Search Results : raspberries » Edible Landscaping Made Easy With Avis Licht

Jan 092012
 
Red Raspberries

by Avis Licht

Raspberries are growing in the wooden stake area

Raspberries have their place in a large garden, but beware - they will spread like wildfire!

Raspberries are delicious and easy to grow, BUT they have some very big drawbacks. So before you go buying and putting those puppies in the ground read this cautionary tale. Then I’ll tell you how to prune them. Remember, this is a pruning post, not a planting post.  How to plant and care for your raspberries, will be another day.

Red Raspberries

These are everbearing rapsberries, that produce in Spring and Fall

Raspberries grow from perennial roots that produce thorny canes.  They spread horizontally underground. If you live in a climate where it rains during the growing season, or if you irrigate  near the raspberries, you will find that they spread rapidly outside their growing bed.

You can do one of two things to control the spread of underground runners.  Next to your bed you can dig a trench 12 inches deep and put in a root barrier. This would be a material like aluminum, wood or plastic that will keep the runners from spreading horizontally.

Or, you can dig up the runners as you see them springing up in the garden. To my chagrin, I have found runners throughout the garden. Especially in late Spring, you can find me running around like a mad woman digging up unwanted canes. Sometimes it feels like they’re growing as fast as I can dig them up. Some people say it’s easy to dig them up, but my experience is that their roots get entangled with other plants. It’s a pain in the butt to dig them up, so Planter Beware!

If you have a small garden, with room for only a few plants, I don’t think it is worth planting raspberries.  It takes at least 10 original plants to produce enough fruit to make it worth the trouble. That would be a bed 3 ft wide by 20 ft long. Not to mention the maintenance.

On the other hand, once you’ve decided that you have enough room and can keep up with the maintenance, I say, you can’t have too many.  They cost a lot of money in the store, and when you grow them at home, you can eat as many as you want. Who can argue with that?

The most common plants are “ever -bearing” or “twice- bearing” raspberries.  You plant them in the Spring and they produce their first crop in the Fall. Prune these shoots back  in the Winter, and they produce new shoots in the spring that produce a second crop.  These canes will die back after their Fall harvest.  New shoots that come up in the Spring will produce your Fall crop.

In the winter you want to cut back all the dead canes to the ground, prune out any weak shoots that are smaller than a pencil in diameter, and cut the live canes back to 12 inches. Dead canes are brown and live canes are green.  If you have trouble telling the difference in your canes, make a quick cut towards the top of the cane. If it has green around the stem, it’s a live cane.  If the whole cross section of the cut is brown, yep, it’s dead – cut it all the way to the ground.

The pictures below show how mine look before and after pruning.

dormant raspberry canes

BEFORE: Canes of everbearing raspberries before pruning

 

Pruned raspberry canes

AFTER: Canes have been pruned to about 12 inches above ground.

Raspberry canes, pruned and thinned

Cut out all dead and weak canes. Cut back to 12 inches

In these photos you’ll notice that I have them growing inside a simple wooden structure.  I took some old Redwood pickets, and put them in the ground around the raspberries. The cross pieces are at 2 ft and 4 ft high.  This simple training structure keeps the canes inside, upright and easy to pick.  There’s no tying or drooping.  Anything that grows outside the structure gets dug up. It also looks nice in winter when the canes are dormant.

Despite my warning about raspberries, I think they are a great plant for the edible landscape as long as you know what you’re getting into.

To find out more about raspberries read this excellent article from Fine Gardening Magazine, How to Grow Raspberries.

 

 

Jun 112014
 

by Avis Licht

In California June is a busy time in the garden.  Some plants are already in and growing, some need to be planted and some need to be sown.

All the highlighted links will lead you to more information on that topic.  There is lots of information here. So come back often.

My broccoli has been setting beautiful heads for the last month and now the side shoots are ready to be harvested.  Chard, carrots, kale, lettuce, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are all making their colorful entrance to the table. Freshly harvested food makes even the simplest meal a taste treat.

Herbs are the piece de resistance of the garden.  Easy to grow, beautiful, healthy and tasty, they make every meal more flavorful and healthier.  If you only have time or space for one plant, make it an herb. Rosemary, basil, cilantro, parsley, chives, tarragon, oregano, mint – they are easy to grow and add vibrancy and health to your food and to you and to your garden.

In June we really have beauty and bounty - Raspberries by the bowl and lillies.

In June we really have beauty and bounty – Raspberries by the bowl and lillies.

In June, I go out every morning to harvest berries of all sorts for breakfast.  It’s a great way to start the day.

Red poppies in the morning sun.

Red poppies in the morning sun.

I grow flowers not only for their beauty, but because they provide food for bees, hummingbirds, butterflies and other important pollinators in the garden.  The more diverse your garden, the healthier it will be.

Rhodohypoxis

Rhodohypoxis

Be sure to visit my online store if you want tools, seeds, compost bins, gardening gloves and much more.  Whatever you find in my store, I personally recommend.

 

This hummingbird is going after the nicotiana

This hummingbird is going after the nicotiana

IMG_0079

Chard stalks are beautiful, too.

IMG_0127

I grow many kinds of bee friendly plants.

Red Poppies

Growing herbs in a container near the house is easy and convenient.

Growing herbs in a container near the house is easy and convenient. This planter has basil, oregano, tarragon and marigolds.

 

Feb 262014
 
Rough compost is used for large areas
  • by Avis Licht –  Mulch is great for the garden, but it’s important to use the right mulch in the right place.  Here are some tips on how to pick the best mulch for your garden.
Mulch is great for the garden

. For vegetables I use organic compost.  It is pretty in the beds and useful for the plants.

MULCH IS GOOD FOR THE GARDEN

There are many kinds of mulch and each has its particular benefits and disadvantages. Sometimes it’s better not to use any mulch.  It can be from natural materials like bark and compost or man made from plastic and rubber.

Rough compost is used for large areas

We take our lessons on mulching from mother nature.  Falling leaves, twigs, needles, flowers and fruit fall to the ground, covering the soil.  They decompose, adding nutrient back into the earth. They also protect the soil from sun, wind and hard rains to keep the soil from eroding, blowing away and becoming compacted. In our desire to be “neat” we often rake up leaves and put them in the garbage in a misguided effort to keep the garden looking tidy. If you want to enjoy a very funny story on lawns and raking leaves, check this out: A Story About Lawns and God.

Here’s how to keep the garden looking good and stay healthy at the same time.

ADVANTAGES OF MULCHING

  1. Conserves water by preventing evaporation
  2. Reduces weed growth
  3. Keeps soil cooler in summer and warmer in winter
  4. Organic materials improve soil structure as they breakdown
  5. Reduces splash onto leaves and buildings
  6. Reduces erosion by slowing down water runoff and allowing water to penetrate the soil, reduces wind erosion
  7. Reduces soil compaction, which in turn allows water and air to penetrate into the soil
  8. Encourages worms.(Yes!)
  9. Looks good (Also Yes!)
Organic compost around herbs

Compost around herbs looks good and adds to the health of the soil and plants

DISADVANTAGES OF MULCHING

  1. Mulched beds are slower to warm up in spring – especially a concern for vegetable gardens
  2. Can import weed seed – especially in compost and manure that has not been sufficiently heated
  3. Can prevent native bees from creating homes in the ground. (Warning, this link doesn’t encourage mulching, but has some good points)
  4. Large and small bark mulches can take nutrient out of the soil as they break down. (This link has more information on problems with mulch)
  5.  Inorganic mulches like plastic and shredded rubber do not decompose, they just break up into  smaller pieces that are garbage.
  6. Mulches that are too thick can prevent water and air from entering the soil.
  7. Mulches too close to the trunk or crown of a plant can cause it to rot.

TYPES OF MULCH

  1. Bark, either shredded or sized (1/4″, 1/2″ or larger) can be very ornamental and tidy.  They do not add nutrient value to the soil.  It is also hard to clean up falling leaves from areas mulched with bark. Bark can be expensive.
  2. Compost is excellent for most plants.  It can be bought or you can use your own.  I found it difficult to make enough of my own compost to cover all my garden.  So I used it on the most important plants – my vegetables and strawberries. Be aware that compost can have weed seed. There are many sources for good looking, safe compost. (Contact your local soil and amendment supply store.)
  3. Manure that is well composted is an excellent mulch in most parts of the garden.  Horse stables have different methods of composting their piles.  Test it in one area of your garden to make sure you don’t import unwanted weeds.
  4. Straw and hay. Hay has seeds and you don’t want to use it.  Straw on the other hand, is basically weed free.  It isn’t particularly pretty, so use it in the vegetable garden.  It can create habitat for slugs and worms if kept  moist.  So have an eye out for that.
  5. Leaf mold is from leaves that have decomposed. I rake up all my oak leaves and put them in a big pile over the winter.  In spring I move aside the top leaves and underneath is a beautiful  amount of composted leaves, known as leaf mold. Don’t worry it’s not moldy! I put this on my fruit, raspberries, strawberries and currants.  You can also use it in your perennial garden. Don’t use leaves from Eucalyptus, Walnut, Bay or diseased trees. Their leaves have allelopathic elements that inhibit the growth of plants.
  6. Living mulch is a low growing ground cover.  It protects the soil by covering it, and also increases soil health by growing roots, which creates humus, aeration and water penetration. Live plants also create a healthy atmosphere of transpiration, moisture and habitat for birds and insects.
  7. Rocks, stones and pebbles can also be used as mulch. They can be very ornamental, while still preserving moisture, protecting the soil and reducing weeds.  Stone will absorb heat and release it into the ground.  This kind of mulch is excellent for desert plants, succulents and alpine plants.

WHERE TO MULCH

  1. New plantings – Cover areas that are exposed until the plants fill in
  2. Vegetable garden – Use compost to mulch around your young plants. This will keep the soil surface from compacting and will add nutrients and worms.
  3. Put around trees
  4. All shrubs, flowers and perennials
  5. Basically everywhere, except those special parts of the wild garden where you want to leave soil for your native bees to take up residency.
  6. Replace mulches as they decompose, faster for composted areas, longer for bark.
Young plants benefit from compost

Mulching keeps the yard looking good and provides a healthy environment

Jun 252013
 

by Avis Licht

It’s two days after the Summer Solstice and the garden is coming into fruition. I am feeling so grateful to have a garden, to spend time in it, and to have so much wonderful food come out of it.  We also have  flowers everywhere, to bring color and joy. And to invite our friends the birds, butterflies and bees. It’s a regular gathering place for the multitudes. This unusual June rain is a gift beyond compare. Those of you in other parts may get summer rains. Maybe even too many.  But here in California a summer rain is what we call a gift from heaven. Thank you to the Powers that Be.

Here are some photos I took this morning in the rain.

We will have a bumper crop of apples this year.

We will have a bumper crop of apples this year.

 

Daylily

Daylily buds are edible and highly prized in Chinese cooking

 

Grapes

Thin the grapes early to make room for them to grow full size


Cherry Belle Radish

Radishes – Harvest early and often

Harvesting raspberries

In an unusual June rain, we adore picking raspberries.

Basil

Growing basil in pots is easy. In the ground sometimes basil gets eaten by earwigs and slugs. In the pots not so much.

Delicata squash

My seedlings of the squash have germinated beautifully and will start growing rapidly after this rain. The white flower is nicotiana, a fragrant night blooming flower.

Miniature rose

These roses have been blooming for months. After cutting them back a few weeks ago, they are starting all over again. I put these small roses all over the garden for beauty and delight. Rose petals are used in many culinary ways.

IMGP0058Variegated thyme

Variegated thyme provides a wonderful leaf contrast and I use it in cooking. I grow it near the strawberries as a companion plant.

Kale

Even though my kale has a few munching holes in it, it’s still great to eat. I don’t worry about a few pecks here and there.

Raspberries

Raspberries are easy to grow and I feel rich when we eat them. They’re expensive to buy, and cheap to grow! Watch out though, they like to spread themselves around the garden. Read about them in this post:

Squash blossom

Your plants will have many blossoms, and we often get way too many zuchinnis. So why not eat the blossoms? They’re delicious. Here are some ways to cook them: Squash blossom with ricotta.

Cucumber blossom

Once they start blossoming you can expect to get cucumbers soon and often. I plant 4 or 5 varieties, including lemon, Persian, Armenian,Thai and pickling. We love our cucumbers.

Blueberries starting to ripen

Given plenty of water, the blueberries are growing large and plump and we will harvest them over a long period of time. One of the best shrubs for the edible landscape. Read more on blueberries in this post.




Jan 082013
 

by Avis Licht

Every little hair has frost on it.

Strawberries with frost

In the middle of a cold and wet winter day it’s hard to think about what needs doing in the garden. But there are a few items on the to do list that will give your garden a jump on  the spring rush.

Be sure to take a walk around the garden and check for erosion from rainy day run off. We’ve had some amazingly strong downpours this year that caused some unwanted waterfalls.  Read these posts to correct drainage problems. Sometimes there’s just too much water at once and you have to clean up after the fact. Take a look at my veggie garden: (click to enlarge)

Protect tender garden plants by covering them on frosty nights. You can use row covers, sheets, blankets or plastic.Succulents, citrus, bougainvillea and fuchsias are among the frost-sensitive plants. Use stakes to keep material from touching foliage and remove the coverings when temperatures rise the next day.

Many deciduous trees, shrubs and vines can be pruned now. Do not prune spring-blooming plants until after they bloom. Consult a pruning guide that lists optimum pruning times for different species.


 

 

 

Order seeds for your spring and summer garden. Read these posts I wrote on catalog offerings and seeds choices. Be sure to order my e book : The Spring Garden Made Easy. It will help you get your garden going in Spring.  It’s only $4.99 and you can download it right now!

It’s perfect timing to plant those hardy perennials during this season of rain and plant dormancy. It’s important to get down to your local nurseries to check out their stock of bare root fruit trees, soft fruit, and more. Think asparagus, artichoke, rhubarb, blueberries, raspberries, pomegranate and all those great fruit trees. Just don’t work the soil when it is too wet.

It won't be long before the spring garden starts to grow.

It won’t be long before the spring garden starts to grow.

 

 

Dec 062011
 
Apples on the Tree
Apples on the Tree

Proper pruning can result in a bumper harvest

December is a good month to put the final finishing touches to the year’s garden.

Dormant spraying, winter protection of tender plants and planting head the list of December garden projects. Soon it will be time to prune deciduous trees and shrubs.

DORMANT SPRAYING – November, December, January and early February are the months to apply dormant spray to help control over-wintering insects and diseases on deciduous trees and shrubs. A short and simple video will help explain what dormant spraying is and how to do it. Peaceful Valley Farm Supply is a wonderful source of organic gardening tools, seeds, plants and information.

Raspberries, fruit trees, roses all need winter pruning

 

 

WINTER PLANT PROTECTION – When the weather turns really cold all of a sudden  it is a good idea to provide some special protection to tender or early flowering plants. One of the best ways to provide this protection is to simply cover the plants with some type of cloth material. First place three of four stakes around the plant then drape the burlap, old blanket or row covers over the stakes so it does not come into direct contact with the leaves of the plant. Blankets and burlap are only left in place during the cold spell, as soon as the weather moderates, remove the covering completely. If you use transparent row covers you can leave them on during the winter and plenty of light will come through.

PLANTING TREES AND SHRUBS – Fall and early winter are ideal times for planting or transplanting both trees and shrubs. During the dormant season is the time when both will transplant with the minimum amount of transplanting shock. Be sure to adequately prepare the new planting hole by adding generous amounts of compost (if available); peat moss and processed manure with your existing soil. Prepare the new planting soil about twice as large as the root system of the plant being planted or transplanted. Be sure to set the plant at the same level as it was previously growing. Large trees or shrubs should be staked to protect them from wind-whipping during strong winter wind storms. To read a more detailed explanation of choosing a tree, planting and care read this article.

Spring will come soon, and your plants will start budding out before you know it.

Nov 292011
 
Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter
Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter

Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter

Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter. Plant your seedlings in a sunny well drained site

 

Although we’re almost to the shortest day of the year, it’s still possible to work and plant in your winter garden, at least in some parts of the United States. You can look out your window and see if you have snow on the ground or you can look up your planting zones in this nifty site.  Type in your zip code and they will tell you what you can plant and when to plant it.

This is the time of year to choose your sites for deciduous fruit trees and shrubs.  Depending on your available space and sunlight, you can consider dwarf or semi dwarf fruit trees, blueberry shrubs, raspberries, and other cane berries, currants, kiwis and grapes.

Kiwi on fence

This kiwi grows on a strong fence.

 

There are some hardy vegetables like lettuce, chard, kale and all the cabbage family, including broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage that can take the cold weather.  A little extra protection provided by row covers can really help your plants grow during the cold weather.

For the very committed gardener  you can use cold frames and green houses to extend your seasons.

There’s no end to the fun one can have in the garden in the winter season.

Oct 252011
 
Large trees give a lot of leaves

The Might Oak Tree over our House

It used to be that I could never find enough leaves to compost for the garden. I used to drive to the nearest cemetary. I kid you not. Now I have an embarrassment of leaf riches. Leaves are everywhere around my house. If you have this problem, DO NOT DESPAIR! Do NOT rake up those leaves, put them in a plastic bag and give them to the garbage men.  That would make me cry. It would be a crime against nature.

All leaves are not created equal.  The oak tree, or Quercus, has roots that go deep into the earth and bring up many minerals and nutrients.  These then go into the leaves.  The leaves fall to earth and are a gift to the gardener. The oak contains qualities that are oceans above other trees.

Huge pile of oak leaves

This pile of oak leaves will compost over the winter

Do not use leaves from Eucalyptus, Bay laurel or Walnut.  They contain tanins that are not good for your plants.

To make sure your pile stays together and creates enough heat to break down, you might want to consider getting a simple wire cage.

 

Although the leaves falling continuously may get a little annoying, and even a little messy, be grateful for they will make next year’s garden even better. Trust me, you want to keep these guys on the premises.

 

Leaf mold

Composted leaves look clean and smell earthy

 

 

When the leaves break down, they turn into leaf mold, which is not really mold, so don’t hold your nose. It smells clean and fresh.  You can add this to your strawberry beds, raspberries, and blueberries, who all love a little acidic soil.  You can also add it to your topsoil for working into the beds.

Acer palmatum

Japanese Maples are beautiful in all seasons and give great leaves for your compost

Sep 222011
 

Sheet Mulching for the Edible Landscape:

Former Lawn, now vegetables and fruit

Former Lawn, now vegetables and fruit

What is sheet mulching? Simply put, it is putting several different layers of materials on your soil to get rid of your lawn, weeds and unwanted plants.  It consists of manure, cardboard and  mulch.  You can use different kinds of manure and different mulches. The main purpose is to cover the weeds, allow worms to eat them and to create fertile conditions for growing your new plants. Let me tell you how I got rid of my old lawn.

The day I decided I could no longer stand to mow my lawn one more time, I also realized I wasn’t going to break my back digging it up either. Sheet mulching was my solution, and something you can also do fairly easily. Fall and winter is the perfect time to do this.  You can let the covered area sit over the winter and in spring it will be ready for planting.  Follow the simple directions below and you will be amazed at how easy it is turn turn old and in the way into new and the only way to go.

Decide on an area that you would like to replant.  In  many cases, an old lawn really suits the bill. First you mow the lawn, or cut weeds and leave them on the ground. Next, spread manure 2” deep over the whole area. If you live near horse stables, they will usually be happy to give you the manure for free.  Be sure it has composted and is not fresh.  You don’t want to bring in weed seed. If you can’t find local manure, then you can buy manure in bags from your local nursery. Thirdly,  cover the manure with large pieces of cardboard (obtained free from a nearby appliance store).

On top of the cardboard you can lay another 2 inches of manure. Cover it all with six inches of fluffy hay or any other good looking mulch.  Once done  it looks fine. Your next  help comes in the form of hardworking earthworms.  Imported in the manure they make themselves right at home under their cardboard roofs, and over time (that would be Fall and Winter) they turn the lawn into beautiful soil.  I  sheet mulched my old lawn in the fall and when spring came, I planted varieties of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries as well as lilies, roses, herbs and flowers.  It turned into a cornucopia of beautiful food. The best news was that I didn’t have to dig up the lawn at all, the worms just ate it and turned it into perfect soil.

This is really turning your yard into a beautiful Edible Landscape.

P.S. If you prefer to use custom made fabrics for your sheet mulching, Amazon and Gardeners Supply
icon sell some good products. Both of these links I’ve provided will take you directly to fabrics for sheet mulching.

 

Close up view of new area for fruit and vegetables, used to be lawn

Close up view of new area for fruit and vegetables, used to be lawn

 

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