Discovering a hidden haven in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria, Australia

Berry Bath Surprise!

About three years ago we planted  an old iron bathtub with a couple of unlabeled raspberry canes. In the first couple of years they didn’t do too much, but they did produce a few new canes.  Last year we added fresh organic matter to the bath and planted some strawberries in there too, figuring there was lots of room.

Well, the raspberries exploded with lush new  growth and blocked out the sun from the strawberries, so I thought that was the end for the stawbs. As raspberries are my favourite fruit I wasn’t too upset. After all, it was New Year and I had a bumper crop of raspberries to enjoy!

The berry bath

Well, the fresh raspberries are long gone and the canes were starting to look tired, so after doing a little reading on caring for raspberries,  I carefully pruned off the two year old spent canes a couple of weeks ago. I also gave the remaining plants a good drink of ‘worm tea’ for the heck of it, figuring it might be a good tonic as they headed towards dormancy for the year. I noted that the strawberry plants were looking quite healthy and had even managed a couple of buds, but didn’t think much more of it.

But a couple of days ago – after confirming that my tomatoes still weren’t ripe (yikes – it’s April!) – I glanced around at the old bathtub.

To my great surprise I saw this…

The raspberry canes have lots of new buds!

And this…

The strawberries are blooming happily and producing fruit!

My brief research has only turned up summer or autumn fruiting varieties of raspberry so far, so if anyone has any clues about a variety that fruits twice in a year (this is the first time they have done it, but the plant is only three years old) I’d be very interested to learn more!

Stawberries that are happy to be neglected.

…I’m just a bit worried now that the plants that are performing best in my garden are the ones that I am not paying attention to!

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Comments on: "Berry Bath Surprise!" (30)

  1. Don’t know what’s available in Australia, but there are everbearing raspberries and blackberries AND strawberries here in Canada. I think actually one of the everbearing strawberry cultivars was developed here in Nova Scotia at the Kentville Agricultural Station, but I might be mistaken. Whatever the case, yay for blossoms and soon-to-be berries.

    • Hello Jodi – thanks for the tip, searching with the word ‘everbearing’ did turn up a bit more information. I was able to confirm that we do have everbearing raspberries in Australia, but I haven’t been able to find specific named cultivars beyond ‘everbearing’ so far. Still, the prospect of another round of berries is very exciting!

  2. I would LOVE to have an old bathtub in which to plant flowers or berries. I love that you did this. How exciting to have two surprises – blooming rasberries and strawberries 🙂

    • Hi Noelle – we actually ended up with the berries in the bath more out of fear of the canes taking off than anything else. Much as I do love raspberries and know that they don’t tend to spread like blackberries do, my experience with the blackberries put me off the idea of planting them directly in the garden!

  3. Yay for worm tea! Your raspberries look great! I can’t help with Australian varieties. We grow two ever-bearing varieties here, Summit & Heritage, but I doubt those are adapted to your climate, or even necessarily available where you are. I hope you find some though!

    • Hi CV, thanks for more helpful leads. I’ve just looked up those varieties and did come up with some matches for ‘Heritage’ is Oz, but the information I’ve found refers to this as a variety that only fruits in autumn here, so I’m not sure if it is the same one.
      That information did lead me to a berry farm site that referred to the Nootka and Williamette varieties as summer fruiting with an autumn ‘tip’ crop, so now I think I’m getting closer to the mark!

  4. I suspect those are everbearers, Heidi, which can bear small crops over an extended season, rather than a huge crop all at once (here the latter are called June bearers and are more popular with the large farms because it costs less to hire help for picking merely for a short term.) My only experience with everbearing strawberries was with my grandmother’s patch, where a relatively nice crop would come in early in the summer, followed by a couple of stragglers, and then the plants would regroup for a smaller fall production, rather like Bourbon roses.

    Your strawberries look amazingly healthy and like they’re enjoying that worm tea in their bath big time!

    • Hi Meredith – thanks for more hints – I think I’m going to see if I can find out more about the Nootka and Williamette varieties. I wonder if you get those varieties over in your area? All of these wonderful responses are like treasure hunt clues helping me hone in on my berries!
      I’m ridiculously excited about them – and to top it off a couple of strawberries are starting to blush! I know where all the worm tea is going to go for the next couple of weeks 🙂

  5. hehe, Berry Bath. I love it!

    I always told hubby we should get a few toilets and grow some flowers in there, but he’s realllllly against that idea.

    I guess a bath tub is a bit more “acceptable.” LOL!

    Yes there are some nice ever-bearing berries here. I’m going to try some this year because I’m sick of the June cropping strawberries. Besides they are old plants and need to be replaced anyway.

    • Hello Ceara – I’ve a friend who grows succulents in an old toilet bowl!
      The bath was left over when we renovated our house. Apart from it being iron and more than a little on the heavy side to move, it was one of those things we hung on to because it would be ‘good for something’ – and so it was!
      Good luck with your new berries!

  6. I know our raspberries in Virginia used to fruit both late spring and late summer, with the first flush usually being the big one. They are my favorite fruit too. I will ask my stepfather what variety he has been planting all these years, there is a chance this didn’t happen by chance.

    • Hi Jess – I would be very interested to know what variety he grew – as the pattern of a bigger crop followed by a smaller crop sounds like it might fit. I am so looking forward to a bowl of fresh raspberries!

  7. I echo previous comments about the ever-bearing varieties. Mine fruit twice: early summer and fall. Sometimes they don’t make it in the fall if we have an early frost. Love the bathtub.

    • Hi Pam, thanks for the extra info about the frosts – if these continue to do this in late March / early April I should be ok, as our frosts don’t usually come in this early. Having said that, it will be good to know what might happen if we do get early frosts!

  8. I love your bathtub berry idea. This would be great for small gardens to keep the raspberries under control – and you could even plant under the tub.

    • Hello Sylvana – I must find something to plant under the tub…we’ve got it in a fairly narrow space so I’ve been racking my brain about what might fit without sprawling!

  9. SummerHouseArt said:

    I must admit this is a great new use for an old bathtub. I’ve got lemon balm growing in an old washer tub for the same reason, to keep it from spreading. But I really need to find out more about this “worm tea”. It looks like something I need here. Helen at Summer House

  10. Hello Helen and thanks for dropping by! I do like the idea of the washer tub for lemon balm too, or for spearmint which I love but need to keep contained!
    ‘Worm tea’ is magic stuff – if you have a peek at some of my worm ‘farming’ links in the sidebar there are some good resources for getting started there 🙂

  11. I have always loved the pretty little strawberry blooms, they look like tiny roses! I also have everbearing strawberries (Mara de Bois) and I get some fruit twice a year, but not constantly all season. I think you have an everbearing in your tub. I love the old bathtub for a planter!

    • Hi Laurrie – I was so caught up with my raspberries that I wasn’t even paying the strawbs much heed (shame on me!) I must see if I can work out what they are, as they seem happy to produce for me too! I’m guessing I probably need to do something about netting in a bit of a hurry to as theya re starting to ripen already!

  12. I would never have though about growing raspberries in an old bathtub. I may have to be on the lookout for one. Thanks for the idea.

  13. I am completely jealous! No way will raspberries grow in my climate, and I gave up on strawberries after trying and failing several times. And yours grow happily with little attention, though I am sure they loved the worm tea. Enjoy your fresh fruit!

    • Oh Deborah I know – it’s not fair is it?! I guess that’s the advantage of living in a temperate climate – I can be an ignorant gardener and my plants still look after me!

  14. Love the bath tub

  15. Dear GG, I hate to say this but, in my own experience, it is always those things in the garden one neglects, or indeed abandons, which somehow continue to thrive as opposed to those plants on which one lavishes one’s all and which, at least for me, give up the ghost and die!

    Your raspberries [a favourite of mine too] and strawberries look to be positively flourishing in their bath tub. I suspect it is all that ‘worm’ tea. What, I wonder, goes into it? Does it work for humans too?

    Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my latest posting to which I have replied. I am subscribing to follow you by email so that I will not miss out on future postings [and may even get to eat the fruit – virtually!].

    • Hello Edith and thank your for your lovely comments.
      It may surprise you to learn that what goes into ‘worm tea’ at my place is a lot of banana skins and egg shell. Via the worms of course. It’s not pretty, but the plants love it. On the other hand, I’m not sure that you would find it a refreshing brew!
      I will indeed be sharing some virtual fresh berries – if the birds are kind enough to leave us some!

  16. oh crap, I forgot to ask. I will ask tomorrow when talk to folks for Easter 🙂

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