The tribe has spoken
Frosty lichen covered berry post.
Thanks everyone, for the vote of confidence. I guess people really do read this blog. I owe you a little news – the insurance adjuster is coming to look at the greenhouses tomorrow today. I’m sure just to confirm that they will not cover them, but at least, then we can decide how to proceed after the visit. Ruth Less’ true love called tonight last night under the ruse of selling me some hay, since I had asked his Dad if they might sell some…usually they don’t. But, I think he is willing to make a special concession for us Poor Guy – he had to talk to me, and we don’t need hay, but I did find out their insurance company has wiggled out of paying too. They lost a good sized pole barn, and suffered some equipment damage. So I was able to give him some information about disaster relief payment for clean-up, so at least he got something out of the phone call. Someone was lurking and hanging on my every word too, I barely remember those days…
But, on to a gardening post. The one thing I do prune, is raspberries. I think raspberries are our favorite berry, and the easiest to grow. So while my other small fruits are crying out for attention, the raspberries always get done.
We are were supposed to get snow tonight last night, so I was hoping to get this done while it was still dry.
Around here commercial growers prune and tie up their raspberries in the fall, but I prefer to wait, a lot can happen to the canes over winter, and waiting just insures that you have more canes to select from.
Of course, it helps to have the berry eating dogs close at hand.
While it may be easy to decide what berries you want to eat, growing them may actually be a different story, due to climate and soil constraints. Look around, and see what berries farmers are selling in your area. It would be a good bet, that they would grow good in your garden too.
When I decided to renovate and add to our farmstead, there were no berries of any kind except a few bushes here and there that had survived. I have moved the location of this garden several times, for different reasons. All which had good points and bad points. At first I saved all the old plant varieties that I could, none have any names, most I don’t use, but they are still growing here. Next, I concentrated on buying stock for what I wanted to eat – what we ended up with are raspberries, blueberries, kiwi, and strawberries. Each requires different treatment and growing conditions. I have had successes and failures with each. My present berry “garden” is on an old building site, specifically a shop. As plants mysteriously die, I have to really dig deep in my mind’s eye to remember exactly what part of the shop located there? Granary, light plant battery storage, harness room, oil and gas storage are some of the possibilities. So you see why I have soil problems. At this point we have decided to live with the gaps and make the remaining plants more productive. Our never ending deer problem requires that we have the berries close to the house where the dogs can keep the deer at bay.
A word about exotics, I have decided to quit bringing in things that are not native. I know I have the kiwi’s, and that is where it stops. I only have to look around to see non-native invasives everywhere. Namely, Himalayan Blackberry (thanks Luther!), English Ivy, Scotch Broom, Tansy Ragwort, and now Buddleia is added to the list. One Green World is close to my house, and a trip there, or a glance at their catalog makes me drool. But, for now I will stay with my plain ol’ regulation berries and fruits. I don’t want a designer garden, I want to eat, and in some form have an interpretive restoration of the original fruits from my farm’s pioneer days, that is as far as my futzing in going to go.
One year old composted chicken litter.
Before I begin a project like this I gather my materials. Even if I work by myself, I do the work in a production manner. Which means, I break the job up into smaller jobs, and finish each “job” before moving on to the next. I wanted to prune, tie and fertilize the raspberries this past weekend. Not a big job, but once it is done, I don’t really do much except mow in between the rows, until harvest time.
♣ Prune out dead canes from last years production.
♣ Select 5 or 6 healthy canes and tie them, and prune.
♣ Prune out canes not needed.
♣ Fertilize for coming growing season.
♥ Compost or fertilizer 16-16-16
Raspberries produce fruit on two year old canes. So you want to stimulate growth and fruiting at the same time during the growing season. Some people shy away from raspberries because they can become unruly, putting on copious amounts of new canes that have to be treated carefully while you are picking your prized fruit. As annoying as those canes may be, be careful with them as they will produce your fruit crop for you next year. Raspberries propagate by sending lateral root shoots out and coming up in a new place. Which makes them an economic homestead plant. You can buy a bundle of plants, and once they are established you can dig up the new plants that come up near your row and start a new row.
When I start, my first job is to cut out all the dead canes that produced fruit last year. They will appear to be gray and the bark may be sloughing or splintering. The canes you want to save for this years fruit production will be tan or reddish and have dormant buds.
After all the dead trash is removed, you can clearly see which canes are the healthiest. Look for the healthiest looking 5 or 6 canes for your hill. Small and spindly canes should be cut out, which will direct the energy to the healthy fruiting canes and cause the plants to send up new shoots.
I have huge gaps in my berry rows due to the prior conditions I described above, and I leave the grass, just mowing in between rows and clumps of raspberries.
After selecting the best, I use our sisal baling twine that I have saved for this purpose for tying the canes to the wire. I like the sisal because I can’t see it once it weathers, it will last a year and then will bio-degrade, and we have enough of the orange plastic crap tying gates on, much to my chagrin. :O
After I have tied all the raspberries, I top them about a foot above the wire. This forces more lateral fruit producing branches, which will push from each leaf node. See photo below.
Makes me miss summer… Meeker raspberry
When I have finished tying and topping, I add liberal amounts of compost. Even though you’re trying to grow fruit, you need nitrogen too, to produce new vegetative growth for your perennial berry patch. Commercial growers use Triple 16 (16-16-16) just like you can use for pastures. I wouldn’t fret about the commercial fertilizer if you don’t have compost. Some kind of fertilizer is better than none. Blood and bone meal, fish meal, feather meal, and plant derived nitrogen such as alfalfa have their place too, just concentrate on getting your berry patch going. I have also just put stall cleanings on during the winter too, just because I needed a place to dump it, and that was fine too.
Since we like raspberries so much, I grow the everbearing variety too. The July bearing plants set fruit in large quantities for preserving, and then they are done. But the everbearing raspberries will produce until fall frosts or rains do them in. We like these just for casual eating. They are easy to care for, and we can just pick berries and eat them right away. No extra energy required for storage, just pick and eat. Everbearing raspberries are a great low tech season extender.
Everbearing raspberries will produce a little, all season long, or you can cut them to the ground in the spring, and they will send up canes that will have a larger crop in late summer and fall. They are sturdy and don’t require tying. But, you will have an unruly berry patch, but oh, such a delight too. So the messy look is OK, if you love the berries.
Fallgold is a very prolific variety, but was too sweet for us, so we gave away all our plants. But they are hardy, because they still come up. So we have a mix of red Heritage and Fallgold in our everbearing patch. I want to plant more of the Heritage, it produces firm, tart berries, that are just the antidote for the fall blues around here.
After cutting the canes to the ground, apply liberal compost and sit back and wait for fall berry harvest.
After finishing your berry patch, come in the house and have a treat!