This week in the garden

The blackcurrant harvest

You can prune your blackcurrants at the same time as picking the fruit. Cut back one third of the stems to the base, or to any strong shoot growing close to it. If you do this, picking the fruit will be easier. Or, if you prefer, you can still leave pruning until the winter, after the leaves have dropped, when you can clearly see the contrast between the new season’s stems and the old ones.

Pruning blackberries

After years of trawling the hedgerows to pick blackberries, I was given a plant by an old boy who had retired from showing. We have it against a west-facing wall in our wildflower garden, out of harm’s way. He described it as ‘exhibition standard’; he was right, as I’ve never seen anything near it for either quality or quantity. But it comes at a price, as it can grow up to 15ft a year in all directions and has wicked thorns. This is the time to control these new sprays, which are best loosely tied to where you’ll want them to replace the old stems. Do this now, while the stems are still soft, and you will save a lot of work in the winter, when the older stems must be removed. If you want an easier option, choose a thornless variety; they’re good in the smaller garden, but produce less fruit, less well-flavoured. No pain, no gain!

Organic pelargoniums

Cut back your regal pelargoniums now, so that they produce new growth ready for taking cuttings in August. This may seem harsh, but is worth the sacrifice for the quality that you’ll get. Our pot plants are as organic as anything else in the garden; by starting the new season with fresh plants, we can control vine weevil and whitefly. Once the cuttings are rooted and potted on, we throw away our old plants; the vine weevils can’t get into the old, carefully washed pots and any whitefly is ejected from the greenhouse with minimal spraying (with a soap-based organic insecticide, in autumn).

Plant names