Friday, February 15, 2013

Rituals of Spring

I'm home - back home from being 'away' & I think I'm going to stay for a while, a long while...

Spring is late. Yes, here on the wet coast, I celebrate Spring's arrival on February 1st - ritually, by going out & finding that first crocus. This year I missed it - I was 'away'...

This year, I doubt there were any crocus in bloom on February 1st. But I found one on the 13th & it took me a bit to locate it too.

~ raspberry patch pre-clean-up ~

My next ritual of Spring is tending my raspberries. I don't know why I start with them each year, but I know that once I get them tidied, pruned, fed & mulched, I feel better. I feel more able to deal with the other disasters in the yard.

 This particular patch is growing in rather poor soil - I know it's poor, but nothing else will grow here & the more I mulch & compost, the better the soil gets each year.  I can tell because each year the harvest gets better!

~ raspberries pruned & tidied ~

You might think growing raspberries is rather onerous; requiring lots of attention & then dealing with thorns upon harvest time.

I keep it simple. Cut back all of last year's canes (they are grey & will snap off easily), cut out all the wimpy, leaning & small canes that will take away from the health & vigor of this year's harvest, remove the weeds from around the plants & throw on a good handful of fertilizer.

~ raspberry patch done ~

Then mulch it & walk away.

The patch will require another feeding later on in the season right around when it's setting fruit (June'ish). And it will require lots of mulch & maybe some compost too. I use grass clippings around all my berries & I use lots of it. Keeps the weeds down, keeps the soil moist & it breaks down by the end of the season, thus enriching the soil for next year.

I put evergreen boughs on because it's too early for grass mulch & I just wanted to protect the canes in case we get some late season freezing.

~ 2nd raspberry patch ~
This is my 'mother' raspberry patch - where I first planted them & where all my divisions come from.

They grew wild last fall. I managed to get some wire in to hoist the canes up, but they grew well over 8 feet tall & were tangled & leaning on each other & made for harvesting the fall crop of berries near impossible!

I was lazy with this patch last year.

~ tidied & supported ~

It's really hard to tell because of the light & the lack of leaves, but I actually removed well over half the canes! I want only the strongest & the straightest canes growing for this summer's crop.

I also redid the supports - will more than likely have to redo them again in the fall when I have the funds for better supports other than rebar & wire. But at least they are upright, weeded, fed & mulched.

I'm glad I decided to reintroduce yoga to my daily routine - it has helped me get through the dreary winter days of just sitting on the couch reading books & now into the ultra-intense actions of gardening - I feel no pain after my first 5 hour day in the gardens!

Today I will be having conversations with some more berry shrubs & digging into nooks & crannies.

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