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Other fruit

The two most often encountered fruits which do not fit the general categories are figs and grapes.

Figs are hardy but need shelter and warmth if the fruit is to ripen. They are best trained fanwise against a wall, and pruning consists of removing unwanted, badly placed, diseased and dying wood in March. The embryo fruit is produced at the tips of well ripened growths made the previous summer, and it helps to swell the fruits if you pinch out the tips of the shoots bearing them. The soil should not be too rich and the roots must be restricted by enclosing them with corrugated iron, brick or concrete and a rubble base. A cubic yard (or metre) of soil in the enclosure around the roots is ample. Alternatively, figs grow well in a big tub. Brown Turkey is the best and most flavoursome for outside planting.

Grapes. Grapes will ripen only on a very warm wall. They require similar growing conditions to those of figs, except the roots need not be enclosed. The easiest way to train them is informally by removing the fruited canes in winter and tying new growths to wires, trellis or similar as they are formed. Suitable outdoor varieties such as ‘Brandt’, which is also a very ornamental plant, should always be chosen. In favourable parts of Britain, you should be able to grow wine-making grapes on posts and wires in the open ground. Producing good wine-making grapes from these is a specialist subject beyond the scope of this blog.

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