How my raspberry know-how took a caning

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I AM quite proud of my lovely, tall raspberry canes, which sit at the head of each of my two raised beds. Each year, I have carefully tended them, or so I thought.

I have spent hours and hours cutting them back to the required length at the right time, watering them, tying them to supports when they became too unruly and generally cosseting them.

And each year they have paid me back with – no fruit.

I did the usual pruning, straightened up the supports and then waited to see if the summer of 2014 would be any different. Then the mild spring happened and they suddenly sprouted, all bushy and as tall as trees, swaying in the breeze.

Mr E noticed them one day. “Those raspberries need tying back or they’ll snap in the wind,” he says. I tell him it’s on my ‘to do’ list, quite taken aback by his sudden interest in soft fruit welfare.

“I’ll sort it for you,” says he, and sets off with a handful of rope (yes, proper rope, not the usual twine or string) and some humongous supports which are so tall they would have done for pole vaulting at the Commonwealth Games. Men don’t do ‘ordinary’ when they set their minds to An Important Task (AKA meddling), do they? No mere knobbly garden canes for Mr E. Everything has to be bigger, better, more engineered. They are only humble raspberry canes, but they are getting the full man treatment. I watch in awe and wonder.

An hour later they are trussed up with rope thick enough to use for towing cars in some sort of elaborate criss-cross pattern between the vaulting poles. “So, what do you think?” he says, hands on hips gazing lovingly at his creation.

“Erm, great,” I say, making a mental note not to garotte myself on the ropes next time I go in and about the beds to pick lettuce (they are strung across exactly at neck height). I thank him profusely and hope that this is the end of it.

No such luck. He has become involved. He now has a vested interest in the raspberries. A few weeks later, Gamford spots a blackbird standing amongst the lettuce, leaping upwards repeatedly and plucking something from the canes. Fruit. We have raspberries and they are starting to ripen. Or rather, Mr E does. For they have now become ‘his’ raspberries.

“I must get them covered up,” he says, “Or the blackbirds will get them and that’s not happening after all my (!) hard work.”

I say that he can’t have the netting as it is draped over the Le Bresse chicks’ run, to stop them being taken by crows. So off he pops to the garden centre, and comes back with – fleece. Now, I am no Alan Titchmarsh, but I’m pretty sure fleece is designed to keep plants warm in colder months and whilst offering some protection from predators it’s mostly an autumn/winter/spring thing.

However, I kept my opinions to myself as he was hell-bent on ‘his’ project, and it seems to have worked.

Last night, Mr E went out and picked a full punnet of rasps. Lovely, big, sweet-tasting ones. What do I know, eh?