How to grow berries along a fence

Home-grown fruit tastes incomparably better than fruit from shops because you can pick it when it’s really ripe.

How to grow berries along a fence

Boundary walls and fences make ready-made supports for soft fruit (such as berries and currants), or you could train plants over an arch or up a trellis screen. Some types are not too fussy about soil, and they can look stunning when in flower and fruit.

Good value for space and taste are: Loganberries and tayberries (which look something like large raspberries), cultivated blackberries (ones without thorns), and the exotic Japanese wineberry with its decorative stems and aromatic fruit; Redcurrants, white currants and gooseberries can all be trained against a fence (although not blackcurrants because of the way they grow).

You will need
A fork, spade, secateurs, wire and ties for training the stems.

Where to put them
Most fruit gives the best yields and sweetest crops in a sunny spot, but redcurrants and blackberries will cope well with a shady spot. Avoid ground that is prone to getting waterlogged.

How much space?
Allow a 60cm width along a 2.5m length of wall or fence for cane fruits (such as raspberries and blackberries), and choose the least vigorous varieties. Redcurrants, white currants and gooseberries can have as little as a 1m spread, and are better behaved so can be grown alongside a path.

Preparing the ground
Dig over a 60-90cm square patch to remove weed roots. Fork in soil improver (from a garden centre).

Where and when to buy
Garden centres often stock some soft fruit in containers. However, mail order seed companies and specialised fruit nurseries have a much better range, and they send plants out in late winter or early spring when it is the best time to plant.

How to use the berries

  • Redcurrants, blackcurrants, gooseberries and blackberries are fantastic in creamy summer and autumn desserts, pies and tarts. Also tart or sharp berries go well with lamb, game, mackerel and smoked fish.
  • Fresh berries freeze well, simply open-freeze on baking trays until solid, then pack into plastic boxes.
  • Berries are great to have growing as you can just pluck a handful to decorate desserts and cakes.

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