How To Grow Berries

Here's our guide to growing strawberries, raspberries and other soft fruit that tastes so good when freshly picked or can be turned into delicious jam.

Cultivating soft fruit, whether in the back garden or on the allotment, is quite easy and can be very rewarding. Eaten fresh or used to make jams and puddings, home grown fruit is so much tastier than if you bought the same produce from a supermarket. This is our guide to growing the nation's favourite berries: 

Blackberries (Loganberries & Tayberries)

What Position And Soil?

Moist but well drained soil, 6.0pH or less. Blackberries are shade tolerant but the hybrid berries need plenty of sunlight.

Best Time For Planting?

Container grown plants at any time, otherwise early winter or spring. Briar fruit needs lots of space, the plants should be at least 10ft apart and they should be pruned back to about 6ins after planting.

Do The Plants Need support?

Train the canes on lines of wire approximately 1ft apart supported by stout posts and keep fruiting wood away from new wood.

What Fertilizer Do They Need?

Prepare the soil with compost or manure mulch and apply a mulch towards the end of winter.

When Can I pick The Berries?

Fruit forms on one year old canes and harvested in late summer and autumn.

Is Pruning Required?

After harvesting, cut all the canes that have fruited down to the ground.

Recommended Varieties?

Black Butte, Loch Ness, Loch Tay, Sylvan

Blueberries

What Position And Soil?

A sunny sheltered position with acid soil is required, about 5.0pH. If this is not possible, grow your Blueberry plant in a container or raised bed with ericaceous compost.

Best Time For Planting?

Autumn or early winter through to spring, about 5ft apart. Blueberries are not self-fertile and different varieties must be grown to ensure pollination.

Do The Plants Need support?

No, they are grown as free-standing bushes

What Fertilizer Do They Need?

A compost or manure mulch after planting and then annually. Water with rainwater collected in a butt not tap water.

When Can I Pick The Berries?

Mid to late summer.

Is Pruning Required?

Not a great deal, remove old, damaged, diseased and overcrowded branches to ensure a good flow of air.

Recommended Varieties?

Bluecrop, Blueray, Earliblue, Patriot

Gooseberries

What Position And Soil?

A sheltered sunny site with moist well-drained soil that Is approximately 6.5pH.

Best Time For Planting?

Autumn through to spring for bare rooted plants, container grown plants at any time. Self-standing plants need to be at least 4ft apart, cordons about 18ins, and rows approx. 5ft apart.

Do The Plants Need support?

Only if grown as cordons against a wall or between posts supported by wire.

What Fertilizer Do They Need?

Mulch with manure or compost after planting and a potash rich feed in the spring, water well when the berries begin to grow.

When Can I pick The Berries?

Harvest in early summer.

Is Pruning Required?

Straight after harvesting prune side shoots of free-standing bushes back to five leaves, remove over crowded, diseased or dead branches. Cut cordon side shoots back to 2ins and secondary shoots to 1in.

Recommended Varieties?

Hinnonmaki Red, Invicta, Leveller, Pax

Raspberries

What Position And Soil?

Raspberries prefer a rich slightly acid (6pH), well drained, soil and can tolerate some shade.

Best Time For Planting?

Autumn through to early spring for bare rooted plants about 18ins apart with rows about 6ft apart. Mix in organic matter and cut the canes down to 6ins.

Do The Plants Need support?

Summer fruiting varieties need their canes tied to wires supported by posts. Autumn raspberries need less support, perhaps a length of wire either side.

What Fertilizer Do They Need?

Mulch with compost or manure in the winter or spring

When Can I Pick The Berries?

Summer varieties from late June, autumn varieties from August

Is Pruning Required?

The fruiting canes of summer raspberries need to be cut to the ground after harvesting, leave any new canes. For autumn raspberries, cut all canes to ground level in February

Recommended Varieties?

Malling Jewel (summer), Tulameen (summer), Autumn Bliss, Joan J (autumn),

Strawberries

What Position And Soil?

Moist, rich but well drained slightly acidic (6 – 6.5pH) soil and sunny. Move every three years.

Best Time For Planting?

July and August, plants should be 18ins apart and rows about 2ft. Keep the crown of the plant level with the top of the soil. Grow through a mulch of black plastic to suppress weeds or straw to protect the fruit.

Do The Plants Need support?

No

What Fertilizer Do They Need?

No

When Can I Pick The Berries?

From May

Is Pruning Required?

No but cut off runners if you do not want to propagate new plants

Recommended Varieties?

Aromel, Earliglow, Honeoye, Sparkle