Monday, June 28, 2010

Berry Satisfaction

Ahhh, one of my favorite things to talk about... the yard!

We live on a hillside. There are many steep areas of the yard and gardening on them can be difficult. We have terraced an area near the garage that does not get full sun all day and we use that for a winter garden. This year we grew chard, collards, kale, arugula, onions, three types of garlic and asparagus. The asparagus is just on its second year, but next year we will be eating lots of asparagus. Everything else turned out beautifully and we are going to have tons of garlic. I think it will be ready to cure soon.

Last year we put in three new raised garden beds on an especially steep part of the back yard. It looks REALLY steep form the picture below and it is pretty steep. The garden beds make it totally manageable. These boxes get full sun, all day. Well, when there is sun that is. Since we are getting a lot of our veggies from the farm these days I decided to put in berries. We all LOVE berries. I'm not sure if we will get berries from the farm, but we have not received any yet and really, you can never have too many berries.

Last summer we filled the raised beds with soil and planted a cover crop in the fall. This spring I worked in the cover crop and further amended the soil with some compost. Michael and I purchased raspberry and strawberry plants a couple weeks ago with the intent of getting them in the ground right away. Not to happen. We had one beautiful day of gorgeous sunshine and then days and days of torrential rain.

Planting the berries, well and taking care of the yard in general, was supposed to be a family affair. All for one, one for all, yada, yada, yada. I regularly like to quote the story of the little red hen. You know the one, the little red hen goes all around trying to find someone to help her plant the wheat, water the wheat, harvest the wheat, etc... etc... but she cannot get any help so she does all the work herself and then eventually makes the most glorious loaf of bread which she eats all by herself. Yeah, my family is pretty sick of that story.

Well, it seems we now have summer and sunshine. Yesterday, Michael was sick, Sammy was at a friend's house and Joey was working at Oaks Park. I just could not let those poor berries sit out there in their lonely black plastic pots for another minute. I went out and reworked the soil, added a little lime and some organic fertilizer, worked the soil again and planted approximately 20 raspberry plants and 30 strawberry plants. It all sounds very easy, but it took a full five hours!

And they look good.

We will have to wait until next year to enjoy the juicy red raspberries, but I can be patient... really I can!

Well, truth be told, these are ever bearing varieties and we do have a few berries. Just a sample, to get us really excited for next year.

By the time we got to the nursery to purchase our strawberry plants, they were down to just a couple of ever bearing varieties, but they are disease resistance and grown specially for Oregon so that's fine with us. They have mighty big leaves... I am not actually sure if that is a good thing?

The plants look really healthy even though they had to sit out in the backyard for a couple weeks in the cold and rain.

I had always read that you were supposed to pinch off the buds for the first year, however, I have been doing some research and apparently that is for the June bearing varieties. With the ever bearing, I guess it is okay to leave these later blossoms on. We will get a few berries this summer, especially if we get more sunshine.

This little guy was really sweet and juicy.

I had to throw in this photo of a foxglove growing out of the weed pile on the other side of the fence. Love those foxglove, they just come up wherever they please.

So now we are a tri-berry yard. I am just thinking of all the wonderful recipes we will be able to make next summer with our berries.

So, it's true. I am never actually able to withhold the fruits of my labor from my family. Even if I do the work, I totally want to share it with them. I guess that's what life is all about!


Lindsay said...

My mouth is watering...those berries look so good! I'm dabbling in gardening myself this year and I did plant some strawberries, we'll see how they turn out. After reading this I believe I will have to add raspberries to the list next year too...

kjlubitz said...

Just remember, berries like to spread. Raspberries grow like blackberries, so they send out shoots under ground. That is why I put them in the raised garden box. Maybe Andy will build you some garden boxes :). We had a neighbor when I was a teenager that had a big raspberry patch in the their backyard... the best berries ever! In an article I was reading, a couple had a bed 7' wide by 33' long (I know pretty big) and they got 2 gallons of raspberries a day during the months of June-Sept. Amazing! Our bed is about 4' x 12' right now, but I may have to expand it!