Spring Fever Is On The Rise
Seeds sprout and rosettes shoot up their flower stalks, and birds are making nests. I want to plant peas and lettuce, but am patiently waiting; the weather has not settled yet and last spring’s freeze has not been forgotten.
So we planted a new raspberry patch instead. The old patch was set out 10 years ago, and really put out the fruit. But the last few years haven’t been very productive, which I thought might be from the dry summers. Looking in an old farming book gave me another clue; they moved their raspberries to a new bed after eight years. It’s time for a change.
I ran the subsoiler right down the row of raspberries a couple of times, and we lifted them out and into baskets. They were taken to the root cellar and sprinkled with water. Before planting I like to prune the roots a bit and take off the top. Small white shoots are visible and let me know they’re ready and willing.
The new bed is nearby. But first a ton of compost gets spread over it, and then a layer of leaf mold. Now it’s time to plow. After spading, holes are dug about 18” apart. That’s twice as close as they need to be, but I have two times too many plants, and I’m in a hurry to have a thick patch. We’ll see how it goes.
I’m a tromper when it comes to planting, especially perennials. I don’t want any air pockets drying out the roots. So I do a little dance around the newly set plants and firm the soil upon them. The ground is moist and a rain is forecast, so owe don’t water.
One last job remains. More leaf mold is spread on top for a mulch. Raspberries love a leaf mulch, and will send their shoots up through it. The mulch holds in moisture, keeps the weeds down, and eventually turns into humus itself. Berries like the fungal-rich humus that comes from rotting forest products.
Heritage is the variety that we’ve been growing for about 20 years. This is the third time I’ve started a new patch, and I have high hopes. They are a fall bearing variety that is simply mown down and mulched after they finished fruiting. The canes sprout up in spring but don’t bear fruit until August and September.
I grew up with raspberries, and some of my first memories are picking the patches on the home place. Mom’s raspberry jam was my favorite, although Judy’s sure runs a close second. Our patch is a great joy for kids of any age. A handful of raspberries puts a smile on your face and tingle on your tounge.