A fruity December day

The allotment came with a fruity inheritance consisting of:

– 3 wonderfully productive blackcurrant bushes
– a lacklustre row of summer-fruiting raspberries
– a huge rhubarb crown
– an invasive thorny bramble with huge berries
– a small strawberry plot barely visible amongst the couch grass.

The strawberries were sorted out last year, and I’ve extended the patch with this year’s runners.

I gave the raspberries another chance this summer but they were crap; weedy plants, yellowing leaves and barely any fruit.

The poor things – and the whole fruity area – were completely choked by couch grass and bindweed. So this summer I ripped out the rasps and spent back-breaking hours digging and carefully removing as much of the weeds and their pernicious roots as possible. I covered the area with weedproof membrane after to stop it coming straight back (there, at least!).

If Father Christmas doesn’t bring me autumn-fruiting raspberries, I’ll have to shell out on some myself.

And so to blackberries. This house loves them. My toddler has a bottomless capacity for them, but I wouldn’t let her pick her own this year because our plant was vicious.

The fruit was awesome though – definitely a cultivated variety – so Mr MBaF suggested we propagate it and plant it in a convenient hedgerow so we still get to enjoy the fruit on dog-walks!

I successfully rooted a shoot; by laying a young growing stem on the soil surface in a plant pot and securing with a tent peg for a couple of weeks.

Then I ruthlessly attacked the plant with the loppers and some stump-killer.

Its friendlier replacement is a tiddly offcut from a delicious and thornless cultivated variety my parents grow. Today Mr MBaF whacked in some fence posts between which we’ll span wires to train it along.

Two fenceposts between which our blackberry will be trained

Two fenceposts between which our blackberry will be trained

Another job jobbed today was to lift and split the rhubarb. That was an interesting experience! The modest hump of scaly matter hid a huge orange crown of rhubarby root. Once it was loosened from the surrounding soil I could make satisfying spade slices through the crunchy bulk.

I read somewhere to remove the centre, keeping and replanting sections from the outside. I ended up with a wheelbarrow full of (heavy!) waste, some sections to replant and two small crowns to offer up on our village Facebook page!

Splitting a rhubarb crown - the aftermath

The heavy barrowload of old rhubarb root

I used a 50L sack of farmyard manure to enrich the planting hole for the refreshed crown. Rhubarb needs moisture-retaining soil and lots of goodness I believe.

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6 thoughts on “A fruity December day

  1. Sounds like progress! I have a hideous sharp thorny blackberry behemoth at the rear of our plot that I cannot wait to remove as it’s horrendously invasive. We’re not blackberry fans so it won’t be missed. Any recommendations on stump killer would be warmly welcomed. Have a great day!

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    • Hi Mrs PPP! Good luck. It’s an unpleasant job, even with your thickest gardening gloves and jeans. Ours was making its way under a nearby fence into an elderly lady’s garden, which she was understandably vexed about. It had to go – and it’ll make space for a decent compost heap too, so it’s a win win situation.

      The chemical I’ve used is RoundUp Tree and Stump Killer. I applied the recommended dilution to the ‘stumps’. I used a screwdriver to make a little hollow in each cut end and dropped some into it with a pipette.

      Time will tell how successful it’s been, but some of the stumps are looking pretty brown. I fully expect to have to deal with some new shoots in the spring.

      Can’t believe you lot don’t like blackberries though!

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