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Fruit trees for tenants

REAL ESTATE
By Hosea Omole | April 28th 2016
Strawberries should perhaps be the entry point for any beginner hoping to grow fruits in their gardens. They give really quick results; you can have strawberries ripe in your garden within a few months from planting. They are also very forgiving and can do well with minimal care. (PHOTO: COURTESY)

Some fruit trees take ages before you can start enjoying their, well, fruits. For many people living in rented houses, growing such can be a futile exercise as your tenancy may not stretch as long as their maturity period. You need something that will give you something to smile about within a few months.

You also need a fruit that is not needy and fussy; one that can do with as little care as possible. Here are three such fruits you can consider growing within the smallest of yards.

Strawberries

Strawberries should perhaps be the entry point for any beginner hoping to grow fruits in their gardens. They give really quick results; you can have strawberries ripe in your garden within a few months after planting. They are also very forgiving and can do well with minimal care.

And there are many ways to grow them. You can find seedlings at nurseries as potted plants or as bare root seedlings although the varieties they offer are usually limiting.

You can also find seeds at seed stores or at your local supermarket. In spite of the extra hustle of starting them in a seedbed, seeds give a lot more flexibility when it comes to choosing the varieties you like.

Raspberries

If you pick the right varieties, you can have raspberries the same year you plant them. Like their sister the strawberry, they give a lot quickly without demanding too much of your time and effort.

The key to success with raspberries is getting the soil right. It must be well-drained. To give your plants the best chance of doing well, digging in as much organic matter (garden compost or well-rotted manure) as possible before you plant is a good idea.

They also love a sunny spot. Remember remove all perennial weeds before you plant because they are difficult to remove afterwards. Raspberries are not usually grown from seed, but from stems (canes), which get dug up and planted to establish new plants.

Watermelons

Watermelons are not just wonderful fruits to eat on a hot afternoon, they are also wonderful for gardeners who want quick results. They are not fussy about soil and are easy to grow, provided that they are in a sunny spot and get plenty of water. They can be grown from seeds by germinating them in a seedbed then transplanting them to the garden when they are about 7cm tall. Watermelons form large, rambling plants with large, deeply divided foliage. You can grow them up strings, trellises or netting or just let them sprawl across the soil.

If you train them upwards you need to carefully support the heavy fruits by putting some netting (similar to the netting that you buy oranges in) around the fruits and tying it to supports. If you grow them up trellis or strings, train them so they make a single shoot which grows to at least two metres.

-The writer is a landscape architect

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