Some raspberry TLC for nitrogen deficiency

Yellowing leaves on raspberries

Yellowing leaves are a tell-tale sign of a nutrient deficiency

Having looked back at some photos of my Polka raspberries from last year, I think they have been suffering from a nitrogen deficiency. Not surprising, since I barely remembered to water, let alone feed, the raspberry canes all year. The tell-tale yellowing leaves didn’t have much of a trace of brown in them, which would suggest a magnesium deficiency. Rather, the pinkish hue that crept into some of the leaves made me pin the lacklustre foliage and yields on a lack of nitrogen.

Usually, I start the year off by dressing the ground around the shallow raspberry roots with some compost, followed on with fresh grass clippings to release nutrients and retain water. Having failed to do either last year, this year I need a quick fix (poultry poop, free range from friends’ pet-only homes), followed by a liberal mulching of well-rotted garden compost for a slower-release supply of nitrogen.

Raspberry plants

The raspberries looked a little healthier, but still weak, earlier in the season

If there’s a magnesium deficiency there, half a cup of Epsom salts diluted in a watering can should do the trick.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a little bit of TLC and a boost in the right nutrients will be just the fix I’m looking for, especially as my mum is ready and waiting in the wings to collect lots of the fruit for her cake baking this year. That’s more than enough motivation in itself to get the plants back in working order!

Changing Seasons, Changing Circumstances

I’m sorry. I’ve been awfully neglectful. I’ve intended to come and write a post, but something always gets in the way; a trip to Birmingham, a desire to steer clear of looking at computer screens at night, a quiet night in at the pub, freelance work… you know how it is.

About two or three weeks ago I took a picture of my butternut squash. There was a flower, which spawned a fruit, which then grew and grew. But I have a feeling it’s not going to get any bigger. I took another picture – it’s only a few inches long. Hmmm. I won’t throw it away, I’ll try and roast it or something. And then do what I usually do – hope I do better next year.

I’ve done some raking of leaves, collecting of crab apples and a bit of tidying here and there, but nothing meaty. I really really need to get hold of some green manure to grow in my sandy plots. They’re just so devoid of any condition or nutrition that I can’t see them being particularly productive next year. My question to you all is this; what is your preferred way of feeding your soil over the winter? I need to know!

The other thing I’ve been struggling with since my last post is a fairly major change to my work life. We found out that we’re moving offices, and the most likely move is going to be 30 miles away, in Northampton. That’s a 60-mile round-trip for me every day. I’m not a happy bunny. There could be a few options; perhaps a home-based contract and the option to go in a few days a week, but that’s not exactly conducive to learning. My role changed three months ago and I’m in a training position, and the best way I can do that is to be with people. Being on my own a lot isn’t really the best way to move forward.

But then being at home a few more days a week will be great for me and my smallest smallholding. It really will. A home-based contract isn’t a given yet, but it’s a real distinct possibility. In many ways, it’s what I wanted for a long time, but now that I’m faced with it, I’m wondering whether it’d be a bad move. I just spend my days flip-flopping between what I think I think about it all.

It doesn’t help that I’ve not been remotely enjoying myself at work lately, it’s been really hard going and I feel a bit demoralised. But I’ve tried to stay positive and see how it goes; new projects and more experience might make it better.

I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be commuting 60 miles in the car every day. I don’t want to stall in my professional development either. And I don’t particularly want to be looking for another job right now, it’s such a bad time.

What to do, what to do…