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Fruit pruning, training and maintenance

Strawberries. After fruiting, remove mulching material and runners not required for propagation, then cut all the leaves off so just the crown is left.

Raspberries (summmer fruiting). Remove all canes which have borne fruit when they have finished, and restrict number of new canes to 6-8 per stool, removing the rest. Tie in to wire framework, and in spring prune back canes to about 6 ft (1.8 m).

Raspberries (autumn fruiting, and new canes). Cut all canes down to ground level in spring.

Blackberries and hybrid berries. Remove fruited canes and train those required to fruit the following year into a fan-shape. As new canes grow up in the summer, tie together in the middle of the fan. Then, in the autumn, cut out the old canes in the fan, and train in the new ones, thinning out and shortening back if necessary.

Gooseberries, red currants and white currants. These should initially be trained to grow on a short, single leg to facilitate picking. In winter cut back the growing point of each branch by half and shorten back side shoots to a node about 3 in. (75 mm) from the main branch. Remove weak, diseased, badly placed and crossing branches and those growing into tbe centre.

On bushes more than three years old reduce all side and main shoots to five leaves in autumn.

Gooseberries and red arid white currants can be trained as single, double or triple cordons if space is short. These are supported by wires, a fence or a wall. They are best bought trained, and pruning will then consist of reducing all the side shoots to 5 leaves in June, then reducing them to two buds the following winter. Shorten back the leader in winter by one-third until it reaches the required height, then treat it in the same way as a side shoot.

Blackcurrants. These are grown as a multi-stemmed ‘stool’. After planting, prune the whole bush down to ground level. Many new shoots will come up from the base. The first winter following, it is not necessary to prune except to remove weak, crossing, dead and overcrowded wood. In subsequent years, remove all fruited wood, leaving only strong, unfruited stems. If there are not many of these coming up from the bottom, prune to a new shoot down the stem of the fruited branch.

Spacing distances for newly planted soft fruit plants

Strawberries: 15-18 in. (375-450 mm) between plants, 30 in. (750 mm) between rows.

Raspberries: 18 in. (450 mm) apart, 6 ft (1.8 m) between rows.

Blackberries, loganberries, etc. 6-12 ft (1.8-3.5 m) apart depending on variety, 6-7 ft (1.8-2 m) between rows. Blackcurrants, red and white currants, gooseberries, 5—6 ft (1.5-1.8 m) between bushes, 6 ft (1.8 m) between rows.

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