Saturday, October 18

The Chop

A break in the miserable weather meant we were encouraged to do a bit of work on the plot. Having watched blackcurrant bushes being pruned on TV, I thought I would tackle ours. To be honest other than one bush being cut back hard due to having big bud and a little bit of tidying of branches heading across the paths, the bushes haven't ever been pruned properly. Blackcurrants fruit on newer wood and so the idea is to cut the old wood back to the ground to encourage new growth from the base of the plant and also to thin out the branches to allow good air circulation and reduce the risk of fungal diseases etc.
Loppers and secateurs were wielded and the scene above was reduce to that below. Here's hoping I've got it right. I have to admit to leaving some old wood as it had new growth coming from it, probably due to not pruning in the past. I'll deal with this next year.   
After the blackcurrants I moved on to the gooseberries which I prune hard every year and so am much more confident that severe pruning doesn't equate to lack of fruit. Gloves were deployed, or at least one glove, as gooseberry bushes are of a vicious nature. (I pity any baby that was found under a gooseberry bush!)

I didn't take a before photo but believe me the bushes below are mere skeletons of their former selves.
Here the aim is to open up the bush, so branches growing up in the centre and any shoots heading into the middle were removed. The remaining branches were thinned so none crossed one another and again there was plenty of space to allow air to circulate. Gooseberries can suffer from mildew and good air circulation helps reduce the risk of this.

I have to admit that in the past I worried that I hadn't left enough wood on the plant but we have always managed a good crop.

The jostaberries were tackled next. These have had to be pruned each year as left to their own devices they would grow far too large. This year the aim was to try and do the job correctly to improve fruit production. I reduced the amount of old wood and again thinned out the branches to give an open centre.  Some of the old branches were quite thick and so a saw joined the team of pruning equipment.
The larger bushes in the photo above, with one exception, are the jostaberries after pruning. The bush in the middle of the foreground is a whitecurrant that has been left unpruned. Maybe it needs pruning as it has never yet fruited well.

My last pruning job of the afternoon was the easiest - the blackberry. Three words that I never thought that I would use in the same sentence - 'pruning', 'easiest' and 'blackberry'. The blackberry in question however, was our thornless Loch Ness. The canes produced this year which will fruit next year had already been tied in and so it was just a few simple snips to cut  this year's fruited canes down to ground level.
All in all a good afternoon's work.

A short digression


I was asked what bitter pit looked like and so below is a photos of one of out affected quinces alongside one that is unaffected. Sometimes if the brown areas are cut away you can 'rescue' some of the flesh.


Thankfully this year we only had one or two affected fruits. By the way bitter pit is our best guess at the problem, if you think that it is something different let me know.

22 comments:

  1. I bet you feel (deservedly) self-satisfied after all that pruning! Let's hope it pays off handsomely next year. BTW I support your diagnosis of Bitter Pit. I have had that on my "Scrumptious" apple tree for the last several years. My tree is coming up / being cut down this Winter because it is totally unproductive and I want to try something else instead.

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    1. It's good to feel it is done, Mark . There is still more to prune but this definitely was a good afternoon's work.

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  2. That looks like a good day's work. I need to prune the blackcurrant on the plot now that I know what it is. It's a huge bush which I don't think has ever been pruned in the past.

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    1. We inherited old blackcurrant bushes - since gone, Jo. They had never been pruned either but I cut out lots of the old wood and they did regenerate and produce quite a good crop for a few years,

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  3. You prune your gooseberries opposite of me. But mine are foundation plantings for the house, so I'm looking to have an upright bush. I prune out the ones that trail on the ground. It does make for easier picking too. So far no trouble with diseases, so I'll keep pruning for looks until I do. I do take a lot off of the bush though as it really helps it fruit more.

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    1. Not totally opposite, Daphne, I do cut out any sprawling twigs . The angle that the photos were taken just makes the bushes look flatter than they are. We also have a couple of plants growing up a fence which still need attention.

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  4. What a marvelous job to have out of the way! You remind me that I need to get stuck into the loganberries....the only real fruit I got this year. I shall prune all my others too with fingers crossed for next year.xxx

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    1. Oh no, Dina doing battle with thorns. I pruned our tayberry a while ago as it was producing an enormous number of new canes.

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  5. What a timely post Sue! I was just looking at our Black white & red currant bushes yesterday and thinking that I should tackle them. Your post has given me the motivation and reassurance to do it, instead of just thinking about it. Can't believe your weather has been miserable, we have had some glorious days this week - as warm as summer !

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    1. I don't do much pruning of redcurrants, Jane, Our week ended with some lovely sunnty dats but Tuesday and Wednesday were wet and miserable.

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  6. I've just been reading about bitter pit in a recent Which? gardening magazine. It seems lots of fruit trees were affected this year, yours included. Some of the apples in the orchard where I stayed in Leeds were really badly affected, while others nearby were unscathed. Apparently there's no treatment. Well done on all your pruning, very satisfying to have got all that done. I have to do my redcurrant bush that I'm growing as a standard, I'm not sure about pruning it - any advice?

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    1. To be honest Caro this year we only had one or two quince with bitter pit - this year. Last year was our problem year. Last year we didn't manage to get any useable fruit from the quinces.

      Did you manage a tour of the B&B garden?

      Redcurrants fruit on old wood and so I do very little pruning. I cut out any broken branches (weight if fruit) and any that are trailing on the ground, I also trim some back so the bush doesn't become too high for the 'cage. In your case tou will need to cut back any low shoots and you can trim back upright new growth if you want to create a bushy top

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  7. Your bushes are looking good Sue...my pruning is on the agenda for next week...not just the necessary pruning but a little bit of shaping too.

    I have had some fruit that looked like your quince so thanks for giving it a name. I tend to just cut it off until I find nice flesh!!

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    1. I have a bit more to do, Tanya. We cut the affected bits of fruit off too but last year the problem seemed to go right in to the core,

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  8. Well done on the pruning Sue. I have busied myself today doing the same and (as one that does not wear gloves), I now look as though I have a new pet kitten with the amount of scratches all over my hands. It's very satisfying though to see things tidy again in the garden.

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    1. It is satisfying Chel - I hope you had plenty of hand cream

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  9. Wow! That's many type of berries! Some I never heard before! ;)

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    1. We each have fruits that thrive in particular climates, Malar - you hvbe many things that I haven;t heard of

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  10. A good job done there I think. I have three enormous blackcurrant bushes, but this year's harvest was only a fraction of my first one the year before. I'm wondering what I've done wrong - whether they need pruning or feeding or maybe it was just one of those things. I've got two big gooseberries as well, and I should probably tackle them too, they're really rather overgrown.

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    1. Strangely, CJ we have two blackcurrants same variety growing alongside one another and one always has far more fruit than the other

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  11. Thanks for sharing the photos of bitter pit Sue and well done on all the pruning.
    I have 3 small black currant bushes that were in my plot already when I got it. I decided to prune them on rotation to simplify things, so each year I cut one down completely, which means they all get done every three years. It seems to usually work ok but this year they did badly. I did have white dead nettle creep in around their roots though, which might have affected them. Or maybe they're just old plants now. I'll give them one more year (and try and look after them properly) and if they don't pick up I'll replace them.

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    1. I'd considered chipping them down in rotation as well, Lou but chickened out

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