Friday, May 5

It's taken a long while to get to this point

Last year I tackled one of our autumn raspberry beds, (I posted about it here), which was planted up with Joan J raspberries. It was infested with bindweed. The raspberries were dug up, the roots tidied and as much of the bindweed root as possible removed. The canes only produced a handful, (well less than that), of fruit. We were prepared for this as it was a case of kill or cure. Most replanted roots are growing well this year so maybe they will produce more fruit. I just need to be vigilant and remove any bindweed that tries to reassert itself.
Joan J raspberries this year
My plan this year was to tackle the other autumn raspberry bed - the home of All Gold. This time the plants were infested by couch grass and to be honest the tidying up was a few years overdue.


I decided that the only way the tidying was ever going to be done was bit by bit whenever I could spare the time in between other more urgent jobs. I tried to make a start in March but the ground was just too muddy. As with most of our allotment beds the window between the ground being too wet and too dry is fairly short lived especially when dealing with a bed that is well compacted and riddled with couch grass roots.
I managed to make a start at the beginning of April when the ground was just about dry enough to work with. The bed was planted up at least ten years ago during which time couch grass roots had woven their way in between the old gnarled raspberry roots. The only way to make a half decent job of tidying the bed was to dig up the raspberries and sort out some fresh, young pieces to replant freed from the shackles of couch grass. Being autumn fruiting raspberries, last year's canes were cut to the ground after replanting the pieces of root.
As you can see from the photos above by the time I was near completion the ground was hard and dry. I had to resort to crumbling clods of earth in a way that can only be compared to the rubbing in method used when making pastry.

The tidying up took a whole month to complete with snatches of time stolen as they became available. Finally the bed is tidy and replanted.
The plants have been treated to a dose of fish, blood and bone so now it is a case of seeing how many of the plants survive. At the moment the first roots to be replanted are sending up strong new shoots.
I don't expect to be picking many raspberries from this bed this year and I'm sure that there are still pieces of couch grass roots waiting to spring into life but I hope when they do I'll be ready for them.

Another raspberry that I don't expect to produce fruit this year is our newly planted black raspberry - Black Jewel We can't wait to see what the fruit is like but I guess that we will have to.

Copyright: Original post from Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments http://glallotments.blogspot.co.uk/ author S Garrett

23 comments:

  1. Oh, what a job! But it looks great now, and I'm sure that the occasional grass that appears will be easy to remove.

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    1. I hope so Sue. The problem is when the grass grows in amongst the raspberry roots.

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  2. Sighs ~ been there, still doing that! Couch grass is a beggar and that's for sure. My cottage was built on an old patch of a former field so I'm swamped with that and many other nasties too. Unfortunately, as a full time carer the garden really does take second, even third place to other responsibilities these days so the couch and weeds are winning.

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    1. Our plots were over head high in grass and weeds, Deborah as you can see on this page on our website so we have the same problem.

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  3. Hard work, Sue! At least you will get some great JoanJ while you watch these bed in.

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    1. Hopefully, Mal and we have summer fruiting ones too.

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  4. Looks amazing! I have similar bindweed issues in my garden but not so much among the raspberries. The biggest issue in those beds is simply grass encroachment as they were never mulched/edged properly. But this year it's a priority item especially as I ended up losing a few blackberry canes last year.

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    1. It pops up in various places, Margaret. Yesterday I weeded out some shoots that were trying to recolonise the Joan J raspberries and no doubt there will be more attempts.

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  5. Oh well done! That is a job that I don't look forward to!

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    1. I am glad to have got this done, Belinda as I wasn't lookng forward to it but it is satisfying now it's done.

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  6. Raspberries are very resilient and yours will thank you for no longer being choked with couch grass. I resolved a couple of years ago that doing a little bit of weeding on a regular basis was the best way forward and am trying to encourage the other plot sharers to do the same, especially with the bindweed.

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    1. We still have some areas that need some major work, Caro. The bindweed certainly takes over if you turn your attention away for a short time from about this time of year for a few more months.

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  7. What a hard work Sue. I've never fertilized beds with a dose of fish, blood and bone, I should try. Where do you get this thing?

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    1. Fish, blood and bone fertiliser is readily available in most garden centres, Nadezda.

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  8. I have never tried growing raspberry in our tiny garden. Such an interesting plant! This plant is only grown in the highland tropics here.

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    1. I raspberries ready available in the shops in your part of the world, Endah

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  9. Looks good. We have some bindweed on our plot but the main problem weed is Horse tail which pops up all over the place.

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    1. Thankfully that is something we don't have to contend with, Margaret I understand that it is a nightmare.

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  10. That's really a hard work! The bed look so good now! Hope you will get some berries this season! ;)

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  11. What a great job you have done, painstaking though!!! It's so hard to keep on top of certain weeds isn't it, especially when they grow though the roots of plants. I have an endless battle with bindweed, mare's tail and ground alder, they seem indestructible, their roots are always sneaking away underground.xxx

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    1. Bindweed certainly has a strong survival instinct, Dina.

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