Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Sweet Side of Spring and Early Summer

I love having the opportunity to posses a garden; I am ecstatic to go out each day and see what my garden has prepared for me. It may be as simple as elegant leafs of lettuce or spinach at the peak of ripeness - full of vitamins and nutrients - awaiting my eager hands to pluck them from the earth and prepare them for our afternoon/evening repast. Whatever awaits me, I eagerly await each day.

Each of my gardens tells a story, and has a season. Season meaning - not just the general winter, spring, summer, or fall - but the time when most everything in it begins to peak or hit its prime. My serenity garden (named appropriately because of  a small white picket fence which separates it from my puppies:-) is home to my - at least most of -  my berries! These include one grape, my Captivator gooseberry, raspberries, and strawberries.

When I need a break from the business of life, this is one spot I readily retreat to. It's a place of peace for me; I can sit and just be for a short time to recharge my batteries. I think this is why I chose it to place all of my berry plants.

I LOVE fruit, especially when I have the opportunity to pick it fresh and enjoy the 'completness' of it (not the hard, tasteless version we so frequently find at the grocery store :-( ) Its  so full of the natural flavor, nutrients, vitamins, and goodness the Lord has given it; once it's tasted, its hard to eat anything else! So here I wait, patiently, for my fruits to mature. Here is what lies in store for me...

These are my strawberries. I have been waiting on these for two years, so hopefully this year is prosperous for me! I have three varieties: Fort Laramie, Berries Galore, and Quinault. They are all 'everbearing' strawberries (meaning they will continually produce in spring and the high desert, probably from early summer to early fall). I've had them for two years now and I generally get a flower but not actually a berry. From these pictures, I am very hopeful this year will be different for me!

My strawberries are all of the 'runner' type so they put out off-shoots in the fall that produce another plant come spring thaw. You simply leave the 'baby' plant, or move it to a desired location, water, occasionally fertilize, and enjoy the ripe berries you receive! I know I have been giving mine fish fertilizer -fairly regularly this spring - and it's probably the healthiest mine have looked!

I am also in love with raspberries. Growing up, we had two magnificent rows of these succulent berries. In June, we would often have to pick them every day, or every-other-day, to keep up with the amount of fruit they were producing.

Now that I am trying to grow them in the high desert, I have found that ripe berries are peak at a slightly later date than those in more temperated areas, but they are every-bit as sweet as the's the flavor I'm after!

Each spring, I simply cut out the dead canes and train the new growth around three different heights of wire I have spread out for them. Not only does this give them room to grow and breath, but it makes it much easier for me to pick the berries whey they ripen, simply because they are at different heights.

For the most part, I have seen my berries ripen in mid-June and produce clear into early August (keep in mind, this is Oregon's high desert may not be exact everywhere else.)

Fertilize every other week and keep them moist, and you should have no problem with a crop of your matter the size of it!

I also enjoy an Elderberry bush, Captivator gooseberry bush, and a grape- which I will encompass another time - in this my serenity garden.

I hope you can create "areas" in your garden just  for you. Perhaps they are small or maybe even  grand! Whichever it is, enjoy it for what it has to offer.

Spring is not only a beautiful time to immerse yourself in the floral beauty which surrounds you, but it's also a time to sit back and enjoy all you have.

 When I see my first berry ripen from crimson to a deep magenta, it's not only an emotional experience for me, I know it's ready to harvest. I take a few moments each evening, when it's cooler, to pick my produce. What doesn't get eaten when I enter my house will then be flash frozen to preserve it as best I can to enjoy later.

When you go out to you garden, remember there are other relevant seasons other than just summer and fall. Each plant has a unique time-frame and micro-climate in which it matures and bears fruit. For me, I've learned that come late June and early July, I will begin to see a few red berries in my garden: that of the strawberries and of the raspberries!

I can say one thing with the up most certainty; I'm zealous for the first picking of my early bearing fruit!

Take this time to focus on your likes and dislikes about your gardens and be truly honest with yourself; if you aren't in love with it, find a way to make it will be much happier with the outcome. Don't settle for mediocre; if you want berries, research it and make it happen! You'll be happy you did in the long run!!

Enjoy your gardening...take pleasure in the gifts you are so fervently provided with!!

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