Free Delivery
Free Delivery When spending £15 or more
Quality Seed
Quality Seed High germination rates
Carbon Neutral
Carbon Neutral We offset all of our carbon

Growing Small Fruits at Home in the UK

Growing small fruits at home can be a rewarding experience, offering superior flavour and freshness compared to store-bought varieties. Whether you're an experienced gardener or a beginner, cultivating strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and grapes can be a delightful endeavour. Here’s how to get started and ensure success in your small fruit garden.

Planting soft fruit in the right location

Selecting an appropriate site is crucial for growing top-quality small fruits. Follow these guidelines to choose the best location:

  • Sunlight: Ensure the site receives a minimum of eight hours of direct sunlight daily.
  • Soil Type: Light-textured soils like sandy loams are ideal. However, heavier soils with some clay can also be suitable if they drain well. Standing water on the surface or in the planting hole is unacceptable.
  • Soil pH: Most small fruits thrive in soils with a pH between 6 and 7. Blueberries are an exception, preferring a pH range of 4-5.

Watering and Irrigation

Having a reliable source of clean water for irrigation is essential. Your plants will need regular watering during establishment and fruit production. In some cases, watering is also necessary for frost protection.

Protecting Your Investment

Protecting your small fruit plants from animals is often overlooked but vital. Here are common threats and how to manage them:

  • Deer: These animals may browse on strawberry plants and trim new blueberry growth. Consider using fencing to keep them out.
  • Rabbits: They can cut down raspberry canes. Fencing or netting can prevent damage.
  • Birds: Birds, particularly robins, love to eat blueberries and strawberries. Netting over your plants can protect your fruit.

Purchasing Plants

You have several options for purchasing small fruit plants:

  • Local Garden Centres: Buying locally allows you to inspect plants before purchase. Local nurseries often provide larger plants, especially blueberries, but the price may be higher.
  • Catalogues and Online: These sources offer a broader selection of cultivars. Consider factors like flavour, fruit size, yield potential, disease resistance, and qualities for processing when selecting varieties.

Ordering Soft Fruit

  • Order Early: To secure newly released varieties, place your order at least six months before planting.
  • Shipping Information: Specify the shipping date to ensure plants arrive at the right time for your area.
  • Upon Arrival: Inspect plants immediately. Moisten the roots of bare-root plants and store them in the shade until planting.

Planting Preparation

Proper preparation is key to a successful small fruit garden:

  • Soil Testing: Test your soil to determine the nutrients needed for optimal growth.
  • Weed Control: Eliminate perennial weeds in the autumn before planting. Use glyphosate-based products on a sunny day when temperatures are in the 60s, or cover the ground with thick black plastic for 4-6 weeks during warmer weather (up to 10 weeks in cooler conditions).
  • Planting Time: Plant as soon as the soil is dry enough to work, typically in May.

Harvesting times for Soft Fruits

Here are the typical ripening periods for small fruits grown in the UK:

  • Strawberries: Mid-June to July
  • Raspberries: July; everbearing varieties from late August to October
  • Blackberries: August to mid-September
  • Blueberries: Mid-July to mid-September
  • Grapes: September to mid-October

By planning and preparing your small fruit garden carefully, you can enjoy fresh, home-grown fruits from mid-June to October. This not only enhances your gardening experience but also provides delicious and nutritious fruits for your family.