Spring, you kill me. It’s been raining most of the week. The weather finally broke this afternoon just long enough for me to walk to the raspberry bed and check it out. I was standing there admiring the new growth, which seemingly sprouted overnight, literally. I stood there thinking of fresh raspberries for my cereal…raspberry pie…frozen berries eaten straight from the freezer…and then it started sleeting. Sleet! I ask you.
But patience is a virtue, and in this case, it will pay off with a bumper crop (I hope) like last year’s. The first berry ripened on the Fourth of July—nice!—and I picked the last stragglers around Labor Day. This berry patch came with the house, so I have no clue what variety I’m tending. The fruit is impossibly small and tender, and must be eaten within a day or frozen, but it’s sweeter and more flavorful than anything I’ve ever bought at the store. And these berries make sinfully delicious pie.
Last year’s crop was the best ever, and I think it’s because I finally got disciplined about cutting down every last bearing cane at summer’s end. That is the sum and substance of my berry-maintenance routine—well, that and hacking down the buckthorn—and it paid off. It also keeps the bed cleaner and easier to maneuver through.
I don’t have any wisdom on getting a raspberry patch started, since I had nothing to do with that. However, I can advise that you plant canes in a spot where they can either spread like crazy, or be contained in some fashion. Ours are in a raised bed, which helps, but new sprouts constantly pop up in the yard, and not just in the immediate area around the raised bed. I’ve found shoots in a garden 15 to 20 feet away. (Maybe those were planted by birds, but still.)
We finally gave in and hired a lawn service to control the plants in the lawn (along with the many other undesirables that seem to love our backyard—wild strawberries! The horror!), but I’ll still need to hand-pull them out of the garden beds. It’ll be worth it.