Down on the Allotment

What's happening down on the allotment? An intimate account of a passionate veggie grower.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

First Signs of Spring?

The days are surely getting longer now. The first shoots of my rhubarb have started to show their heads above ground. My main rhubarb patch is now 3 years old and is growing bigger and stronger day by day. I have mulched my main rhubarb patch with 4 or 5 inches of well matured horse manure compost. This little chap below is a second patch that I am trying to get rid of at the moment. I think I will try forcing this crown of rhubarb. You can only really force rhubarb crowns after they are well established because it puts quite a strain on the plant. The trick is to exclude all light from the growing sticks so that they are sweeter and more tender. I have a large flowerpot I think I will use, unless I can find an unwanted black dustbin!
I have taken the opportunity in the last few weeks to prune and tie back my thorny fruit. Above you can see the blackberries now pruned and tied back to a makeshift fence. Actually it was a space next to the shed where my dog kept escaping!! Thought I would make it a bit more of a challenge for him now!! Despite wearing thick gloves and several layers of clothing, I still managed to get an impressive collection of 'war wounds' - these plants are nasty!!
Above are my raspberries, complete with mulch of well rotted manure. These have thrown out so many new canes it is important to cut out the spindly shoots and try to keep them under control. Here I started with 2 early varieties, 2 mid varieties and 2 Autumn varieties so I have a good long season. Not forgetting that the Autumn fruiting raspberries have to be cut to the ground each Winter because they fruit on the current years' canes! I have a feeling that 2009 is going to be a great year for raspberries - they just love the cold Winters! fingers crossed.
Finally the loganberries. These are really rampant, and despite the plant only being 3 years old now, has produced 8 or 9 good strong shoots that I have tied back in a fan shape against a fence.

11 Comments:

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Peggy said...

Hi matron, thanks for rhubarb advice, we have one lonely crown coming in to its 3rd year. We inherited raspberry canes on the plot,they seem to be summer fruiting. They are gone wild and sending up new canes, we did not take note of which were new or old last year and were thinking of just digging them out and starting afresh?

 
At 10:33 PM, Blogger Anna said...

It's great to see the rhubarb shoots poking through - crumble here we come !

 
At 10:38 PM, Blogger Matron said...

Peggy, it seems a shame to dig them out if they are well established. Raspberries do tend to creep underground and take over if allowed to. You will soon see in the Spring which are the fruiting canes and which ones are the old ones. Be ruthless and thin them out to just the thickest canes.

 
At 8:08 AM, Blogger Dreadnought said...

Hi Matron, Your Rhubarb is in advance of mine here, as yet there isn't any sign of it. Do you take the tips off your Raspberry canes? Bob.

 
At 1:27 PM, Blogger Peggy said...

Thanks for advice matron may give them a reprieve!

 
At 5:46 PM, Blogger Matron said...

Bob - I remember looking at the daffodils on the city walls in York and thinking that just a few degrees further North from London and all crops are a few weeks behind us here in the South. Rest assured I'm sure your rhubarb will poke out any day now. Yes I think I will tidy up the tips of the raspberry canes when I put some more support wires on the posts.

 
At 4:08 PM, Blogger Green thumb said...

Hi Matron, all these vegetables and berries you mange to grow are so exotic for me as none is easily grown in my part of the world.
It will be interesting to see how your rhubarb fares.

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I've never seen rhubarb this small... and didn't know to cover it. I don't think that's something we do here. For how long?

 
At 4:14 AM, Blogger Greg W said...

I like the trellis of blackberries, along with the idea of keeping the dog from going through it. I have a similar area where neighborhood cats escape my attempts to chase them out of the yard. I may copy your idea.

Thanks, Greg

 
At 8:49 AM, Blogger Matron said...

Monica - I will cover the rhubarb to exclude light until the rhubarb is big enough (1ft tall) to force a crop, then remove the pot. I should think I will uncover it in about April.

 
At 2:04 AM, Blogger Petunia's Gardener said...

Spring will come! I found no signs of rhubarb today. Makes me wonder if there is more cold to go. Blackberry thorns are wicked indeed. I had one tiny bit get imbedded in my thumb. Hurt like crazy but nothing could get it out. Finally had to see the dr. Hope you are healing! See you soon, too!

 

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