Berries and currants can be grown in the smallest of spaces, making a viable crop for even the tiniest garden. Most berries and currants are easy to grow, rewarding your efforts with a decent yield, and making an attractive talking point too!
Berries and currants are the taste of summer. It's little wonder that 'Pick Your Own' is a quintessentially British thing! Visiting the fruit farm to select each and every berry yourself is an unforgettable experience, bringing to mind childhood memories of sun-soaked afternoons and juice-stained fingers!
It's just as easy to grow your own berries and currants on your own plot. Whether it's the sweet taste of strawberries or the sharp tang of a blackcurrant, there is nothing quite like the taste of freshly picked, home-grown fruit.
With so many different varieties of fruit plants available, which of our top 10 berries and currants would you like to grow?
Well, of course Strawberries are number 1! We get through around 27,000 kilos of them during the Wimbledon Championships alone. Hardly any wonder then that the strawberry is top of our list! For a traditional, well-loved variety opt for midseason variety Strawberry 'Cambridge Favourite'.
It's worth checking out new varieties too 'Just Add Cream' comes from modern breeding, producing fruits which are exceptionally flavoursome and aromatic. If you are growing your crops in full view on the patio, then the showy flowers of 'Toscana' provide a fantastic ornamental display.
Just like Strawberries, Raspberries deliver that fresh taste of summer! The juicy red berries are perfect for summer snacks and desserts. Raspberry breeding has come a long way in recent years and you can now choose from a wide range of different sizes, cropping periods and even colour! Golden varieties such as the imaginatively named 'All Gold' add a splash of colour to your summer puddings.
For a compact patio crop try Raspberry 'Ruby Beauty' a thornless, dwarf variety bred for containers. If you are a huge Raspberry fan then plant a mix of summer and autumn fruiting varieties such as 'Glen Prosen', 'Glen Ample' and 'Autumn Bliss', to provide a cropping period from June right through to October!
Blueberries are known for being packed full of healthy vitamins, and make excellent muffins and jams! These acid loving plants need an ericaceous soil to flourish but luckily they are quite happy growing in containers. These robust shrubs also boast great ornamental value too, with pretty spring flowers and good autumn colour as an extra bonus!
It's best to grow a few plants close together to maximise the chances of pollination and increase crop yields. Blueberry 'BerryBux' can even be grown as a low, cropping hedge, providing lots of ornamental interest too!
Traditional Highbush varieties such as 'Duke' and 'Chandler' produce good yields of silver-dusted, dark blue fruits. For something a bit different, choose one of the newer pink fruited varieties such as 'Pink Sapphire' with its particularly sweet fruits.
Blackcurrants, Whitecurrant and Redcurrants are all cousins, and will set you back a small fortune in the supermarkets! With their high-gloss, these fruits are extremely attractive, and often used to decorate desserts. The sharp, tangy flavour makes them less desirable as a fresh fruit, but perfect for adding a bite to sauces, jams and jellies.
Blackcurrants are particularly sharp, and best cooked to sweeten them and release their complex flavour. Patio Growers can opt for the compact currant bush Blackcurrant 'Summer Pearls Patio' with its neat habit and enormous fruits of up to 1cm diameter. For even larger fruits, try Blackcurrant 'Big Ben'!
Redcurrants and Whitecurrants are sweeter in flavour, but retain a sharp acidity. Old favourite Redcurrant 'Laxton's Number One' is still widely grown for its opulent strings of jewel-like fruits. Whitecurrants such as 'Blanka' are less commonly seen, but equally worth growing for their pearly fruits.
Now here is something completely different! Commonly known as Jostaberry, this unusual fruit is a cross between a Blackcurrant and a Gooseberry. The result is a thornless bush with the foliage of a Goosberry and fruits that resemble large Blackcurrrants.
The fruits are aromatic with a sweet but tart flavour. They make an intriguing addition to fruit salads where they can be mixed with sweeter berries. Casseille makes a fabulous jam too!
On that note, it's only fair that we should include the Gooseberry in our Top 10 berries and currants. Although most of us would recognise the humble Gooseberry, few people actually grow it which is a shame, as it is perfectly suited to the UK's cool, damp climate!
Gooseberry 'Invicta' is a particularly heavy cropping white variety (green fruits) which makes excellent pies and jams. 'Hinnonmaki Yellow' is also worthwhile for its golden fruits with a hint of apricot sweetness.
Red varieties produce far sweeter fruits that can be enjoyed fresh from the bush. 'Xenia' is one of the best modern varieties with exceptionally sweet fruits and virtually spineless stems for easy picking.
Large juicy Blackberries make a delicious summer treat. Compact varieties like Blackberry 'Loch Ness' and 'Opal' are suitable for containers, making a useful choice for smaller gardens. Blackberry 'Black Cascade can even be grown in a hanging basket!
In recent years, breeders have turned their attentions to developing larger fruits, such as the colossal berries of 'Black Butte' and 'Karaka Black'. You can also grow white berries with the novel variety Blackberry 'Polaris'. Not to confuse things, there are also the Blackberry hybrids such as Loganberry (Raspberry x Blackberry) and Tayberry (Blackberry x Raspberry ) which make an interesting addition to the fruit garden.
Like Blueberries, these hardy evergreen shrubs require an acid soil or ericaceous compost. These low growing, creeping plants have an attractive cascading habit when grown in a container, making an intriguing talking point on the patio.
The glossy red berries have a sharp, tart flavour and are packed with Vitamin C. They are most commonly used for making Cranberry sauce as an accompaniment to your festive turkey dinner. Try Cranberry 'Pilgrim' for a good crop of berries plus plenty of seasonal interest in the garden.
Lycium barbarum has found popularity in the Western World under the name of Goji Berry. Reputed to be a 'superfruit', these berries are bursting with antioxidants and vitamins, and have been a staple food in China for centuries.
These deciduous shrubs are best grown as part of a mixed border, where they boast pale lilac-pink flowers, which are followed by the oblong red fruits. There are a few varieties now available but the newer cultivars such as Goji Berry 'Synthia' have been bred for a sweeter, more appealing flavour. The berries can be eaten fresh but are best dried or made into preserves.
Honeyberry is another new introduction to UK gardeners. These long, blue fruits are similar in colour, flavour and texture to a Blueberry, and are high in vitamin C. Honeyberries are the fruits of Lonicera kamtschatica and are best grown in pairs to improve pollination and maximise crop yields. Compact varieties including 'Balalaika' make this an interesting patio crop.
'Kalinka' was one of the earliest varieties available in the UK. Breeders have now developed sweeter varieties such as 'Myberry Sweet', and large fruiting forms including the enormous 4cm long berries of 'Eisbar'. Honeyberries can be eaten fresh from the plant with your morning cereal, or baked into cakes and preserves.
Berries and currants are easy to grow! With so many compact varieties available, there is something for even the smallest of gardens. Why not choose your favourites and give them a try?
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