How to plant Bare Root Soft Fruit
How To Plant Bare Root Soft Fruit
Planting soft fruit as bare root plants has massive advantages - as they’re light and easy to transport, you’ll be saving money, packaging and fuel - it’s so much better for the environment! The plants will also be more vigorous in the long run, having a good long dormant period to settle in and develop their root systems. This means that in spring, all of their energy will go towards producing healthy foliage and fruit. Soft fruit plants available as Bare Root include raspberries, blackberries and their hybrids, strawberries and gooseberries. Here we show you the best way to plant them.
Before they arrive: prepare your soil
Choose a sunny, sheltered position in your garden and make sure your soil is weed-free. If your soil is very dry, heavy or gravelly, now’s the time to improve it by mixing in some compost or manure. (Don’t just put this in the planting holes, or your plant’s roots won’t want to spread out and leave their nice warm manurey home) Your plants need to be in the soil as soon as possible after they arrive, so preparation is key.
When your plants arrive
If you can’t plant your Bare Roots straight away, keep them damp and frost free in a cool shed or garage for up to 48 hours.
On the day of planting, soak the roots in a bucket of water for 30 minutes to an hour to untangle any that have knitted together in transit. If the ground is frozen or waterlogged, you’ll need a temporary home for your bare roots. If there’s a patch of garden you’re able to dig, make a trench in it and temporarily plant them here. (This is called ‘heeling in’) Otherwise, a bucket of compost will do nicely.
The planting hole should be as deep as the roots and three times as wide. Position your plant so that all the roots are below ground, and spread them out gently.
You can usually see the mark where the plant was in the soil before, as it’s darker than the rest of the stem.
Fill in the hole and firm down the plant well before giving it a good watering in.
As they grow
Your raspberries will grow tall and spread by sending out suckers (baby plants) at either side of them. You can fasten the stalks to strong canes for support, or if you’ve planted them along a fence or wall, tie long strings or wires along it horizontally to keep the plants upright.
Your strawberry plants will start to flower in the spring - at this point, give them a feed of liquid tomato fertiliser to encourage the fruit. When the fruits appear, cover them with netting to keep the birds off and only pick them when they’ve turned completely red as they don’t ripen any further off the plant.
Water your soft fruits well for the first year of planting, making sure the soil doesn’t dry out during hot weather. You should see leaves in about a month or so, and berries in the summer.
These Bare Root raspberry canes were planted in February. By summer, they looked like this! If we’re not overrun with berries this time next year I’ll eat my trowel.
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