Gardener's Grapevine 2012.01.25

Written by David Green.

As I sit here on a cold Sunday afternoon looking at a bare, snow covered, bleak garden, my son-in-law points out that the snow is supposed to be gone after tomorrow. Well, break out the champagne. I so look forward to the dogs coming in with wet, dirty paws on the carpet. I’m sure Henry is probably thinking does nothing make her happy and didn’t you just come from church?

Usually I try to be a glass-half-full type person or I just say they gave me to big a glass, but the weather is a sticky subject with me as it is so weird this year and my arthritis is not appreciating it.

Last week we had many different seasons all in a few days’ time. That not only confuses old Art Thritis, it confuses our plant friends, and if it goes on too long it can damage crop outcomes. As I look at the garden, I am thinking about the raspberries and pruning them in a short while. This is not a job I look forward to, but it is necessary if I plan to have a good harvest and be able to pick in a somewhat unimpeded manner.

My raspberry plants were gifts from friends. On the east side of the garden are small black heritage raspberries that have been around since the dawn of time, I think. They make great pancakes and muffins. On the north side of the garden is the hybridized big red raspberries. These produce twice a year and are never put into anything as they are eaten as fast as I can get them washed. Raspberries are a pain in the backside due to the thorns, but I feel they are more than worth it.

I did a little research on caring for raspberries. The canes are biannual, meaning the plant produces canes one year and they bear fruit the next. Once the canes bear fruit they never will again, unless they are ever-bearing, in which case they may produce many times in one season. When they are grey and woody cut them off at the ground level. If left in the patch they will not do anything but clog up the growing room and eventually kill off the entire patch.

I prune the dead canes out in early March, before any leafing out occurs. It is easy to tell which are the old canes as they are silvery gray and brittle. You can usually snap them off with your hands. Wear gauntleted gloves to do this chore, as the thorns will tear you up. In the fall, to tidy up the garden and make the plants stronger, cut the canes back to about four feet tall. A nice long set of loppers will make short work of this job.

The soil must be well drained, as the plants will rot off if they get too wet. Well-drained means no standing water and the soil dries well after a rain. As for feeding, raspberries do very well with regular mulch. They aren’t too picky if you make your mulch at home, it can contain any of the usual stuff found in homemade mulch. Don’t use raw sawdust, as that is too acidic.

Everything I read said that raspberries aren’t too fond of tomatoes. I really question this, as we always plant our tomatoes next to them and we haven’t had to call the police once due to disturbances between them. Actually, we’ve always gotten great crops from both. If you have raspberries I hope you found this useful, if not try some out you will be surprised how easy they are to grow, and how tasty they are.

  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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