A Good Year for Soft Fruit - as long as the Birds don't Find Out!

July 24, 2020 11:36 PM
Originally published by Nick Hollinghurst - Working for Tring, for Britain and for You!

GooseberriesGrowing soft fruit is not easy. The plants need sunshine to grow and ripen - making sugars to provide sweetness needs lots of energy in the form of sunlight. On the other hand they need lots of water, i.e. lots of rain, so all in all that's a bit of a contradiction.

Fortunately there were alternating sunny and wet periods this year combined with relatively high temperatures. This means it has been quite a good year for soft fruit, and of course natural soft fruits in hedgerows and in the woods have also been plentiful. This of course means less predation by hungry birds - but this doesn't mean you be relaxed. You still need to defend your crops from avian thieves. In previous years we've never managed to get more than a handful of gooseberries for ourselves - the rest being stolen by the local pigeons who stripped the bushes almost bare.

So this year, because of the favourable weather - but mainly because of a birdproof cage built around the bush using wooden posts and netting left over from earlier years - we were delighted to get a crop of gooseberries weighing 12 pounds!

That's it for 2020, but today saw some quick work to dismantle the fruit cage and use the materials to go over the top of several dozen cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprout seedlings which have now been planted out. Not a moment too soon either! The seedlings had already been pecked and torn and the have to survive until Christmas time or later if we are to get a decent amount of food from them.