Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Slim pickings

The house that I grew up in had a big picture window above the kitchen sink. I always knew I wanted the same when I found my "forever" home so I was thrilled to find our farmhouse had such an arrangement.

The backdrop to my window view is largely a mix of towering cedar and birch trees, with the bunkie off to the left and the vegetable garden off to the far right. Front and centre is a lovely mature raspberry bush.

Despite looking a bit bedraggled, we were still treated to some delicious berries last year. I wasn't sure what to expect this year as raspberries are biennial but I pruned the canes back in the spring, put down some more straw to keep down the weeds and hoped for the best.

After last year's raspberry escapade, the kids were pretty excited to finally go picking -- but they had a hard time finding more than a tiny handful of dark berries.

With spring coming three weeks early this year, I noticed fruit forming earlier than last year. Unfortunately, this coincided with the early arrival of my nemesis -- the Japanese Beetle, which decimated my roses, peonies and has been seen buzzing around my vegetable garden.

Looks like these beasties found the raspberries too. Can you see the skeletonized leaf? Nasty.

I'm not sure if the beetles are the only reason for our slim pickings this year. Perhaps the canes are too old or maybe the soil needs some TLC. There are still some immature berries on the bush that'll make a nice topping for some homemade yogurt but that's about it.

But this paltry harvest helped reinforce the connection between the growing of food and what shows up on your plate. It was like a mini lesson in crop failure without the hardship and empty bellies. It taught the kids to appreciate what they did pick and not take it for granted.

Together, we're going to do some research so we can figure out how to increase our yield for next year -- but only after we visit the strawberry farm again to get our fill of berries.


The Knitty Gritty Homestead said...

Maybe you can give me some advice on pruning! We found two tiny berries today but there are lots of big raspberry patches around the farm, without much happening...I think I cut down the ones that look "dead"; these will be the ones that produce next summer, and the ones that have leaves this summer get cut down next spring? No idea if this is how it works. Love how you grabbed that disappointing moment of "crop failure" to teach your kids...thanks for stopping by the KGH!

Mama Pea said...

A pox on those Japanese Beetles! Dang, if it isn't one thing, it's another.

How come your raspberries are so dark in color? Must be a different variety than ours which are very red?

Erin said...

ohmigosh, that's terrible about your Japanese Beetles! You may want to consider some sacrificial grapes planted in your berry patch, I planted mine there as a fluke, I had nowhere else to put them, but all the Jap Beetles congregate there and haven't bothered any of my berries - I didn't even realize they liked the berry leaves! But my grape leaves look like that!!

Shannon said...

what a beautiful spot you live in. how wonderful for you and your children. happy to have discovered your blog. :)

fiona@fionacampbell.ca said...

Homesteadgirl -- I'm still trying to figure this pruning part out, lol! And thanks for blogging at the KGH -- your posts are truly inspiring and wonderful!

Mama Pea -- those beetles are driving me mad this year! They are truly horrible, spiteful little beasts. Yes, these are black raspberries though most berries that I see around us are red. I've been reading that black raspberries are heat tolerant but are susceptible to several diseases. Maybe that explains the low yields??? There are some down by our ponds too that seem to be faring a bit better though..

Erin -- thanks for the suggestion about the sacrificial planting. I'm near my wits end!! I've read datura is good as a deterrent but I'd like something that they CAN eat so they'll leave everything else alone! I think these darned things deserve their own blog post -- stay tuned!

Shannon -- thanks for visiting and for yor kind words :) Your blog is beautiful, btw.

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