1) The timing of pruning raspberries is not critical as long as it happens before they come into growth in early spring. In fact it is widely recommended that you start taking out spent canes as soon as they have finished fruiting in summer (or in autumn for the twice fruiting varieties) but it is far easier when they have lost their leaves and you can see what you are doing. In our experience, it does not matter if we leave it until winter because it does not seem to affect fruiting or plant vigour.
2) We grow our raspberries in a netted cage which is currently home to the new pigeons who are undergoing six weeks of acclimatisation before release. The pigeons were less than impressed at our intrusion.
3) Strong gloves are recommended, along with sharp secateurs.
4) This season’s new canes which will bear fruit next summer are red. The old canes, which are dying off, are brown and dry. Remove all old canes from the base of the plant. Thin out any weak new canes.
5) Shorten the new season’s canes to a manageable length around 150 to 180cm. Dig out any suckers which are in the wrong place.
6) Alternatively, hoop the canes over and tie them to a frame as shown here. This is now my preferred approach. While it takes a little more time, it keeps the rampant canes under better control, increases the fruit set down the stem and makes picking very much easier. I then feed each clump with a generous helping of compost.
6) The prunings need to be burned or disposed of. We clip them to manageable lengths and gather them in a wool bale for convenience. You can’t compost prickly old stems. Town dwellers may like to dry them and then burn them on a woodfire or put them out with the rubbish. Ours will go on the burning heap.
1) In the depths of winter, it tends to sap the motivation to get out to the garden but in our hints this week, we discuss why we have never included planting celery in our garden diary and we admire our visiting kereru.
2) Flowering this week is the delightfully scented and somewhat understated Camellia lutchuensis.
3) Outdoor Classroom this week is on pruning raspberries. Our new resident pigeons (of the homing pigeon variety, not the native pigeon) were not overly impressed by the intrusion into their quarters which they are currently sharing with the raspberries.
The gentle ring neck doves are altogether too trusting
One of the gentle sounds of England for us is the soft cooing of the pigeons. No matter that they may be described as rats on wings, that sound is so completely evocative, that I can pick it immediately, even on television. Our native wood pigeon , the kereru, is a very large bird, cumbersome even, of small brain but highly prized as a garden visitor and completely protected by legislation because of dwindling numbers. But it doesn’t coo like the English ones. We tried ring neck doves which coo beautifully and are pretty little birds. Alas they are completely trusting and spend much time on the ground so are vulnerable to predators. The late Buffy took out quite a few and we have to keep the surviving two in the raspberry coop at night for their own protection. It does not look as if we will ever manage a big flock of ring neck doves, though we would like to.
In his Jack Duckworth moments, Mark is very fond of his pigeons (I think they are the homing pigeon variety) which we can have flying free. He had to go to the bird show recently and buy another half dozen because even this resilient, quick breeding type fell to the ravages of our rare, endangered and totally protected falcon. We seem to have one falcon which has been around for years and clearly outlived his natural lifespan, possibly because of the raiding parties he makes regularly on Mark’s pigeons. Our dog, Zephyr, actually recognises the silhouette of the falcon circling above and barks a warning, which is a pretty impressive party trick for a dog.