I planted a new gardening thread

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Michelle

Hey Boom Boom.  On my obsessive all-gardening internet surfing weekend, I ran across this blog that you might be interested in:

Northern Exposure Gardening

S/he's in northern Saskatchewan in USDA Zone 2A, and I think you're in 3A, right?  So I thought you might want to check it out.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Fantastic! Thanks, Michelle. Indeed, I am in Zone 3A.

Michelle

Can we talk about raspberry bushes?  In particular, our raspberry bushes?

When I moved in with RR, he had these lovely raspberry bushes out back.  Every year, they give us lovely raspberries near the beginning of July.  However, the raspberries we get are puny and frail.  They're still tasty!  But they fall apart very easily.  So I'm thinking we need to do something.  But what?  We've just basically let them grow wild for the past few years.

I'm thinking we need to fertilize or put compost down or something, but I don't know what, or when.  I guess I have some research to do.  But that's at the top of my list of gardening priorities in the spring - figuring out what we have to do to get the raspberry bushes happy again.

6079_Smith_W

Does it have good vegetative growth? Does it sucker? Do the leaves look healthy? And have the fruit always been like that or is that a change? And do you have good light? And is your patch weedy?

Michelle

Everything looks relatively healthy on them but the fruit is just puny.  Great light, not sure about weeds - our whole back yard is weedy, so I guess probably yes!  I'm thinking I'd like to lean to a more "permaculture" method of looking after them as opposed to doing the traditional weeding and cultivating thing, so I'm wondering whether I should plant some companion plants near them to help with the soil balance, crowd out the weeds and that sort of thing.

 

Michelle

So, because Google is my friend, I thought I'd do another bit of a search, this time for "permaculture" and "raspberries" together. 

Some good basic planting and maintenance advice here that will be really helpful for me - I have lots of mulching to do to squelch the weeds, apparently - but nothing on companion plants, so I'll keep searching for that.

This link suggests planting raspberries and strawberries near each other, as well as some clover for ground cover.  I love the idea of planting strawberries near them, since I was trying to figure out where to put a strawberry patch anyhow!  I need to keep researching to make sure the clover wouldn't upset the finicky raspberries though.  This link also suggests that clover and raspberries are happy together, and that the clover might be a good nitrogen fixer...and it suggests other things to plant with them to make a guild.

Do you grow raspberries, Winston?

6079_Smith_W

Well they sort of grow themselves. Most of my time is spent cutting suckers, and ours aren't super high producers. I am more focused on our annuals.

I do know that weeds make a difference, so you might want to keep them mulched. Also, if the plant is otherwise healthy and this is a change, potassium is what you need for fruit. But I am not a raspberry expert.

 

Michelle

That's okay, I'm thrilled to have any advice at all. :)  And yes, that's the ultimate goal, that the raspberries grow themselves for the most part, and that we just pick and be happy for as long as they feel like bearing us some fruit.

Roystonbones

 

My experience has been that not much will grow close to raspberries. The first few years I planted the garden by the raspberries nothing came up within a foot of them.

Depending on the variety of raspberry as to the size of the fruit and its season. I had a couple of different varieties in my patch so I got raspberries all summer.

I would mulch the berries with the grass clippings and I would cut out all the dead canes in the spring. I had a soaker hose run through the rows for watering. My yard had really good south exposure and was an old yard as well so it was an ideal growing plot and my work was easy.

Have you read the book  "Roses Love Garlic" ? It is about companion planting. Its likely a bit dated now but I found it helpful a few decades ago.

 

 

Roystonbones

Thought people may interested in a few books about the garden, not necessarily about gardening, that are by west coast Denman Island writer Des Kennedy. His book "An Ecology of Enchanment" is at times quite hilarious and if you are a gardener, especailly a rural one, you can likely relate.

He has an earleir book which gave me an appreciation for slugs and flies of all things. Its called "Lving Things We Love to Hate"

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I have a raspberry trellis with strawberries for ground cover. How old are the bushes? Most stems will only produce for about five or six years. before dropping off. Along with nitrogen, they also like an acidic soil, so you could mulch with some coffee grounds or high acid compost. And yes, keep them well pruned and pull up suckers whenever you find them.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I have raspberry bushes at the back of my property, and they grow wild all over the place here, as do blueberries and bakeapples. But they are all smaller than commercial varieties. The raspberry bushes at the back of my property have been there probably for 60 years or more. They've grown over antique lobster and crab pots left by the original owners of the place.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

A friend of mine used a four-liter water jug with holes drilled into it at the end of the hose as a water sprinkler. Easy to do.

 

Michelle

Oh, I didn't see the responses to my raspberry question until now!  Thanks so much, everyone!

I got some strawberry seeds that I'll be starting indoors, for that exact purpose, Catchfire.  And also, I got some clover, which I've read in several places (and confirmed by the woman at the greenhouse today) could work nicely as living mulch for the raspberries.  Royston, thanks for the advice too, much appreciated.  I plan to cut the canes this year after they bear fruit - I had no idea how to go about doing it before, and I was worried I'd cut the wrong canes after I'd picked the fruit! :)  So I've decided that what I'll do is put a little twist-tie around the canes that bear fruit so I'll remember which ones I have to cut!

I don't know how old the canes are.  RR put them in years ago and they've spread about.  I'm determined to become the raspberry whisperer this summer!  Or, if not this summer, I'll lay the groundwork for amazing raspberries next summer, since I didn't cut the canes that bore fruit last summer (and now I have no idea which ones were which - it's a bit jungly out there!).  The funny thing is, I'm not even all that crazy about raspberries.  But RR loves them.  I'm a strawberry person, so I have high hopes for the strawberries I got.

I'm also planning to set out some blueberry bushes this year somewhere in the back yard.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Strawberries, from my experience anyway, take a few years to start producing seriously, so have patience! I don't know much about pruning raspberry bushes, but I've never really paid much attention to which stems bear fruit -- I just trim down the bushes so that they only have a few branches and it's always worked for me. I've read that you're supposed to prune them at the end of the growing season, but in Vancouver, there's not much risk of frostbite or whatever. I basically just want to say that I think raspberries are basically weeds, and from what I can tell, as long as you keep them close to under control, they'll reward you.

I have blueberry plants too. One of my neghbours killed one by cleaning his paintbrushes (!) in a stormdrain that drains between our two properties. But I can say that mixing the soil 50% with sand makes killer blueberry bushes. You also need to keep them pruned after the first year, but keep them sandy, happy with acidic compost (coffee grounds again) and they'll go nuts with fruit. I've never been able to seedling them, but apparently it's possible. Berries are the most rewarding part of my backyard plot. When the moneyload hits, it's amazing.

Brian White

I have a  new "flip Flop" irrigation thingy in a pallet garden. It distributes the water much more evenly. Edited 4th March Playlist  now has 3 videos about: how it works, how to use it as a bird scare and how to use it to collect solar heat for the root zone.  I would be happy to add anybodys video of their own flip flop to the playlist.  I have had thumbs up from google science guys,and  gardeners in England, Fiji and India about it but people are often craven cowards about actually doing little things like this.   Especially when they would be one of the first in the world to do it! (I have no idea why this is) http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkzXlmAwZTZcZ1F_EdWJGmoCyPm6A9Gne&...

Brian

Brian White

I am cycling the water (and nutrients).  !t uses 2 or 3 litres of water per day and the plant roots  are always damp.  A hose will use that amount of water in a couple of minutes and the plants will be dry within 2 or 3 hours. Also there in zero nutrient cycling with a hose.  You are not comparing like with like. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLkzXlmAwZTZcZ1F_EdWJGmoCyPm6A9Gne&...

Boom Boom wrote:

A friend of mine used a four-liter water jug with holes drilled into it at the end of the hose as a water sprinkler. Easy to do.

 

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Michelle wrote:

That's okay, I'm thrilled to have any advice at all. :)  And yes, that's the ultimate goal, that the raspberries grow themselves for the most part, and that we just pick and be happy for as long as they feel like bearing us some fruit.

I inherited a thriving raspberry patch when I bought my first house (my first summer there I was getting 3lbs of berries every second day for nearly a month!!!), and we took some canes with us when we moved to this one.  Size of fruit often has a lot to do with variety.  I wish I knew what mine were called so I could recommend them - they're hardy, have large, fairly sweet fruit and pretty much take care of themselves.

I cut out the dead canes in the spring.  The canes that came up last year fruit, the new growth fruits the following year.  I suppose you could cull the fruiting canes after they're done producing, but it's generally gotten pretty thick with new growth by then, so I don't bother.  You want to trim where they spread beyond where you want them asap or you will find the patch kind of extends itself.  They love full sun best.

Michelle

Thanks Timebandit, I'll heed your advice. :)

In other news - I have seedlings!  I'm so excited.  I have the following plants in teensy seedling form right now: Verde tomatillos, Green Zebra tomatoes, and Yellow Pear tomatoes. 

I've also planted some comfrey, Thai chile peppers, Jamaican yellow peppers, and Walla Walla green onions, but none of them are poking their little seed heads out yet.

Michelle
Michelle

I've improved my grow op!  This is what I spent all day yesterday doing...

Here's what it looked like at first:

 

Pretty seedlings resulted:

 

But on Saturday, I bought a couple of really cheap fluorescent shop lights so I could do a set up that would stop the seedlings from getting so leggy, and this is what I came up with:

image

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Wow, beautiful, Michelle! Thanks for the pics! I've never grown tomatoes from seed before. Looking great!

I've got peas, spinach, kale and chard in the ground right now. No sprouts yet, though.

Michelle

Sounds lovely!  It's a little early for spring greens here yet in Toronto - ground's still too hard, I think.  In another couple of weeks I'll be putting in some leafy salad greenery type stuff.  And I'd love to grow some beans and peas too.  But I don't want to get too ambitious my first real year of veggie gardening - I want to concentrate on a few things and try to do them well, then expand little by little every year.  My first priority is getting the raspberries happy and healthy!

My mom's been growing tomatoes and peppers and all sorts of other veggies from seed for the past few years, since she retired.  I guess she kind of inspired me to try it too...

This will be my fourth summer living in this house.  Each year I've tried to plant something or other and while there have been a few rays of sunshine, a lot of my attempts have been rather dismal.  So I have high hopes that this year will be different!

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Michelle, they're lovely! Great set-up!

Catchfire, I want to weep when I hear people have gardens in.

The blond guy and I spent our late afternoon shoveling a couple of feet of snow off the roof and chipping away at ice dams. The snow banks in my yard are over 5 feet high. Record snowfall here this year and the thaw is Late coming. I'm beginning to feel like spring is never going to arrive - dying to find out how my front yard perennials fared over the winter.

6079_Smith_W

Looks lovely.

This probably the first time in 10 years I don't have flats out already. We're off for a couple of weeks and it is too delicate a task to leave to others.

I did clean up the perennials in the basement and put them out in the grenhouse today.

 

 

NorthReport

Schoolyard market garden sprouts up at Vancouver school

Play VideoFood from the Van Tech garden will be sold in the neighbourhood and cafeteriasStudents create food garden at school0:44Facebook198Twitter39Share237Email

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2013/03/25/bc-vanco...

Michelle

Thanks for the kind words, folks!  Now I am hoping that they don't all die when we go away for Easter weekend.  I think I'm going to pick up a timer power bar at a hardware store so that I can make the lights go on and off themselves while we're away.  (Don't want to leave them on 24 hours a day for 4 days.)  And I guess I'll soak them well before leaving, because I won't be able to water them for four days either!  I'm a bit worried about them, actually.  All that work over the past few weeks could be completely undone if they die of thirst!

Michelle

Interesting link, NorthReport.  I'd love to see more schools doing that sort of thing.  Here's a great TED talk by a teacher who is doing something similar in a Bronx school. 

Michelle

Timebandit: And here I was, all jealous of a Portland blog I've been reading recently, where they have already started planting outside!  While in the meantime, our thermometers here are just peeking above zero after a lot of snow (for us).  Clearly I should count my blessings, since we're starting to get a bit of spring-like weather this week, but just barely.  I'm sorry you're buried under so much snow!

Smith: Greenhouses!  Ooooh. :)  That's probably a few years off for me.  I'm too newbie for that right now.  But that sounds wonderful!  It's easy to post pics on the new babble, by the way.  If your pic is posted online somewhere (e.g. Flickr), just right click on the pic, select "copy image", and then you can just paste it into the comment box here.

Not that I'm hinting that I want everyone to post garden porn or anything... ;)

Michelle

Okay, maybe I was hinting that I wanted everyone to post garden porn... :) 

Has your snow melted yet, Timebandit?  Back from vacation, Smith?  Tell me how your greens are growing, Catchfire!  (And maybe we could convince Rebecca West and Tommy Paine to pop in and chat - they always have a gorgeous garden going every year.)

Last night, I transplanted all my hot peppers from the seedling trays into more of those larger red cups you see in the grow op picture above.  All my tomato (and tomatillo) seedlings are growing like wild things.  I can't wait until the frost date to plant them outside!

Today I decided it was yard and garden day.  I completely tidied the front porch of all the junk that had accumulated on it over the winter (and the stuff we stored there during our kitchen reno).  That included carrying a big wooden table to the back yard, and a printer shelf to the basement.  Swept the porch and it looks lovely now.  The outdoor furniture is still all dirty and dusty from the winter because it was a little too cool outside for me to feel like hosing it down.

Then I went to an indie garden store on Queen East, picked up 4 bags of black earth, 2 bags of composted sheep manure, and 2 bags of container potting soil, as well as a decent pair of hand pruners and a pair of lopping shears.  It took three e-bike rides to get it all home - luckily it's only a 5-10 minute ride away!

Then I started working on the front postage stamp garden - pulled out all the annoying little shoots that have sprung up all over it from our Rose of Sharon bush's seeds.  I pruned back the Rose of Sharon bush and this other ugly bush that has pretty flowers for about two weeks a year and then the rest of the year looks ugly, and bears inedible red berries at the end of the summer and all through the fall.  PITA.  But RR likes it, so it stays. :)  I also raked up all the garbage that people seem to like to throw into our garden from the sidewalk as they're walking down the street, since we live on a somewhat busy street.

Then I tackled the raspberry bushes in the back yard.  They're called "brambles" for a reason!  Cleared out the dead canes, pruned the living ones the way my raspberry manual told me to, yanked out a bunch of stuff I didn't recognize growing amongst it, then I spread a bag of sheep manure down and then a bag of black earth on top of that.  I probably should have done that the other way around, but oh well.  Hopefully I won't be arrested by the garden police. :)  I also pruned back the cedar tree, whose lower branches were way overgrown and getting mixed up in the brambles.

I'm planning to put stakes in and tie the raspberry canes to them, but I don't have any right now - so maybe I'll get some tomorrow if I have the gumption.  I don't necessarily think it has to be done immediately.  But the raspberry canes sure look a lot better now!  I also have strawberry and white clover seeds - after the last frost date (apparently May 9th in Toronto - didn't think it was that early) I'm planning to seed the clover among the raspberry canes for green mulch and a nitrogen fixer, and I'll be planting strawberry seeds at the foot of the raspberry bushes since strawberries and raspberries apparently like each other.

What else?  Oh yeah.  We have a TON of little baskets like this, left over from cleaning stuff out of the basement (except ours are black and much smaller, not laundry basket-size like these):

So I lined 4 of them with leftover landscaping fabric and sowed lettuce seed in them today - they're now sitting outside on the front porch enjoying the cool evening.  Looking forward to getting some lettuce in a few weeks!  I'm planning to put them in a semi-shady part of the garden in the back yard, half-buried so they can stay hydrated.

I wanted to work on sheet mulching the front postage stamp this evening after I took a hot bath (it was cool out today, and after spending all day outside I had that "chilled to the bone" feeling that wouldn't go away), because they're calling for rain tomorrow and I thought it would be great to have it in and let the rain get at it to let it settle in - but it's almost dark.  I suppose I could still do it with the porch light on.  But maybe I'll do it tomorrow morning instead.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

The snow is decidedly not gone. We had a couple of days here and there of just above freezing, and the sun is trying to do its bit, but if there's any cloud cover then there is only melting on the streets. And then it snowed on Friday night and last night and off and on all day today. More forecast for tomorrow and low temp for the next two nights are -17 and -16 respectively. It occurred to me this morning that there has been snow on the ground for a solid 5 months now. It's usually gone or mostly gone by now and I've still got about 3 feet in my yard. Insurance claims for leaky roofs are off the charts - it thaws enough to make water, but freezes part way down, dams it up and if there's a weak spot, in it comes.

Your plantings sound wonderful. I'm quite envious! I tried staking my raspberries one year, but it only amused them. They wound up bending the stakes to their will halfway though the summer. :)

ETA: I have lavender seedlings in a pot on the window sill, and chives in another, some cilantro in a third. I re-used the soil from one of my pepper pots from last summer, and apparently one of the marigolds I had in there went to seed, so I also have some volunteer marigolds. One is already trying to bloom, looking forward to the color!

Michelle

Good grief!  That does not sound like fun.  It was a snowier winter here in Toronto than it has been for the past few years as well.  In fact, it snowed a couple of times last week!  Brief flurries, and nothing stuck to the ground, but it totally sucked.  If I'm whining here, I can't imagine how I'd be in Regina! :)  Well, at least I haven't reached the level of whining in that "Snow in Toronto" sketch by Rick Mercer.  That one doesn't get old.

Are you planning much in the way of the garden this year, considering that you'll be moving?  Hope your perennials come back nicely - I'm sure they will.  Perennials like their dormant time, so I guess yours will be getting their fill of it!

Ha, that's funny with the raspberries.  Maybe I won't bother, then!  Now that I've cleared out the crap, it might be easier for me to access them this year anyhow even without the stakes.  I got the staking advice from a booklet on growing raspberries, but they also seemed to assume that the grower has rows and rows of them, and we just have a little area with maybe 10 canes or so.  I have decided on a system, though: I'm going to put a twist tie around the canes that fruit this summer, so that I'll remember which ones they are come late fall when it's time to cut them back.

Today I sheet mulched the front postage stamp.  I'm not sure I put enough soil on it, though - I can't believe how much soil a tiny space needs in order to get any kind of depth! I'll start planting it after the frost date. 

Oh, I was also tempted into buying 4 blueberry plants at the garden store this weekend.  I'll be putting them in the back yard next weekend.  I'm a little nervous about them - they weren't bank-breaking, but they also weren't really cheap either, and I don't want to kill them...

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

Blueberries! Very nice! We saw some at Home Despot yesterday, we might put some in at our new place (when we know where that is) next year.

Not much gardening this year, I'm afraid.we have lots of perennial plants to squint at as they come up, and we will take a rhubarb and some raspberries with us. We should be moving in late July, so a little bit then, mostly get to know the new yard, patterns of light, that sort of thing.

janfromthebruce

I'm going to try these this year. The Plant Tower. Plants grow from the side of these towers creating a beautiful, space-saving spectacle! For more information, visit Plant Towers.

Plant Towers

Well I guess it didn't post well. Go to the page. Plant towers are great for using vertical space.

 

 

Roystonbones

 

 

Plant tower?

 

Eco sculptue in Burnaby

 

 

 

janfromthebruce

I love the plant tower.

Tommy_Paine

I am eagerly waiting to see if the two Paw Paw trees I planted last fall survived the winter.  During the winter we aquired two guinea pigs.  Their litter-- which includes Timothy they didn't eat, their droppings and urine (smells to be high in nitrogen) and the fine wood shavings are going to be welcomed additions to the garden and lawn.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Man I hate buttercups. Like soooo much.

janfromthebruce

Buttercups are pretty but a weed.

Brian White

Pallet garden in the states.  http://ponga.com/fafe6998536ba025 and the new airlift pump has been tried in USA, Canada Denmark, France and Cambodia  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8124/8660038327_5d8305d1d7_c.jpg and http://our.windowfarms.org/2013/05/24/the-nuts-and-bolts/#comments and http://our.windowfarms.org/2013/04/18/airlift-pump-in-a-bucket-not-t-joi... Not bad for something started on August 11th 2012   Brian

Brian White

Pallet garden in the states.  http://ponga.com/fafe6998536ba025 and the new airlift pump has been tried in USA, Canada Denmark, France and Cambodia  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8124/8660038327_5d8305d1d7_c.jpg and http://our.windowfarms.org/2013/05/24/the-nuts-and-bolts/#comments and http://our.windowfarms.org/2013/04/18/airlift-pump-in-a-bucket-not-t-joi... Not bad for something started on August 11th 2012   Brian

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

My rosemary plant is dead/dying and I'm not sure how to revive it. It's just a little guy in my kitchen window, but I can't get it back!

Tips?

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

They need to be watered regularly, but like to keep their feet dry - are you overwatering?  Which way does the window face, and how much light is it getting?  They like a lot of direct sun.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Hmm, thank you.

I don't believe I'm overwatering (I'm usually pretty good with plants) and it gets a good amount of direct sun light from the window as well.

I have a paper towel underneath the soil in the pot, maybe I'll remove that and see what happens...

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

You can put it next to a lamp with a full spectrum bulb in the evening, too, see if that helps.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Oh, I am so sad. I'm moving this month and one of the concessions (real estate is always about compromise; in Vanvouver, these can be harder than elsewhere) is my garden. Rhubarb, plum trees, raspberry thatches, blackberry and loganberry brambles, herb garden and three vegetable plots -- all go to the next lucky tenant. I double dug, trellised, composted and planted every last stem in this backyard. It's the raspberries I'll miss the most since they were super happy, super pretty and super delicious. They are still fruiting even now. *sniff*

There might be space for some gardening in my new place, but it faces a very busy street close to one of the Richmond - Vancouver bridges. What are the effects of heavy car traffic on vegetable gardens? I have no idea.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

Thanks for that tip TB -- I will revive you yet rosemary! *shakes fist*

CF- that sucks. a lot.

Timebandit Timebandit's picture

I feel your pain, CF.  I really hated leaving my garden behind when we moved this summer - I had a Greek oregano that I'd coddled along for years, a massive grape vine, "heritage" rhubarb from the blond guy's grandmother's homestead, raspberries from my first house, roses I'd planted with my daughters.  It was hard to leave them.

I took some rhubarb with my - it seems to be doing well in the new location.  Jury is out on  whether the raspberry canes I brought with me will make it - or the two "volunteer" vines that my original grape seeded.  Won't really know until spring.

janfromthebruce

FYI, I have killed every rosemary plant I owned. It seems that as soon as I move it indoors for the winter, it dies no matter what I do.

Kaitlin McNabb Kaitlin McNabb's picture

janfromthebruce wrote:

FYI, I have killed every rosemary plant I owned. It seems that as soon as I move it indoors for the winter, it dies no matter what I do.

this baby was brand new too!

Gah!

I have dreams of having this full beautiful herb garden, but they are not coming to fruition in my tiny apartment. 

Can you will a plant to grow?!

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