It is great to be on holiday in one of the worlds great cities, Istanbul. I have come to know the city rather well and so can get around very easily. I still feel a great lift when I get here and, I already have a plan of the places I want to see and know the things I enjoy most, like the markets etc. It is a fast pace city but there is time to enjoy the place you are at. You move from Europe to Asia with a very good boat system, this is a ride I really enjoy.



I am so lucky to be working with one of the great photographers, Andrew Montgomery. We are doing a book together. I think the photos that he has taken so far are just perfect. We also get on well which does help, well more he puts up with all my demands. We always have a list of photos that we need and I always have extras that I think could be interesting things for the book, I never tell him what they are till I have made him a cup of tea. Today it meant him walking into the cold water in the Cat Garden to get a shot. It was so funny for me to watch.



I do seem to write a lot about tools but I do like to hear about useful tools and so like to tells about tools that I find good. I am also lucky that Joe here at Dixter does find some very good tools for our shop and shows me his latest find and often asks me to try them out. It is useful to try tools before you sell them. The latest is a small pair of secateurs that fit very well into the palm of my hands, I have found these very useful for the pruning of the soft fruit. They are bit like a standard black and tan dachshund, sharp teeth and a perfect size.



Well the tayberry plants are looking a bit different than they did first thing this morning, it is great to stand back and see and see how much better things look. I have also done what I did with the raspberries and taken out any suckers that are growing into other plants. It is also very important to make sure you get things tied in very well so they will be able to use the wire to support itself in the middle of summer when there is fruit on the plants and suddenly you get the summer winds.


Dead wood

I have moved onto the blackberry like climbers that we have trained up in the fruit cage. I think the first thing you need to do is just have a good look at the plant. Of course it is good to know your plant that you are pruning but by looking you can see what the plant needs. After looking at the plant the next thing I do is take out any old or dead wood. Then open up the plant to allow for new wood and the plant to see the light then  tie in the rest to keep its form in the summer, these berries need support. This photo is the berry before pruning, I will send an after next week.



I got the row of summer raspberries pruned that I wanted to do. It is great to feel that you have time to do the extras on a job, like lifting and sorting out the row and getting better order in the cage. I just hope that I will have the time in summer to remove any suckers that come up. If I can now keep on top of the area it will be even easier this time next year. It is also a good way of thinning out the forget-me-nots, it was great to see more taken for the borders today, still lots to thin out.



I have moved from the pears to the raspberries, that is the summer raspberries. We take out all the growth that is two years old, from the summer before last. And then last years growth is tied to the wire. These will be cut to the ground next winter, it is easy to know which ones need taking out because they are the ones tied up. It is also a good time to lift the suckers and move them into the row if they are good strong plants, if you do not do this the row becomes very wide, in a few years they would cover a large area. I have seen them do this in the mountains in Switzerland



I am very glad that a lot of the winter digging is behind me because the soil is far too wet to get on with all this rain. Of course there is still a lot to do this time of the year. I was very happy to work on the espalier pears today that we are going to use in the high garden as the trees up there die with old age and competition. I had to re-tie some of the branches, it is a very useful thing with the winter wind we have had, it is also now that you can have a good look at the shape without leaves on. They do seem to be in good shape.



Rain rain go away. I have to say I have seen enough of the rain, the flood plains are now covered in water, at least the water birds are happy. There is really now way that we can go on the soil now. There is a new thin row that I can dig over. There was a row of lettuce there before Christmas. The slugs ate them over this rainy period. There was no point putting down organic pellets, with all the rain they would not have lastered. I do like the organic pallets but they do break down a lot faster. Well the slugs needed Christmas lunch.



It was great to wake up today (always good to wake up) and see the white of a light frost from my window. I hope this is a start of some cold weather to kill off some of the bugs that are still out and about. We still have bat’s out the front of the house at sunset. There is still white fly on the kale. The frost does give the plants a break which they need at this time of the year. It also means the soft fruit will soon be ready to prune, a job I very much enjoy on a cold sunny day.