Following on from our last piece which covered the vegetables you should be looking to plant in March, we’re going to talk about some of the best fruiting varieties for both your greenhouse and beyond it.
Since plants make their sugars directly from sunlight, and the UK is decidedly lacking in sunshine for the rest of the year, the availability of this natural candy is synonymous with British summertime.
Fruit salads, smoothies, and Pimm’s O Clock are all made possible by the wide variety of summer fruits that we can, with a little love and care, cultivate here in the UK. So let’s get to know a few of them.
A tropical enclosure
The beauty of a greenhouse is that you can emulate much hotter and more humid climates from the comfort of your own temperate garden. The applications for this become especially visceral in the context of growing fruits which are so much more dependent on heat and moisture to become ripe and delicious.
Due to our temperate climate, the best grapes in the UK are all grown under glass, however the best approach to creating your own vineyard actually calls for a hybrid approach.
Ideally, you want to plant the rootstock outside and then train its limbs into the warmth of your greenhouse as this will give the roots a larger area from which to absorb nutrients and water while providing the fruiting bodies and their stems a longer, warmer growing season.
Between their delicious and refreshing scent, beautiful flowers, and versatile fruits, citrus varieties like lemon, lime, and oranges are in a class of fruit all their own.
If this is your first time growing citrus fruits then you might want to forgo limes and grapefruit in favour of more cold-resistant species like lemon and kumquats. Both will require a fair amount of space as they become established and you’ll want to top up their soil with fresh compost every year in March.
In terms of temperature, be sure to keep lemons above 13°C although kumquats can tolerate it dropping as low as 7°C.
An orchard of your own
The first experience that many of us have had with berries, myself include, will have been finding a blackberry bush while we were out on a country walk or on the way home from school.
The beauty of berries, aside from being both delicious and nutritious, is that certain species can be incredibly hardy.
Raspberries grown on the cane are a great first starter for the inexperienced, plant them in pots or troughs with a good eighteen inches between each plant and as they gain in height train them along bamboo canes.
Although March is a little late in the year for sowing strawberries, you can still buy cold-stored runners to plant outside and they’ll provide you a decent crop in the autumn if not by summer.
Apples and pears
Speaking of late, March is really your last opportunity to plant bare-rooted apple and pear trees which you can source from your local garden center or online.
Depending on their size when they arrive, you’re probably unlikely to get a crop from them this year but in the meantime they can provide shelter for smaller species, attract birds and other wildlife, and can form an anchor point for the surrounding soil in case of heavy rains.
Next week we’ll be exploring some of our favourite varieties that are flowers-forward and can help to lend some additional light and colour to your garden this summer.