Friday, 13 July 2012

Bursting Berries and Flying Fruit cages

Two weeks to go to the Goostrey Gooseberry Show.  Tension mounts.  Reputations are at stake.

In a bid to grow the heaviest berry, the trees have been thinned of small berries to concentrate the nourishment in the bigger ones.    For that you need fertilizer and water, but not the unremitting rain we have been having.

Berries burst if the tree sucks up too much water too fast.   And burst berries are discarded.  Only whole berries may be weighed in the show.   The trees in the Frank Carter collection are covered in burst berries.  Disaster for any grower.  The more I pick off, the more seem to appear.  Something has to be done.  So, with the help of my young gardener friend, I do what all gooseberry growers do: cover the trees. 
Not a problem when you grow trees in three foot high pens, which is the preferred method of most gooseberry growers, but our trees are grown in a six foot high fruit cage to make them more accessible to visitors. 

We pull a tarpaulin over the frame.

With the tarpaulin tied securely, I stand back satisfied that I have done my best to protect the berries from an excess of water.  With a bit of luck, some berries might be worthy of their breeder at the show.

‘Mind you,’ says my young friend, ‘with this wind, the whole cage could fly off!’