Sunday, June 26

Rich Pickings

Although we are still planting and weeding and generally carrying out the usual maintenance of the plot, the main task at the moment is picking soft fruit.

My fears that the dry weather would mean a poor crop were thankfully unfounded and it seems that most of the soft fruit is conspiring to be ripe at the same time!

Our ancient redcurrant bushes have as usual produced a bumper crop. 
We didn’t buy or even plant the bushes they were planted by the last person to garden the plot and must have been planted well over 20 years ago. Once the plot was vacated it became totally submerged under a mass of weeds, including, bramble, and docks. The whole plot was covered in growth that was above head height and in a moment of madness we rented the plot in an attempt to recover the fruit that we knew was lurking in there somewhere. It was hard going but eventually we not only uncovered the redcurrants but a row of apple cordons, blackcurrant and white currant bushes.

Once rescued the redcurrants have repaid our efforts by fruiting prolifically each year. I don’t think the blackbirds were impressed as they lost what would have been (if they had managed to find them) a cache of juicy red berries.
The redcurrants don’t take much looking after just a bit of pruning of one or two branches that end up trailing on the ground. We also have to make sure we net them as soon as they start to turn red or the blackbirds are straight into them and will soon strip the plants. Interestingly when we have picked enough and remove the net the blackbirds have lost interest.
I usually have the task of picking redcurrants as, being a foot shorter than Martyn, it is easier for me to duck inside the makeshift fruit cage. I strip or cut sprigs of fruit from the plant and then at home we have the sticky, time consuming task of stripping off the currants. Some are then eaten fresh in fruit salads and as we don’t eat jams or jellies most are then bagged and frozen.
I could have spent an entire afternoon picking redcurrants but there were so many other fruits to pick too. I’ll pick more another day!

I had initially thought the jostaberries hadn’t produced much of a crop but it seems that the berries were in hiding until they had ripened. The bushes were loaded.  A few years ago we bought one jostaberry bush which grew rather straggly whilst being kept in the greenhouse before planting so I trimmed it a little and decided to pop the trimmings in as cuttings. They all rooted and so we then had seven bushes which grew really quickly and fruited the year after! 
We gave one of the jostaberry cuttings to our plot neighbour who gave us lots of gooseberry cuttings. These all grew away and are now producing masses of sweet red fruits. Unfortunately we haven’t a clue about the variety. We also have some green gooseberries and a variety called Pax which have yet to start picking.
A couple of years ago we cleared out the blackcurrant bushes originally recovered from this plot, as they had stopped being productive, but I did take a few cuttings. I also took cuttings from the whitecurrant bush as it was planted just where we wanted to erect our greenhouse. I later found out that I had taken them at the wrong time and not used the correct method. Expecting failure we bought more blackcurrant bushes and - you’ve guessed it haven’t you? - all the cuttings grew.
It wasn’t a waste though as the cuttings are only just beginning to produce fruit and as yet only fairly small currants whereas the new bushes are loaded.

Our early, mid season and late raspberries seem to have identity issues as all the varieties seem to be fruiting at the same time along with our purple fruiting Glencoe. 
Glencoe is still producing fairly small berries which although they taste lovely are not what I expected. Does anyone else grow it and if so can I ever expect bigger berries.
The autumn raspberries - Allgold - will hopefully provide us will yellow raspberries later. These are now producing quite a thicket and so I had a break from fruit picking to thin out the canes. I removed any thin straggly canes which should mean that all the plants vigour should go into the stronger canes. It’s the first time I’ve bothered to do this and so time will tell whether it works or not!
Like everyone else, (and maybe a bit later than many of you), we are picking lovely sweet juicy strawberries. The ones from the old beds are producing much smaller fruit now and we are picking them before fully ripened as they are not netted. 
They still taste good and we beat the birds to them this way. As well as their big brothers we are also picking alpine strawberries although these tend to produce larger berries later in the season.

Oh I nearly forgot - we inherited a tayberry too and are also harvesting fruit from that.
We’re having a barbecue with our plot neighbours this afternoon and guess what will feature highly on the menu for dessert?


  1. My goodness, you definitely have a lot of berries!! You must be very very busy! My raspberries and blackberries are starting at the plots. I don't think that it will be a bumper crop for the the raspberries though.

  2. Wow! That makes my few raspberry canes look a bit pathetic. I notice you say you don't eat jams and jellies. Is that because you don't like them, or what? You have so much fruit that making jam would seem like the best way of making use if it. Maybe you should make some fruit liqueurs in the style of sloe gin!

  3. Oh wow! They look fab!!!! Making me hungry :-) Love 'n' hugs, Mel xx

  4. Berry-licious!!!I don't like jam either. Can you freeze them?Beautiful harvest.

  5. A great crop of soft fruit, we're just back off holiday and our strawberries and raspberries are still going, it's been a great year for fruit so far.

  6. Wow! That is some going. You will have jam and preserve galore!

    Well done, they look delicious!

    Martin :)

  7. WOW, so much fruit already, its a really good year for fruit, must have been all that frost and snow, now what to do with it all?

    liz x

  8. Wow, that's a lot of fruit! So, so envious of the raspberries and red currants. We're working on having small fruit in our home garden. So far, a few blueberry & lingonberry bushes, and a couple of strawberry plants. I'm hoping for thornless raspberries and maybe a dwarf apple tree soon.

  9. I bet that would make the Mother of all Summer Puddings! WOW! You have totally inspired me to build a berry patch!
    What do you do with the gooseberries? We don't seem to get them where I am...

  10. I am unfamiliar with gooseberries but they look so interesting! You are having a great harvest. I agree with Mark, make some liqueurs and you'll be the toast of the alloment's bbq's!

  11. No blackberries ready yet for us Robin but they have plenty of flowers

    It's not that we don't like them Mark we just try not to eat so much sugar. To be honest often the sugar masks the flavour of the fruit. We make lots of compote which I suppose is a lower sugar version of jam and we use this on breakfast porridge and with yoghurt as a dessert.

    And just as fab to eat Mel.

    We freeze loads of fruit Diana both just as it is and as compote.

    It really has been a great fruit year Damo and lots more tree fruit to come.

    No jams for us but lots of other lovely fruity things Martin

    Don't worry Liz we'll make very good use of it, pies, crumbles etc.

    Now we haven't a lingonberry Trashmaster what does it taste like?

    It would make a good summer pudding Phoebe - that will have to be added to our list of things to make.

    I'll do a post about gooseberries just for you Jenni.

  12. I remember being amazed at your fruit harvest last year and I'm amazed again. I bet that lot lasts you the year round.

  13. What a haul! And that's what I call a reducrrant! Brilliant!

  14. wow! those are a lot of berries! I wish I could grow all of them too.
    Great that you got to beat the birds for them.

    My strawberries doesn't seem like they will fruit this season, so if you don't mind I will garden berries vicariously through you this time

  15. It does last us all year round Jo.

    And plenty more to pick yet VH and no doubt more to give away. Our plot neighbour didn't get to her redcurrants before the birds so at least there is plenty for her too.

    It's a pity you can't taste the berries too Fer.

  16. What a fabulous harvest Sue, though I don't envy you the currant picking part.

  17. Hopefully, Janet the redcurrants picking won't be as bad as the time I was happily filling my punnet when I stood on the entrance to a wasp's nest. I felt a stinging and a few wasps had gone into battle on my foot. I was trapped under the net and determined not to drop my haul! Then when I managed to escape thinking that wasn't too bad - the pain set in!

  18. have some lovely fruit there...i lost all my redcurrant to the birds..funny though that they haven't touched the white or black currants...guess it's the colour!!

    I long for my bushes to be big enough to produce plenty of fruit.

    How do you find the taste of the alpine strawberries?? I am thinking of planting a few.

    Oh and thanks for the e-mail you sent me...i will try and make it

  19. Alpine strawberries are not juicy like large strawberries Tanya, they are firmer and very small fruits can be quite hard. They have a strawberry flavour and make a strawberry flavoured compote or jam but I wouldn't want just a bowl of them. We mix them with other fruits in a fruit salad. Each plant produces a few fruits at a time over the season so unless you have lots of plants you never have very many. We use them as a border plant so have lots. They are easy to grow from seed. We got our seed from T&M here They used to sell a variety called Mignonette but that doesn't seem to be the name of this one.


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