[NAFEX] In praise of Raspberries

list at ginda.us list at ginda.us
Sat Jul 15 09:55:42 EDT 2006

To elaborate on my post of last night:  As a space-constrained  
suburban gardener, the raspberry hedge has been by far my most cost- 
effective fruit.  Those of you who live out in the country and have  
lots of land may have different economies of scale, but I would  
recommend raspberries as the first and most valuable crop for anyone  
in my situation.

Raspberries are cheap to buy, and low maintenance.  I paid for 4  
plants and several bags of soil and compost (to replace the rocks in  
my ground and enrich the soil) the year I planted them.  In their  
third year, when they got full sized, I bought 6 metal fence-posts  
and some string, and made a string "fence" to keep the canes contained.

Annual inputs so far have been a heavy mulch of shredded leaves each  
fall (free, because I have to dispose of my leaves somewhere, and the  
lawnmower is the easiest way to get them off the grass) and a  
generous dollop of lawn fertilizer (I use corn gluten) in the spring  
- also free, since my lawn doesn't require an even number of bags,  
and it's a nuisance to store it.  Labor involved is limited to  
pruning heavily twice a year and pruning out damaged canes when I  
notice them.

Rewards have been many more raspberries than I would ever buy in  
those tiny containers in the shop.  I've never actually gotten enough  
from my 4 plants to store or process, but the four of us and our  
guests eat a lot of raspberries every summer over a long season.  I  
grow Fall Red, which gives a large crop throughout the month of July,  
peters out in August, and then gives a larger but more spread-out  
crop from early September until the hard frosts, sometime in  
October.  Basically, the only reason raspberries are expensive is  
that they don't ship well.  It's a cheap local crop.

In contrast, my blueberries require substantial fencing to keep out  
their numerous admirers.  I've spent more fencing them than I would  
have paid for all their cumulative crop over the past 8 years.  Lots  
of bird netting draped to the ground was cheap and reasonably  
effective against birds, but it worked as a snare and I had to remove  
numerous dead birds and chipmunks every summer.  I didn't like  
killing the animals, and I really didn't like handling their  
partially decomposed corpses.  Also, I need something more  
substantial to keep the rabbits from eating  all the buds over the  
winter.  I now have a foot of hardware cloth at the ground and two  
feet of chicken wire, and I toss bird netting over the top only when  
the fruit it ripe.  It works well.  The blueberries have been slow to  
bear, but perhaps will eventually produce enough fruit to be  
economically worth while.

The apples are very shy about blooming in less-than-full sun, and  
require sprays and other fussing.  The currants are easy, and produce  
more than I can eat, but we have a limited appetite for them.  The  
apricot shows promise, but is still young and hasn't proved itself.   
The grapes were VERY slow to bear, and require a trellis.  They may  
also eventually prove themselves, but I've had them 7 years, and this  
is the first year they set fruit.  The strawberries are all eaten by  
critters - I do get a few of the alpines, but that's about it.  Maybe  
if they got the attention the blueberries get they would do better.   
Other experiments mostly haven't fruited.

Off to a breakfast of fresh berries in milk.  :)


On Jul 14, 2006, at 9:10 PM, list at ginda.us wrote:

> Today there were more raspberries in my patch than my daughter and I
> together could eat!  I'm pretty sure that's a first for me.  The
> raspberries grow in a row about 2' wide and 14' long.  I vigorously
> restrict them to their alloted space.  They don't get full sun for
> much of the day.  But it's been a good year for raspberries, and the
> early crop is near peak, and I hadn't really picked them yesterday or
> the day before.
> Tomorrow morning I'll see how much more I can eat.  :)  I may even
> pick the blueberries into a bowl and get some idea of the volume my
> row of blueberries is producing.
> Ginda

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