Monday, 28 April 2014

The dance of the raspberry

The McFlowers Wedding Pavlova - Photo by the lovely Robyn
Why a dance? Well why not. I've been thinking muchly these few days about raspberries. They often enter my thoughts as a fresh fruit and particularly a raspberry pavlova is one of the few things that will get me all weak at the knees. In fact as you can see, we had a huge 16 egg one for our wedding cake, with eggs donated from a local friends hens and of course, raspberries.  For a decent pavlova you require decent eggs and decent raspberries. Indecent fruit or eggs will just not do, believe me I know a thing or two about these type of things, shady past that I've had. But decent ones perform better and a decent recipe never goes amiss so here's our 'family' one here, complete with secret ingredients.

Its approximately a month until we up sticks and head 'doon sooth' to Fife. Whilst that's sad in some ways in others, like decent eggs, its exciting. Why the eggs adding to the excitement? Well as much as I often visit the 'ladies' we've rehomed, I miss having chooks. They are the ultimate in 'garden pets' I think, most perfect household recycling machines and I am looking forward to having some again once we're moved. The garden I have always thought, should be a productive place, so that's the remit for the 'under offer' garden we're currently pursuing.

The other thing that's making me dance is the idea of a productive edible garden, my plants are forced to work hard for me and I reward them by scoffing them. Not much in it for them really, aside a happy well tended (short) life and a psychotic hungry gardener to hide from. Raspberries will form a good first attack contingent of this, so therefore, some dancing, Polka's or otherwise never goes a miss. People rain dance, I raspberry dance. And as my birthday looms, the children (trained well) ask for requests as they know I like a good fuss, and fussing soon it will be time for April is the best month for birthdays. So they ask what I want - the manchild has been 'selected' as their joint spokesperson for the birthday negotiation.

'Fruit' I say.

'Fruit you say mither dear ' - [Pauses] 'hmm, rasps, first of course - you're thinking pav?'

'Yes I am! Those will do nicely love'.

'Autumn fruiting or a mixture' - he ponders.

'Autumn I think love, thanks all the same but I'm a lazy type'.

'Never said a word' he quips, 'Lets just call you 'efficient''.

You've got to love a young man who not only knows what would be the first fruit of choice for a new productive garden guided by first pudding of choice. And, he also knows his raspberries, he's been well versed (brainwashed) and autumn fruiting types, who rather helpfully fruit on 'primocane' the newly grown stems**of this season, so don't need much in the way of staking or tying. Once established they need little management and if you're canny will crop from the old wood early prior to the 'proper crop' in late summer. Two crops, one season, no faffing, that will do nicely.  I've read alot of good things lately about 'Polka' (both a raspberry and a dance), the first, parented by my favourite 'Autumn Bliss' said to be a heavy cropper and very disease resistant with a good flavour. 

So dear reader we will be doing the dance of the raspberry thanks to my children. I may keep them a while yet, as long as the fruit keeps coming. In return I just grow the fruit, feed the (future) hens and maybe ask my son nicely to help make the first pavlova of the new kitchen. He's just mastered his aunty Claire's (tame family chef) recipe and he's rather good at it. Clever chap on all counts. Teaching your kids to cook (anything) makes for a life long love of food.

**main crop raspberries fruit on 2nd year growth so require more help by staking and pruning to get a good crop. They're fun but not in my opinion as easy for the lazy gardener like myself, so I buy autumn fruiting types and save myself a bit of work.

After all that means more time eating pavlova and, we'll need an 'anniversary pavlova' this year, so making it with our very own rasps and eggs is a must in the new garden. Just saying.

[As I'm dragging myself into the 21st century I've just created a Wind and Wellies facebook page - I wonder if you'll be so wonderful as to pop over and join me?]


  1. Pure brilliant! Intricately woven layers of love. And I don't just mean the hens!

    1. That boy likes a good feed and kens fine where his bread is buttered, the eggs are free range (and free) and is pavlova's bejeweled with raspberries. The ex-cellist left a forest of raspberries in the living room this morning. And, a conker tree. The birthday note read - 'Freaking Tree - any idea how hard it is to hide a tree in your bedroom?'

      Dats ma girl.

  2. Happy birthday raspberries! ;-) xxxx

    1. Oh I'm a lucky girl - the manchild at university bought a selection of autumn rasps for me and they're being delivered to a chums on the mainland. Canny lad. The lass bought conkers and raspberries (not in the same pot). Being a birthday treat she removed the label from the conker to make it more sporting.

      Thank you my birthday raspberries appear to be a slumbering but happy and healthy.

      Cheers for popping by.

  3. I've just taken on a new allotment and I've been left lots of lovely fruit. There's plenty of raspberries, Glen Ample, which is summer fruiting, and I don't know the other variety but it's a gold one and I think it's probably autumn fruiting. I've done really well for fruit on the new plot with rhubarb, currants, though not sure whether they're black, red or white yet, strawberries, a gooseberry and a blackberry. I'm hoping for a good harvest this year.

    1. Hey Jo - that's a great haul - we've just put an offer in on a house which has a decent sized garden. The only thing I know for sure is that it has an apple tree and a rowan. So I've asked the kids for rasps. (and got rasps and a bonus conker). Glen Ample is a fabby variety - one of the most prolific in Scotland its the most common grown by the commercial growers.. Isn't that the spine free one? I love those large fruits its quite early isn't mid-late July? I love that all the Scottish Rasps have the name 'Glen' infront of them. :) My daughters just bought me Glen Magna which is supposed to have a really long fruiting season according to Gardening Which trials. - she tells me she chose it for the reddest fruits.

      Good luck with the fruits - sounds like you're on for a bumper crop.

  4. The perfect birthday present! I quite agree about the superior nature of autumn fruiting raspberries. I read good things about polka too, so chose them for this garden, they are prolific, enormous and delicious. They never last long enough to make it into a pavlova...

    1. I was quite alarmed by the Conker tree (well you can eat chestnuts can't you Mum - erm not that kind but thank you!)

      I'm glad you're polka-ing too - do you have to dance when you eat them or just kind of shimmy?

      Enormous and Delicious I can really cope with.

      The new garden has one remit - PRODUCTIVE whether that's food/fuel/etc its going to have to earn its keep.

      The idea of rasps not lasting til a pavlova makes me giggle. I have to say as an ex 'Berry picker' (where I come from all of the school kids picked berries in the summer) I can't stand the site of fruit until it reaches the kitchen. Eating outside I've conditioned myself is a no no - too many days on the berry bus home feeling squeamish (too many rasps/straws) and not enough money!

      The best pickers never ate them and came home loaded.

  5. Hi,

    I am kinda in the same boat, moving house and garden! Having to move house was not my choice, but onwards and upwards, although you have a longer distance to move. Being in the trade as it were I have got my hands on some large troughs and am planting them up with a bit of everything in the garden, so I can take my sizeable plant collection with me, the plants I can't are coming as cuttings! I'm not sure where we will end up as we've yet to sell the house but it will have another garden, and though I am very sad to leave this place the thought of creating another garden is rather exciting.

    Orkney is lovely, I spent a wonderful holiday there years ago with the kids. Fife is fun too, lots of gardens, those pretty coastal villages and fish and chips! I am half Fifer and can wave to it from my southern shores of West Lothian. I feel a few blog posts coming on about moving house and moving a garden!

    Good luck, look forwards to hearing more about it all, I too am looking forward to amore productive sheltered garden as at present I garden 850 feet above sealevel!