Extend the raspberry season by growing an autumn variety. There’s a wide selection of these “primocanes”: red, dark red, yellow, all with medium and large-sized fruits. And they do pack a punch and taste sweet and fruity for as long as the sun shines, at least half strongly. They could keep fruiting till at least later October, though you might need a lot of sugar to get much taste by the end of the season.
I’m writing this column with a heavy heart, as you’ll find out later, but don’t be put off – just be careful when picking these mouth-watering beauties.
With limited space, you can prune tasty “autumn” rasps for a longer picking season. The usual practice is to cut old canes to ground level at the end of winter, not immediately after fruiting as with summer cultivars. Fresh canes sprout in spring and fruit from August onwards. Summer fruiting canes start growing early in the season but you have to wait till the following year to get fruit from them.
So try this technique for a longer fruiting season from autumn rasps. When pruning next February, leave half of the canes alone as they will throw out fruiting stems for a summer harvest. 
Cut the remainder down and their new canes will sprout in spring and give you the more usual autumn fruit.
And my heavy heart? I’ve just been discharged from the Borders General’s intensive care ward where the doctors and nurses have firmly told me to “stay away from raspberries”.
The story starts after I had picked a bowl of rasps, and put them on the kitchen table while I went to the fridge for some yoghurt. A lurking wasp then lay hidden beneath the yoghurt till I innocently consumed the wretched insect along with my rasps. What I had called a “gardeners’ friend” in a recent column here turned into the “menace” described by a friend afterwards.
The vengeful wasp stung the back of my tongue before being consigned to my stomach’s unwelcoming hell. 
My tongue quickly swelled till I could scarcely breathe or speak intelligibly. The hospital’s A&E staff jumped immediately to my rescue and an overnight stay put me on my feet. Thank you Borders General! 
So do pick and eat rasps but check ‘em over carefully. We’re not the only ones that enjoy a tasty nibble.


Plant of the week

Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’ or small globe thistle, has open, airy and intensely blue flowerheads that are extremely attractive to every species of bee and many moths. Once the colour fades, leave the developing seedheads to give height and structure to the border when other plants are collapsing and dying back. You may be lucky enough to attract gold or other finches to eat the seeds.
Echinops need well drained soil and an open, sunny spot.


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