Our Wolves Den

Showing posts with label Gardening Adventures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening Adventures. Show all posts

Growing Raspberries

If your neighbors grow raspberries, and if they’re very nice neighbors, you might have tasted these sweet, juicy fruits fresh off the branch in midsummer. If you have, you understand why people cultivate this prickly, ungainly, colonizing shrub—in fact, you’re probably coveting them yourself. There’s nothing else remarkable about Rubus idaeus—the flowers are small, white, single blossoms; the leaves are toothed and green; canes are generally thorny and floppy; and it requires staking and annual pruning. But those soft-crunchy, juicy-drippy, handful-of-candy fruits will have you whistling as you work.

Common name: Raspberry, red raspberry

Botanical name: Rubus idaeus

Plant type: Shrub

Zones: 3 to 9

Height: 4 to 10 feet, depending on cultivar

Family: Rosaceae

Growing conditions

· Sun: Full sun to part shade

· Soil: Rich and slightly acidic

· Moisture: Average to moist, and well-drained.


· Mulch: Mulch to preserve moisture in the soil.

· Pruning: Pruning strategy for both summerbearing and everbearing raspberries depends on whether you want one or two crops of fruit. The easiest method—cutting all the canes to the ground each fall—means you’ll have all new canes the following year, which will bear fruit in the top third of the cane in the late summer. If you let those canes stand another year (the second method), they’ll bear fruit again, on the bottom two-thirds, and then they’ll die and you can cut them down. Each year, cut off small, weak shoots and remove suckers that creep outside your garden bed.

· Fertilizer: Use well-rotted cow manure or ammonium nitrate.


· By seeds and by basal shoots (suckers).

Pests and diseases

· Vulnerable to a variety of diseases, including powdery mildew, root rot, cane blight, and botrytis.

· Caterpillars, cane borers, and scale insects can be serious problems.

Garden notes

· Because raspberries are exuberant about sending out new suckers every year, they can be a headache if they’re in the wrong spot. Make your life easier by planting them in a raised bed or a corner of your yard that’s bounded by a sidewalk or driveway.

· Even if you’re diligent about controlling suckers, you may find raspberries sprouting elsewhere in your yard, courtesy of the seeds deposited by raspberry-eating birds.

· Most cultivars need to be staked, but some have short canes that don’t need support. Likewise, most cultivars have thorns, but some are thornless.

· Raspberry flowers attract butterflies; the fruit attracts birds (and humans).


· ‘Heritage’ (pictured) is an everbearing raspberry with 4- to 5-foot canes that don’t require staking.

· ‘Improved Titan’ is a summerbearing variety with large fruits.

· ‘Canby Red’ has thornless canes.

All in the family

· Other edible Rubus species include R. occidentalis, or black raspberry; R. odoratus, or thimbleberry (also called flowering raspberry); and R. fruticosus, or blackberry (also called brambles).

· Many of our favorite fruit trees belong to Rosaceae (the rose family), including apple, pear, peach, plum, apricot, cherry, and nectarine trees.

Garden Planning- Savvy Soil

Soil is important to plants--it supplies them with water and nutrients, and it anchors their roots. Here's a primer to help you understand one of your garden's most basic ingredients.


Sandy soils are made of relatively large rock particles that fit loosely together. These soils tend to warm faster in the spring and drain quickly during wet periods. Unfortunately, they don't hold water well during drought and lose nutrients more quickly than other soil types. Sandy soils feel gritty to the touch.


Silty soils are made from medium-sized particles. They shed excess water more quickly than clay, but not as quickly as sand. Silty soils tend to feel slick to the touch when they're wet.


Soils with a high clay content are made of small particles that fit tightly together. Clay soils hold water and nutrients during times of drought, but stay wet longer during wet periods. They're more susceptible to winter heaving (moving around) during periods of freezing and thawing, which exposes and harms roots of perennial plants.

Organic matter

Organic matter helps eliminate the disadvantages of both sandy and clay soils. Organic materials such as compost, decomposed manure, and shredded leaves hold moisture when the soil is dry, but still let soils shed excess water. They reduce soil compaction, allowing plant roots to spread more easily.


Loamy soils are those rich with organic matter. In addition to regulating water better than both sandy and clay soils, loamy soils encourage beneficial microorganisms such as mycorrhizal fungi, which reportedly help plants absorb nutrients and resist disease.


This is a layer of soil so compacted that plant roots can't grow through it. In extreme cases, water won't permeate through the layer. Hardpan can occur when sand is mixed with clay-unless there's a very high percentage of sand, the small clay particles will cling to the larger sand particles and eliminate the spaces between the particles where water moves through. It can also occur by compaction, especially with heavy equipment.

Acidic soil

An acidic soil has a low pH (lower than 7.0 on a scale of 0 to 14). The pH of a soil determines, in part, what nutrients plants can take from the soil. For instance, plants absorb iron readily in acidic soils, but have trouble absorbing molybdenum. Some plants, such as blueberries and rhododendrons, have adapted to acidic conditions and require acidic soil to grow well. Sulfur and aluminum sulfate tend to increase a soil's acidity.

Alkaline soil

An alkaline soil has a high pH (higher than 7.0 on a scale of 0 to 14). The alkalinity of a soil also determines what nutrients plants can absorb. For example, plants absorb potassium more readily in alkaline soils, but have trouble absorbing manganese. Some plants, such as some dianthus, thrive in alkaline soils, but most garden plants prefer a neutral or slightly acidic soil. Lime and wood ashes are two materials that increase a soil's alkalinity. Mulch

While not actually a soil component, mulch (such as compost, shredded bark, and shredded leaves) relates closely with the soil. Mulch helps prevent soil erosion, holds moisture, and reduces drastic temperature changes in summer and winter. An organic mulch will break down, adding organic matter to the soil.

Garden Planning-It's that Time of Year

How and where to start? The last few years we have been growing our own garden, this year is going to be no different in that fact. The only change is that we are going to be doing so much more with the whole gardening theme.

I want the kids to be spending as much times outside this spring and summer as possible, with the added bonus of a lot of learning. This is not only going to be a huge project of planting, but it will involve composting, fertilizing, learning about plants, DIY projects galore. I am even thinking bugs, birds and anything else that I can think of being incorporated.

Really, it is going to be a big project to take on, but I am refusing to let them sit around playing video games or watching TV. That is going to be my focus, doing fun things to learn and do some exploring of the world of nature, with trying to exclude as much technology as possible.

The path of our journey is not set in stone, we will be doing things as they come up. The posts themselves here will not be in order, but a collection of thoughts,ideas, and planning.

Let's start with who can garden- I mean what age is best, what can they do at certain ages, what to expect at a given age range.

Preschoolers, Ages 3-4: As long as I don't expect us to accomplish something in the adult sense of the phrase, gardening is great fun. We move mulch. We catch toads. We pull a few weeds. We blow the fuzz off dandelions. If a child wants to plant last night's dessert — watermelon seeds, we do just that.

This age of unbridled exploration must be accompanied exploration. Preschoolers are never safe unattended. And while you're together, you have a chance to explain the life cycle of a seed or the history of evolution in an ancient fern. Let kids take the lead while you supply the background information. It's in the storytelling that kids learn about gardening and the world. Don't know all the answers? No one does. Library trips are part of the journey.

Kindergartners, Age 5: "All the world's a stage" for youngsters who have an emerging sense of how to play with others. Gardens, great places to act out dramas, will serve children for a half dozen years or more. Create forts, tree houses, secret hide-a-ways, and kids' own gardens where children can interact and learn.

Continue to let kids take the lead. If your child sees a hollow stump as a potential troll house, drop your pruning shears and join him in inspecting it. Help him gather the supplies he needs to make the project happen. Assist only where needed — say in lashing sticks together to make a ladder, or by offering leftover nasturtium seeds or marigold seedlings to embellish his ideas.

At last, kids this age have the attention span and dexterity to be left within sight to create their own worlds. And don't fuss about how those little Edens turn out. The world was a messy place during its creation.

Elementary Schoolers, Ages 6-7: Your youngster's improving reading and math skills add new depth to gardening fun. Now kids can make plant markers, read seed packets, pore over catalogs, and pay for nursery plants. And yet they're still wide-eyed and open to nature's mysteries. Soil, holes, and water hold endless fascination, as do bugs.

But for children this age, the "doing" is still more important than the end result. For them, a garden is a willy nilly collection of plants of all shapes, sizes, and colors. A bouquet is whatever fits in the diameter of a palm and curled fingers and whose stems reach into a jar full of water.

Middle Schoolers, Ages 8-9: The emphasis shifts from doing to doing well. Your children can design a garden on graph paper, thinking about flower heights and colors or how much space a tomato plant will need. They can translate that drawing to a real garden.

Their ability to use tools increases; they can build arbors and fences. It's never too early, but now is an especially wonderful time to enter your vegetables and bouquets in contests at the local fair or town events or to join a group such as a community garden, CSA, or 4-H. These activities combine gardening with friendships — both so important now.

Middle Schoolers, Ages 10-11: Now gardening celebrates its ability to cross several disciplines with ease to speak to your children's many interests. Garden is science, math, art, and still fun. Your youngsters can organize a class project to create a small garden at the local nursing home — and gain the support of businesses and parent volunteers. They can build garden structures and community. They can start seeds and businesses. We know a couple of boys whose award-winning sunflowers at the fair launched their own sunflower seed business.

And the opportunities for fun in the garden are endless. With a little imagination, this year's scarecrows can look like the Spice Girls, or Arthur, or the scariest dementor Harry Potter ever met.

In-Betweeners: They may not be teenagers yet, but you'd never know it. At this age, if youngsters don't take a hiatus from gardening in favor of friends and anything currently "way cool," they can put their green thumbs to work in the family landscape and in community projects. While focusing on sports, fashion, or school plays fills their days to overflowing, how can gardening compete? In a word, it has to be "awesome." And it is.