Seed Swaps

Blooms, Berries & Buckwheat fail

14 May 2012
Overcast 27°C / 81°F

Today I planted 16 raspberry canes. It was not easy.

Buckwheat Fail

Last year I had the farmer turn the soil in the main vegetable garden and expand behind it, adding another 50′ × 50′ of growing space. After doing my best to pick out the large rocks, I sowed buckwheat. The plan was to let it grow until it flowered, turn it in with the tiller, sow another crop of buckwheat, till it in, and finally sow annual ryegrass in the fall.

It was so hot and dry through July and August that I wasn’t able to get the buckwheat tilled in, the best I could do was mow over it. Still it appeared to have done a decent job of shading out weeds and mulching the ground. I went into the winter thinking I’d have a relatively easy job planting vegetables and berries in the spring. Turns out, not so much.

I started tilling over the weekend. The “bed” is virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding grass. In fact I think that it might be even worse as only the strongest runner-forming grasses appear to have survived. Plus, the frost has heaved up a new set of rocks. This weekend I was able to till about 50′ × 6′, but between the rocks and the grass roots I also had to dig by hand. I dug a row about three or four foot wide row and then did my best to rake the grass out. I’m now looking at sheet mulching/hugelkultur/weed cloth options for the rest of the area.


Today I dug holes, tried my best to remove grass roots, mixed in compost and planted raspberry canes every three feet in the area I dug over the weekend. I’m really pleased with the roots on the canes – some of them were up to three feet long. Barbara Damrosch says in The Garden Primer that planting three feet apart should work well and eventually produce up to a quart of fruit per foot. 45 litres of raspberries sounds good to me! In order to prevent the weeds from taking over completely, I broadcast more buckwheat seeds. Hopefully they’ll shade out the weeds & I can cut them down to serve as mulch in a few weeks.

Along with the raspberries, I also ordered 150 strawberries. I was planning to plant them in a wide row in the new 50′ × 50′ area. I’m not sure where else I can put them, but today I fit 25 of them in the oval bed in the front where they can serve as ground cover. In order to make every square inch count, I broadcast some lettuce seeds around them. Hopefully the lettuce will cover the soil while the strawberries get going and I can harvest the lettuce before the strawberries need the room.


The lilac has come out just in time for bloom day, I think the apple really peaked a day or two ago, but is still very pretty. The euphorbia and strawberries are blooming in the pond border garden; pansies & Johnny jump-ups in the front oval bed; and the wild strawberries are blooming too – I was able to harvest some wild berries last year, perhaps they’ll bear again this year.

1 & 2 Apple tree a few days ago at sunset.
3 Raspberry canes planted!
4 Wild strawberries
5 A wild turkey this morning




That’s a substantial rock. Urgh. Are you planning on resowing the buckwheat this year, or is it time for something else in that bed? And why is it grass manages to grow like … well, grass?? You’d think it would know where it isn’t wanted.

Posted on 15 May 12 (about 4 years ago)

@KathN – and it’s not even one of the biggest rocks I’ve dug out around my place, it is on the larger size of the average ones! I need the growing space for veggies this year (especially since taking on growing veggies for two other families!) so I will have to convert the space to veggie growing. I will likely use some combination of weed cloth, cardboard, mulch, and repeated hoeing in the pathways. I did sow buckwheat in the open areas between the raspberries, and I may do this in other spots if there is open space. It does grow really quickly, and I think if I could cut it back in time it would work well as a mulch.

This house came with a blank canvas and no gardens, so I’m constantly fighting grass – sadly it doesn’t seem to get the message that when I rip the sod up it should move elsewhere!

Posted on 15 May 12 (about 4 years ago)

I’m not sure that weed cloth will help you with that grass … which I’m assuming by the way it spread is Quackgrass. It’s underground runners can go on for ever and unless the weed cloth is two or three layers deep, the grass will grow up through it. I found this on a website: “Quackgrass, also commonly known as couch grass, twitch grass, quick grass, scutch grass, and devil’s grass, is a widespread and serious weed in Canada. Traditionally one of the most difficult weeds to control, it remains a problem due to characteristics that enable it to survive and multiply: rapid establishment, an extensive mat of underground rhizomes with the ability to produce new plants, and the ease with which new quackgrass biotypes can be generated through sexual reproduction.”

I know that I spend an inordinate amount of time pulling the stuff out of gardens and if a bare spot is left for a week or two, it will quickly fill in with more grass. Unfortunately, aside from using something illegal to kill it, the only way to get rid of it is to pull it up … and pull it up …. and pull it up. Any piece left in the ground, no matter how small, will result in a new plant which will then send out its own runners. Sorry to be so downbeat about it.

Posted on 15 May 12 (about 4 years ago)


Folia Helper

United Kingdom8b

Really gorgeous photo of the apple. Sounds like a lot of hard work. :)

Posted on 16 May 12 (about 4 years ago)

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