watervole: (allotment)
If you have any raspberries or blackcurrants, then this is the best time of year (just as the new leaf growth is starting) to feed them. About three inches of manure or compost all round them (go out at as far as the bush goes and maybe a little bit more). Don't let the compost/manure touch the stems - give a couple of inches space.

If you have gooseberries or redcurrants, they should already have had a couple of inches (goseberries come into growth a little earlier), but better late than never.

Remember, if you like soft fruit, you need to feed them. They can't give you the fruit unless you give them the nutrients to grow the fruit.

(strawberries are different - being very low growing, it isn't practical to use manure/compost, so you prepare a very nice bed indeed and create a new one every three years)

In the winter, when all the leaves have died, cut out at ground level (or an inch or two above if you can't reach easily) all canes that have borne fruit that year.  (in the case of autumn fruiting raspberries, that will usually be all of them.  In the case of summer fruiting raspberries, it will be around half of them)

Grass clippings make a good mulch for raspberries (and lots of other things too) and are a very effective way of suppressing weeds while adding organic matter and nitrogen to your soil. Cut your grass, and sprinkle the fresh clippings (and inch thick is fine) around your fruit bushes.

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Judith Proctor

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