A fantastic combination of taste, juiciness and healthy food, fruit salads remain as popular now as they’ve ever been. Loaded with sin-free goodness, there aren’t many things that can beat a good fruit salad.
There’s nothing wrong with buying fruit or ready-made salad. However, growing your own is as rewarding an experience as any. You’ll be able to nurture your fruit from the beginning, all the time looking forward to the end result. If you’re not sure how to grow the fruit you want, don’t worry; help is on hand.
Plant: Nov-March Harvest: Aug-Nov
Apples are not only great-tasting pieces of fruit, they’re also one of the easiest to grow. The most common method is simply to buy a tree and watch it flourish given the fact that growing from scratch would take a good few years to develop.
It’s essentially a case of picking the right spot and making sure the tree has enough room. You want to look for a sunny, sheltered area free from the dangers of frost pockets. That’s more or less all to it.
You might have to water the fruit in the event of dry patches but most apple trees are self-sustaining once they are used to their new surroundings.
Plant March-April Harvest: Jul-Aug
Despite being one of the most popular fruits around, many people tend to shy away from growing their own strawberries. They don’t require massive amounts of effort but can sometimes be a bit tricky.
They need a fair bit of space, around 45cm between each in rows 75cm apart. They need fertile soil to really be great so you may have to add some compost to your ground. Like many fruits, they’ll be more receptive of sunny and shaded spaces.
Windy spaces should be avoided as strawberries need pollinating insects to visit them.
You can also plant strawberries in hanging baskets, away from slugs, snails and other pests. It’s important not to overdo it as each plant will be fighting for the sunlight and moisture – three to four plants is probably the maximum to go for.
Hanging basket strawberries should be fed every fortnight whilst growing. When signs of flowering begin to be present, swap food for liquid fertiliser with plenty of potash to really bring the flowering on.
Plant: Apr-June Harvest: Jul-Oct
Melons are a touch on the tricky side when it comes to growing. They need plenty of warmth, sunlight and humidity so are probably best suited to a greenhouse.
Around a month before actually planting them, prepare the grounds with your organic matter and fertiliser. You’ll also have to warm the soil before planting but covering with polythene a week beforehand should suffice.
Melons need regular watering . Once they reach roughly the size of walnuts, potash-rich liquid fertiliser should be used once a week. During flowering, increase ventilation to encourage pollination.
When ripening begins, halt feeding and reduce watering. At gooseberry size, prune all flowers, fruit and leaves from stems bar the best four flowers to give them every chance of developing effectively.
Plant: March-May Harvest: Aug-Sep
A firm favourite of fruit fans, the kiwi fruit is almost seen as a luxury given the fact that not too many people grow them themselves. There’s good reason, though – the kiwi growing game is a long one.
The first bout of waiting time is three to four years. After planting, it can take this long to actually bear fruit. If that doesn’t put you off, find a sheltered and sunny spot and use a general purpose fertiliser come springtime.
When the three-four years is finally up, the waiting game isn’t over. Kiwi fruit should be picked before the frost comes along and placed next to ripe fruit to help ripen them. This can take several long weeks but on the plus side, they will keep for up to three months in the fridge. Put them in a plastic carrier bag and pierce holes before chilling.
Plant: Dec-Feb Harvest: Aug-Nov
Pear trees don’t actually require much attention when established with their surroundings. They require similar attention as apple trees.
You can also plant them in containers. If you want to follow this route, you will need to make sure you choose one specifically made for this purpose. For the best pears, you will probably be looking at a 45-50cm diameter container.
Stick small pieces of polystyrene in the bottom to keep moisture contained. Make sure that you use a sufficient compost and your pears should look after themselves.
Fruit Salad Tree
If you want more of a helping hand, you can actually buy a fruit salad tree that grows many different fruits.
Varieties include stone fruit, citrus and apple trees. Stone fruit can bear peaches, apricots, nectarines, plums and peachcots. Citrus trees can produce lemons, limes, mandarins, oranges tangelos, pomelos and grapefruit. As you’d imagine, apple trees have a range of red, green and yellow apples.
The fruit salad trees are multi-grafted with fruit families grafted on one plant. Fruit setting and ripening varies by plant so you’d have to look into them before purchasing one.
Your Very Own Creation
A succulent fruit salad is always a welcome treat. If you’ve got the energy, resources and garden to create your own, literally from scratch, it comes highly recommended.
Of course, you don’t have to use these fruits. You can be as wild as your imagination will let you when you make your own including tropical, more traditional or even fruit cocktail style salads.
Ed Sloane runs Garden Benches and can regularly be found out in the garden. He enjoys anything that has strawberries in and is a regular eater of fruit salad when then weather permits.
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