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Archive for the ‘Japanese wineberries’ Category

Japanese winberries in clustersWhat with the lower temperatures and rainy days, I definitely get the feeling that summer is well and truly over. And whilst I’m still happily picking my autumn raspberries and having the odd exciting find of a ‘Mara des bois’ strawberry, I feel a tad bereft that my Japanese wineberries are also finished for the year. Out of all the fruit that I’ve grown this summer, this tiny berry has been the most delicious of them all.

japanese Winberries and raspberries I have to admit that my berry growing repertoire isn’t that extensive (just strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and wild strawberries). I’ve never tasted (let alone grown) a tayberry or a goji berry, but each time I’ve nibbled a few of these intense sweetie-like berries, they’ve hit my taste buds like nothing else.

Compared to my strident  Polka raspberries, it takes a fair old while to fill a whole bowl, but to be honest, I prefer eating them straight from the cane, preferably after they’ve been warmed by the gentle rays of the sun for an hour or two. As they’re not great travellers ( their delicate petite form tends to crumble if you try to move them about once they’ve been picked), I can’t ever see these berries hitting the supermarkets, but that’s all the more reason in my book to have a go at growing your own.

Japanese wineberry at the allotmentEarlier this year, I tried a few different ways of training their pink stems, tying some along bamboo canes and twirling others around pieces of wire. All have produced copious amounts of berries, so I reckon that this fruit can be coaxed into a myriad of shapes and sizes and can be squeezed into the tightest of spaces if necessary.

If you fancy growing your own, now is the perfect time to order a bare-rooted plant for a November/ December delivery. Similarly to blackberries and summer raspberries, they fruit on canes produced the previous year, so it will be a couple of years before you get to taste these gems. However gardening is often about the long game, and in this case it certainly will be worth the wait.

P.S. I received an email asking about pruning Japanese wineberries. You can prune old canes  that your plant produced fruit on this year (about half of the canes) anytime from now until late winter. Here’s a post about pruning them. Be careful not to prune the new pink canes though, as these are the canes which will provide fruit for next year!

P.P.S Just spoken to a friend, Tanya, who’s a mighty fine cook and would love to have a go at growing some Japanese wineberries. I’ve since popped out into the garden and put the tip of one of the canes into a pot of soil and she will have a new plant of her own next spring/summer. It’s as easy as that. As soon as the cane touches the soil it will start making roots, a  bit like a giant strawberry runner. And the new plant should be fruiting in 2015!

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Cos freckles lettuce 2

Just before Christmas, Mark from Vertical Veg  sent out a questionnaire for growing in 2013. It contained a few simple and very pertinent questions and ones which got me thinking about the many positive aspects of growing your own fruit and vegetables. Question one: why do you grow your own food?

For me, I find it joyful and incredibly rewarding to be able to pick fresh veg from our doorstep. And it’s not just picking any old veg. It’s being able to choose and grow the things that you really love to eat and that will flourish in the growing conditions that you have in your garden. In a less than sunny part of the front garden, my lettuces thrived throughout the dampest of summers and supplied delicious sweet fresh leaves, unsprayed by supermarkets (and with zero food miles) for months on end. Pea shoots came a close second, supplying a succulent alternative to lettuces and being very quick to grow (about 3 weeks from sowing to harvesting from May onwards). I also love growing food that is sometimes difficult (or impossible) to buy in the shops and I’m going to really concentrate on the less run-of-the-mill herbs next year such as Lovage, Sorrel and Sweet Cicely.

Autumn fruiting raspberries

Next question. What’s your biggest challenge? Time (and space-could do with an extra half an acre at home!). Allotments are great, but they do take a feat of organisation to fit in with our busy lives. Whatever I grow on the allotment (leeks , raspberries, jerusalem artichokes….), I still love the fact that I can harvest salad leaves, strawberries and rhubarb only minutes before cooking them if I can grow them in the front or back garden (or in a pot on a windowsill or balcony). Jono from Real Men Sow has written an excellent piece on giving up his allotment and his move to growing everything (including some ornamentals) in his new garden at home.

Space in our urban environment is another constant challenge; trying to squeeze in everything I’d love to grow, but then planning becomes the key to getting the most out of our growing space.

Asparagus tips

In 2013 I’m planning for more effective successional growing, so that as soon as one spot becomes available, I’ll have the right seeds or small plants to pop right in there, and for sowing at the right time of year to provide crops throughout the seasons. Next year I’ll be attempting to fine tune my seed sowing for autumn and winter lettuces (I reckon August is the key month) and trying not to forget (in all the spring excitement) to sow seeds for some purple sprouting broccoli, as I always regret the absence of this fine vegetable come the following year. I’m planning to grow more perennial fruit, vegetables and herbs such as Rhubarb, Blackberries, Asparagus and Marjoram that will happily look after themselves (apart from the odd bit of mulching and training) and hopefully this will leave me with a bit more time for some more ‘no dig’ trials and to sow some new crops that I’ve only dreamed about so far.

During this wettest of Christmas holidays, it’s been great to have time to reflect and imagine my ideal plot, and I wish you all a Happy New Year, and one full of exciting growing experiments and successes throughout 2013, whatever or wherever your veg plot is.

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Japanese Wineberry in need of some attention

All this rain has provided plenty of excuses for curling up with some great gardening books, but on a rare dry day this week, I got on with tackling a job I’ve been itching to do for months. One of my Japanese Wineberry plants is looking a tad on the unkempt side and is rather overdue for a prune. Old stems need to be cut back to make space for new growth come spring and to make the plant easier to train (and more aesthetically pleasing).

New and old Japanese Wineberry stems

Before seizing the secateurs, note that only about half of the stems need to be pruned! You need to leave the newer, more lush, pink stems and only cut away (from the base of the plant) the old brown woodier stems on which the fruit was borne this summer. As Japanese Wineberries fruit on one year old stems, the fresher pink stems will bear the fruit next summer, and new stems that grow during next year will fruit the summer after that.

Japanese Wineberry after pruning landscape

Once all the old wood has gone, you can see how many stems you’ll have to provide fruit for next year. You can leave the plant to its own devices, in which case you’ll need a good 2m x 2m space,

Japanese wineberry at the allotment

or train it to form any number of shapes that you want to experiment with. (If you have too many stems to train, cut away the weaker spindlier stems from the base of your plant.)

Blackberries

Old stems can be cut back anytime after the plant has finished fruiting (about September onwards), and if you haven’t tackled them already, other fruit, such as blackberries and summer fruiting raspberries can be pruned now, again, removing only the older woody stems (about half the bush) and keeping this year’s fresher looking growth to provide fruit for next year.

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