The soft fruit on the plot has been a big success even though it has been our first year. We’ve got 2 blueberries which were freed from the pots they had been in for a couple of years and put them into raised beds with ericaceous compost. We planted 10 autumn fruiting raspberries canes and 1 tayberry plant. We also inherited 3 rows of strawberries, a gooseberry and 2 blackcurrants.
I think growing your own soft fruit is brilliant value for money. Soft fruit is expensive to buy and if you want organic even more so. Non-organic soft fruit are some of the worst offenders for chemical residues so to grow your own safe in the knowledge you haven’t sprayed them is a great advantage. I’ve also been really surprised by the taste of our own fruit. The strawberries and raspberries have tasted so much sweeter. So to build on this collection I thought I would look for a hybrid blackberry. We often pick blackberries from the hedgerows but I find these smaller fruit are best cooked but the bigger, juicier hybrid berries are lovely fresh and scattered over porridge or Greek yoghurt.
The problem with these hybrid berries is that you don’t get any fruit in the first year because they produce fruit on canes produced the previous year like summer fruiting raspberries. For an impatient gardener such as myself, that prospect isn’t very appealing. We had 1 paltry tayberry this year. I split it so we could both get a taste of it, which tantalised and teased us for the proper crop next year.
Then I discovered the answer to my problems, a new variety called Blackberry ‘Reuben’. It’s a primocane variety which means it fruits on that seasons growth so if I plant it this autumn I will get fruit next year…yey!!! It produces big, tasty fruit so even better and is compact so useful for a small garden or plot. It’s also possible, once the plant is established, to get 2 crops from primocanes. You would normally prune primocanes in late winter/early spring, pruning out the canes from the previous year but if you leave these you will get a small crop in June these can then be pruned out and the plant will then crop normally on the new canes it has also produced. What more could I want? So I ordered 1 plant and I should have it within the month. Now all I have to do is work out where I can put it.
Blackberry ‘Reuben’ is available from Pomona Fruits.