Beautiful berries 
In late summer the allotment is a masterpiece of taste, and berries are the stars. Sharp and sweet raspberries, purple blackberries, juicy strawberries and many others are so easy to cultivate that even beginners can’t go wrong.

Bowls full of strawberries 
Every allotment needs strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa). These unfussy plants grow happily in any reasonable, well-drained soil. Digging in some homemade compost prior to planting helps, but where feeding is concerned ‘less is more’ so avoid soil pre-loaded with nitrogen-based fertilisers or you will achieve beautiful, healthy plants with shiny leaves but a disinclination to fruit. Adding a light touch of potash is, however, helpful. A sprinkle of wood ash works well and chopped comfrey leaves (Symphytum officinale) are a good alternative. Planting bare root runners in spring or early autumn is the best way to start strawberries. These are bedraggled looking scraps, but they quickly grow if you plant them, with their roots spread out, at around 20cm to 30cm apart and keep them moist. As it happens, now is an excellent time to order runners.

Only three things can possibly go wrong with strawberries and all can be solved. First, avoid waterlogged soil or a lack of airflow because this promotes mould. Second, fruit resting directly on the ground will spoil so a barrier of straw, cardboard or landscape fabric is required. Third, birds and mice love strawberries, so netting, padlocks and decoys are essential. For predictable strawberries all summer long you’ll need early, mid and late fruiting varieties. ‘Alice’ and ‘Elsanta’ are good earlies; ‘Florence’ and ‘Cambridge Favourite’ fruit mid-season and for late season ‘Fenella’ or ‘Symphony’ work well. With so many varieties available most plotters just plant whatever attracts them and enjoy the fruit whenever it decides to appear.

Scottish Gardener:

Deep purple blackberries
Blackberries (Rubus fruticosis), which are related to raspberries (Rubus idaeus), are another great luxury. These behave a bit like unconstrained raspberries, having lots more growth, jaggier thorns and bigger, darker fruits. Both raspberries and blackberries are grown in a similar way. Both should be planted as bare roots in winter into a well-drained site with plenty of sun. The important thing to remember is that there are two types of blackberries and raspberries. These are ‘primocanes’ and ‘floricanes.’ Primocanes are simple, these set fruit on first year growth, the fruit is enjoyed, all growth is cut to the ground in winter, and the cycle starts up again in spring.

‘Floricanes’ are slightly trickier as they set fruit on second year growth. The key to success here is to cut back only the oldest growth after it has fruited and to leave the younger first year growth.

The simplest way to keep track is to point all growth yet to fruit in one direction and all the older, previous year’s growth in the opposite direction. Anything that has fruited gets cut down afterwards and the rest is left alone.

‘Reubens’ is a good primocane blackberry and both ‘Black butte’ and ‘Karaka’ are recommended floricanes.

Both ‘Polka’ or ‘Joan J’ are primocane raspberries or you could try a floricane such as ‘Glen Ample’. Yellow raspberries are also available and these are delicious.

Ruby red jewels
Blackcurrants and Red currants are further allotment gems that happily produce berries with minimum attention, apart from some light pruning in winter. Both yield fruit on older wood so don’t run amok with the saw and only cut off really old branches and no more than one third of the bush at any one time. Always allow some younger branches to survive to grow on and mature for future years.  

And roses….
Interest in wild food has never been higher and growing your own wild berries on the allotment is a good way to participate. For example, wild roses provide gorgeous edible hips in shades of dark red through to orange and are easy to grow. Basically, plant and do nothing. Try the wild dog rose (Rosa canina), the Japanese rose (Rosa rugosa) or the more refined red leaved rose (Rosa glauca). The latter is a very old and truly beautiful plant waiting to be re-discovered