I’ve been pondering what should replace the blackberry which I ripped out in haste, and I think the answer might be some flowering quinces. I think everyone knows these, but if you don’t they’re thorny little shrubs with red or orange flowers and hard acidic fruits. And I happen to have some waiting in pots already.
Chaenomeles japonica, picture from user Willow on Wikipedia
I’ve tried growing them for at least the last four years, as part of my collection of less common fruits including japanese wineberries, honeyberry, and aronias. But until this year the damn things just wouldn’t fruit much. They’d flower prolifically, then… the flowers would drop off eventually and that’d be it. So in a last ditch effort to get somewhere I relocated my existing plants into pots and put in a different variety.
And guess what happened? All my newly relocated plants fruited heavily. I’m not sure why but I have a few suspicions:
- Stress from tearing them out could promote fruiting
- They might have liked their new potted location more than their previous location
- They might not be very self-fertile – Martin Crawford says they are, but my experience suggest otherwise
I suspect (3) since I’ve had the same problem in our last two houses/gardens, and the relocation when we moved didn’t do much for their productivity.
The other issue is that thr ex-blackberry site faces north-west, and I’ve also seen conflicting advice regarding their shade tolerance. Creating a Forest Garden has this to say:
I regard these as more versatile crops than true quince in a forest garden. The flowers are much hardier so they are reliable croppers, they ae shade-tolerant, and the fruits, while acid, have a wonderful range of lemon and orange citrus flavours.
Conditions: tolerates most soils and a lot of shade.
Similar comments from the late Patrick Whitefield:
They can be grown in light shade, free-standing or against a wall or fence, including a north-facing one.
Other authors and sites are a bit less enthusiastic about flowering / fruiting potential on a north facing wall.
The varieties I have are:
- Fusion (new, already planted elsewhere)
- Crimson and Gold (new, in pot)
- Cido x 2 (old, in pots)
All are varieties that are supposed to fruit well.
Under the assumption that they might not be self-fertile as claimed, I think I’ll pair up a Cido and the Crimson and Gold in the 4m where the blackberry used to be and see what happens. If the worst comes to the worst they can always go back in pots again.