Red, White and Black Currants
These delicious fruits need moisture-retentive soil, and those in pots must be watered regularly during the growing season. Plant them in large containers filled with soil-based potting mix, combined with well-composted organic matter garden compost or bagged manure is ideal. You can either grow them as bushes or train them on a trellis like a climber. Apply a general fertilizer for fruit crops in spring, and top up with tomato fertilizer every week from late spring until the fruits ripen. Cover the blooms with plastic sheeting if frosts are forecast. Site in a cool, partly shaded spot. For pruning, see gooseberries (next).
The sharp sweetness of gooseberries is perfect for summer desserts and pies. Planting and feeding requirements are the same as for currants, and if the crop is heavy, thin the fruits in late spring. Every winter, cut back the main stems by half to an outward-facing bud, and prune the side shoots to one bud from the main stems (beware of the spines). Keep the plants well watered and harvest ripe fruit in summer.
The best fruit trees for pots are those grown on dwarfing rootstocks that still produce full-sized fruit. Cherries are grafted onto Colt or Gisela 5 rootstocks. Good cherries include 'Compact Stella' and 'Maynard Mini Stem'. Plant in large pots of soil-based potting mix, keep in a sheltered, sunny spot, and protect the blossoms with plastic sheeting. Feed in spring with all-purpose fertilizer, and apply tomato food every week after flowering. No pruning is needed.
The best fruit trees for pots are those grown on dwarfing rootstocks that still produce full-sized fruit. Peaches are grafted onto 'Pixy' or 'St. Julien A'. For good peaches try 'Bonanza' and 'Garden Lady'. Plant in large pots of soil-based potting mix, keep in a sheltered, sunny spot, and protect the blossom with plastic sheeting. Feed in spring with all-purpose fertilizer, and apply tomato food every week after flowering. No pruning is needed.
Apples and Pears
Popular for pots, apples grown on the dwarf rootstocks M27, M9 or M26 are widely available. The choice of pears is smaller, but look for those grown on Quince C or Quince A. All of these compact trees produce full-sized fruit. If you have space, grow several and enjoy a variety of different flavors from late summer and throughout the autumn. Popular apple varieties include 'Egremont Russet', 'Cox's Orange Pippin', 'Discovery', golden yellow 'Elstar' and 'Blenheim Orange'with its crisp, nutty flavor. The pear varieties 'Williams' Bon Chretien', 'Doyenne du Comice'and 'Dwarf Lilliput' are ideal for containers. If space is really limited, you can buy two different fruits grafted on to one rootstock, offering two flavors for the price of one. Planting and care is the same for apples and pears. Keep pots well watered throughout the spring and summer.
'Fiesta' apples are widely available on dwarf rootstocks, and are sometimes sold as 'Red Pippin'. The red fruit has a flavor very similar to English 'Cox's Orange Pippin' and is ready to pick in mid-fall.
'Red Falstaff' Apples
Disease- and frost-resistant, 'Red Falstaff' has a sweet, mellow flavor. It's ready to harvest in mid-fall and stores well.
'Pixie' is a small, sweet apple that's produced in abundance even on small trees. To avoid too many tiny fruits, thin them in early summer. Pick your crop in mid-fall.
'Williams' Bon Chretien' Pears
Commonly referred to as the Williams pear, 'Williams' Bon Chretien' is the most widely grown and should be harvested while the fruit is still hard.
'Egremont Russet' Apples
Harvest the nutty-flavored 'Egremont Russet' in early fall and the fruit will store till spring. Heavy cropping and resistant to disease, it's a great apple for those who enjoy something a bit different.