Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Bees, birds and berries

 The strawberry patch is healthy and thriving and loaded with berries this year. It has taken much love and care, but this week we are seeing the pay off. These everbearing varieties put out runners like nobody’s business and in order to get a great crop you have to cut them off whenever and wherever they appear or they drain energy from the actual berry production. When the season winds down, I’ll leave enough to start another row or two because I think that I simply can’t have too many strawberries.



Next, the birds have started to take their toll on the actual crop, so last week I wasted no time and covered the rows with light row cover fabric to keep them from devouring the entire crop. The birds managed to pick and choose the ripening berries and I had a hard time finding a red one that was not half eaten. I did leave several plants out and available to the birds and squirrels, but the rest are for the people. By the time I put on the row covers there were very few blossoms left that needed to be pollinated by the bees. I read that you could take the covers off for 2 hours a day and the bees will do their business and they’ll be good to go. As I said, it is taking love and care for these wonderful sweet berries. 





 We had the first big harvest last night and the berries are gorgeous and incredibly delicious. My sister, Jenny, picked about 4 quarts this morning so they are coming on fast. 


Last night we enjoyed fresh berries with whipped cream and tonight I made a batch of strawberry ice cream. I’ve already done the initial taste test and I can’t wait for a full bowl before bed. We're looking forward to a long healthy harvest. 


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Red Oriental Poppies

Every year my poppy plant doubles in size and this year I will have over 60 bright orange poppies. They are one of the first flowers to bloom and they've only just begun to bloom. Enjoy the show! 






 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Raspberries

This time of year in the garden, no matter where you turn, you will find something in need of attention. And it is a matter of setting priorities. Jenny and I have been focusing on the strawberries these past few weeks and over the weekend we moved on to the raspberries.





Jennifer in the strawberry patch

On Saturday we finished cleaning out the strawberry patch where we discovered a number of small plants that can be transplanted into a recently tilled bed. A fresh crop of starts should be coming this week from Stark Brothers, so strawberries are going to be on the agenda for a few more weeks. 


Over the weekend we spent several hours trimming and thinning the raspberries. We cut out most of the old canes since we can now tell the new growth from the old canes. Each year this berry patch grows thicker and thicker so we really did some major pruning. We left about one old cane in each plant that had substantial growth. You can see the new growth and the old brown canes below. We are still hoping for an early crop, but it may be later this year given how aggressive we were.
  



The new growth should  now get plenty of sunlight and air. I'll spend some time this week transplanting the creepers - those wild young plants that have crept outside of their designated row. If you are looking to add to your raspberry patch, or want to start a raspberry patch and you live nearby, let me know and you can come dig some creepers. 


I hate to compost these new shoots, but we have limited space for raspberries and need to be able to keep them contained and under the shade cover - during the heat of summer. Now - onto some major weeding and prepping beds for annual vegetable crops.