Rabbits and Raspberries

I’ve mentioned we’ve turned half of the old veggie patch into a seed bed and somewhere for salad veg, but I’d neglected to mention that the other half is going to be a new home for a couple of pet rabbits. So the Easter weekend’s first job was to build a new partition fence, leaving enough space for a gate I’m reusing from the chicken run once  they move to the paddock. We’ve also found a good supplier of chicken wire and weld mesh locally, at Pukka Pens, in Stanton by Bridge. The only thing left to do is to buy the turf and lay it. The cabbages in the foreground were casualties, the rest will follow soon…<sniff>

Last spring I planted 5 autumn fruiting raspberry canes in the border to the side of the now-rabbit-run, and 10 summer fruiting canes. I’d also tried to construct a wire support structure using locally scavenged crack willow, but as I’ve now found out, crack willow cracks and snaps. Didn’t really need to be a genius to figure that out I guess. So having been faced with droopy raspberries every time we come home (do you know how disturbing  that is?), I made it my second job this weekend to do something better for my soft fruit. The result is 3 x 8 foot posts dug 2 foot into the ground, with support posts and wire tensioned between. I also have enough materials to build another 30′ stretch in the new vegetable patch once I get the fruit netting in place. Is it possible to get sick of raspberries?

For those who don’t know, autumn fruiting raspberries fruit on the current year’s growth – so after they fruited the previous autumn you should have cut them right back, and the new growth the following spring will bear fruit. Summer fruiting raspberries differ in that they fruit on last year’s growth – so you don’t cut back the new growth of the previous year as that’s where the fruit will be the following year, but you *do* cut back any growth that has already bourne fruit. Simples. The shot to the right shows summer-fruiting rasberry canes that grew last year. You’ll likely get too many canes popping  up so cut out all but the strongest 2-4 and tie them to the wires. The wires need to be spaced at 2, 4 and 6 feet from the ground. We’ve also pinched out the tips of these raspberries to encourage side growth.

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