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Our Top Tips For The Season: No. 7

 

Raspberries sprout up like weeds!

Raspberries

If left to their own devices, raspberries will sprout up like weeds. So plant the canes in rows leaving enough of a channel so that you can walk in between the bushes and pick the fruit. And every time you seem one growing in between the rows or sprouting elsewhere, pull it up if it is in the way. You can if you like grow them in large containers if you have a small size garden.

 

Raspberries are easy to grow

Raspberries are easy to grow, just remember that summer fruiting varieties need support. They also need protection as birds like the fruit as much as we do. Autumn fruiting raspberries don’t need much support as they are shorter than the summer ones. Remember that raspberries form a "stool" with multiple shoots as they age so you don't need many for a good crop.

Raspberries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C

Raspberries are healthy and high in antioxidants and vitamin C. They freeze well. Use these in recipes that require cooking. Just defrost them, cook them up in a bit of water and with plenty of sugar and they will make a great base for an ice cream or you can simply have them with a bit of yoghurt for pudding or at breakfast. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of cooking them, just add them to smoothies or a salad.

Want to freeze raspberries?

If you are going to freeze raspberries remove all the bruised or mouldy ones from the crop. Carefully place the good ones on a baking tray, keeping each one separate. Once frozen (they freeze quickly), you can then store them in a bag. That way they won’t have got squashed and turned too mushy.

Prune summer and autumn fruiting raspberries differently

Summer and autumn fruiting raspberries need pruning differently. For our videos on how to do this, follow these links:

Pruning autumn raspberries

Pruning summer raspberries

 

Crop in the first year with blueberries

Blueberries

We have planted blueberries this year in our garden at home in a raised bed. We’ve already enjoyed a crop from them. They grow surprisingly easily but they do need moist yet free draining soil with lots of rich organic matter and an acidic (low) PH. For advice on growing them see our advice page. They can also be planted in containers.

Blackberries and Hybrid berries

Blackberries and Hybrid berries, like the loganberry and boysenberry. It is good to grow them on wires against something like a fence and train them. This applies in particular to boysenberries, which we have as a backdrop in our garden. Against a fence they are easy to net against the birds. Loganberries – a cross between a blackberry and raspberry - work particularly well in cooking. In a jelly it works well with game and they also make delicious compotes. Treat them in the same way you would a raspberry but bear in mind that they are slightly tart in flavour and require a bit more sugar.

Making a berry compote

Making a berry compote is surprisingly quick and easy. Just melt a few tablespoons of butter (add sugar??) and then cook until the sugar melts. Stir and continue simmering for a few minutes. Serve with yoghurt or over ice cream. Remember you can mix up the varieties of berries in the cooking.

Gooseberries

 

At Ashridge we have six varieties of gooseberry plants. They are easy to grow and very hardy. Remember the bareroot versions will be cheaper than the potted ones, but you can only buy them in winter whereas pot grown plants can be purchased all year round.

One of our favourite dishes is a gooseberry fool. We have a great cheat’s recipe which involves bubbling the gooseberries (bushy tails and stems removed), with lots of sugar and a little water. They soften quickly. Add a large pot of the best shop bought custard you can find and then the same sized pot of double cream and, hey presto, you have a delicious and refreshing pudding. The same recipe can be applied to rhubarb fool.

Are strawberries just for summer?

 

Strawberries are associated with summer but actually the season has now extended from April to late October. They are, like the berries, pretty easy to grow and in addition can be planted practically anywhere from raised beds through to hanging baskets and containers. We once saw a group clustered in an old wheelbarrow which we thought was fun.

What do strawberries crave?

Sun, shelter and a well-drained soil is pretty much all strawberries crave and keep them away from windy areas so that insects can get access to and pollinate them.

Do strawberries plants have a shelf life?

Strawberries plant shelf life tends to be about three years. After that they produce less fruit and it is better to replace the old plants with new ones. We have 16 different varieties. A popular one is the Albion because it is good for organic growing and disease resistant.

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