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Unusual & Old Fashioned Fruit Trees

 


 Grapes.

Growing grapes in the UK is not a new idea and there is more and more interest in growing them, largely due to global warming and our warmer winters, but of course it must not be forgotten that the Romans were probably the first with their large vineyards. Undoubtedly Britainís climate was milder then, but even so people have grown grape vines in greenhouses for a long time now and for a reliable crop this is probably still the best way to grow them. However, some commercial growers feel that crops can again be grown successfully outdoors in the South of England and numerous vineyards have been planted. The largest UK plantation is in Surrey where 600 acres of ideal chalky soil has been planted with many different varieties.

Well planted vines can stay productive for up to 40 years which is just as well because they need a lot of attention if they are going to harvest well. Regular pruning and training is essential and although this can normally be done at any time in the Winter according to many books, it is probably best done in the earlier winter months because the unpredictability of our weather sometimes means that the sap can start rising early.

Not only do grapes need a lot of care, but they will not crop quickly after planting and it can be 3 years or more before you will be rewarded with your first proper harvest.

As with all of the more tender fruits they must be planted on a South facing site with good drainage and ideally for grapes, the ground wants to be chalky.

There are many varieties sold in garden centres some of which are more suited for outdoors and some for greenhouse cultivation. One of the most popular indoor grape varieties is Black Hamburgh which can reliably produce a good crop of sweet fruit without as much attention as many varieties. Indoor grown grapes are generally sweeter and therefore better for eating than outdoor grown crops in the UK that are more usually used for wine making.