Monday, March 7, 2011

Garden Week: The Joys of Raspberries

This week, it is my goal to talk of gardening each day.  I love talking with and learning from others about gardening.

It was once a childhood dream of mine to have all of the raspberries I could eat.

I loved them!  

When we moved to this old farmhouse, we soon discovered that there were some raspberries growing beside an old chicken coop.   No telling how long they'd been on this old farm.  

They did okay, but hadn't been pruned back, and we didn't get all we wanted--just a few here and there,  and the row of raspberries faced the north. They didn't get the benefit of a clear garden spot with plenty of sun.

Eventually the chicken coop was on its way to blowing down and we removed it and transplanted the raspberries in rows in the garden.

This is one of my favorite ways to eat them:  
freshly picked and clean -- with milk splashed on top and a light sprinkling of sugar.

There in their new garden home, they have thrived.  They line up against our old chippy picket fence.  

We now have four nice long rows, and my childhood dream has come true, for in season, if the weather is right, we have all the raspberries we can eat and plenty to spare or share. 

We have also shared many buckets of shoots from the plants so others can get their own raspberry patch started.  We have a family who wants some this spring so, as soon as the weather clears, we are going to get those five-gallon buckets out of the shed and dig some up so they can get their own little patch going.

It gives us joy, especially for our son, Luke, to eat them fresh off the vine, rinsed with cold water.  But when you can pick several gallons at a time, you just can't eat them all fresh!  

They can be frozen whole (on a cookie sheet in a single layer, then once frozen, transferred to freezer containers), or slightly crushed (with just a teensy bit of sugar so they'll keep their color and flavor better), or they can be made into lovely jams to use all year in your own home and to give as gifts.

The smell in one's kitchen of making raspberry jam is one of the best ...summer's delight!

I can't tell you how proud and happy it makes me to bring someone a gift of raspberry jam in a sparkling, smooth pint jar.  And now that I've got a way to make seedless raspberry jams, all the better!  I have at least a couple dozen jars of jam for the winter for all those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I never buy jam.  

These clematis are neighbors to our raspberry plants.

There are several varieties of raspberries, we have no idea what ours are.  But there are two types:  single crop and ever bearing.

We have ever bearing plants, which means we get a crop in June or early July and again in late September or October.  The reason this is nice is that one of the seasons' conditions should be ideal if the other isn't.  

Raspberries, it seems to me, thrive in wet, cool weather.  So if spring comes on hot and dry, you'll get few.  If fall comes in wet and cool, you'll get a decent yield if we don't get a hard freeze too early.

We don't baby our raspberries.  We cut them down to about knee height and prune out and destroy the dead canes each year in the spring BEFORE they starting greening.  (They come on like gangbusters afterward!)  

The pruning is a job that's rough on the hands, and requires some good gloves. But oh, don't you know how good it feels just to be outside in the fresh spring air, cutting and pruning and getting them into shape for their growing season to come?

 Burn the cuttings and the dead canes, don't leave them lying around, or cut them into usable size and have the kids tie them in bundles for excellent kindling for your fireplace.

If you don't have a fence for them to grow near for support, they will need support of some sort.  Stakes with string or wires.  

High weeds need to be kept knocked down and a way made clear to be able to pick.

Occasionally we will feed them some good manure (not the hot kind, we use cow manure).   I've heard they like mushroom manure.   Also, compost, (we are getting a compost bin for the garden this year, only about fifteen years late!).


(What kind of poo do YOU use?)

Our raspberry patch is much too large for us to water thoroughly, so we let mother nature worry about that.  However, when your are first planting you must water them--especially if you don't get good rain.  

If your patch is small, you can water them regularly, because they need the water when the buds form and then as the berries form and grow.  They're a woodland plant so they can take the moisture. They like to be watered in the evenings.

We don't spray our berries, either, although there are pests that like them.  Again, we've noticed that the weather does have something to do with this. The drier the weather the worse it is.

 Japanese beetles and aphids love them, as well as fruit worms. The birds love them, too, but we find that we have plenty to share and have never netted the plants.  I find that by soaking them in water before eating them the pests come to the surface and can then be crushed and destroyed.  This might be too disgusting for some people, but for us, the spray is also not much fun to think about eating.

We have learned to go with the flow.  Some bearing seasons are excellent and unbelievably good.  Others are terrible.  We keep plenty during the good harvests so that when there is a bad one, we aren't missing those wonderful berries for our jams or the freezer.

I would love for readers to share in the comments section their helpful information about growing raspberries and also what you use them for once you harvest them.

If you have an organic or home remedy for the pests, I'd love to hear those ideas, too.  I don't like to put chemicals on them.

Please tell us your raspberry secrets, won't you?


Artful Gathering said...

I am so thankful you posted this article on raspberries. They are my favorite berry. I just ordered a varity pack to plant this spring. I have always bought my berries from the Amish but now is the time to grow my own. I also purchased blueberry and blackberry plants as well. Ant information you have on growing those would be helpful. I love your blog!

★Carol★ said...

I'm so lucky to have a friend who generously shares her crop of raspberries! And when I gardensit for her while she's on vacation, we get to have all we can pick!

Susan said...

I love raspberries but have never tried growing them. The jam sounds wonderful. Maybe I will try my luck at it this year.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Our property is on an extreme slope that makes the growing of raspberries impossible. I do, however, buy flats of them in season and freeze for year round use. I also make freezer jam that I use a great deal in my baking. I hope you'll stop by my place. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

mary your sis said...

Hey Joni;
I love raspberries, but my dream growing up was to have all the blueberries I could ever want. We were a little fruity in our dreams, weren't we? If you have enough raspberry shoots I'd love some to plant. I've always thought I'd order them from a catalog, I never thought of getting them from someone else when they are thinning theirs. What a good idea!

aimee said...

Yum! Love, love, love raspberries! We grow ours--a yellow everbearing kind--in a whiskey barrel half. So far they have done fine.

If I remember correctly we tried a long time ago to grow raspberries in our main garden area but they all died out-I've heard they don't like wet feet. Anyway that area currently has several varieties of caneberries and they all do fine there!

Your photo reminds me that before too long I will again be eating from our fruit bushes again instead of just dreaming about doing that:)

Blessings to you Joni!

Donna said...

Thank you for bringing back childhood memories! My folks had a HUGE raspberry patch in the back yard, and us kids picked and picked and picked those delicious berries! We love to eat them for breakfast with cream or on cereal. Crazy good!!!

Laura said...

Raspberries = my favorite! We tried growing raspberries here, but, for some reason, they just never did well.
We did inherit a large blueberry patch when we bought this house. It provides plenty for us, my husband's mother and siblings and some friends. I wish that I liked fresh blueberries. I've tried! I do like them baked in something tasty though. Like a muffin! YUM!

gailsgarden said...

I am so ready to get into the garden! Your gardening info is fun and informative. Our raspberry crop was wonderful last summer. Here is my fav berry pie recipe...great with blueberries, strawberries and, probably best, RASPBERRIES!


4 cups fresh berries in a baked pie crust
1 C berries
1 C water
1 C sugar
Boil together (I do it in the microwave)
Add 3 T corn starch to a little of the berry mix. Then cook again to thicken.
Pour over fresh berries.
Cool and serve with REAL whipping cream. Yummy!

Love your blog, especially your love of the good ole USA. I'm an American living in Canada.