How to establish fruit canes in Scotland

How To Establish Soft Fruits in a Scottish Garden

Being able to pick your own soft fruits from your own garden is one of the great joys of growing your own. Large areas of Scotland have an ideal climate and conditions for soft fruits and permaculture gardeners can choose from a wide range of fruiting plants that will thrive where they live.

The first thing to do when you wish to establish fruit canes in a Scottish garden is to choose which fruits and which varieties you would like to grow. Fruit canes are excellent on the edges of a forest garden, or can even be grown in containers in a smaller space and which options will be best for you will, of course, depend on where you live and how and where you are planning to grow them.

Raspberries are of course one of the most delicious soft fruits around and are a popular choice for Scottish gardens. (If you don't have the space to establish your own fruit canes at home, you should note that wild raspberries can be found in parts of Scotland and are abundant in the wild – great for foraging in June/ July.)

But raspberries are not the only choice when it comes to fruiting plants of this type. Tayberries, loganberries, boysenberries, jostaberries and Japanese wineberries are all similar fruiting canes that are hardy and well suited to inclusion in a Scottish permaculture garden. In addition to all these, you can also choose thornless brambles, to make blackberry picking all that much easier. Currants and gooseberries are also fantastic additions, while blueberries or bilberries/ blaeberries will do well where the soil is acidic, as it is in much of Scotland.

Raspberries and a number of other soft fruit canes and bushes are best bought as bare root canes over the autumn/ winter or early spring, while other plants are more commonly bought throughout the year as pot-grown plants. Whichever fruiting plants you have chosen to include in your garden, it is a good idea to prepare the area for planting before you get them.

Before planting your fruiting canes and/or bushes, consider whether you will require supports for them. Especially in smaller gardens, letting raspberries wander and flop will take up too much space, and also makes them more difficult to harvest, and more likely to be eaten by rodents or other wildlife visitors before you get to them. For a small number of canes in a small space, a tipi construction may be the best option, while a sturdier construction of wires and wooden uprights is the usual for larger gardens.

Another thing to think about when establishing your fruit garden is that it is quite likely that you will have to net your soft fruit bushes to prevent all your fruits being eaten by the birds that share your garden. While some berries and fruits eaten by birds are 'taxes', sometimes, you would lose the lot if you did not offer some protection. Think about placing supports to make it easier to net before you plant anything, so as not to disturb roots at a later date.