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Mithril

Under planting an apple tree with currants / gooseberries

I'd like to create a mini (very mini) forest garden themed area at the end of my garden.

Does anyone know how close the currant / gooseberry bushes can be planted to the apple tree, and to one another?

EDIT: Some more info. Below is my rough plan. The length along the top is 180cm and the lengthdown the right hand side 270cm.


The area will be in dappled shade for part of the day thanks to my neighbours - a mature strawberry tree at the foot of the garden (north) and a hazel tree to the west. The strawberry tree overhangs, but not quite as far as the bed itself.

I also meant to ask about mints. Is it wize to try to grow them in such a small area? Are some varieties less vigorous / thug'ish than others?

Thanks in advance Smile
Pilsbury

for the mints plant them in a bucket and sink that in the ground, it really helps to contain them form spreading everywhere, same for lemonbalm
marigold

Cutting the lemon balm flowers before they seed also helps a lot with keeping it under control. Mint needs to be fairly moist in my experience, but is easily controlled by yanking out what you don't want in spring.

I think redcurrants do better in shaded conditions than blackcurrants. Dunno about white currants or gooseberries. Autumn fruiting raspberries will also tolerate some shade.

Probably stating the obvious, but make your plans with the eventual size of the tree and bushes in mind otherwise the planting will end up too dense and nothing will crop well.
Mithril

Cutting the lemon balm flowers before they seed also helps a lot with keeping it under control. Mint needs to be fairly moist in my experience, but is easily controlled by yanking out what you don't want in spring.

I think redcurrants do better in shaded conditions than blackcurrants. Dunno about white currants or gooseberries. Autumn fruiting raspberries will also tolerate some shade.

Probably stating the obvious, but make your plans with the eventual size of the tree and bushes in mind otherwise the planting will end up too dense and nothing will crop well.


I think it will be tight - I may well end up losing a gooseberry bush. I was hoping an M26 rootstock apple tree would be OK in such a space? (Although there is room for roots beyond this area - it's not surrounded by hardcore or anything). I'm really a bit clueless about fruit tbh Embarassed

I like the bucket idea for the mint - maybe I could part line it with plastic sheeting to retain extra moisture?

Beyond my plan, to the left, I have recently planted autumn bliss raspberries. They seem to be happy in the shade of an old plum tree. (Unfortunately, I'll have to replace the tree next year - it's on it's last legs).
marigold

Just thinking out loud after looking at your blog and the plan again - what about espaliering the apple on the long side? Unless I've misread your plan (and that is not unlikely - I can't tell left from right!) that side is east facing west, so the apple tree should be happy there and it will give you more space for the fruit bushes.
marigold

P.S. Blackcurrants etc grow really easily from cuttings, so if you know someone who has some good healthy plants ask for some trimmings. I got a broken tip to take in the spring, but the official time to take cuttings is in the autumn - google for a guide.
Tavascarow

Just thinking out loud after looking at your blog and the plan again - what about espaliering the apple on the long side? Unless I've misread your plan (and that is not unlikely - I can't tell left from right!) that side is east facing west, so the apple tree should be happy there and it will give you more space for the fruit bushes.

Espalier trees take a lot of training.
If space is tight I would go with cordons.
Quicker into fruit & more space for other varieties.
marigold

Just thinking out loud after looking at your blog and the plan again - what about espaliering the apple on the long side? Unless I've misread your plan (and that is not unlikely - I can't tell left from right!) that side is east facing west, so the apple tree should be happy there and it will give you more space for the fruit bushes.
Espalier trees take a lot of training.
If space is tight I would go with cordons.
Quicker into fruit & more space for other varieties.

Thanks Tavascarow - I was just thinking of "up against the fence/wall" - that'll teach me to try and use fancy wording Embarassed
Treacodactyl

I wouldn't worry too much about planting distances although the closer they are the more water they'll need. As has been mentioned, you can take cuttings easily of currants and gooseberries, so I'd put the main plants at a good distance and dot smaller ones from cuttings in the gaps.

I've not found mint grows that well in pots, in our dry garden mint seems to love the freedom and grows well in amongst other plants. You might need to pull some bits out but I'm happy to do that. I've got it growing around my gooseberries and I'm sure it helps keep the sawfly away.

I notice from you plan you have a large patch of wild garlic. By this time of year that will have died down so you could grow something else through that.
Mithril

Just thinking out loud after looking at your blog and the plan again - what about espaliering the apple on the long side? Unless I've misread your plan (and that is not unlikely - I can't tell left from right!) that side is east facing west, so the apple tree should be happy there and it will give you more space for the fruit bushes.

I can completely see why you thought that, but my plan is upside down Embarassed Laughing Up is south and down is north! happy8 (The reason for this is that I was drawing it from a particular viewing point - the bench at the end of the garden, facing the house, looking south...) So, the long side is actually east facing. Espailiers would fit in with the rest of the garden as seen in my blog, (in fact, I have a plan for either and espailier or two cordons against the west facing fence), but I'd like this area to be slightly hidden as viewed from the house. The children have a Wendy House up there and we thought it would be nice to make it have a sort of woodland feel to it, as well as being productive of course.

I wouldn't worry too much about
I notice from you plan you have a large patch of wild garlic. By this time of year that will have died down so you could grow something else through that.
Good point. Maybe it would be better to dot the wild garlic around a bit, rather than have it in a large drift / swathe? Or I'm open to other suggestions too.

My daughter has blackcurrants, so I shall take cuttings from hers Smile


EDIT: My daughter and I have been busy this afternoon and have almost finished creating the bed. Looking at it now I think we are goig to forget the blackcurrant bush - there just isn't room.
Treacodactyl

Good point. Maybe it would be better to dot the wild garlic around a bit, rather than have it in a large drift / swathe? Or I'm open to other suggestions too.

If you let them set seed they'll dot themselves all over the place anyway. Wink

I would dot them about, they've developed to grow under woodland plants before their leaves fully come out so a few clumps dotted about should do ok.
Mithril

Good point. Maybe it would be better to dot the wild garlic around a bit, rather than have it in a large drift / swathe? Or I'm open to other suggestions too.

If you let them set seed they'll dot themselves all over the place anyway. Wink

I would dot them about, they've developed to grow under woodland plants before their leaves fully come out so a few clumps dotted about should do ok.

I'll do that then - thanks thumbup
JB

I'd espalier the apple tree to give yourself more space, yes it does take time but trees shouldn't be a short term project. The gooseberries should be fine, certainly I have a similar shady position for mine and get plenty of fruit. I'd wonder if there will be enough light for the currants, I have black currants under shade and while they get a crop it's not huge by any measure. Mithril

We put the first fews plants in yesterday - two gooseberry bushes, two wild strawberries, lemon balm and some sorrel.

Seeing them in situ has made things a lot easier. We are going to drop the dessert gooseberry as well as the blackcurrant. Laughing
Gavin Bl

Ooo - thats sounds really nice Mithril Mithril

Ooo - thats sounds really nice Mithril
Thanks. I think it will be, eventually. Smile
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