Monday, 7 September 2015

An Unfruitful Summer

As autumn approaches after what has been a pretty dismal summer, we look back on our fruit-growing efforts with an feeling of mild disappointment.  Not that the fruit hasn't grown, it has, but the weather and other factors have severely affected what has come to harvest. The gooseberries - we have three bushes - promised us the best harvest ever, until....

....the family of blackbirds, which we had nurtured through the winter and into the spring, suddenly took a liking to them. They have never attacked the gooseberries before, but their depredations became so extreme that we had to do something we've never done before - cover the bushes in netting. This stopped the blackbirds but the fruit kept disappearing, and we now know that the cock pheasant was as responsible as the blackbirds, and he could push his way under the wire.

The situation with the strawberries was even worse. This time the blackbirds were joined by the slugs and snails, who have had a wonderful summer. In desperation, we finally covered them with plastic netting, something we hate doing as we fear that the blackbirds it was designed to deter would become caught in it and die before they could be rescued, but....

....what remained of the crop was, in the end, largely lost, with that which escaped the blackbirds and slugs often going mouldy before it could be picked.

The most disappointing crop was the early raspberries. Usually, we're eating raspberries until we're sick of them, but this year's first crop was so small, and of such poor quality, that we finally gave up when we found one recently-picked bowlful going mouldy in the fridge. There's hope yet as the second crop is coming along, but it desperately needs some sun.

Despite the travails, Mrs Diary did manage to make some jam, enough keep us through the winter .

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