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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Berries

The really glorious thing about perennials is that they stick around forever. I only made the mistake of planting perennials in front of a rent house once, and vowed to never again after driving past it two weeks after we moved out and discovering that the landlord had ripped them up. I thought, "Well darnit, I would have taken them with me if I hadn't thought that it would be nicer to leave the improvements I made to this piece of junk house."

But perennials on a farm are entirely different. On our first walk after arriving at this place, our brains began exploding with ideas, mostly centered around fruit. Apples here! Cherries there! Blueberries! Blackberries! Raspberries! Grapes! I had moved on to plans for a giant greenhouse with lemons and oranges and bananas before my husband forcibly reined in my enthusiasm and laid down the law that for the foreseeable future we would work on plants that already grew well in Oklahoma.

He didn't curb my enthusiasm much. Even without the luxury of citrus fruit, the idea of plants that bore berries free of cost still translated in my mind to abundance beyond belief. I went to a local pick-your-own blueberry farm once and still remember with awe the endless supply of blueberries. I began imagining baskets and buckets full of more fruit than we would eat in a summer, and being faced with the problem (problem?) of deciding what to do with the rest once our greedy little purple-stained mouths simply couldn't take any more.

So we went to Lowe's. I love Lowe's. We bought blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries: two of each. Then we went to the Farmer's Market. We met the lovely people of Shady Grove Natural Farm who guided us to the best variety of figs and kiwis for our soil and sunlight, and we went home poorer but happier.

We also had to buy lumber to build some trellises for the vining berries, and I wanted to paint them white.

Blackberries in the background, Raspberries in the foreground. The trellises are Ryan's design and our joint handiwork, assisted by the moral support of the Tiny Pumpkin.

One side of our garden will be devoted to perennials. We will weed, mulch and aerate, but we will never again till up this patch. The berries will be pruned back every year but their roots will grow deep and strong. Each spring they will shoot up again with more vigor than the year before and fill buckets, baskets and tummies with an abundance of fruit. I can't wait.

The Fig Tree


The Blueberry Bushes: they look sad and lonely right now, but I look forward to them becoming lush and full.

The Internet says, with its full voice of authority, that blackberries and blueberries both love the acidic soil under pine trees. We did not plant them under our pine trees because we thought there would be too much shade, but one of my upcoming projects is to rake up piles of pine needles and to mulch these bushes with them. The Internet does not specify whether raspberries also enjoy pine needles; does anyone know? It would be most convenient to me if they did, since the raspberries and blackberries are right next to each other.

The Unplanted Strawberries: At the time of the photoshoot we had not yet discussed the best arrangement for the strawberries, and I thought it best to collaborate with the Mr. before putting them in the dirt.

I hear strawberries are annuals. (Yeah, I know lots and lots about gardening. Please don't ask me for gardening wisdom; I'll probably tell you the wrong thing. Ask my husband. He'll know, or else his dad will. But don't ask me.) I have this idealistic and romantic idea in my head that *maybe,* even if the strawberries *are* annuals despite all my wishes to the contrary, I *might* be able to let some of the berries rot on the ground and have them re-seed themselves. Again, insights? Will birds devour my overripe strawberries and foil my efforts? Am I doomed to re-plant strawberries forever?

I tried to teach Heidi about earthworms, but she emphatically did not care. The day after this photo was taken she tried to eat one, but I didn't have my camera at the time so you'll have to imagine it.

I have great hopes for my garden patch and its humble beginnings.

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