The lovely Sharon and I feel a little clueless at times.  We are trying our best to get the garden in shape for the spring which seems to be building with both sap and speed.  Some of the fruit bushes are beginning to bud  and we suspect they should be pruned.   We have a little experience with raspberries but have no experience with blackcurrants or gooseberries.  When I say we have some raspberry experience, what I mean is that we are still relatively clueless about those as well.  When we moved into the cottage in the early autumn we devoured the last of the raspberries that had been un-harvested.  Then all was bare until a month latter when the bushes surged with a new crop.  Apparently there are summer raspberries and autumn raspberries.  We poured over the books and found out that they should be pruned in very slightly different ways.  The autumn ones should be chopped to the ground as if killed and the summer ones should have a similar treatment but a few healthy stalks should be left and only shortened slightly at the top.  For this we attempted to rekindle the old gathering instinct that should be deep in us all.  We walked the garden and tried to remember the harvesting.  Where was the late bounty that we used to pour into our porridge?  One bush I remembered well as it was near the clothes line and it had left an imprint on my mind and the white sheets that I had just washed.

Are these thistles? Are they edible?

Our knowledge is woeful.  Even when we read the books on the gooseberries we pruned with caution.  The blackcurrants looked too healthy to tamper with and I am sure we will regret this.  We just have to put it down to our inexperience.  This inexperience ‘opportunity to learn’ has already cost us a complete harvest of Jerusalem artichokes and cardoons.  The artichokes we had never seen before.  We were convinced in the end but half forgot about them until it was probably too late.  We believe they will come back with vigour and we will harvest them next year.  As for the cardoons; identification was difficult as there is little in the way of references to them.  None of our friends have ever seen them and they are scary looking things. Again, they will grow back but on this particular vegetable we remain a little wary and not totally convinced.

Near the end of the summer the cardoons nearly out grew the greenhouse.