Thompson & Morgan

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Introduction for all fruit trees, canes and plants

Thompson & Morgan's selection of fruit have been carefully chosen for you. Prior to despatch from our specialist nurseries your trees have been given special cultural treatment during growth to promote the production of side 'feathers' (branches), leading to the formulation of a well-branched tree in due course. Your trees have been carefully pruned on the nurseries by expert staff, and are ready for immediate planting. With care and some loving attention our fruit trees will reward you with bumper crops. They should arrive with you in perfect condition for planting. Unpack and inspect your plants as soon as possible and advise us of any problems. In the case of strawberry plants, don't be alarmed if they show very few leaves, as they may be partially dormant. Once planted they will quickly establish vigorous root and leaf growth. Tree roots and Strawberry plants should be soaked in a bucket of water for an hour prior to planting. Plant as soon as possible after receipt. If for any reason you have to wait then the trees will keep in good condition in their packaging for a week or so in a cool place, perhaps your shed or garage. If you need to hold them for a longer time then dig a hole and 'heel' them in and cover the roots with soil and firm carefully to keep moist. Ensure any container-grown plants are kept moist.

Where to grow, soil preparation, and general aftercare

Wherever possible the site should be open and sunny, on well-drained soil. Avoid a waterlogged site and where there are larger or overhanging trees. The soil should be well dug, removing all perennial weeds and large stones, adding liberal quantities of well rotted garden or stable compost. An application of 85g (3oz) per sq. yd of Bonemeal or similar proprietary compound fertiliser is recommended. During the first year after planting your trees and plants should be kept well watered during hot, dry weather and the area kept clear of weeds. Fruit trees can suffer considerably from weed competition, especially grass. Mulching with well-rotted stable manure, rotted garden compost, straw or grass cuttings during the summer helps to retain moisture. Moisten the soil first if it is dry prior to mulching. Try to keep any mulch away from the tree stems to avoid any diseases. Mulching should continue for the 3 to 4 years after planting, and on poor soils it should be done every year. A good tip when planting trees is to insert a piece of plastic pipe with holes drilled in the sides, reaching from the base of the roots to just above the soil level. Water down this pipe gets the water to where it is needed. It also minimises the problem of surface rooting and encourages the tree roots to search deeper for water and nutrients.

Pruning

This is essentially about balance. The balance between leaf and fruit, fruit and branch length, and the balance of one side of the tree to the other. In pruning, therefore, you should try to develop a tree with equal branches on all sides, of equal length and evenly spaced. Remove any dead, diseased, crossing, crowded or damaged branches. Pruning cuts can be protected with wound paint from your garden centre to minimise any infections. 'Light and air' are the best friends of a fruit tree so do not be frightened to remove large branches.

Pollination

All currants and berries require pollinating, bees and other insects will do this if the weather conditions allow, and it is not necessary to grow extra bushes to assist pollination. Many of the 'tree fruits' require a pollinator to ensure success and this information, where necessary, is given in our catalogue. Keep a watchful eye for frosts during flowering time and cover with sacking, horticultural fleece or blankets to minimise damage.

Bird Damage

We offer Fruit Protection flexible netting as an easy way to protect your fruit bushes and trees from birds. Just drape the net over each bush or tree or make a structure to attach the netting for a permanent fruit cage.

Fruit Thinning

Apples and pears benefit from 'fruit thinning' in early July after the natural 'June drop' has finished. Reducing to two fruits per cluster will give better quality fruit and an increased overall weight. Plum thinning is vital, as in some years the weight of fruit is so heavy that branches can break. You may need to remove some 75% of the fruitlets but do not be alarmed as the remaining fruit produces superb size and quality. Peaches, nectarines and apricots allow a fruit every 15-20cm (6-8in) along the branches. Cherries seem to flower and fruit successfully without any interference.

Raspberries

These are a long lasting fruit and will reward you heavily each year for up to 12 years with a cropping period of up to 6 weeks. Once established each cane will produce up to 1.5 kgs (3.3 lbs) of fruit. We supply carefully selected, hand graded bare root canes. After planting cut back the canes, if necessary, to 30cm (12in) to encourage basal shoots. Raspberries have a shallow root system so carefully spread out the roots into a 7-10cm (3-4in) wide and deep trench. Create a framework of posts about 1.8m (6ft) in height and strain wires horizontally between the posts at 60cm (2ft) intervals, starting 45cm (18in) above the soil. This is to support and train summer fruiting varieties. Plant 38cm (15in) apart in rows leaving 1.8m (6ft) between the rows for ease of access to cultivate and pick your fruits. Summer fruiting varieties carry fruit on canes produced the previous year. Cut out the fruited canes to soil level during late autumn and carefully tie in the new shooting canes to the wires, allowing 10cm (4in) spacing and aim to have 6 to 8 fruiting canes per plant. Autumn fruiting varieties are best planted 60cm (2ft) apart in a row. These bear fruit on the current seasons new cane growth. They do not need supports or wires. Cut back the canes to soil level in February each year to encourage new cane development.

Strawberries

We offer a range of varieties to fruit from June to October outdoors, although the season can be extended if they are grown in a greenhouse or polytunnel. If growing outdoors then normal spacing is 45cm (18in) apart and 75cm (30in) between rows. Use a trowel to make a hole deep and wide enough to spread the roots and to ensure the crown of the plant is at or just above the soil level. This is important to avoid disappointment and possible loss of plants through rotting. Firm in after planting. It is essential the young plants are kept well watered.

Black polythene

Planting through this will give earlier crops and affords cleaner fruit as soil splash is reduced, especially if a layer of straw is laid under the trusses before fruits start to ripen. Watering and feeding is essential which can be more time consuming with polythene compared to growing them direct outdoors or in containers.

Strawberry Barrels or Containers

We offer an easy assembly tub with 4 ready cut holes. Plant 2 per hole and 4 plants in the top (12 plants in all). The tub holds 42 litres of multipurpose compost and can be used in the greenhouse, patio or on the garden. Do not use garden soil as this compacts too easily and will not allow the roots to breathe. Add slow release fertiliser to the compost for increased fruit yields. It is essential to keep tubs, barrels, containers well watered during the fruiting season. With outdoor grown plants it is recommended to remove runners but if left they will quickly root and form a matted clump which will still produce a heavy crop of smaller fruits. Also once fruiting has finished tidy up the plants removing dead or damaged leaves, stalks, runners and debris to avoid disease build up and allows the plant to remain healthy and vigorous for its next crop.

Gooseberries

We supply established 2 year bare rooted plants which are ready pruned at our nursery, with a 15cm (6in) 'leg' and three to five, 23cm (9in) stems that once planted they will quickly establish. We have found that from the second season after planting that each bush will produce well over 3 kgs (6 lbs) of fruit and will produce this quantity every year. Gooseberry bushes, if given reasonable care, will crop for over 15 years, particular attention should be given to soil fertility as gooseberries appreciate liberal quantities of rotted manure added to the soil. Plant at least 1.5m (5ft) apart each way. Prior to planting inspect for dormant buds and small white shoots which should be rubbed off at the base of the plant as they produce unwanted suckers later. Planting holes should be prepared to a depth to plant your bush at the same level as the nursery soil mark. Firm in after planting.

Pruning

We supply ready pruned so do nothing the first year. Your aim should be to keep an open bush habit to allow light and air to penetrate to discourage disease infections and for easier fruit picking, so remove any suckers, damaged branches, and any crossing or overcrowded branches. Gooseberries, similarly as currants, produce suckers throughout their lives. These should not be cut off but pulled off the stem or roots, usually during June or July whilst they are still soft, and fruiting spurs can be encouraged further by shortening all young green side shoots by half in late June.

Blackcurrants, Redcurrants and Whitecurrants

The requirements of these are similar to gooseberries and are ideally grouped together in the garden. Currants do respond well to growing in a rich soil with plenty of well-rotted compost, particularly blackcurrants, and extra watering and feeding as the berries are swelling. If you have a windy garden then shelter from east winds is important at blossom time otherwise pollinating insects will be restricted. We supply established, 1 year old bare root plants with a minimum of 4 stems which will quickly establish once planted. From the second season onwards each plant will produce over 3.5 kgs (7 lbs) of fruit and will keep producing for up to 10 years. Plant at least 1.5m (5ft) apart, the traditional distance, to allow easy access. A hole should be large enough for the roots to be spread out and planted slightly deeper than the soil mark on the stem. Firm the soil well after planting.

Pruning of blackcurrants

We supply ready pruned plants but just check and prune to within 2 buds or 5cm (2in) above soil level. This is important as it encourages healthy shoots to form. At the end of its first growing season pruning should consist of cutting out any thin, weak shoots. Over future years remove the oldest branches at the base of the bush to encourage new, strong shoots to develop which will crop more heavily. This can be done any time after fruiting has finished.

Pruning of redcurrants and whitecurrants

Unlike blackcurrants, redcurrants and whitecurrants form fruit spurs on two-year-old wood, so just prune the leading shoots by half to encourage branching. Over future years remove an occasional old branch, and any weak or damaged branches, to encourage new strong shoots to develop which will crop more heavily.

Blackberries and Tayberries

Our 1-year-old plants are container grown rather than field grown to provide you with stronger, superior quality plants. Soil should be well prepared with generous amounts of well rotted manure or compost, as the plants can fruit for over 15 years, and fruit quantity and quality will be increased if the soil is well maintained. All of these need supporting to give their best so a suitable structure needs to be in place. Whether a wire or wooden fence, trellis, grown against a wall, or more usually like raspberries, with a framework of posts about 1.8m (6ft) high with wires horizontally stretched between the posts every 30cm (1ft) starting 90cm (3ft) from the ground. Prune as you would for summer fruiting Raspberries. Allow 1.8m (6ft) between blackberry plants, and 2.4m (8ft) between hybrid tayberries.

Plums, Gages & Damsons

One of Britain's gardeners favourite fruit trees and one of the easiest to grow successfully. Our plum (and damson and gage trees) are grafted on a 'St Julian A Rootstock' which is semi dwarfing and will provide you a free growing tree, usually grown from a 'central leader', allowing 2.8m (approx.9ft) between trees. Support the tree with a firm stake or post on planting. This makes optimum use of your available space compared to growing as a bush. If preferred to grow as a bush then remove the central leader. Pruning is done by cutting back the central leader after planting by about one-third to encourage the growth of side branches from this central stem. Allow about 10 branches to radiate from this stem. The branches are removed after 5 years and a replacement branch allowed to grow, which forms sub branches, which carry the fruit. If there is a heavy crop of fruit formed then these should be thinned when about hazelnut size and again when about twice that size, also removing any small, malformed or diseased fruits. Pruning is best done from April-June to avoid the risk of silver leaf or bacterial canker infection.

Apricots

It has never been easier to grow these mouth-watering fruits in gardens throughout the UK due to improved breeding techniques. They enjoy growing as an open centre bush on an open site with free wind flow, but also succeed well 'fan trained' against a south facing brick wall (as this stores the sun's heat during the day and helps with fruit ripening) or fence in well drained soil. Grown as a bush they require little attention, just prune any crossing or damaged branches. For fan training fix horizontal wires 30cm (12in) apart to a height of about 2.1m (7ft) and about 3m (10ft) long and attach and fan out 10 long canes to the wires. Plant the tree about 23cm (9in) away from the support with the stem slightly inclined towards it. Try to train out the branches and carefully tie in to the canes, there should be sufficient branches to do this, also leave the central leading stem intact and train this into the fan as well. Trim the branches back by one-third at planting time to strengthen them. After the first year's growth cut these branches back by a half to encourage new shoots. Our Apricots are grafted on an St Julian A Rootstock which is semi-dwarfing and provide you a manageable 2-2.5m (7-8ft) tree. Please note - If any pruning is required then it must be done between April and July to avoid bacterial canker infection.

Peaches & Nectarines

Similarly as Apricots, new breeding techniques have provided varieties ideally suited to the UK climate and are best fan trained similarly as Apricots. They can also be grown as a bush, which can achieve a height and spread of 3.5m (12ft). Formative pruning is essential to produce a well-balanced tree with a strong branch framework capable of carrying heavy crops of fruit, so hard pruning is carried out in the early years to produce strong growth instead of fruit. Peaches and Nectarines produce most of their fruit on wood produced the previous year. Pruning is best carried out in April each year. Please note: Peaches do not perform well in containers.

Apples

UK gardeners are very lucky because Britain has one of the best climates in the world for growing apples of the highest quality. Our trees are grafted onto an M9 dwarfing rootstock, which produces a dwarf tree suitable for cordon growing, or as a bush, being ideal for all soil types and for all gardens. Growing as a bush is probably the most common method and if grown correctly will provide you with abundant crops of top quality fruits. When you have planted your tree, remove the central stem by cutting it out completely just above the highest side branch. Over the next 3 years it will only be necessary to prune back the tips of the main branches by about one third during the winter to encourage sub branches. Aim for a maximum of six main branches, leaving the centre of the tree open with no branches crossing over. These six main branches will be the mainstay of your tree throughout its life, with sub branches growing from these. Aim for a maximum height of 2.5m (about 8 or 9ft) of your tree. From the fourth year when pruning out sub branches always cut the branch at a union with another to allow new branches to replace them. The sub branches form the best quality fruit. Cordons are usually grown at an angle of 30-45 degrees. They are trained to 2.5m (8ft) canes fixed to horizontal wires 60cm (2ft) apart. Supporting posts at either end should be about 2m (6'ft) high. Prune to encourage fruiting spurs. Short branches spaced about 23cm (9in) along the main stem form the basis of this, with pruning done both winter and summer. Winter pruning allows for new branches along the length of the tree whereas summer pruning in August is designed to form fruit buds. All side growths during that growing year are pruned back to 2 or 3 buds. The central leader is left untouched and bent over once the tree has reached its desired height.

Crab Apples

Crab apples make attractive trees with their pink or white blossom, followed by colourful autumn fruits that make delicious preserves. Any unpicked fruits will soften after a few frosts and will create a sumptuous food source for wild birds from late January until March. These very ornamental and productive trees need the minimum of pruning. These trees can have any damaged or diseased wood removed and lightly pruned to shape in a similar way to Apples during the winter months.

Pears

Pears are probably the easiest of the top fruits to grow in the garden, as they are abundant croppers with very few pest and disease problems. As they reliably produce fruiting spurs then this is possibly the easiest way to grow them, but growing as a cordon or as a bush tree similarly to apples is also recommended. Our trees are grown on to 'Quince A semi dwarfing Rootstock' which will produce you a tree with moderate vigour. 'Spur pruning' involves shortening lateral shoots produced in the previous summer to 4 to 6 buds to encourage fruit bud formation close to the framework of branches. As the tree gets older it may be necessary to thin out the number of fruiting spurs to ensure a crop of large fruits. This is done by pruning back to a fruit bud on 2-year-old wood or removing portions of the spurs. Winter pruning is done between November and March, similarly to Apples. Cordons can be grown similarly as for apples. For a bush tree, after planting, remove the central leader by cutting it out completely just above the highest side branch. Branches should be encouraged to grow in a 'wine glass' shape with up to 8 branches. After the first growing year cut back by half any extension growth on the main branches. In future years just allow to bud up normally and just remove any crossing or wrongly spaced branches. Prune side branches back to form spurs similarly as with cordon apples.

Double & Single U Cordon Apples and Pears

These stunning trees take up to 4 full seasons of training and pruning by skilled nurserymen to reach their unique form - but it is well worth the wait. Guaranteed to look just as good in the bare winter months as they do clothed in blossom in the spring. Our Double and single U cordons will become your pride and joy both because of their architectural shape but also their ability to crop large quantities of fruit in a small space. Being slightly older trees they will bear fruit quickly, even in their first year of planting. By simple spur pruning you will keep your investment in good shape for many years to come.

Cherries

One of Britain's best-loved fruits. Unlike traditional cherry trees the modern 'Gisela 5 Rootstock' has meant that varieties are these days very productive with good fruit size, but with compact growth so that it can be grown in a small space, either as a bush tree, trained against a wall or fence, or planted in a container on the patio. Cherries make an attractive tree both in flower or when laden with fruit. If grown as a bush, allow 3m (about 10ft) apart. Growth is vigorous over the first 2 or 3 years but then slows considerably. No pruning is necessary, just remove any crossing or broken branches to keep its shape. Eventual height can be maintained at 2.5m (about 8ft). If grown in a container ensure a minimum 60cm (2ft) diameter is used, and fill with a soil based John Innes No. 3 compost to give stability and plenty of room for root development.

Quince

Quince are unusual for tree fruit, as they love a water retentive ground, growing very happily near to ditches and wet places. They produce attractive pink dog rose like flowers and beautiful golden fruits. Quince has a lax irregular growth habit and is best grown as bushes. These vigorous bushes can reach a height and spread of 3.6-4.5m (12-15ft), so are best-spaced 3.6-4.5m (12-15ft) apart. Pruning is carried out in November to March when plants are dormant and can be done in a similar way to Apple and Pear trees. A mature tree does not require much pruning, you will only need to remove any crossing, crowded, dead or diseased branches as required each winter. Trees are Self Fertile and will fruit within three years.

Medlar

Medlars have a flat topped weeping habit with large leathery leaves and large white flowers in spring, followed by large russetty rose hip like fruits and reddish-orange autumn leaves. These are best trained as a standard or half standard to produce an attractive weeping head. Trees should be spaced 4.5-5.4m (15-18ft) apart. Pruning is best carried out from November to March whilst the plants are still dormant. In the early years plants can be pruned in a similar way to a bush apple or pear, but prune the main stem so it is higher, creating a stem for a half standard 1.35m (4ft 6in) or a standard 1.8m (6ft) tall. Mature trees do not require much pruning, you will only need to remove any crossing, crowded, dead or diseased branches is required each winter. Trees are Self Fertile and will fruit within three years.

Tree Nuts

If you are lucky enough to have a large garden and you are looking for a large attractive tree, look no further than a nut tree. They are easy to grow, will quickly establish and you will soon be harvesting your own delicious nuts. Nut trees need a lot of space to grow and must be planted at least 9m (30ft) away from any house.

Cobnuts

Cobnuts prefer a sheltered site and will grow on in any well-drained soil. They grow best on poor soils because rich fertile soils can lead to excessive growth. They are lime tolerant and are happiest in a soil with a pH of 7.5-8.0, if you have an acidic soil you may need to apply lime each year to raise the pH levels. Cobnuts are best grown as open centred bushes with a short 30-38cm (12-15in) stem and a framework of 6-8 branches. Trees can then be kept down to a manageable height of 1.8-2.4m (6-8ft) and will require staking for the first few years. Space each tree 4.5m (15ft) apart. After planting cut back the leaders by half to an outward facing bud. Any laterals not needed to form the framework should be cut back to 3-4 buds. This pruning should be repeated every February for the first 4-5 years, aiming to produce a framework of 6-8 good branches. Once trees are established pruning should be carried out in February when the plants are in flower as this will help shed the pollen and improve nut set. Strong laterals can be pruned to 3-4 buds, but weak laterals that carry the female flowers should not be pruned. Prune strong leading shoots and other branches by half to and outward facing bud to help maintain trees at a height of 1.8-2.4m (6-8ft).

Sweet Chestnuts

These prefer to be grown in a light sandy soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. They do not like growing in heavy clay that becomes waterlogged during the winter or soil that is very alkaline with a pH above 7.0. They prefer a sunny site that is protected from the prevailing wind. Trees will require staking once planted.

Walnuts

Walnuts will grow in a wide range of soil types ranging from light sandy loams to heavy ones provided they are well drained. They prefer to be planted in an open position provided they are given shelter from spring frosts during the flowering period. Temperatures that are below -2C (27F) will kill the majority of female flowers, so it is important to bear this in mind when choosing a site for your tree. Once planted Walnut trees need a little care and attention for the first few years. It is advisable to carefully fork a radius of 90-120cm (3-4ft) around the tree trunk and keep this weed free and turn the soil each year during the winter until the tree is well established.

Training and pruning of Walnuts and Sweet Chestnuts

Both these trees are best grown as standard trees with a central leader kept in position all of their growing life. The height you maintain this main stem is entirely up to you but we recommend a minimum height of 1.8m (6ft) followed by a wellbalanced free-branching head. Pruning of Walnuts and Sweet Chestnuts is the same, in the first growing season; shorten the side shoots by half as soon as they reach 20-30cm (8-12in) long. If a few of these side shoots develop near the top of the tree later in the season they can be left unpruned. After the leaves have fallen, the side shoots that had been pruned earlier should be cut back flush with the main stem. This pruning of side shoots should be carried out each year until the desired length of main clear stem has been achieved. Once this has been achieved the top 4-5 laterals should be retained. These laterals will form the primary branches of the tree. These can then be pruned each winter, shortening them back by half in order to double the amount of framework branches in following years. This system of pruning can be carried out for 3-4 years then little pruning will be required other than removing crossing, damaged or diseased branches each winter and any weak shoots each summer.

Figs

Give these plenty of sunshine and they are perfect plants to grow in a large 60cm (2ft) diameter container on your patio and will consistently produce large volumes of tasty fruit. If root restriction is not provided to keep the plant compact and fruitful, then plants can grow rather large and be reluctant to fruit. Figs do not produce visible flowers, they are enclosed within the centre of the fruit. No pollination is required. If grown in containers then plants can be moved into a frost-free area if the winter weather is severe, as embryo figs can be damaged by winter weather. If grown outdoors ensure a sunny sheltered spot, a south-facing wall is ideal, but plants may need protection with straw or bracken if severe weather threatens. Figs are best pruned in March or April after the worst frosts have passed, all dead and diseased wood should be removed.

Grapes

Extremely decorative and productive with a worthwhile crop of fruit under UK conditions. Our varieties are selected for growing both outdoors or under glass. The vines are best grown on a framework of wires. The vine should not be allowed to fruit for the first 2 summers after planting, but thereafter it will crop heavily for over 50 years if pruned and tended carefully. Laterals, where the fruits will form, are maintained at 23-30cm (9-12in) apart. Each winter cut back each lateral to 2 buds from the main stem. Allow the length of the main stem to increase gradually each year. Allow two bunches of grapes to form in each lateral. Once fruit has set stop further lateral growth 2 buds past the second bunch of fruit. If left untended, vines can grow rampantly so can be grown over pergolas to provide shade, or to cover an unsightly fence or shed. Many bunches of fruit would form but these would be smaller fruit of inferior quality.

Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi, or the Chinese gooseberry are easy to grow, a surprisingly hardy climber and crops well outdoors against a south-facing wall where it is sheltered from prevailing winds. These vines will soon cover a wall, trellis arch or pergola and are best planted 5.5m (18ft) apart. Kiwis prefer to be grown in a slightly acid (pH 6.5) deep fertile soils that remain water retentive. Kiwis will benefit from light manure mulch around the base of the plants each autumn. Plants are best trained as espaliers or fans. Plants are best pruned towards the end of winter so that any shoots that have been killed by frost can be removed. Any fruit spurs should be pruned back to two buds beyond where the last fruits were borne. Approximately three fruiting laterals with plump, closely spaced buds should remain on each fruiting branch to bear fruit. Those in excess of this should be removed. During the summer when the spurs bear fruit, any vegetative shoots should be regularly pinched back to seven leaves. Bleeding from the wounds may occur, but this is harmless and will soon stop. During the spring the flowers and any young growth can be severely damaged by frost, so it is advisable to protect this tender growth with fleece. This will also help protect these tender shoots from any cold prevailing winds, which can also cause damage.

Hardy Citrus

Transform your patio into a little piece of the Mediterranean with these scent-sational citrus trees. Our oranges and lemons have glossy, dark green foliage and tiny white flowers that fill the air with the delicious fragrance of citrus blossom throughout the year, followed by fruit from late Spring to late Summer. T&M have carefully chosen varieties that are hardy, capable of surviving temperatures as low as -10C! Citrus make a spectacular container plant for a conservatory or can be grown in containers or raised beds outside. Plant into large 45-60cm (18-24in) diameter containers and fill them with a very well drained gritty compost, we recommend a 50/50 mix of John Innes No 3 and a soil-less compost. Plants will grow in a semi shaded or sunny position, but in a sheltered spot in your garden. If growing indoors in a conservatory place your plants in a very well lit position. Citrus require no pruning but will benefit from regular feeding once a month from spring to autumn with a citrus fertiliser. When Citrus are producing flowers followed by fruit a lack of moisture will effect the quality and yield of the fruit produced. But be careful because too much or too little water will effect the growth of your Citrus trees, so it is important to try and keep the plants evenly moist and not over wet or too dry. Lightly misting of the foliage will benefit the plants through the summer months as well as reducing the risk of Scale insect or red spider mite attacking the leaves.

Rhubarb from Crowns

Plant our one-year crowns 75-90cm (2-3ft) apart with the bud tip just covered with soil. Crown bud rotting can be serious in cold wet soils so plant on ridges or in a raised bed if your soil is heavy. Rhubarb flourishes in an open sunny position, although semi shade is acceptable, and is a hungry crop so incorporates masses of well-rotted manure or compost prior to planting. Remove any flower stalks, dead leaves and stems the first winter after planting and thereafter and mulch annually with well-rotted compost. Do not harvest any sticks until the second spring after planting (24 months) to allow the crowns to establish. Lift and split with a spade the large crowns every 5 years and replant healthy buds with some root attached. Purchase fresh crowns if your plants have virus or only produce spindly stems. For 'forced rhubarb' lift a couple of crowns in the winter and allow to be frosted or get some winter chill. Replant by covering the crown with straw, bracken or shredded paper and placing an upturned bucket held in place with a brick or stone. Forced, almost stringless stems ready from early February. Unforced sticks can be pulled from March to end of July if kept well watered. PLEASE NOTE: Rhubarb leaves contain concentrated oxalic acid and are poisonous. It is only the sticks (stems), which are eaten. The leaves can be composted in the normal way as they safely break down in the heap.

Rhubarb from Micro Plants

These cultivars have been increased in number by using a specialist micro propagation laboratory to eliminate virus and provide healthy plantlets, which are potted on to form a small crown ready for planting. When your young Micro plants arrive carefully pot them on into 20cm (8in) pots filled with a good soil-less compost and water in. Grow these plants on in sheltered sunny or semi-shaded position throughout the summer. Water regularly and feed once a month with high potash feed. In the autumn these young plants can be transplanted into their final planting positions following the same soil preparation, planting method and after care instructions as for Rhubarb crowns. Although these plants are young they will quickly mature, resulting in crowns big enough to harvest from 2 years after planting.

Sea Buckthorn

Makes an attractive shrub with bright orange berries that are high in Vitamin C, and makes a tasty addition to jams, juices and sauces. Fruits will be produced on the female plant and require a male plant for pollination. These shrubs will grow well even on poor soils, but prefer a well-drained, sandy loam soil with ample organic matter added prior to planting. Space each plant 90cm (3ft) apart, growing as a single specimen bush or used to make an attractive and productive hedge. As plants grow make sure they are keep evenly moist and do not suffer from lack of water especially at fruiting time. Feed once a month from the spring until autumn with a high potash fertiliser, as this will encourage a higher yield of good-quality fruit. Plants only require moderate pruning each year after fruiting, removing any overlapping branches, and lightly trimming to shape.

Blueberries

Ideal for growing in a minimum 60cm (24in) diameter container on the patio. It is vital they are grown in acid (ericaceous) compost with sharp acidic sand or grit incorporated, whether in a container or in the garden and fed with ericaceous fertiliser (sulphate of potash, sulphate of ammonia) and rainwater if you live in a hard water area. Calcium and lime fertilisers must be avoided. If planted outside allow at least 1.2m (4ft) between plants. In the spring the bushes are covered with masses of sweetly scented creamy white flowers, which soon develop into green fruits before maturing into juicy blueberries. In the autumn the leaves turn an attractive crimson making for an attractive feature plant on the patio. We supply plants in 1.5 litre pots, which will fruit within 2 to 3 years. Planting can be done at any time and we have plants available all year round. Pruning of established plants consists of cutting out any damaged or diseased wood, or any clusters of thin stems that accumulate on the older branches. This will encourage new growth. Mulching outdoor plants with bark or a peat alternative to a depth of 5cm (2in) during the summer and watering freely as the fruits are setting, as blueberries should not suffer from lack of water.

Cranberries & Lingonberries

These delightful bushes make attractive evergreen plants, and are ideal for growing in patio containers filled with free-draining Ericaceous compost. Both Cranberries and Lingonberries may only produce small bright red fruits but they are filled with health and medicinal benefits and are sure to become the next super fruits! These small bushes are rarely without flower or berry throughout the year, making them an attractive and very productive addition to the fruit and patio garden loaded with goodness. Pruning should be carried out after fruits have been harvested, removing any shoots damaged whilst harvesting. In March thin out any overcrowded shoots so these attractive plants have an open lax habit and lightly trim to shape. Lingonberries are evergreen and can be clipped similar to box hedging making them ideal for edging formal gardens, with the added benefit of producing some delicious fruit.

Further reading

We suggest the RHS 'The Fruit Garden Displayed' as the most informative book for all round fruit growing.