Just when things should start happening, I’ve had to relocate to Devon to do some Primary Care for my Father. Needless to say he had plenty of gardening jobs that I needed to complete.
Seeds to Sow:
Here are some of the seeds you can sow now in well prepared beds. Be mindful that there is still a chance of a late frost so be ready to cover the seedlings with a cloche: beetroot, carrots, swiss chard, summer cauliflower, kohl rabi, lettuce, leeks, radish, turnip, spring onions, peas and spinach.
Here are Charlotte First Earlies being planted out in a traditional bed.
Prepare the site with lots of well rotted manure.
Rub out all but the strongest 3 or 4 eyes.
Lay them eyes up in a trench, 12cm (5in) deep, 30cm (1ft) apart. Each row needs to be 60cm (2ft) apart.
Cover and water if dry.
Raspberries, Blackberries, and Hybrid Berries (Tayberry and Loganberry):
Pic: Raspberries and Hybrids (rear) supported temporarily by canes.
Historically, the Romans introduced blackberry cultivation to Great Britain, raspberries were picked from the wild. Nowadays, this trend is reversed but if you can find the space for a blackberry (variety: Obsidian), it will reward you with the biggest and juiciest fruit.
Now is the time to plant potted fruit canes. They are cheaper if you buy the canes bare root. They arrive with no soil, the roots are kept moist by old newspaper and they need to planted right away. Note that bare root Autumn Raspberries (variety: Autumn Bliss) need to be planted in January to March if you want them to crop this autumn. Summer Raspberries (variety: Glen Moy and Glen Ample) fruit off the canes that grew and overwintered from last year.
This is also the case for hybrid berries like Loganberry and Tayberry (a hybrid mix of raspberry and blackberry) and also blackberry cultivars. The disadvantage is that you will need to support the canes over winter to protect them from strong winds. The advantage is that summer varieties fruit from about June, so if you have a mix, the fruiting season is extended.
I set each row of raspberry canes in a 5m (15ft) by 60cm (2ft) row, planted 60cm (2ft) apart. I dug out all the heavy clay to a depth of 1m (3ft) and replaced it with well composted top soil. However, raspberries in particular are not too fussy, provided you give them a general feed now (I use Fish, Blood and Bone, a byproduct of the meat industry) and then give them a really good mulch of chipped bark or similar to suppress the weeds and retain moisture. Raspberries are corralled between two sets of parallel stays 2m (7ft) high.
Pic: Last of the Autumn Raspberries (right) and next year’s Summer Raspberry canes (rear left).
The blackberry and hybrids are trained over a single grid line of wires 30cm vertically apart. Ideally, if you have the space, each plant should be planted centrally in its own 5m row. These canes are vigorous tip growers, as they reach out, I wind them sinusoidally on the frame to fill out half of the space. As they fruit, next years new canes will emerge and these are trained on the opposite side of the grid.
Pic: Tayberry and Loganberry (right side of picture).
Each successive year the canes grow, crop, die and are cut away on opposing sides of the frame. I set mine a little close together which means I have a muddle of old and new growth to contend with. I am going to plant some more in the fruit cage extension and give them the space they deserve.
Angus is a Senior First Officer and Resilient Pilot Mentor with a passion in Wellbeing, CRM and TEM. This is the fourth in a series of blogs from Angus, to read more click here. To find out more about Angus, and our other pilot mentors, please visit our 'supported' page