Back in April, 2011 (the 8th to be precise, we know because we keep a gardening journal), we planted gooseberry leveller and pax, red currant red lake, and the black currants ben conan and wellington XXX.
Gardens always look great on paper but in practice we got some nasty surprises those first couple of years in creating a new fruit garden.
The biggest one was the sheer amount of weed seed we had disturbed, you can barely see the struggling fruit bushes in the photo above. We spent days, weeks and months weeding this bed of sheep's sorrel which choked it time after time. It took us two seasons to realise that the only way to tackle it was to remove everything and go through the bed inch by inch, which we did, with a small bonfire on the other side of the path where the sorrel was burnt along with its elasticated roots. We did this in 2014, when we decided to move the fruit patch down the hill into the developing cottage garden, it was a painful decision as this then fruit bed boasted a wonderful chive hedge which was awash with butterflies in 2013 and the memory of them still haunts us.
This new bed was full of wonderful loam stacked in this part of the garden earlier in the creation of the cottage garden. It had been weeded for weeks before and the soil was as clean as we could get it. It had been enriched with our own compost too but we still had reservations, the redcurrant had never really done much in the growth stake and the blackcurrants had never really taken off. Maybe the bushes were bad stock, it happens, we decided to get some more. This bed was much bigger, so we could get more fruit in and that sealed the fate of the old fruit bed.
Last year, we had a modest crop but a crop that was more successful than we'd had before in the old fruit bed. This year, the redcurrant red lake is nearly five feet tall, and is brimming with currants. It has put on two feet during spring! Certainly all this rain has benefited the fruit as has the right soil and the right location.
The blueberries are also full of fruit and even though the birds gather in anticipation, we have decided that this new fruit patch will one day be netted but at present we haven't the funds to do that.
It just shows that the right plant works in the right area, and though we were sad to lose our old fruit patch we love this new extended one with more blackcurrants, white currant, some blueberries and more gooseberries. There is the promise of strawberries to be planted, a new path for a new chive hedge and the memory of the old fruit patch still there waiting to bring in the bees and butterflies.