Journey so far – growing our own fruit

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In my last post I said a bit about who I was in different aspects of my life and where I am currently. I thought as a nice easy start I’d write a bit about those journeys. Today’s post is my journey in growing my own fruit. I had been looking back over some photos and was surprised at how much we had done. We bought this house in Scotland 3 years ago. My previous growing experience was limited to a dead blueberry bush, a potted rhubarb that wasn’t doing too bad and strawberry and tomato plants that gave a fruit or two and then died.

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The garden here definitely had ‘potential’, plenty of lawn to dig up, and a huge shed. I’d never owned a shed before. The house itself was quite run down though and winter was coming so the garden was a low priority.

With a husband that is a self confessed fruit addict our first job was to establish some berry bushes. The hubby also sees little point in maintaining plants that don’t produce food for us, so the bush was the first to go as well as the paving slabs in front of it. We decided we should do our best to get the job done properly so did the whole double digging. The soil was pretty awful though, full of stones, broken crockery, glass, nails and all other kinds of debris. We invested in some raspberry canes, 2 blueberry bushes (hubby’s favourite and need two to pollinate), white currant, red currant and white gooseberry (3 proven great fruits for wine making). We bought  6 strawberry plants as well and planted them between the bushes to make the best use of space. And because hubby loves them we got some alpine strawberry seeds.

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Double digging
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Clearing the way

The first year we were quite pathetic, harvested a small amount of fruit, not enough to do much with though, and we kept forgetting to pick berries. It didn’t help that one of blueberry bushes didn’t establish. We replaced it the next year, but the new one failed too. The alpine strawberry seed were much more successful than we expected and we ended up planting them in clumps, with far too little space.

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Fruit patch freshly planted

The second summer we had enough fruit  to make our own garden wine and the alpine strawberries cross pollinated with the other strawbs, we had larger alpines but with that same lovely flavour. The feeling of planting and nurturing something, harvesting it and turning it into a consumable product was so lovely. We even kept some bottles for our wedding. I nervously tried hard pruning the raspberries.

Three years on we were overwhelmed by the fruit harvest. We worked at harvesting fruit every two days, eating some and washing and freezing the rest for wine making. As the end of the growing season approached I started on the wines. We had enough strawberries to make 5 gallons of wine, without alpines. This was the first year I had applied nemaslug, it was late in the season when I did but I think it really helped. The raspberry canes, which are now overtaking the patch so much we have started to cull them, produced 6lbs of fruit and we left loads once the frosts came. Our lovely red currant gave us 3lbs of fruit despite being savaged by Sawfly, I think next year I will give Nemasys a try, this year I picked off the larvae as often as I could and left them at the back of the garden for birds. I have so far managed to stay quite organic with our growing and would like to keep to that. The white currants are still in the freezer, I’ll start their wine after Christmas. One of my cats has taken to chewing the gooseberry so that has never produced much and the blueberry is alone so doesn’t produce much either.

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3 years on

Unfortunately the gas company has dug up the garden for some work just last week and killed the alpine strawberries, much of the normal strawberries, the blueberry and the gooseberry. Once the worst of winter has passed we will dig the area just to the right, planting some more currants. We’ll also replace the blueberry and give it a partner and replace the gooseberry and some of the strawbs. Well that’s the plan at least!

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Some of the 2012 pickings
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Alpine strawberries

I’ll leave you with some end product photos.

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5 gallons of homegrown strawberry wine
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