I’m busy picking and eating raspberries. I am expecting the weather to get to them any day now, so I try to pick the ripe ones every day to keep the mould away. That means I have been able to eat raspberries every day for the last month — it’s such an awful chore, but someone has to do it. The birds get a few but I find that they really don’t make much of an impact on the crop. I’m happy to share.
There is no such thing as too many raspberries. If I pick more than I can eat in one go, I put them straight into the freezer on a little baking tray and once they are frozen I pop them into a freezer bag. They are great to add to smoothies, especially if you are going for a nice, ice cream-like frozen smoothie.
When you grow raspberries yourself at least you know they are not sprayed with any toxic stuff. They have such soft skins that anything sprayed on them would no doubt seep in and there would be a residue of nasty chemical stuff left behind, as would also be true for blueberries and strawberries.
As far as cultivating raspberries the two biggest problems I find are keeping the patch weed free and keeping the raspberry canes in bounds. They tend to escape from any nice neat place you prepare for them. I have a nice scaffold board bed filled with lovely leaf mould and well rotted manure and I mow at least a couple of meters all the way around it. But the raspberries are still managing to escape their allotted area. And be sure and get all the weeds out before establishing a new patch. The raspberry cane roots grow quite shallowly so you really can’t dig around the plants once they are in, at least not without doing damage.
I tend to go for autumn fruiting varieties, such as the ubiquitous ‘Autumn Bliss’. The summer fruiting ones are just as yummy but I find I have more time for picking at this time of year as things are winding down. I have the yellow-fruiting variety, ‘Falls Gold’, as well, which produces lots of big fruits. But I find them rather wan, maybe anaemic would be a better description, and the taste is definitely inferior to red varieties.
Apples are ripe and are falling all over the place. I think the crows have even had enough of them. But they are absolutely delicious and very plentiful this year. The plums were not so prolific, but I believe it still quite cold this spring when their blossoms were out. I find the best apple variety I have for flavour is ‘Mrs Perry’s’ followed by ‘Bloody Butcher’. I got 6 different varieties from Irish Seed Savers in 2007. The two early apples, ‘Widow’s Friend’ and ‘Kerry Pippin’, I never even get near thanks to the crows who strip them bare in August/September. I also have ‘Sam Young’, which is a russet and extremely dry in texture, which some people like. It apparently keeps well, though I have never bothered because it is a bit like eating leather, really. ‘Gibbon’s Russet’ is not as leathery and has a nice flavour and the tree is absolutely covered every year very consistently. The tree itself is a lovely rounded shape — it’s a real, proper old fashioned kind of apple tree. But for me ‘Mrs Perry’s’ is the one for fruit — big and sweet and crisp, which is how I like apples.
Here’s a future project to document…
Seems like yesterday I was putting together my compost heap — it was actually about 2007, when I should have been working on the old house we had bought. Instead, I worked on the garden and the house is still a mess. But alas, nothing lasts forever and the weather last year was the last straw for the original compost heap. The new little dog we got didn’t help as she tore up one side trying to get at something… those with compost heaps will know what I mean. I’ve a fresh supply of pallets. I just need a dry day when I’m not stuck in an office. I hope to have an ‘after’ photo soon enough.
And finally… it’s not just the raspberries and apples that the birds like…
They are liking the big fat Rosa rugosa hips as well. Happy Autumn!