Saturday, May 19, 2018

Berried Alive

It's a long-awaited dream come true. We have a berry patch!

Since we first terraced the hillside into raised beds years ago, I've known that they were destined to house a host of perennials. This year, we finally had the right setup and no other more-pressing projects in the way. So I went berry crazy!

The bed closest to the house holds blueberries. They're pretty all year, so we put them in the most visible place. We picked highbush varieties because we have the space for the larger plants, and they generally have the most vibrant fall foliage. We're starting with 3-4 plants each of early, mid, and late season varieties, for a total of 10 bushes. That will extend our harvest of sweet-tart juicy berries for as long as possible! The types we planted are:

Early: Spartan, Patriot
Mid: Bluecrop, Chandler
Late: Legacy

We have room for another row of plants, so we'll see which one we like best this year, and then add more next time around.

Across from the blueberries is our future strawberry patch. I gave it a kick-start with about 25 Shuksan and a few Albion, but it's still mostly empty awaiting the end of this strawberry season. We have a patch of strawberry plants currently, which I'll move into their new home after they finish fruiting this year. Strawberries are heavy feeders, so I'm sure they'll appreciate a fresh, well-nourished new bed. And I'll appreciate having a whole additional bed for my annual veggies!

Both of the back beds are full of one of my all-time favorite foods - raspberries. We have a mix of Meeker, Tulameen, and some kind of golden raspberry I wasn't planning to buy but couldn't pass up. There are also a few canes someone shared with me from their garden (plus one lone gooseberry they had on hand.) The canes look so small now that it's hard to imagine they'll ever become the giant tangle I know most raspberry patches to be. I'm so excited to see them grow!

Does anybody know how to separate out raspberry canes that were sold planted together in one big pot?
Because obviously I don't. 

In the rest of the garden, we currently have:

  • Half a bed of lettuce (mixed varieties) - I always intend to succession-plant this so we don't end up with it all ripe at once, but then I can never resist planting every available inch at the first possible second.
  • Half a bed of radishes (mixed varieties) - little red crowns are already peeking out! 
  • Half a bed of sugar snap and snow peas - holy cow do those things grow fast! Every year I plant a couple different varieties to see what I like best, and then every year I forget what I put where, and anyway the vines are so entangled by that point it's impossible to tell what's coming from where anyway. But I've never had one I didn't love, so it doesn't really matter.
  • Half a bed of broccolini! It's my first time growing this, because I get cranky about how much space each individual plant takes up. But I have to say, they're very nice plants. And as a bonus, some volunteer lettuce that sprang back up from last year is loving the shade underneath the broccolini leaves. 
  • A bed of garlic, which I'm hoping can come out soon - we plant our garlic in late fall and let it overwinter, so it's the first thing to pop up in spring. 
  • Oodles of potato hills. I had no idea before I started growing potatoes myself how much fun they are! Once the plants take off, I swear you can actually hear them growing. It happens that fast. Every day feels like a little victory, and yet they barely take any work at all. 
The lavender has also, as promised, nearly doubled in size this year. I'm hoping to have some bundles or sachets available in early fall, so keep your eyes (nose?) peeled for that. 

Up next: the pumpkin and squash patch! Although we grew these plants in previous years, this is the first time they'll be in what we've always intended to be their main growing area.  Lesson from last year: I'll be putting hardware cloth down underneath the soil, so those digging barbarian voles can't upend my precious babies. 

The Garden Guardian, hard at work and in hardcore need of a bath.


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