Today I planted 16 raspberry canes. It was not easy.
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
Strawberry 'Veestar' Blooming
Fragaria x ananassa
Apple Tree Blooming
Johnny Jump Up Blooming
photo is for the main lilac, but apparently I don’t have planting for it