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Updated: Dec 13, 2018

So the leaves have fallen and the first frosts have put the garden into its winter sleep. I've scooped up most of the fallen leaves (the wind collects them beside the north facing wall) and dumped them in the leaf mould bin. The other compost heap has been sorted ready for spreading and the next job is pruning and training of fruit bushes and trees.

I'm tackling the blackcurrant bushes first because they've grown like crazy over the summer and are now obstructing the path to the compost heap. I take out the oldest and tallest canes first. Generally the aim is to take out about half of the canes – this will stimulate new growth next year so as to give us fruit the year after. We are always trying to keep the “wineglass” shape – with all the canes radiating outwards – none crossing back. This allows light and air into the bush and prevent crossing canes rubbing against each other. Any damaged canes or feeble small ones will be removed. And I will have the occasional battle to dig out rogue raspberry canes which have tunnelled their way into the bush – raspberries have a mad tendency to spread vigorously via underground suckers!

One great feature of blackcurrants is that the prunings will easily become “cuttings” which will take root over the winter. You simply take a bundle of prunings which are this year's growth and stick the bundle 6 inches into the ground (15cm). Most of them will take root. I do this each year so that I have nice young blackcurrant bushes to give away during the summer. My cuttings of last year have produced 21 new plants which I have potted up now – they will be a popular bonus for the village plant sale next July. I have not tackled the gooseberry bushes yet but I expect they will, as always, have offshoots which have “layered” themselves into the ground and rooted. They too can be dug out and potted up for the summer sales.

20 new blackcurrant bushes from cuttings

I will cut out the old canes of the autumn raspberries next. They are amazingly vigorous plants, growing new 6 foot canes each year. Then after Christmas I will get around to training the espaliered fruit trees against the south facing wall. They have been very prolific this year, producing masses of apples and masses of new growth. I know that I will have to drill and pin the wall first so I can stretch new stainless steel support wires. There will be a new post and pictures after Christmas.


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