Monday, July 27, 2015
Have a Very Berry Summer!
We have one more month of winter to go here in Australia and so I thought it time to tidy up my berries ready for the spring growth.
In my garden I have blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.
My blackberries did very well last summer for me. I have two plants trained up wire supports against a south facing fence. North facing is the hottest in Australia. Last year they yielded me, with very little effort on my part, 1200 grams of fruit, ( just over two and half pounds). I've cut back all the old fruited wood, as blackberries fruit on the previous year's growth and got rid of all the dead wood. In spring I will dig in some compost and blood and bone and sprinkle a little sulphate of potash around their base. Sulphate of potash encourages the plant to make good growth and quality fruit. I can just taste those blackberry and apple crumbles to come!
Raspberry varieties that I grow are Autumn Bliss and Lloyd George.
I choose to grow Autumn varieties because there is no complicated pruning required. You simply cut the canes back down in winter and they shoot again in the spring.
Autumn Bliss produces large sweet fruit, while Lloyd George is a heirloom variety. It was first introduced in England in 1919 and is prized for being reliable and producing sweet delicate fruit with a sherbet flavour - what more could you want?!
I haven't done anything to the soil except dig it over as I moved my raspberries into this new position. I have put around each plant a wigwam made up of four bamboo canes and this will help support these tall growing plants. Come Spring I will do the same as I do for the blackberries, dig in garden compost, blood and bone and sprinkle some sulphate of potash around their base. Mmmm raspberries, who could want for more. ^_^
If you don't have room to grow any raspberries in the ground, don't despair, they grow just as well in pots.
You need a good sized tub and the best quality potting mix. I always choose premium which contains food for three months, water retaining crystals etc. Remember your plants will only do as well as you provide for them. The other thing potted raspberries will need is support. If your tub is big enough you can do the bamboo wig wam, if like my tub, it's not quite big enough, use a wire support. I recommend again planting an autumn variety, much easier to handle - this one is Lloyd George. This pot is facing north but in a shaded position, so it will get morning sunshine and shade at the hottest time of the day.
Strawberries - what would summer be without them!
I've just prepared my strawberry bed in readiness for that luscious summer crop. I dug up each plant and cleaned it up, removing dead leaves and stems that were still trying to flower. Before planting back I dug into the ground some powdered down chicken manure, blood and bone and mushroom compost. The strawberries will love that! Then I replanted them and watered well. Next I sprinkled around each plant some sulphate of potash and scrabbled that into the soil, finally covering the whole bed with straw. That should keep the moisture in and their toes warm! I've ordered some strawberry supports. These are circles of plastic that come in two halves and you place around the strawberry and it lifts the fruit off the ground, keeping it dry and away from slugs, snails and earwigs. Of course the plants will need to be protected from the birds, or you won't get many strawberries before those old blackbirds and thrushes do. I will place a tunnel of plastic netting over these plants once my supports arrive and are in place.
By the way if you do have an earwig problem here is an organic and old victorian way of dealing with them and it really works! I first saw this demonstrated on the television series the Victorian Kitchen Garden and tried it out for myself last year. You take some thick stalks of the broadbean plant and cut into small lengths. You will see these form a tunnel of sorts. I laid mine among my strawberries and each morning checked them. Earwigs will crawl into them at night and all you have to do is pick them up and blow down one end and the earwig will come out and you can dispose of them how you like. I like to put them into my compost bin where they can do some good!
Blueberries. I'm really excited about this crop as I have never grown blueberries before. I have chosen a variety called Sunshine Blue. It's a low chill variety and suits the Melbourne area perfectly. It's suppose to be a heavy cropper producing mid sized fruit in summer.
The variety is suitable for growing in containers and I have planted two. They sit in a easterly position where they will get in the summer morning sunlight and much needed shade in the afternoon. They are like azaleas, camellias and roses etc. and need an ericaceous compost (acid loving). In spring I will feed them with some azalea/rose fertiliser But look how well they are doing right now, full of flowers that will turn into the lovely blue berries.
Growing berries is really not hard, there is a variety to suit your situation, so why not plant yourself some and have a Very Berry Summer!