Juicy Fruits

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Episode 4 of 6

Duration: 30 minutes

Alys Fowler attempts to avoid shop-bought fruit and vegetables and live off her own, home-grown produce, all from her tiny terraced back garden. It's no easy task because Alys doesn't want to turn her garden into an allotment, so she's growing her fruit and vegetables among her flowers.

Alys will focus on different foods and show how anyone can grow, cook and eat from their own garden - even if they live in a city.

Fruit, particularly fruit like raspberries and blueberries, can be a costly luxury bought from the shops, yet nothing could be simpler to grow. You plant them and then just sit back and wait. With most of her garden devoted to growing vegetables, Alys still manages to squeeze in some juicy fruits alongside her mature apple tree. As well as enjoying them for breakfast, Alys preserves their flavour by making jams, tangy fruit leathers and sweet dried apple rings.

Music Played

14 items
  • Alys on Fruit

    Alys on Fruit

    ‘‘Stay me with flagons and comfort me with apples for I am weary of love’, so sings Solomon and I quite agree. You cannot live on lettuces alone, it’s fruit that makes the world funky.

    My summer fruit begins with blueberries that I grow in various containers. I recently tried using some acidic peat-free compost (blueberries need acidic conditions), but previously I’ve used regular peat-free compost and mulched twice a year with pine needles that I snaffle from a neighbours tree. I get plenty of blueberries this way. The thing to remember about blueberries is they like a lot of water, but not from the tap, use rain water collected from a water butt. The local black birds love blueberries, so I use a pretty lace curtain to cover them up as they ripen.

    Strawberries, both wild and cultivated, are dotted all over the garden; the cultivated ones like sun; the wild ones are happy in shade and make a lovely ground cover for under the fruit trees. Strawberries really get going in year two and by year five are a little exhausted, so it’s best to propagate off runners. Mice and slugs will nibble at ripe strawberries - fine netting will keep most things at bay.

    By autumn the garden starts to produce serious amounts of fruit. I have two apple trees both on dwarf rootstock M9. This means that they will grow to 3m high. One is a Discovery (bright red, very early and not one for storing) and the other an Egremont Russet (later and stores well). Around these are rhubarb and raspberries, mainly Autumn Bliss, an autumn fruiting type that reliably throw up hundreds of bright berries. The raspberries do best with a good mulch in early autumn and Indian summer will see them produce into November.’’

  • Raspberries

    These can be expensive to buy, so make a good addition to the garden. Summer fruiting raspberries are very tasty (i.e. Glen Ample, Tulameen and Glen Posen) and autumn fruiting (i.e. Autumn Bliss) are easier to look after, the difference is simply the fruiting times. Mind you don’t harm roots when cultivating the soil around the plants as they are really shallow.

    BBC Gardening - Raspberries
  • Strawberries

    Easy to grow in beds, pots, hanging baskets and window boxes they really are the must-have fruit for any garden. Some advise the removal of flowers in the first year to give the plant all the energy it needs to green-up and root well, but it’s just too tempting to leave a few on and it wont hurt. By year two and three you’ll get loads of fruit but the plants will have markedly reduced yields by year five. Regenerate plants by rooting runners that are sent out after fruiting and plant out the following spring. Don’t forget to raise fruits that are lying on the soil to stop them rotting and enjoy the most exquisite taste of summer!

    BBC Gardening - Strawberries
  • Blueberries

    An increasingly popular fruit bush and rightly so, blueberries are bursting with vitamin C, loved by children and just the right size for a small garden. Blueberries are North American acid lovers, to achieve the right conditions plant in acidic soil or containers with ericaceous compost, water with rain water (tap water tends to be alkali) and make sure there’s good drainage. You’ll get a better crop if you have two plants just make sure that if they’re not the same variety, they flower at the same time.

    BBC Gardening - Blueberries
  • Blackcurrants

    Prolific and loved by birds, you’ll need to net your tasty treats if you want any for eating fresh, making jams or baking with. Ben Hope is good for big gardens but you can get Ben Connan, Ben Garin and Ben Sarek for small gardens. In the first year chop back stems to one or two buds to encourage good rooting, this may seem drastic but it will pay you back with good strong growth and lots of fruit the following year.

    RHS - Blackcurrants
  • Apples

    The ‘best’ apple flavour is completely subjective, if you’re thinking of planting an apple in your garden try going to an Apple Day or another local apple event to try suitable varieties and choose what you want to eat, there’s no point growing something you don’t like!

    Apple Day on Wikipedia
  • Damsons

    These are not available in most supermarkets so growing your own or finding someone with a tree you can harvest from is pretty much the only way you’re going to taste these lovely fruits. They have an acquired taste fresh but are arguably best as jam or vodka.

    RHS - Damsons

    Hapa-zome literally means ‘leaf-dyeing’; based on ancient leaf pounding it is a technique named and popularised by textile artist India Flint. Just put a leaf or petal between two layers of fabric and hit with a hammer or mallet so the juice and colour from the plant material is transferred onto the fabric. When dry remove all remaining bits of plant and iron the material. This will fix the plant dye as much as it will be fixed, but these are natural dyes so be warned, they can fade or wash off.

    Hapa-zome Fact Sheet


Alys Fowler
Juliet Glaves
Executive Producer
Gill Tierney


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