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Delayed Gratification

February 5, 2012

The idea of seed to table farming or gardening can be summed up in two words.  Delayed gratification.  Depending on what you’re growing to eat, whether it’s that first tomato or a steer you raised yourself, growing food takes time, and a series of carefully timed tasks to bring you to harvest.

Meeker raspberry.

I like berries.  And berries like it here.  Acidic soils and plentiful rain make berries a great long-lived perennial that should be in the soft fruit garden.  They taste good, are good for you and are easy to harvest.  I like to freeze them as they come off the vine, no washing and smushing and they will come out of the freezer during winter with that heady summer scent that takes you back to the dog days of July.  If you’re so inclined,  jam or canned berries  are a great long-term storage method for the harvest too.

June bearing raspberries bear on one year old canes, so after the first crop you will have dead canes and new canes that matured during the growing season.  To keep your berry patch in good shape, you want to prune out the old canes, and select the healthiest of the new canes for the current years crop.  The photo above shows from left to right, a two-year old dead cane, a one year healthy looking cane, and a one year old puny looking cane.

To make the job go faster, I usually try to work production into the equation.  I cut out all the old canes, and then select the best five or six canes per hill for tying up.

A great place to use up some of that hay twine.

The final step is fertilizing.  Bedding from the chicken greenhouse is great for this.  It’s light and easy to move, and the perfect blend of nitrogen and carbon for side dressing the berry plants.

Now all we have to do is wait for summer!

30 Comments leave one →
  1. February 5, 2012 9:22 pm

    Matron this is the stupidest question you’ve ever gotten but you don’t trellis them? you tie 5 or 6 of them together and let them ramble out the top in all directions like a bouquet? Which is just about the most brilliant thing I’ve ever heard. And the simplicity suits me completely.

    • February 5, 2012 10:02 pm

      Annette, they are tied to a wire for support, I clip the tops about 6 inches above the wire. As you can see they really fill out as the season progresses.

  2. February 5, 2012 10:15 pm

    What is the benefit of bundling them? Now I wonder if I could get away with doing that and not building a trellis…

    • February 5, 2012 10:48 pm

      Annette, they get so heavy with fruit that I prop the bundles up sometimes with forked tree limbs, if they weren’t tied to the wire they would be on the ground and in slugville 😦 Everbearing raspberries might suit you better. They need no trellis, but they don’t produce as much as the June bearing. I grow both. One for pantry, one for snacking.

      • February 5, 2012 11:07 pm

        I usually trellis but your bundling technique intrigued me. I have Tulameen and several others but we just moved and I haven’t built the trellises yet. It sounds like I still need them after all. It is crazy how much fruit they pump out!! and yet never enough. 🙂

        • February 6, 2012 5:59 am

          Annette, yes never enough raspberries! My rows look like commercial plantings – cedar posts, 4′ high singe berry wire and hills of berry plants, the only difference I leave the grass and don’t use herbicide.

  3. February 5, 2012 10:33 pm

    Ah, yes, another job I can do now! Thanks for the reminder and the tips!

  4. A.A. permalink
    February 5, 2012 11:56 pm

    You make waiting for summer sound so easy!

    • February 6, 2012 5:59 am

      AA, gosh it’s been like summer here for the last week, or at least early spring. Still kinda nippy at night though 😦

      • A.A. permalink
        February 6, 2012 7:38 am

        Oh that’s odd. We had a cold spell at the same time, now it’s turned into a more of a roller coaster. It looked like our goat would kid on one of the coldest days of winter, but I called it too early. Our raspberries are all the wild perennial variety. We’ve been giving them some rejuvenating cow therapy! It seems all sides enjoy it as much 🙂

  5. February 6, 2012 2:42 am

    I keep trying to grow raspberries here but they don’t seem to do so well in our heat and poor soil.

    • February 6, 2012 6:03 am

      Becky, that sounds tricky – you might try looking on Local Harvest for u pick farms and find out what variety they grow. Market gardeners usually grow good varieties that produce well, which is perfect for the home preserver. They like lots of manure too, so maybe you can build your soil up enough support a berry patch 🙂

  6. February 6, 2012 4:10 am

    Great post! My wife and I were just chatting yesterday about wanting raspberries in he garden this year. Sounds like while we will be planting then in 2012…likely no berries till 2013. Good to know, thanks!

  7. jenj permalink
    February 6, 2012 5:56 am

    Sometimes it’s absolute torture coming to this site. You show pictures of the most beautiful, delicious-looking raspberries… which simply WILL NOT grow where I live. Our soil is so basic that it’s hopeless. And I don’t buy fruit that’s not local, so… I must look at your pictures and drool.

    • February 6, 2012 6:10 am

      Jenj, awww, sorry 😦 This is berry and cabbage country, so it’s pretty easy to get a good crop.

  8. Ginny permalink
    February 6, 2012 8:34 am

    You’ve motivated me to get to work on my raspberries! I’m going to try tying the canes together. I’ve been tying them to the wire individually, but they slide out of place and get very unruly. Why do you clip the tops above the wire? Thanks!

    • February 6, 2012 2:03 pm

      Ginny, if you clip the tops the side shoots push more lateral growth and more berries 🙂 Pruning out the weak canes directs more growth too, so only save your most vigorous canes and you should see a better response.

  9. February 6, 2012 8:40 am

    I think our farm is held together with bungee cords and that same hay twine! 😉

    After you’ve done all of that tidying and tying, how do you keep the darn deer from eating your canes once they start to leaf out?

    • February 6, 2012 2:02 pm

      Michelle, mine too!

      Well, notice the black tri “monster” by the wheelbarrow – he guards the berries in return for free munching rights!

  10. February 6, 2012 10:12 am

    This is a great post on berry production…not to mention a delicious lesson in delayed gratification with your great photos! I really like what you said about the hefty amount of side dressing. M and M or mulch and manure really help our berries. I will try your pruning and tying technique this year. Thanks!

  11. February 6, 2012 11:15 am

    They grow lots of raspberries around Bellingham, so you see the farmers working on the canes each year. They are almost artistic in the way they tie up the new canes to produce the next summer. – Margy

    • February 6, 2012 2:00 pm

      Margy, I know same here, acres of beautiful berries on the way to town. Much more interesting to see than town!

  12. February 6, 2012 2:11 pm

    Chicken coop mucking isn’t too hot for the canes?

    • February 6, 2012 4:16 pm

      Woody, I deep bed them so it isn’t straight manure, but you’re right straight chicken poop would be too much 🙂

  13. February 8, 2012 6:45 pm

    Pretty much the same here except for the bundling. This year other things were happening and I will have to take care of the berries first thing in spring. Bummer, I like to have them all ready to go. You should also d a post on keeping them inline…..I hate waste and have a hard time getting rid of healthy excess plants. Last year the rogues went rogue….they like to ramble, even when well taken care of.

  14. Janet permalink
    February 9, 2012 9:23 am

    as always, great information and tips. Loved the tip about checking the u pick local farms and seeing what variety they grow. Excellent tip!

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