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Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Raspberries Complete and early Christmas gift

Proudly showing my new hoe

Checking the weather forecast last night it said that this morning would be sunny followed by rain in the afternoon. For once, they were correct. Picking up my early Christmas present sent from Tamara in Austria, an oscillating hoe (pictured above), I headed for the bus.

I arrived so early the local cafe hadn't even opened so I bought milk and water from the supermarket and walked to the plot. The sun burnt away the early morning fog as the allotment gates closed behind.

Normally I would advise any gardener to stay off the land when the ground is wet but this was the only opportunity I had to plant the red raspberries before three days of forecast rain.

It was hard going. The soil stuck to the spade and weeding was impossible. I did my best but will have to weed this trench again when the soil drys out. After twenty minutes of puffing and panting I managed to plant the last of the raspberries, this time red varieties.

The collection I have is made up of three varieties, two canes of each. They should give me harvests from mid-May until the end of October. The varieties, from Marshall Seeds, are...

Cascade Delight - An early floricane variety (see explanation below) originally from USA, cropping from June/July for about four weeks. Cascade Delight's long fruit-bearing laterals make it an ideal variety for growing at home and harvesting by hand. Very vigorous and reliably produces a good crop of large, conical berries with sweet red flesh. Cascade Delight is an ideal variety for planting in damp soil as it has excellent resistance to root rot. Height: Over 1m.

Tadmoor - One of the latest season floricane varieties (see explanation below). Tadmoor was bred in New Zealand and crops from late July right the way through to early autumn. It's spine free which makes picking easy, and it has strong, rigid stems and compact habit meaning it can virtually support itself. Height: Up to 90cm.

Polka - Polka is a special late primocane variety (see explanation below) from Poland which crops on both the new and old wood, making it one of the earliest and longest fruiting varieties, starting to crop from as early as mid-July and continuing right through until as far as October It's self-fertile and produces very high yields of the most exceptional quality fruit. It's a tough variety with good disease resistance and tolerance to poor soil, meaning it will crop very reliably throughout the summer. Height: Up to 1.5m.

Floricane (summer-fruiting) varieties fruit on canes produced in the previous year. After fruiting, cut out the old, fruited wood in autumn/winter and tie in the new growths to the support. Cut down cane to about 2cm (1in) above ground level at the time of planting. This will encourage multiple canes to grow from the ground.

Primocane (autumn-fruiting) varieties fruit on canes produced in the current year. After cropping, these should be cut down to ground level to promote the growth of new canes. Allow primocane raspberry beds to spread up to 2.5ft/0.75m wide but dig out any canes which start to grow between the rows.

By the time I finished planting them and consumed a few cuppa teas I started packing away my tools just as the first few drops of rain approached. Feeling very satisfied I closed the shed and headed home.

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