fruit aisle. For picking from 2017. And we can divide in 2021.
And then planted two redcurrant bushes and a crabapple in another new bed.
It night be good to put some more fruit canes in the hugelculture area for informal picking - and also because they would make good hiding spots for children.
Last updated: 5 April 2017.