Good gardeners always look ahead, so with the soft fruit all but finished we must plan for next year’s even more brilliant harvest.

Nature can always get on without our help.

A self-sown blackcurrant quite near our fruitcage is left to its own devices and thrives magnificently, spreading metres in every direction. I even have to trim some branches back from a burnside path. Like all our bushes this year, it was laden with fruit.

But the berries were tiny, unlike the plump ones on its cultivated parent or the long, burgeoning strings on our ancient, 19th century redcurrant at the bottom of the garden.

Regular pruning over the years has paid dividends and kept us well supplied with delicious redcurrant wine.

For starters, keeping a bush healthy is vital. Whatever the age or type of plant, the first step is to remove dying and poorly fruiting branches.

And be sure to give strawberries a good haircut – no lockdown restrictions here. Use secateurs to remove all this year’s foliage and old fruiting stems, leaving a bare 7-8cm high crown. Fresh leaves emerge within a week or two -– promise!

You also ensure good health by keeping fruit bushes well-shaped. So remove spindly little branches emerging in the centre. Aim for a goblet design, with 4 or 5 main branches forming a perimeter round an open centre.

But keep an eye out for stronger young branches that you’ll need to replace old ones.

Let a newcomer grow on for a year or two before making the change.

Remove any inward-facing stems. And since the main branches should be fan-shaped, remove any crossing and touching stems. Shorten branch and stem length by up to one third, particularly those growing downwards.

Fresh stems from the base of trained cordon and fan-shaped fruit should also be removed, and prune to maintain the basic shape. With fans, cut back laterals to the desired length and similarly with cordons.

Redcurrants and gooseberries fruit on mature wood, so the more of that you remove, the smaller next year’s crop will be

Blackcurrants fruit on one year old as well as mature wood, so remove two thirds of older branches to allow for a larger proportion of fresh ones.

For a good crop, always retain one third of the mature wood.

The raspberry family, including loganberries, Tayberries and the rest, behave quite differently and, with the exception of autumn raspberries, only fruit on fresh canes or branches. So cut all fruited stems down to ground level.

With rasps, aim for six of the strongest stems for next year. So, to ensure against any possible winter damage, select the eight or nine strongest ones, loosely tying them to the wires.

Autumn raspberries are pruned at the end of winter, harvesting from fresh canes.

When removing old canes in February, you could retain two or three and they would produce fruit in summer.

This is possible if you’re limited for space. Otherwise, grow both types of plant and remove all fruited canes annually.

With bush raspberries, cut out all the old stems to prevent congestion: thriving plants produce a prodigious young forest every year and that too needs thinning.

And never clip soft fruit bushes like a hedge or simply shorten raspberry canes.

To my horror, someone I know did this to an autumn variety one summer and wondered why she had no crop.

Late summer/early autumn pruning helps maintain healthy, well-shaped plants and while it improves the quality of next year’s harvest, you get larger gooseberries by shortening fruiting spurs in early spring.

But a few soft fruit bushes, like blueberries need virtually no pruning.

Plant of the week

Hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis, bears deep blue flowers with prominent stamens that are attractive to all sorts of bees. The aromatic foliage has culinary uses. Dead head and in March prune back to shape or clip for low hedging.