APART from scratches on my hands, the hour spent picking blackberries recently near a local golf course was very productive, with over six pounds now anticipating its jammy future.

As an unsung free fruit it is often taken for granted, but it’s nutritionally very important. A small cup full provides half the daily vitamin C that we each need, as well as very useful vitamins, fibre and traces of manganese and potassium.

And all at no cost, from the wild bushes marking out field boundaries and from those in our gardens. Indeed every garden in the country should have one and they need very little attention while providing large numbers of berries late on each summer.

Around four out of five houses have a garden of sorts, and even a quarter of flats have access to green spaces which could lead to an enormous amount of soft fruit being grown and consumed by the owners and tenants each year.

Similarly raspberries and red and black currants all fruit a little earlier and again need little attention once sown, apart from picking the ripe fruit. It should be a simple matter for all new houses to have such bushes, plus some rhubarb, as the norm, and the larger gardens should also have an apple and plum tree.

Not only would these trees be producing fruit for a healthy diet, but they would also lock up CO2 as they grow while helping to reduce the incidence of flooding, so making edible use of gardens that are often only used as decoration or a wilderness.

Cubans would be aghast at such a waste of tens of thousands of productive and potentially very fertile patches of land and while we won’t don’t have the climate to grow many food stuffs all the year round, we should certainly encourage berry bushes with their tasty and health supporting fruit.