Posts Tagged ‘mulching’

Although it can seem quite bleak out there at the moment (February), small signs of life are appearing on the allotment and it’s time to cut back autumn fruiting raspberries before new shoots appear. Don’t be tempted to cut back summer fruiting raspberry canes though, as they produce fruit on the stems that grew last year. Pruning summer fruiting canes now will mean no raspberries this year!! so wait until your plants have fruited in summer and then cut back the woody canes on which the raspberries grew this year, leaving the fresher looking green stems to fruit next year.(More on this later in the year) If in doubt as to whether you have summer or autumn fruiting canes, don’t prune now and wait until your plant has fruited. Feeling experimental? Then cut back some of the canes now and wait to see what happens.

If you can already see a few tiny green leaves at the base of the plant, just be very careful where you prune, so as not to disturb these new shoots, as these will become the canes that your plant will fruit on in later on in summer. This year, as well as thinning out and cutting back, I’ve decided to move my raspberries to a different part of the plot, but not for crop rotation purposes. Raspberries, if kept in check and well fed, can stay in the same bed for many years.

So firstly, cut back all of the canes with a sharp pair of secateurs, as close to the ground as possible.
As I’m moving my raspberries (it’s a good time for moving both autumn and summer raspberries), I’m digging up the whole bed. Once dug up, you can see that raspberries are not deep-rooted. They mainly have roots that spread horizontally only a few inches below the surface of the soil. This makes them very adept at spreading all over the plot, so if you see canes in unwanted positions, then now is the time to dig them up. These spare plants can be planted in another row if you have the space, or give them to friends if you have a surplus.

Potager in Drum Castle Garden. Pic from http://christinelaennec.co.uk/

I’m giving some canes to a friend (Sarah) who wants to create a more Cottage Garden/ Potager style garden (where flowers, fruit and veg are all mixed into one glorious border), so these raspberries will be growing alongside lots of herbaceous perennials and small shrubs. Should work very well as pollinating bees attracted by the flowers will also pollinate the fruit and raspberries amongst the late summer flowers will look fantastic. Potagers are also a great way to grow fruit and veg if you don’t have the space for a separate vegetable plot, but want to grow your favourite edible plants.
Placing each plant about inches 16 inches (40cm) apart, I’ve replanted the raspberries in lovingly prepared soil (plenty of compost or well-rotted manure mixed in a few weeks before if possible ) and watered them in well. If you planting more than one row, plant each row about 5-6 ft  (150-180cm) apart. In late March, mulch with a good layer of well-rotted manure or compost which will help to conserve moisture. Some say that you don’t have to support autumn cropping raspberries, but in my experience, if left unsupported, the fruit- laden canes reach the ground, spoiling some of the fruit and making picking the rest difficult. In the end, to support or not to support probably depends on your particular plot and growing conditions.

Make sure you water during hot dry spells (here’s hoping!), then look forward to a late summer and autumn crop of very tasty, home-grown fruit.

P.S.I have pruned autumn raspberries in November and December and they’ve been absolutely fine the following year, but in theory, it’s  best to leave it until February, when the plant is completely dormant, so there’s no chance of the cold damaging the plant after you’ve pruned it.


I love my Polka raspberries.

October 26th 2011

Now is a great time to order and plant new raspberry canes for next year. Autumn Bliss is a very well-known and popular Autumn fruiting variety, but there are now quite a few new introductions such as Polka, Joan J, All Gold and Autumn Treasure and in fact ‘Joan J’ won best tasting Autumn raspberry in the ‘Gardening Which?’ trials this September. Both Victoriana Nursery and Ken Muir stock good selections of both Summer and Autumn Fruiting varieties and now is the time to order while they still have a wide choice of varieties available. This year I’ve ordered some new ‘Polka’ and ‘Joan J’ canes as I already have Autumn Bliss growing in the allotment and I want to see if there is a difference in taste between the two. I’m going to find a space somehow to plant these in my back garden so that I can pick this delicious fruit just outside my back door next year.

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Now that the rain has washed away all the snow, I was eager to see what is growing in the garden after such a cold spell. I ‘m delighted to discover snowdrops making their way through. This shouldn’t surprise me, as it’s the lengthening day rather than temperature that cause snowdrops to burst through snow and ice to reach the light. If you look closely you can see that the the tip of the leaf is sharp and hard to help them break through the soil and Snowdrops, along with other early flowering bulbs and plants, grow and flower at this time of year before there are any signs of leaves growing on surrounding trees to gain maximum light.

Another delight is Helleborous foetidus, here surrounded by ferns and Helleborus x hybridus-not yet in flower.

Also spotted the gorgeous and delicate pink flowers of Cyclamnen coum starting to peek through. And not forgetting the lovely speckled leaves which also provide invaluable interest at this time of year.

Arum italicum ‘Pictum’ is such an amazing foliage plant and still looking good despite being frozen, then covered in snow. In my garden it tends to pop up all over the place, so I carefully dig it out, which means digging deep as the bulbs of this plant travel 5-6 inches down into the soil, and pass onto family and friends. It’s grows really well in dry shade too, which is extremely advantageous for the parts my garden which are shaded by neighbours’ fences and competing with tree roots for moisture and nutrients.

Finally, I have to admit that although I planted most of my bulbs in good time, I forgot to plant my allium bulbs. However, I have just planted them almost as an experiment to see if they come up when planted so late. I did disturb the roots of a few other plants around them and carefully mulched these areas as we probably will still have very cold temperatures before it starts getting warmer again. If you still have tulip bulbs, planting them now should be OK. Plant them at least 5 inches (12.5cm) deep and deeper, up to 10 inches(25cm) if possible . Also, add some grit to the bottom of the hole to improve drainage as tulips hate to sit in wet soil. Not so sure about planting Daffodil bulbs so late, but it’s always worth a try if they still look healthy (not dried out or rotting).They may well just flower a little later this year. Do let me know how you get on if planting bulbs late this year.

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