Monday, 3 December 2007

Time for some fruitiness

Time to think of things fruity. Gooseberries and all the other Ribes variants need a bit of a trim this time of year to keep them healthy and productive.First, let me explain why. Fruit can suffer from mildew, caused by poor ventilation and damp air.The best way to combat this, or at least attempt to prevent it, is to prune the bush into an open framework of branches so the air can circulate freely.The Ribes family splits into two groups for pruning ,the gooseberries, (Ribes uva-crispum)red and white currants(both Ribes rubrum) in one group, the blackcurrants in the other. The main difference is in the way they fruit.Blackcurrants(Ribes nigrum) fruit on one year old wood, so we prune the oldest wood back to the trunk and take out any diseased or weak stems while we're there.The others fruit on old wood, year after year, so we only need to cut back the stems by half to encourage new growth and again take out any dead, diseased or crossing branches. Keeping the framework open is healthier so try to cut to an outward or upward facing bud.Use a sloping cut, away from the bud, to keep rain and fungal spores away from the fresh cut.Providing there are no diseased bits, the trimmings can be tidied up and used for cuttings or shredded and added to the compost heap or used as a mulch.The old style of shaping your gooseberry bush to resemble a u shaped urn is a good tip, the branches can get quite tall without crowding.
Having said all that, I am going to try carrying a pack of those disinfectant wipes with me when I prune now. If it helps to wipe the blades between bushes/plants, then it will be worth the small outlay. I have to tackle the fruit I grow on my plot as soon as the weather and my free time allows. The blackberry (Black Butte) is one year old now so I need to look at how to prune that for the best framework before i think about crop numbers. The gooseberry is quite old by comparison and in a good shape, so it's health and crop there.
Arthur gave me some red and blackcurrants a year ago (time flies Art!) so I'll give them a good snip. My Tayberry is starting to put on a spurt of growth, having taken a year to get its feet in, so I'll have a look in the books for the right way to treat that, I'm guessing it's the same as one of it's parents. though whether it will be blackberry or raspberry I've yet to discover. I did plant a black gooseberry but it promptly turned its toes up and died on me without showing any sign of ever growing at all. Still want to grow those so I'll keep my eyes on the bargain bins and the bonus pages in the catalogues!
When I worked at the Manor, they grew Japanese Wine berries. They were very odd. Bright red stems with tiny but very juicy berries that tasted like sherry. As a deterrent though, they had more vicious spines per inch than anything I've ever seen since! I'd like to give them a go at some point, they were trained up and down on horizontal wires, a job no one looked forward to!


Les said...

Do you ever read any of the other blogs?

Choco said...

Yes mate, but i usually browse using the 'next blog' tab at the top.
Found a couple of gorgeous photography ones, one of which I added to my faves list.