There is nothing sweeter than the taste of fresh homegrown fruit. By growing dwarf varieties and restrictive forms it is amazing how much fruit you can get from a relatively small area, not to mention the positive aesthetic impact it has on the garden. The list below consists of the very best fruit that Ben has enjoyed growing and eating over the years. Images are accompanied with notes and observations that Ben has made as well as basic cultivation tips to ensure you get a great crop.
Blackberry 'Karaka Black'
A relatively new blackberry that was bread and trialed in New Zealand about four years ago. garden. Karaka Black has attractive, elongated, tasty black fruits that are produced in abundance early on in the season and throughout Summer. They are held clear of the thorny stems making picking easy. Strong and healthy in growth with good mildew resistance this variety is reliable and well worth a spot in the garden.
Best grown flat against a wall, fence or on wires to make picking easy, whilst optimising space and productivity. Tie in new growth loosely as it appears, removing old canes at the base in late summer. In Winter bend and tie all new stems to create an attractive shape and slow down sap flow...it will look a picture when in flower.
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 2.5m x 2.5m
A very popular variety and rightly so. 'Invicta' reliably produces masses of fruit over the Summer months remaining free from pests and disease. The fruit is flavorsome and relatively hair free when fully ripe. Picked early it can be cooked in pies or crumbles where it will remain firm. If left to ripen on the plant it will become softer and much sweeter, ideal for preserves, fools or just snacking on whilst in the garden.
Best grown flat as a fan or multi-cordon. This not only makes picking pain free (a real advantage!) but also allows the fruit to absorb more sun directly, whilst restricting the overall size of the plant. Prune in winter to form main stems and laterals and trim current seasons growth in early Summer to avoid branches snapping. Mulch annually with well composted manure being sure to keep the base of the plant clear.
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 1m x 1.5m
Raspberry 'Autumn Bliss'
One of the first primo cane types, Autumn Bliss has yet to be surpassed for its reliability and flavour. Cropping from late Summer through Autumn, the fruit size remains constant and of high quality. Dark in colour, the fruit has an amazing flavour with depth that can only be achieved by growing through all of the summer months.
Train against a fence, wall or wires and tie in when tall enough to prevent collapsing and promote easy picking. Like most Raspberries it prefers a sunny aspect in any reasonable soil. In Winter cut back to ground level and mulch to improve nutrition and soil conditions for the following year, as well as weed any unwanted suckers to prevent spreading.
Maximum Height and Spread: Approximately 1.7m x 1m+