The Berry End of the Garden

The fruit section of the garden hasn’t always been a success.  We won’t mention the failure of the new orchard… twice.  I think I need to put together a serious plan before attempting again.  It does hurt my soul to think that an abundant supply of juicy sun warmed peaches straight from the tree isn’t an option in my back yard anytime soon.  The sadness comes from knowing just how good an abundant supply of juicy sun warmed peaches straight from the trees are.  Trees that you planted and nurtured from tiny trees, got to enjoy a couple of decent harvests and then sold the orchard (along with the house) and moved to a place that is far too windy and sea salty  for normal successful tree growing without some kind of creative thinking.

New raspberry bed
After clearing the bed out and refreshing the soil there was still a lot of work to do to bring in the raspberries

But I am determined to ensure the garden isn’t fruitless and have put a lot of attention into berries. However last season – the first proper season, things didn’t go so well.  The strawberries suffered terribly.  I went away in the spring for 10 days and didn’t ask the garden minders to mind the strawberries as I assumed – being spring it would rain.  It didn’t and they dried out and never really recovered.  And just to add insult to injury I had given away over 800 runners from the plants that winter! 

Spring a leak
Once I pulled the soil away from the inside of the bed, the leak was clear. I must have pierced the pipe with the spade at some point.

This season hasn’t been the stunning success either.  I managed to recover enough plants from the poorly collection and dug them up and nurtured them back to healthy specimens in the greenhouse.  Then I replanted them and went away for the weekend only to find a chicken had de-leafed every single one.  I built a cage for the strawberries and slowly but surely they have recovered and all going well they will be strong enough to give us a harvest towards the end of spring. 

Frame for raspberries
It makes things so much easier when you have help to put the wire up for the raspberry frame. Thanks Joey.

The blueberries also suffered terribly.  Before I even got them in the ground they suffered a goat attack.  Which was annoying as I had selected the plants with the most immature berries on them so I could at least guarantee a harvest that season.  And then Snowy the Goat got into the garden again and knew what she liked and made a bee line for the blueberries and gave them another go.  So, we haven’t had any blueberries at all.  Instead we have 3 sickly specimens and one dead one.  I had 4 plants of two different varieties as this is supposed to aid berry production. 

Raspberry bed
And now the raspberries need to grow tall and strong so I can tie them into the wires – oh and produce berries so we can eat them.

Determined to have blueberries – especially when you consider a couple of small punnets of berries costs enough to buy a plant it is a worthwhile endeavour, I bought another 2 very healthy plants with loads of flowers and so now I have a chance for some blueberries this season.  But will be keeping an eye out for that goat!

soaking in seaweed tonic
All the plants got a good 10 minute soaking in seaweed tonic to help reduce transplant shock and promote root growth.

I also have a couple of gooseberries – I have a gooseberry pax that is like the classic green one, but the berries are red when ripe.  This poor plant also nearly died.  I think the problem is the berries are in Sector 5, which is the Friday group and often the Friday group don’t get as much love as say the Monday group in Sector 1.  I start the week with such good intentions but I run out of time or energy come Friday and then it spirals out of control and becomes too hard to manage.  I may or may not have neglected it – driven by the ‘what’s the point the strawberries are pretty much dead anyway…’ defeatist attitude.  But seeing the gooseberry nearly die, I pulled it out of the ground and into a pot and into the greenhouse where I could nurture it and it seems to have recovered and has signs of spring life.  Fingers crossed.

Blackberry bed
The blackberry and the loganberry joined the boysenberry in the old strawberry bed. I hope they do better than the raspberries did.

The other gooseberry is a Cape Gooseberry, which isn’t a gooseberry at all but a Physalis.  It is a ‘superfood’ often called a Goldenberry or a Ground Cherry.  Last season they were also touch and go with slow growth, but this season they seem well established and are already laden with fruit.

The chickens were fascinated and watched my every move as I sorted out the garden bed next to their place.

Then there are the raspberries.  These have had a hard life.  I bought them before I knew we were moving with the intention of refreshing the raspberry bed, but they ended up coming with us and spent two seasons in containers before being put in a horrible spot they didn’t like.  So, I have moved them in to a spot that had strawberries in it previously.  Hopefully, they will do better there.  I have two varieties summer ones and autumn ones.  I have high hopes.  

Jasper the Dog
Jasper the Dog wasn’t so fascinated and just slept near by.

On the other side of this bed is a black currant, a red currant, and a white currant with the space for a smoke berry – of which the seeds are still lost in the post.  The currants actually replace currants that died there earlier, however their death was down to an unseen hole in the irrigation underground, so they never got the water they needed and turned up their toes. 

And the new currants are in and hopefully will fair better than their predecessors.

Then in the spot the raspberries were there is a boysenberry that doesn’t seem to mind the conditions, so I gave the soil some love and planted a blackberry and a loganberry.  There is space for another berry of sorts…  Garden centre here I come… 

Blueberries and Gooseberries
The blueberries and gooseberries make up the last of the berries. I’m hoping for a fruitful summer.

So, all hope has been placed in a berry good growing season.  I have put the hard work in to make sector 5 sorted and hopefully easy to manage going forward.

Come again soon – things have gotten fruity.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

3 thoughts on “The Berry End of the Garden

  1. Oh, the peaches are saddening to read about. My peach tree that I planted in 1985 is not only near the end, but the home where it lives must be sold. I was never able to root a cutting. I do not know why. They just will not root. Because the garden must be cleaned up, and the deteriorating stump is unsightly, I intend to dig the stump over winter, and bury it somewhere else, with the tip of a watersprout above grade. If it grows into a tree, it could go for another quarter of a century. (They do not last forever.) However, the climate here, just a few miles away, is not the same as that of the Santa Clara Valley. The consolation is that the tree was so remarkably productive for so many years, and produced longer than it should have been expected to.

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