Monday, 5 May 2014

Another Fruity Post And Advice Needed

My first Fruity post was back in January when everything on the plot was looking rather bare. Now that the bushes and canes have got their leaves, I thought I'd do an update, as well as asking for a bit of advice.

The advice I need concerns my raspberries. When we took on our new plot at the end of last year, there were a few yellow raspberries still on some of the canes. These are those canes now.


I've never grown raspberries before and don't really know how to go about pruning them, especially as I'm unsure whether these are a summer or autumn fruiting variety. I know that you should cut autumn fruiting varieties down to the ground so that new canes will grow and produce this year's fruit, and that summer fruiting varieties will produce fruit on last year's growth, but how do I go about pruning these when I don't know which variety they are? I've thinned out some of the canes and this is what I'm left with. You can see that there's some new growth and that there's some older canes there too. Is there anything else I should be doing with these?


I know that this next variety is Glen Ample, a summer fruiting variety. As you can see, there are some brown and some green canes. I take it that fruit will be produced on the brown canes and that the green canes will go on to produce fruit next year, but how do I keep the new canes tidy as they grow? They seem to be growing amongst the older canes. Is there a way to keep them apart? It all sounds so easy when you read about it in a book, not so when you come to put it in to practice.


Do you remember the large bush I photographed in my January post? I didn't know what it was, but it turns out to be some kind of currant, probably a blackcurrant.


You can see that it's flowering and should go on to produce plenty of fruit.


This is my blackberry. Please don't take any notice of all the weeds growing around it, I haven't got round to doing anything with this part of the plot yet. As you can see, there's lots of dead wood towards the bottom of the plant which I shall have to prune out.


I've seen better strawberry patches but I'm giving it this year to see what it produces. If it isn't up to much it shall be cleared and new plants bought in.


The plants are flowering so I should get some kind of harvest.


My rhubarb plants have started to flower.


This is what the flower looks like once it's open.


The flowers were cut off so that the plants can direct their energy in to producing fruit, and I pulled a few more stalks to take home.


Unfortunately, I didn't notice until I got home that the stems had split. I looked up the causes for this and it seems that this can happen due to erratic growth due to seasonal conditions. Cool or dry periods followed by moist or mild weather means the hard outer growth splits when the new, rapid growth occurs. Mulching and feeding, neither of which I did this year, can help. This would explain the flowers too as rhubarb can bolt if it's thirsty and is one of the reasons why a mulch should be applied after watering well.

I shall remember to look after my rhubarb better this year.

32 comments:

  1. My father grew raspberries. I wish he was still alive so that I could ask him. I do remember him saying that summer fruiting raspberries are a nightmare and need lots and lots of room.....therefore he grew autumn fruiting cultivars.
    I am wondering if you could perhaps leave it for this year.....and really thin them our next year. You seem to have plenty of space.
    Dad also said that the birds left the autumn fruiting alone but would devour summer fruiting cultivars....

    Probably not very helpful but something for you to think about maybe ?

    Love thy rhubarb :)

    Happy gardening.............

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    1. If I'd chosen them myself, I think I'd have gone for autumn fruiting varieties only because, as you say, the summer fruiting ones seem to have more work involved. Time will tell though, we'll see. I've had thoughts along the same lines as you suggest, wait and see what happens this year and then act accordingly next year.

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  2. Lots of questions here! I think the yellow raspberry will be All (or Fall) Gold which is autumn fruiting as I don't know of a yellow summer fruiting variety..

    As for the Glen Ample - I'd expect the brown stems to be last years old stems and the green this year's fruiters as I wouldn't expect the plants to have grown so much this year. How tall are the green stems.
    As for pruning the autumn ones - the brown stems may show signs of the remains of last year's fruit and can be cut out. If you are not confident to do that then thin out the stems and keep well spaced canes of both green and brown.

    You do need to thin both types of raspberries - cut out any spindly canes and remove some so that there is space between canes

    As for the currant my money is on a redcurrant!

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    1. Yes, lots of questions. Can you tell I haven't grown raspberries before? The green stems on the Glen Ample are about a foot high. I suppose the brown stems will be the ones that this year's fruit will come on and the green ones will carry the fruit next year. The yellow raspberry has green stems which are about twenty inch high. If this is an autumn variety, I suppose the fruit will come on these green stems later in the season. I've started thinning them out, the canes in the first photo don't look as congested any more, but I wondered if I should be cutting all the brown stems out. I may do as you suggest and leave some of each, I'll know for certain what to do next year then. You must think the currant flowers look more like a redcurrant than a blackcurrant then, we shall soon know for sure.

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  3. What a fabulous post. Thank you. I have no idea about any of it as it's my first year on the plot as well but I can't wait for your responses.

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    1. It's great to know that there's so many knowledgeable people in Blogland to ask advice from. I hope you find the answers helpful too.

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  4. I think you should be fine with what you have done with your raspberries Jo but I am sure that Sue over GLA is far more experienced than me. I have acquired a few summer raspberries this year but before that only had autumn ones as they are so much easier to keep. It's all looking good!!

    I have never done anything with my rhubarb....I just pull them stems and eat when ready and leave it to it's own devices.

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    1. I don't suppose I can do too much damage to them, the worst that could happen is that I'd be without fruit for a year. I'd soon learn from my mistake then. I know that rhubarb is a very hungry plant and should be mulched but it got neglected last year as I'd only just taken on the plot. I'll give it more tlc this year.

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  5. You have done well with "inherited fruit" on your new plot! Someone must have spent years assembling all that lot. I'm afraid I can't help with the Raspberry problem, since I have only ever grown the Autumn-fruiting ones which are comparitively easy to manage. I reckon Sue Garrett will know though!

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    1. I've done brilliantly with all the inherited fruit, there's also more currant bushes along the hedge so I may end up with some of each colour. I'm looking forward to them fruiting so that I know what they are. There's also a gooseberry bush. The previous plot owners left the plot in great shape, they had to give it up due to bad health which is such a shame, but we were very lucky to get it. I think I'd have chosen autumn fruiting raspberries if I were choosing them myself but I'm sure I'll learn about the care requirements of the summer fruiting ones.

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  6. I have a mix of unknown raspberries so in the autumn I just tidy them up then leave to early spring when new growth is starting to appear. Then I prune out any obviously dead stems and trim others back as needed.
    I prune my blackberry in the early spring when I can see what needs doing.
    I'm sure that even if the strawberry bed does need sorting there'll be plenty of plants there you can use.
    I agree about mulching and watering the rhubarb.
    Flighty xx

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    1. I suppose it just takes common sense really to keep summer fruiting raspberries in check. It's a bit daunting though when I've never grown much soft fruit before to suddenly have lots to deal with and all with different pruning requirements. The strawberries seem to be flowering ok at the moment, I might get another year or two out of them before they need replacing. It seems that only one of the rhubarb plants has been affected, the others haven't got split stems, so all is not lost.

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  7. I dare not offer any advice re the fruit bushes....I'll leave that to the experts. Looks like you shall have lots of fruit though which is a huge bonus! I think the strawberry patch looks rather good....better than mine anyway.
    How odd...I've never seen a rhubarb flower before and I've grown it for over twenty years!xxx

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    1. I haven't grown much fruit in the past so it will be so different this year with so many different things to harvest. The man who had the plot next to me on the old site had a huge patch of rhubarb and it always flowered. He never took any stems from it though, none of his family liked it, which makes me wonder why he bothered growing it, especially as it took up quite a bit of his growing space.

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  8. I only grow autumn fruiting raspberries & I am pretty sure that there are no yellow summer raspberries. From what I have read & didn't pay much attention as it won't apply to me is that you tie the green canes to one side ready for next year. Jo that bush is huge! I think you will have Ribena knocking on your door for the harvest.

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    1. I'd read about tying the canes to one side, but I don't want to damage them. Perhaps they get a bit more flexible as they get longer. I think the yellow raspberries will turn out to be autumn fruiting as there was still fruit on the canes when we took the plot on at the back end of last year. Ha ha, I could keep Ribena going, couldn't I? That is if it does turn out to be a blackcurrant. Time will tell.

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  9. I grow yellow raspberries, Autumn Gold, a sport thrown by Autumn Bliss, I have never seen a yellow fruiting summer variety. I would remove the brown canes as these are last years fruiting canes. With summer fruiting raspberries I gather the new growth into loose bundles and tie up with soft twine a few times as they grow so that they do not get swamped by the fruiting canes. Once these have finished fruiting cut them out, then untie the young canes, I grow mine between wires wrapped round a 6" fence post, that gives plenty of space for the new growth. remember that raspberries are hungry plants, they need a good top dressing of compost in the Autumn for summer fruiting and in the early spring for Autumn fruiting.

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    1. I think the yellow raspberries will turn out to be autumn fruiting. It sounds like my set up is similar to yours, wires strung across with space in between, as you say, there's plenty of space for the canes to grow. I shall definitely ensure that they're given plenty of compost, I've seen what's happened to my rhubarb without it.

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  10. What a great plot you have inherited and lots of wonderful advice you have been offered. Your current looks most like my white currant rather than black. The blackcurrant bush has a wonderful smell of blackcurrant even before the berries are out, well mine does anyway!

    The only raspberries we have in our garden are from the birds I have no idea what variety they are, they are very neglected and fruit prodigiously :)

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    1. We were really pleased when we got offered this plot, it's been taken care of and there's so much fruit been left on it. I shall smell the currant when I'm next at the plot to see if it smells of blackcurrant. I'm looking forward to seeing what it is.

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  11. Firstly, fascinating to see the rhubarb flower, I have never seen one before! I'm afraid that I have no advice re the raspberries having never grown them and only having the same knowledge as you re the summer and autumn varieties as you described. Once they have fruited this year however you will know what sort they are and how to then treat them in future years, and plants are pretty resilient things so I am sure that one year slightly missed won't hurt them. It looks as though everything else is doing really well with lots of fruity opportunities coming your way very soon! Hope that you have a fun gardening week. xx

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    1. As you look around the allotment site, there are lots of rhubarb flowers. You can't miss them really as they're so tall. I think I'll have to treat this year as a learning curve regarding the raspberries, hopefully I'll have figured it all out ready for next year.

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  12. The Glen Amples should have buds on them soon, probably on the full-length brown stems. When I cut out the fruited wood in the autumn I always tie in the new canes at that stage. Then next year they are nice and secure. I leave the new ones to wave around all summer, until it's their turn to be tied in. I have Glen Ample and Autumn Bliss. Glen Ample usually do really well; the only year the Autumn Bliss ones did well was the summer that it rained the whole time. And I do always water them anyway. I was going to take out the Autumn Bliss, but they've had a little reprieve. The Glen Amples are huge, and wonderful and prolific. Anyway, it looks like you're going to have a lovely fruit harvest this year.

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    1. I'm waiting for the buds to show and then I should know exactly which canes are going to fruit. I'm pretty sure now that the yellow rasberries are an autumn fruiting variety but I'm still nervous to cut out all the brown stems in case they're not. I'm sure I'll have it all sorted out by the end of this year. I should get some fruit whatever I decide to do.

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  13. I'm sure that you will work it out Jo. I must admit raspberries are a bit of a mystery to me but I think that I would cut down anything that's not showing some signs of green by now :)

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    1. I think you're right. I'm going to have another look at all the canes just as soon as this rain stops, though I think it's in for the weekend so that may be some time.

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  14. I have never seen rhubarb's flower before, so beautiful!

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    1. It's certainly unusual, though they say it weakens the plant so they should be cut out.

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  15. I haven't grown summer fruiting rasps either but there seems like lots of good advice above. Summer ones will definitely need netting though. If it was me I'd establish a small patch of autumn raps this autumn/winter somewhere on the plot (Polka is a brilliant variety) and then when they are established look at getting rid of the other bed. At least then you are growing what you want and a known variety. Have a lovely weekend. :)

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    1. I'm not sure about that, the Glen Ample summer fruiting raspberries look quite new as they still have the label attached and there's lots of them, it would be a shame to discard them. I didn't realise that raspberries would need netting, I think I'll see how I go with that.

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    2. I don't net ours - the birds get some but there is plenty for us too.

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    3. I haven't heard of raspberries being netted before, I think I'll just wait and see how many the birds get first. I'm using this year as a learning curve all round with my fruit.

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