Harvesting soft fruit

by Pippa Greenwood

Today I ventured into the currant bushes with my harvesting bowls. I soon realized that one of the blackbirds was sitting, watching me at work.

BlackcurrantsI’ve been very disappointed with the performance of my vegetable crops this year. First, we had unbearably dry weather and then, more recently, November-like conditions.

My soft fruit, though, has fared much better. The strawberries have been cropping well, and although I never got round to netting the strawberry bed, we’ve been enjoying vast quantities of delicious fruits for weeks. Only now are the yields beginning to fall.

We haven’t been the only ones to enjoy the strawberries; the blackbirds and our resident vole have also had their fair share. The vole does test my patience, as it harvests more than it actually eats and makes a series of ‘larders’ – small mounds of neatly cut fruit! I’m too soft to do anything about it, though, and I’m quite happy to feed the blackbirds.

Today I ventured into the currant bushes with my harvesting bowls. I soon realised that one of the blackbirds was sitting, watching me at work. Her eyes were fixed on me, and she sat low to the ground, no doubt hoping I wouldn’t spot her. I’m sure she wondered why I was stealing her fruit. The currants are a well-loved nesting spot for the blackbirds, and she’d be pleased to know that I wouldn’t dream of harvesting from the dense currant bush in which I know there is a nest – perhaps hers.

There has been more than enough fruit for all of us this year, so I’ve been happy to ‘share and share alike’, as we’re taught to do from an early age. I wish I could extend this generosity of spirit to the slugs and snails

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Gardeners' World Web User 29/06/2011 at 13:31

Good crops of all my berries, strawberries, raspberries,jostaberries, gooseberries,black and red currants,and the blackberries look very promising - covered in flowers and butterflies. I have resorted to freezing strawberries this year and the only attention they had was to take off and pot a dozen runners for a friend who could not believe my crop last year.

Gardeners' World Web User 29/06/2011 at 15:30

I too have had bowls of fruit from my small patch of strawberries, and the blueberries are just starting to turn deep blue. However, with next door's cat prowling around my garden I don't get many visiting birds, but love hearing about your affinity with the wildlife that visits your plot. On the other hand, I have noticed that the army of snails and slugs hiding in damp dark corners of my garden are starting to chew away my French Beans, and I'm never sure what to do about them. At the moment I de-latch them and place them in my composting area, hoping they might munch their way through my weed collection. But apart from taking them to a faraway piece of waste ground, are there any other ways of discouraging them (in a friendly way)?

Gardeners' World Web User 29/06/2011 at 16:36

my mummy was bit by a snake while getting some strawberry on sunday,now my dad has to collect them. not sure what snake it was but mum says it was about 50ft long and it was sort green in colour,and she cried,we went to hospital and was there hours....boring...

Gardeners' World Web User 30/06/2011 at 11:37

My established early strawberries have provided an amazingly large & tasty harvest - the hot dry spring brought on an early crop. I thought that would be the end, because the plants started to wilt with the heat & dry weather. But then the various deluges of rain refreshed the plants, & they produced another full crop. Amazing & yummy! Unfortunately, 'someone' (vole or grey squirrel?) got through the anti-bird netting & harvested practically all my 'late' strawberries - just like your experience Pippa - maddening. My blackcurrant harvest has been tasty but tiny. Whilst in the same bed, a large harvest of redcurrants is nearly ready to harvest. Any ideas on how to stop the strawberry 'harvester' and how to get more blackcurrants next year?

Gardeners' World Web User 30/06/2011 at 12:53

It is so refreshing to hear someone actually taking a back seat and letting wildlife have a chance. I love sitting in the back garden and just observing all those that come go with bits that they took from the garden. I try not to be too neat,and I always think of the birds by leaving plenty for them to eat.I would like various others those,not the usual robins wrens andblackbirds.

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