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Gardening and More: Grow apples in a pot on your patio

BERRY, BERRY GOOD — Gardeners familiar with raspberry bushes know that these plants can look unkempt, with lanky canes’ growing in different directions. “Raspberry shortcake,” above, grows in a neat mound. It is one of the newer varieties of fruit bushes and trees that have been developed, to grow in containers. Photo courtesy of Monrovia.
HAMBURG — People are always telling me that they don’t have room to garden, but you can grow a fruit bush, or even an apple tree, in a pot on your patio!

New varieties of fruit bushes and fruit trees have been developed to be smaller, more compact and more attractive in the landscape, according to Fred Safford, who is in charge of trees and shrubs at Lockwood’s Greenhouses.

Safford will lead a class about growing fruit and berries, at home. The class will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 19 at Lockwood’s, located at 4484 Clark St. in Hamburg.

The teacher will explain how to grow blueberries, raspberries and goji berries, as well as pear, apple and peach trees. The cost of the class is $10. There will be special, one-day pricing on all plants that are covered, in the lecture. You can sign up on the Lockwood’s website at www.weknowplants.com, or call Lockwood’s at 649-4684, to register or for more information.

One example of a fruit bush that has been developed to grow well in a container is the raspberry shortcake plant, pictured. It doesn’t get lanky canes, like other raspberry bushes do, according to Safford. It is shorter, fuller and denser. You can grow that plant in a container and it looks great in your landscape, planted in a bed.

Another good choice is the top hat blueberry. It’s self-pollinating, so you don’t need to have two bushes, in order to get fruit. In the spring, it produces beautiful white blossoms, and, in the fall, the foliage turns a pretty, glowing orange. The fruit is ideal for baking.

Even though these are food plants, don’t relegate them to a corner vegetable patch. They’re lovely enough to mix in with your flowers.

“You can put them in your front yard,” Safford said. “They’re attractive.”

A fruit tree that is well-suited to containers is the columnar apple tree. It doesn’t branch out; it grows straight up. On a garden walk, last year, I saw a columnar apple tree in a pot, that had been set on a blacktop driveway, and the tree was bearing fruit.

That gardener keeps his potted apple tree in his unheated garage, during the winter. Offering that little bit of extra protection from rapid changes in temperature can be a good idea. You could also set the potted tree in a shed or cool basement, or surround the pot with straw or leaves, held in place by burlap.

Most blueberries and raspberries bred to be grown in containers should be fine outside, during the winter, but it would be best to keep them in a protected spot close to the house or in a garage.

Another more compact fruit plant is a cherry bush. The fruit is easier to pick from the bush than from a cherry tree. The bush is vase-shaped and grows 5 – 6 feet tall and 4 – 5 feet wide.

In addition to fruit plants that grow in containers, Lockwood’s also looks for plants that are new, unusual or hard to find, such as the goji berry.

“The goji berry is called one of the most nutritionally dense foods on the planet,” Safford said. “It’s very high in antioxidants.”

Goji berries grow on a shrub that gets to be 6 feet tall. “Sweet lifeberry” is a new variety that is sweeter than the traditional goji berry.

Think beyond tomatoes and peppers, as you plan your summer garden. New varieties of fruit plants can be attractive in your landscape, while providing delicious and nutritious food.

Connie Oswald Stofko is the publisher of Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email Connie@BuffaloNiagaraGardening.com.
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