Muddy by name… Digging for berries.

We invested a Christmas gift of £20 garden vouchers at the garden centre today.

I say ‘invest’, because it was on raspberry plants. If they give a good harvest, it will save us a fortune over the years. A punnet of raspberries bought at the supermarket commonly costs £2, and we can buy two or more a week during the summer. We all love them.

In a previous post I mentioned that the raspberries inherited with our plot were in a sorry state, suffocated by couch grass. I ripped them up and cleared the weeds, covering the area with weed-proof membrane. So, the plot was ready…

We agonised over whether to get summer or autumn fruiting raspberries. Summer ones fruit on the previous year’s growth. Autumn ones on the current year’s growth (pruning them down to the ground each winter). Summer ones are supposed to be more prolific…but with Autumn ones WE’LL GET FRUIT THIS YEAR!

Trench for raspberry canes

Heavy work, digging the raspberry trench

That was the clincher.

So, with our vouchers and an extra £1.99 we got five canes of Mallings Admiral and three big bags of manure. And off I trot to the ‘lot’.

It was a fantastic sunny afternoon to be up there, all alone, planting something in mid-winter. But it was muddy. The kind that sticks fast.

Trying to keep off the ground and on the weed membrane as much as I could, I dug a trench – a foot-ish deep. Backfilled it with several inches of manure and mixed with the excavated soil. Then in went the canes, about 50cm apart. And a thick mulch of manure on top.

So that’s the softfruit patch complete. We might add summer fruiting raspberries later to extend the season, but for now we excitedly anticipate strawberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and blackberries in 2015. If only Mr MBaF liked summer pudding!

Raspberry canes manure mulch

Raspberry canes mulched with manure

NB. There were several summer raspberry varieties to choose from today. We chose Mallings Admiral partly because they’re ‘spine-free’ and therefore toddler friendly for picking. The canes, however, were spiny….so we’ll see!

Mallings Admiral

Supposedly ‘spine-free’ variety of raspberry canes.

And a final PS. I’m typing this is mild discomfort after the hard work of lugging manure about and digging a trench. BUT, I’m not crippled, and I’m sure that’s because I took a break halfway and did something less physical (measuring the plot for crop planning). I only did that because I publicly stated I would, in a recent post. So, thank you blog, you’ve saved me some pain.

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