Yesterday we did a shorter session at the allotment. The great Malink measured the communal water line, topped up our water reserves and a then helped me install the gooseberry into its new palace.
The gooseberry palace, now with two pots of Hinnomaki Red Gooseberry at the top end of the new raised bed, fully protected in plastic pea netting, is shown here.
The netting may not keep the smaller birds out, but it will certainly be a discouragement – unless, of course, they make it into a game!
G devised it so that the front panel which opens for access is held securely in place by having a piece of bamboo woven through the base of the netting and then secured on both sides by a perforated brick. Crafty! No bird will be able to knock those off!
Before I dug out the gooseberry from the front raspberry bed I watered it heavily. Indeed, I’d watered it heavily the day before as well. When transplanting, I tried to fork out and remove as much ground as I could, and placed it into the pot intact and then filled in around it with manure rich soil. The soil in the pot had been pre-watered before transplanting into it. And then afterwards – lots more water.
Transplanting is a little like open heart surgery for plants, so it’s important to reduce the stress as much as possible. Watering helps work out any air gaps in the soil that might damage root growth, and adding too much during transplanting isn’t a worry – just so long as your pot can drain properly and you don’t actually drown the roots. Speaking of which, I’d noticed that the pot didn’t drain well when I had first filled in the base and pre-watered, so G used the drill to drill some additional drainage on four places around the base. This will be useful because we will dig our pots into the ground generally, to help protect against drying out too much in the summer.
It’s a good use of the raised bed for this growing season because the ground there is hard clay below and not much but manure above. It’s too difficult in the present climate to get to garden centres to buy good garden soil and compost to fill this bed. We can always move the potted gooseberries if they don’t get enough sun in that spot under the fig. And in the meantime, if I keep topping it up with manure, the worms in time will rouse up the whole bed, drag down the manure, and mix it all up nicely for us without any need for heavy digging – or that’s the plan!
Anyway, after all that work, here’s hoping we get a couple of gooseberries this year! Last summer the birds had them all!