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Plot 12A - The overgrown Raspberry bed’s demise


By balcony


The overgrown Raspberry bed’s demise

The overgrown Raspberry bed’s demise is well under way! Just over a week ago I dug up the first 3 or 4 rows in this bed & afterwards I dug in horse manure & sprinkled a little chicken manure on top of it in the hope that it would help it rot down faster. I then covered the whole bed with soil improver – the name given to the composted gardening waste the local council collects from people’s homes.

This is composted on an industrial scale & reaches very high temps & is therefore sterile. When Gerry & I went to the place they do it there was an enormous mountain of the stuff for free collection by anyone. Every time we broke away some to shovel into bags you could see the steam rising & feel the heat it gave off! Even after a couple of days in the bags on the allotment it was still warm!

The overgrown Raspberry bed in September

The overgrown Raspberry bed is being dug up to make way for other crops next year. I don’t believe they are worth keeping & anyway they occupy far too much space for a half allotment. They haven’t been looked after for years & are full of dead wood from previous years as well as tons of couch grass, which, as most people will know, is very invasive & is terrible to get rid of as the smallest piece will grow into another plant which will spread its roots everywhere as well after a few months! Gerry also has two beds on his allotments (1 & 1/2) & this year I’ve eaten tons of them, (to the point I began to think my face must look like a Raspberry! LOL! ), & as I will continue to help him with them I don’t want any more on my new plot!

The Raspberry bed is roughly divided up into about 4 rows with rows of canes 3 or 4 wide. It looks as if originally about 4 rows were planted with a path between each but these rows were subdivided into 3 or 4 rows in each subdivision. As Raspberries make new canes alongside the originals there isn’t a very clear division between rows. The “paths” may have been made just by the previous tenant over years of walking alongside the rows, perhaps when he first used to tend them &/or when picking the fruit. When I took over the plot at the beginning of September there were a couple of fairly clear paths where it was obvious the grass had been trodden down fairly recently.

Raspberry bed in October – A start being made:

This is what the the bed looks like now! It’s covered in the black soil improver which I’ve put on as a mulch after soaking the soil, to kick start the decomposition process of the horse/chicken manure & to try to stop as many weed seeds as possible from germinating.

Raspberry bed in November – The battle continues

I spent the better part of 4 hours on the next bit of the bed today, 5th November. I started off with clearing as much of the top growth of Raspberry canes & Couch grass as I possibly could. Just that phase took more than an hour! Then I started to dig as much as possible of the roots out – a mammoth task! As the grass roots form a thick. almost impenetrable layer several inches thick it’s very difficult to dig them out & is a backbreaking exercise – even for someone with a healthy back & mine is by no means healthy! So it requires constant stopping for a breather while stretching my back. I also had to be very careful to lift each forkful with my legs rather than my back! I only managed to finish 3/4 of the bed, but then I’m in no great hurry as I have all winter in which to get the canes & grass dug out. I’m only doing now because the mild weather is giving me time!

I’ve got rid of the rusty old barrel you’ll have seen in previous photos! I had hoped it was full of composted waste but no, it was mostly full of Couch grass roots & a few canes & tons of stones & a little soil. I dug out the grass & canes & tipped the remains on the ground to dig in!

An hour later:

On Monday I hope to finish digging out the roots in the last 1/4 of the bed so I can start to dig in the horse manure. I doubt I’ll have sufficient time on Monday to finish digging in the manure so that’s a job to finish off on Tuesday.

Time now to go home & refuel!

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that enriched soil is going to produce high quality produce, just finished my composting on all the veg beds, hard graft but what a great feeling when its done eh? Great & inspirational blog. btw: my three varieties of raspberries looked great in their respective rows for the 1st two years but this year they have all thrown out loads of suckers so its their turn next year for a drastic re-shuffle.

5 Nov, 2011


Thanks, Bampy, glad you liked it.

Do you think I've done well in sprinkling chicken manure on top of the horse manure? The CM is not the commercial pelleted form but it comes straight from the chickens' enclosure & is sheets of trampled down earth mixed in with their feathers & dropping & a little dried grass or hay.

I broke the sheets into smaller pieces & scattered them over the HM. All the manure is one spit deep & as the soil was extremely dry I gave the bed a soaking before covering it in the soil conditioner.

5 Nov, 2011


we've pretty much done the same thing Balcony, I did quite a few trips to our council compost heap ( also free)when I made the raised veg beds, chucked everything I could into this clay soil we have plus all the horse stable sweepings I have access to including soggy sheets of chipboard & anything that isnt plastic I'll add. It all rotted down & the animal sweepings activated the process over winter. Chicken manure is considered to be one of the best so your onto a winner.

5 Nov, 2011


You're doing well. It will be nice for you to have the extra space. Go steadilly.

6 Nov, 2011


Thanks Bampy! I thought perhaps I'd messed things up & the bed might not be usable for a year or two! You've set my mind at rest! I know chicken manure is very rich in Nitrogen & is very useful as an accelerator in the compost heap. I wasn't sure if I done the right thing mixing the two together in the same trench!

Yes, Hywel, the extra space will be handy. Once I get the the last few rows of Raspberries out I will be able to take it easier. With this 2nd bed dug I'll have got half the old bed dug up.

It's one big, overgrown bed that hasn't been looked after for some years. It appears to have been planted as 4 or 5 rows/beds (each with about 4 sub-rows of plants) across the width of the plot. It's not easy to describe & photos don't give the same impression as seen by the eye.

6 Nov, 2011


You are doing well with your plot now Balcony,some hard work gone into clearing your raspberries,dont do too much at once..what will you be planting in the bed ..have you decided yet ?

6 Nov, 2011


because the HM & CM is one spit deep Balcony plus the worms & rain will leach & move it around over winter I'm pretty sure your soil is good for planting next Spring. There's too many rules in gardening I find, trial & error generally wins the day !! ;-)
I had to get rid of the tastiest raspberries due to bindweed infestation when I first took over this garden. No label so had no idea what variety, 25' x 5' row, boy was that a dig & a half to clear everything !

6 Nov, 2011


Thanks, Joanella, for your kind comment, yes, it is hard work, very hard work clearing away the Raspberry canes & even worse digging out the Couch grass! As my back isn't in very good condition I have to stop for a breath & a rest after practically every forkful!!! It's a real fight trying to get the grass roots apart sufficiently so as to be able to lift the mass out of the soil. I have to rock the fork backwards & forwards several times on two sides before I can get down to getting the spit of soil & roots out! An exhausting task, even for a person half my age!

Thanks for your advice, Bampy! I hope it will turn out for the best too! I'm hoping to use the cleared beds for potatoes next year. None of the HM is rotted & some of it is quite fresh! I just buried in the soil with the spit of soil covering it & hope for the best!

7 Nov, 2011

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