Can you tell I looked up some "R" words in a dictionary? Rapturous…..Riot….Redolent….but I did not use them all and you can be thankful for that! We are in the midst of the most prolific time for raspberries and this year, after a two year hiatus, our canes are producing a bumper crop of the delicious berries. I feel particularly satisfied, since two years ago when I "took over" the raspberry patch. MBF got sick of the work it takes to grow raspberries and the patch had gotten away from us; he was all ready to mow the whole works down when I intervened and pleaded for 2 rows to escape the Kubota power mower tractor. Since then I have religiously cared for the raspberry canes….getting out early in the spring….March if the conditions are right (no ankle deep mud). The first thing that must be done is to spread post- emergent weed treatment. I do not like using agricultural chemicals but with raspberries it is a choice between the canes being suffocated by weeds or use the chemical pre-emergent so I made the right choice and use it in the early spring. Then the old canes must be cut out and disposed of followed by a good application of dry granular fertilizer. Then it is very helpful if you have a couple of nice rain showers or if you do not get that….the lawn sprinkler can wet down the raspberry patch. Then you are free til mid -July when the crop needs to be picked. This summer everything must have fallen into the right places—cool spring and early summer, plenty of rain, and enough sun and heat to bring the berries to the ripeness needed to pick them. Oops! I almost forgot…. you also need honeybees to pollinate the plants and we had a riot of buzzing going on at the time of pollination so that worked well also.
This summer the raspberries responded by producing abundantly and we have spent the past two weeks picking berries almost every day. We have gotten plenty to eat (with "half and half" or to use in health shakes each morning) and plenty to freeze for next winter. Raspberry picking is the most miserable part of the whole process, at least it is for me. MBF does not mind picking raspberries at all…he is not attacked mercilessly by either mosquitos or gnats who are my constant enemies, making it necessary for me to wear a "bug hat"…..my large sun hat bought in Galveston, TX years ago… covered by a mosquito netting- hood that goes all the way down my upper chest and under my arms. A big long- sleeved shirt covers up my hood and vest and I wear long thick denim jeans …a necessity because I must get into the middle of the patch to get berries from the inside canes. It is usually hot and muggy when raspberries are ripe so that adds to my woes since I absolutely prefer November to July… temperature-wise.
We make the picking more bearable by having a radio to listen to out by the patch…music truly does sooth the Savage Beast (me… getting cranky from being dressed so heavily and getting so miserably hot under the beating sun) Picking early in the morning might improve things but since retiring, I do not enjoy getting up so early. I should try starting the picking about 8 a.m. one morning and see what it is like then. Yesterday at the height of the picking (the canes were so full of ripe berries that MBF counted over 60 berries from one cane) I got to feeling woozy after being in the patch for a couple of hours of hot sunshine. I felt like lying down right where I was, which would have been impossible since I was trapped by canes right in the midlle of one of the rows. I did quit picking and went indoors but I have felt "odd"…. like I need to recover all day today. By tomorrow I should be ready for one last foray as a raspberry picker.
After tomorrow the robins are welcome to what is left in the patch. And speaking of our bird neighbors—-the swallows are done teaching their little ones to fly and have stopped tormenting the Cat. I watched two Purple Finch parents teach their babies how to eat from the grape jelly plate on the deck and I found an ideal shallow bowl for a makeshift birdbath and bird - water station. The oriole family is still visiting the jelly plate also. Other birds besides orioles seem to love the grape jelly as much as orioles. I need to refill the hummingbird feeder again as it is soon time for the little Hummers to start eating a lot before their migration journey begins. Another large male racoon (my least favorite wild raiders) was caught in the live trap last night after two of his cohorts met the same fate the past weeks. Racoons are really destructive around a yard and garden….and they are too smart. One broke my jelly plate and made a big mess on the deck earlier this summer. One racoon did not go into the live cage where tasty cat food awaited, but tripped the door and dragged the cage away and got the food dish out and ate the bait. Fortunately, we did track down the live trap and get it returned for further duty. It has also caught three skunks this summer and several large wild tomcats looking for trouble. We had to call in our friend Howard for sage advice on how to handle the trapped skunks and thankfully his advice was very sound. No "skunk odor" sprays at all. Howard knows what he is doing.
I am beginning to long for Fall and a bit of a change from the hot summer stuff that has occupied us lately.