Monday, August 15, 2005

Berry Time

My red raspberries are entering their second bearing of the summer a little early this year. Usually I'm still picking a few stragglers at the first frost (3rd-4th week of October here in Central Illinois,) but this year they're coming on much earlier than usual. We've had rain on and off for the last 2 days and the berries are setting their own records with this crop. I'm not exaggerating when I tell you that the largest ones that I picked this evening were an inch in diameter!

The canes that I grow are called "Heritage" and have the charming habit of bearing their heads off on the new canes of the summer, with the largest and most prolific crop (the crop that I'm beginning to harvest now) and then, after having those tips pruned off, will bear again along new side branches early next summer, just in time for 4th of July raspberry desserts. At that point, when the canes have borne two crops, they're ready to be cut out, which gives the next generation of canes more room to spread their lovely leaves.

This year the leaves haven't been so lovely, thanks to the obnoxious Japanese Beetles, who love to gnaw lacy holes through the raspberry leaves. Thankfully, the canes seem to have enough energy to ignore their ravaged leaves and go ahead and produce the new crop without interruption.

I picked 2+ pints tonight. D likes to think in terms of what I could sell them for at Schnuck's, our local grocery store, and according to his calculations, 2+ pints would be worth more than $10. This is just the start of this crop, though. We had a yield of about 70 pints with the first crop earlier this summer. I'll take these to work tomorrow to give to a co-worker who saved berry containers for me.

When I figure out how to post pictures here, I'll show you a picture of the patch.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Hello There!

While perusing a gift shop in Mendocino, California, I came across a T-shirt that said:

"From the earth we are formed, to the earth we return, and in between we garden."

Unfortunately, I talked myself out of investing in the T-shirt (seems to me they didn't have the baggy size I prefer,) but I scribbled the quote down on a scrap of paper. I've since cross-stitched it and hung it in our dining room and trust that my family will remember to pull it out for my wake someday. I hasten to add that I have no premonition of dying soon, but I do have a strong sense of my own mortality and just want to do my final party up well.

So, I'll use this blog as a way to communicate my experiences, observations, and memories to my family and friends, because if you think about it, wouldn't it be amazing if all of our ancestors could have had this opportunity? Someday Johan (my precious 3-year-old grandson) will be able to know his Mormor in a way that hasn't been possible until now.

My garden is my therapy, my solace and my connection with my peasant forbearers, who mostly came from Germany, but a few from England and Sweden as well. Although I can't smell the soil any more (more on that in a later post,) I get great pleasure from pulling weeds, digging in the soil and picking raspberries.

My thanks to Paul and Leta (whom I've never met, but whose blog I read often) for helping me aspire to start this project.