Apr 18, 2010 | 7:20 AM PST
Today's gardening blog comes from
our gardening consultant Jeff Oberhaus. Jeff has been tremendously busy at Vintage Hill so I
really appreciate it when he can take a moment out of running an
enormous nursery and farm to pass on his knowledge to us at The Author's Garden! Thanks Jeff!
Raspberries and Blackberries thrive with soil rich in organic matter
(compost, manure) and bear the most fruit on vigorous canes. Plant them
in a sunny spot with individual plants about 4-5 feet apart. Both will sucker - send out
new shoots from the ground - and form thickets. In the home garden
this is remedied by pruning. I like to prune mine in late winter,
taking out the largest, oldest canes at ground level and leaving some
of the newer canes to mature. You can also prune some of the more
vigorous canes by a third which helps them branch and produce more
fruit. Mulching them with composted manure will help keep them
growing and aid in weed suppression. Most berries are not bothered by
diseases so require no spraying as some fruits do.
As far as varieties, 'Heritage' is one of the more popular raspberries.
It is not thorn-less, but has small plentiful bristles. 'Chester' is
one of the favorite blackberries here and has no thorns which makes
pruning a more pleasant task. Many new varieties are being developed
with the heightened popularity of growing these fruits. Trying the
newer ones often results in a bigger berry.
Its easy to want to pick the berries as soon as they color up but when
harvesting they should easily pull from the bush. Those that don't
should be left another day to ripen as these that almost fall off the
bush are sure to have the sweetest flavor.
The weather was beautiful and
since there is so much to do in preparation for the vegetable garden as
well as the flower garden I spent most of the day in the yard. Weeds to
pull, lawn to mend and mow, sidewalks to edge, patio to fill with potted
flowers and planning. It felt good to be outside in the fresh
air. There is something to be said for getting dirty, smelling the earth
with the breeze in my hair and the sun on my face. The last of which
gave me a slight sunburn – go figure – in April!
I am well known for unique
combinations of colors and plants in the pots I place around the
patio. Although most of the more interesting plants I use aren’t yet
available this early in the season I couldn’t help buy but a few of the
typical varieties for a colorful pot or two. I can bring them in at
night if it gets too chilly. And of course I had help from the pups and
interference from the cat. Well, in reality I had interference from them all but Sharkey, in her
usual way, looks as if she’s lending a hand.
In one of the pots I used some
flat leafed parsley. In my
experience parsley likes to take over the herb garden and I have better
luck putting it in pots with my flowers. Here it stays a bit more
manageable. I don’t cook with as much parsley as I do the basil,
cilantro, and other herbs so it’s a good option. It also fills in quite
nicely and doesn’t seem to mind when I pinch it off here and there.
I weeded about forty feet of
what will be the flower garden, checked the roses – I think I lost one,
but will give it a bit longer to bud. The clematis vines are on their
way back and this morning there were crocus blooming and what looks like
grape hyacinth and tulips coming up! This part of the garden
encompasses about 140 feet in total. There’s lots of work to do.