This week has been the peak of the raspberry crop at our farm. Raspberries coming out our ears, raspberry stains on our clothes, stains on the counters in the kitchen and around our mouths. The house smells strongly of raspberry jam and syrup, hot and thick and pungent in the air. Yum! It makes my mouth water just to think about it.
Yesterday we had fresh raspberry syrup on our waffles for breakfast. Wow, what a flavor burst. It is truly summer, if only in taste and aroma. It is very grey outside, but amazingly the berries are still ripening. I even saw a black, but not ripe, blackberry when I was walking the dog. Two months early.
Needless to say the birds are getting their share of berries as well. One landed just on the other side of the row from me when I was picking, and just blinked at me about eight times before flying away. He seemed to think it was his patch, not mine. There are still enough berries for us and for some of our friends.
Last week, when they were first coming on, I made fresh raspberry/yogurt popsicles and we ate those for desserts for several meals. The berries in the popsicles are fresh, not cooked and have a very lively flavor. The yogurt is from the recipe in a previous issue of my wordpress. You can read how to make it and combine it with any fruit for popsicles.
We planted these berries about ten years ago. For a long time there was no fence around them and the deer would eat the leaves. This made the berries easier to see and pick, but didn’t increase the vigor of the plants. The coyotes love berries, cherries, plums and more. Because of these two varmints eating our produce, we have since fenced them.
Raspberries aren’t difficult to grow, but you do have to prune every year. The plants produce canes which do not produce berries the first year. This means that you are picking off second year canes while fighting around the new ones. In the winter, all the fruit bearing canes from the previous summer must be cut out and the newer canes tied up to trellising. This is a bit of work. If you don’t stay on top of removing old canes, the patch will diminish over time.
There is a kind of raspberry that is call everbearing, and I have a ten foot row of these. If you cut these back to the ground in the winter, the new shoots will produce berries in September. This is an iffy thing in our climate because we do not always have Indian Summers here. But….if we do, we get a second crop of berries in the fall. These are larger and firmer than the other varieties. If the weather turns cold, however, the berries will not be as sweet. Still we try for it every year. If you do not cut them back completely in winter then they will produce a large June crop on the old canes and a much smaller crop on the new canes in September.
Raspberries are one of the products of summer and one that makes me feel that summer is really here. It may not be sunny and this 4th of July, we expect rain, but it is summer when the berries start. We have had red huckleberries and salmon berries already, but now the raspberry season is in full swing and we are loving it.