The raspberries have started to show their first fruits which means we need to start protecting them from the birds. The last thing we want is all our hard work on them to become bird feed.
So our raspberries are in pots and as such do not need the support of canes so there is not a natural point for us to attach our netting to. So last week at the garden centre we purchased some bamboo canes and they are now sitting in the pots with netting covering them. The netting has a large enough mesh to ensure that bees can still pass through it but impossible for birds to get through. That is the major downside of soft fruits, the birds love them and netting can be a hassle and tends to look fairly unsightly. However, as it is only for a short period of time when the plant is fruiting it seems a small sacrifice for what will hopefully be a good crop of fruit. The blueberries don’t seem to be at the point of fruiting quite yet, and are likely to take at least another year to really get going but they will need protection too.
As I’m sure I’ve already mentioned J spent lots of time planning the design of the raised beds. So as we have some strawberries now which are looking close to ripe, it has become essential to protect them from the birds. This is where J’s forward planning has really come into its own. When constructing the raised beds he attached these black quickcrop cormer brackets at each corner and halfway down the longest side as shown below.
Then into these he inserted cut lengths of black 25mm water pipe in semicircles as shown below.
Then the net can be draped over these and secured to soil using pegs. That should keep the crops safe from birds but still easy enough to access for picking and weeding as required.
So last year I got three raspberry plants to go in pots. I really wanted to grow fruit in the garden but at the time we were in our old house and looking at moving so it didn’t make sense to plant anything in the ground. They are a special type of dwarf raspberries which are designed to be grown in pots and as such don’t need canes. For some reason having to tie plants up to canes seems like so much work to me so I’ve always tried to avoid it where possible. I think I’m also concerned about the dangers of having canes sticking up from the ground with a toddler who’s only pace of walking seems to be running!
Now the first year they produced some nice folliage but no fruit, which is what we were expecting as the first year is a bit of a preparation year helping the plant to establish a root system and foliage. So from this year we should be expecting fruit, although I can’t remember if they are Summer of Autumn fruiting. I have to admit I’ve been skeptical as over the winter they have just been essentially a bunch of dead twigs. But come the start of spring they have begun to show new growth from the tips of the dead looking twigs and they seem to be thriving. My only dilemma now is how on earth to net them when the fruit starts to appear as the last thing I want is to have the birds steal it. They are currently beneath the windows of the living room in beautiful cream pots although I think long term I will move them as they will end up being quite bushy and could look nice near to the recreation area.
Long term I fancy having some Raspberries planted in the ground, although I know that will require the use of canes. Maybe once the big outside works are done then I can find a little patch for them to live. All three of us love eating raspberries and raspberry jam is one of my favourites to make (and one of the easiest to do) so it makes sense for us to have a good supply of them on hand. I think that can be a job for next Spring.