Fruiting shrubs

Shrubs are an integral part of the new food garden and have a unique role to play (they fill the gap between trees and herbaceous perennials – often literally). They can be highly productive, fast growing, independent (and often drought tolerant) and you should utilize them as much as you can. They are smaller than trees and considerably more accommodating for use in small gardens. However they vary in size and shape and growth habit (some can form large thickets). Like trees they take a while to reach maturity, so must be planned for in advance (though if they start to get too big, you can always coppice them).I don’t mean fruit that can be found growing in the bush, but rather fruit that grow on bushes. Also known as soft fruit, the Blueberries, Currants, Gooseberries, Blackberries and Raspberries have a special place in the productive garden for several reasons:

The bush fruits are amongst the tastiest treats the garden has to offer and almost everyone likes them. They are nearly always expensive to buy because they are perishable and don’t ship well. Planting them can be a significant step in maximizing the productivity of your garden and you should plant a variety of species.

Many bush fruits are also uniquely nutritious, containing vitamins, minerals and some unique antioxidants and other phytonutrients. Some species are worth growing just for this, even if they aren’t particularly tasty. Just use them for juice in a cocktail or mix them with tastier berries such as Blackberries or Blueberries.

Many species require no attention once established and can be very productive. The harvest period is relatively short, but it can be extended considerably with different species and varieties. They are also easy to preserve by freezing, canning or drying.

Bush fruits are sometimes planted around fruit trees to give a temporary crop until the trees really get going. You can then move them somewhere else (or take cuttings from them).