Forest Gardening: Planting Small Shrubs and Soft Fruit

| 8/23/2011 10:21:58 AM

Tags: forest gardening, shrubs, soft fruit, Maddy Harland,
  Blackberry cultivars at the Harland garden 


In my last blog about forest gardening, I described the lower canopy layer of smaller trees and suggested some well known fruits and nuts like apples, plums and hazel nuts and encouraged you to explore some exotics like Siberian pea tees and truffle innoculated hazel. 

  Below the lower canopy of smaller trees is the next niche planting space, the shrub layer. In temperate zones this will eventually become very shady, so you have to plan for that. Shrubs are mostly quite shade tolerant. Common choices are red, black and white currants and gooseberries (Ribes spp.) and berries such as raspberries and blackberries (Rubus spp.). I particularly like gooseberries and have six different varieties. My favourite is the large red, lucious Hinnomaki Red. It is resistance to mildew and is vigorous. I pick in mid July, before much of the other fruit is ready. 

 Hinnomaki Red 

We also have jostaberries and worcesterberries, both crosses of gooseberries with currants. These are both more vigorous plants than their ancestor and require more space. The berries are smaller than gooseberries but larger than currants and are reliable croppers. I tend to add them when making gooseberry jam. We are also experimenting with goji berries which grow long limbs and have to be pruned back. It’s is early days for them in my garden. They are reputed to flower and therefore fruit long into the season but the jury is still out on this one for us. 

 We have also planted a blackberry cultivar given to us by a friend. It has berries as large as a man's thumb and is juicy and sweet. Like most blackberries it is vigorous and easily roots itself if any part touches the ground so be careful if you plant one!Agroforestry Research Trust garden in Devon

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