The season begins!

In my garden one of my bramble-berries has fruit ripening, and thus it is time to bring out the nets to keep birds away from the goods. I wish I knew where the stiffer netting got to as last year a bird got caught up and died in the more flexible netting, which is a pity indeed.

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My new ebook!

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Caroline Wright

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This month’s chore

When new and fast-growing canes reach or fall to the ground, they will need to be somehow lifed and secured to the trellis so that they don’t take root at the tips and grow new plants next to the parent plant, unless you want them to. You want these canes to be producing berries this summer, and I’m guessing if they are busy growing into new plants that will take them way from their important job.

Rubus berry canes touching the ground

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That’s the end of the youngberry crop….

The last of the youngberry crop, late December 2015,

The last of the youngberry crop, late December 2015,

….and that’s also the end of the year.

I think the fruits are under-developed due to a lack of pollination by bees, but I’m not sure, to be honest. Note that the leaves are looking shabby, and they will die and fall eventually, naturally, leaving the canes bare, and those canes that bore fruit will also die off.

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Bird-net time!

Silvanberry fruit late November 2015

Silvanberry fruit late November 2015

Youngberry fruit late November 2015

Youngberry fruit late November 2015

Silvanberry fruit late November 2015

Silvanberry fruit late November 2015

It is high-time to protect Rubus crops in Perth with bird nets. You want a stiff and fine-weave net over a flexible and open net, as the latter will forever get caught up in the thorns of the brambles and possibly fatally trap a small bird. Note how the ripening of the fruit in the silvan is ahead of the youngberry.

I’ve done another taste-test this season and it is clear that the flavour of the youngberry has much more complexity and muskiness and toffee flavours than the silvanberry, but the silvan fruits a bit earlier so I think is still worth growing if you have any room left over after you’ve planted your youngberry.

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Upcoming season’s fruit in the making – October 2015

Youngberry flowers and developing fruit

Youngberry flowers and developing fruit

Rubus bramble berry  (Silvanberry?) flower and fruit developing

Rubus bramble berry (Silvanberry?) flower and fruit developing

Bee pollinating youngberry

Bee pollinating youngberry

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Update in autumn and an untimely warning

It has been quite a while since I tried to post to this blog, which seems to have a technical problem. I’m hoping this post will end up at the top of the blog.

Firstly, a word or warning about the bird netting shown in previous posts; at the end of the season while I was removing the net for storage I was saddened to find a small dead native bird that had been trapped in the net, a honeyeater I think. In all my years of bramble-growing I’ve never had this happen, and I’m inclined to blame the new net that I bought that season, which was rather finer, wider and more elastic than my old one. Perhaps it is a thing that can happen with any bird net. I can only advise that if possible take a look at the net daily, or more often. I’m open to any advice about avoiding harm to birds with bird nets.

There’s not a lot of other news to report in the youngberry department. Last summer we had an extraordinary couple of days of extreme heat, and smart gardeners took the time to erect shade-cloth shelters over prized garden plants just for that heatwave. It was the kind of heat that can kill mature plants and seedlings alike. I didn’t go to a lot of fuss, and I lost an Alogyne huegleii and my youngberry died back a lot, but that was canes that were destined to die off anyway as they had fruited.

The plant survived with a few mature canes, and I’ve just done the annual task of breaking up the dead canes and removing them and training up the living mature canes in some orderly fashion onto the wires of the trellis. When man or woman-kind does battle with a bramble there will inevitably be bloodshed, but this can be minimized by wearing long sleeves and stout garden gloves. You will need to master the art of handling thorny canes effectively and breaking up dead, brown and brittle canes but with not enough pressure to drive the thorns through your gloves. More youngberry canes will grow before next season, but I don’t think they will fruit. I believe the fruit form on year-old canes.

When you prune your roses in winter you will also fertilize them, and even though the brambleberries are distantly related to roses, they should not be fertilized at the same time as pruning in the cooler seasons (if that is what you would call the process of removing dead canes and re-organizing live canes). From now (autumn) on your bramble will go dormant, so fertilizing is not appropriate. My old Farmnote from the WA Dept of Agriculture about growing raspberries and brambleberries tells me that the months for fertilizing are October through to January inclusive, but it depends on what fertilizer you are using.

 

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