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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sometimes when you keep a kitchen garden . . .

you have no idea why some things do well one year,

and others do poorly.

If I were a farmer, then I'd be spending all of my free hours educating myself on how to grow a good crop, each year. But, as just a lowly, kitchen garden-keeper, my free time has to be divided amongst a variety of subjects.

Therefore, I have no idea why the raspberries did so well this year, but the blueberries, so poorly. It could have been the weather at the time of pollination. Or it could be the abundance of rain showers we've had in June this year. Or perhaps, raspberries like our yard better than blueberries.

Whatever caused the disparity between the two harvests, it may have been out of my hands.

All I can do is give thanks and enjoy what I've been given. And maybe make an extra jar or two of raspberry jam, in case, next year, the harvest amounts are reversed, and we receive a pitiful raspberry crop and an abundant blueberry one.


  1. This is my philosophy with our orchard, too. Some years there's a lot of one thing, others there's more of another. That's why when there's really a "harvest" from there -- big or small(as opposed to a smaller "windfall" from a sale or a neighbor), we hardly ever eat any of it fresh, except sort of incidentally to harvesting and processing. (Harvesting and processing are hard work, and we need snacks! :) ) Having that extra jar of something canned on the shelf is both a stop-gap and a treat for another time when that thing won't be available.

    Enjoy your bounty (big and small!) We just lost a whole tree of tart cherries overnight to ground squirrels yesterday, but made a little cherry sauce for vanilla ice cream with what they didn't get from the other. :) Take care, Lili -- Sara

    1. Hi Sara,
      I bet that cherry sauce on the ice cream was delectable! We lost all of our cherries to squirrels, raccoons and black birds this year.

      I'm doing all I can with the raspberries, this year. I made a raspberry sauce to go over cream puffs filled with fresh raspberries and a bit of whipped cream, for dessert last night. It was very delicious. I feel like we're spoiled, here, sometimes, with all of these beautiful raspberries.

      Have a great day, Sara!

  2. Well...our bounty crop of cucumbers abruptly came to a fateful end, so soon :( Our zucchini plant never gave a decent sized fruit, even the leaves are dying. Too much water or fertilizer? Our method of gardening is hit or miss. No science to it at all, or much experience. But we manage to enjoy whatever does want to grow...beets, swiss chard, green onions, basil, wild tomatoes, and kang kong. Those we know can grow without much special care, so our diet revolves around these vegetables. We also have our special garden chores, my husband plants, waters and fertilizes, while I weed, monitor bug infestation, harvest and clean. Sara is right, harvesting and processing is hard work. Yesterday,I felt it took all afternoon being in our 20 x 8 ft garden, just weeding and harvesting/cleaning basil, kang kong, and swiss chard.

    Have a great day!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      What you say about all the hard work, I think that's why I relish winter when I'm mostly using frozen vegetables. Just pour out and heat.

      Well, at least you had your fill of cucumbers while they lasted! And now you can move on to whatever is next in bounty.

      Sounds like a nice division of labor for you and your husband.

      Have a nice day, YHF!

  3. And I'll add that my container garden started growing slowly, then it began to look really good and I even harvested two hot peppers and some green beans, now the heat hit so hard that nothing is growing well at all. The beans are short and fat on one end and skinny on the other end all curled up in a "C" shape. The tomatoes all seem stunted right where the flower created the fruit and the flower is stuck on the fruit and looks like a flat spot. Nothing is growing. I'm so sad.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I hope your container garden perks up again. Keep it watered. I would think the peppers, especially, would do well with the heat. My beans do that sometimes, too.

      Have a great day, Alice! And stay cool.

  4. We have good and not so good years with raspberries. Have you figured out how to prune the canes successfully? If so, please share. My neighbor gave us 3 stragglers from her bountiful raspberry patch about 5 years ago and those plants have multiplied! I prune the canes back in late winter, based on what I've read online, but sometimes I think I do a better job than other times. Also our raspberries are ever-bearing so we usually get 2 crops per season. Usually one crop is way better than the other but I haven't figured out any rhyme or reason as to why that is.

    Thankfully, they are always delicious!

    1. Hi Linda,
      I have a patch of ever-bearing and a patch of July bearing, here. With the ever-bearing, it's normal for the second harvest to be on the light side. It sounds like you're pruning right. Keep your patch on the narrow side, about 15 to 18" deep. It's better to have a couple of rows of raspberries at 15" deep than to have one large, dense patch, to minimize disease spread (better air circulation) and prevent suckers from sapping energy from the main canes.

      What a wonderful neighbor to share her canes with you!

      Have a great weekend, Linda!

    2. There have been years when the second harvest actually produced much more than the first and I think the reason for that is I may have pruned the canes later, or pruned too vigorously. It's looking like that will be the case this year. We do try to keep the bushes on the narrow side and let the raspberry patch get longer rather than wider. Our first harvest this summer produced very little and two of our grandsons (8 and 3) essentially helped themselves to what was there. They stood in front of the bushes and ate one after another!

      OTOH I see a lot of very early blooms and am thinking by late July/early August we will have a good crop. So the question is how do I keep little hands off the raspberries? Answer... I don't! I might be able to gather some for us in between grandkid visits! Maybe...

  5. Those raspberries look delicious, Lili! We had a very abundant crop of blueberries this year and last. It does seem to vary and I always wonder why. We have had a couple of very sunny springs the last two years, and I have added coffee grounds to the soil around them, which might have helped.

    1. Hi Mary,
      I'm working at taking better care of my blueberries this year, keeping them watered, pruning out the old wood. We do add our coffee grounds to the soil around the base of the plants. I'm hoping the blueberries bounce back by next year, and it's not an issue of decreasing light in our yard (lots of huge trees on our property as well as neighbors). Enjoy your blueberries!

      Have a great weekend, Mary!

  6. I think of raspberries as red gold! Yum! My husband finds the same thing to be true--one crop may be large and another small--we just go with it. :) Sounds like you do, too.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I know, raspberries are so delicious. I really couldn't bring myself to buy fresh raspberries in the store, as you get so few in one of the containers. But growing them is fantastic!

      Have a great weekend, Kris!

  7. It's such a mystery isn't it? I'm sure there's a reason, but I can never figure it out. The same seems to hold true for the flowers in my front yard. I thought something was wrong with my iris plants, because they'd hardly bloomed over the past year, but this year they were amazing - it was that way across the whole city, in fact. However, the marigolds, which have done beautifully for the past few years are barely hanging in there. I guess as you say, we just have to enjoy what we are given!

    1. Hi Cat,
      Hmm, the iris in your yard and all over the city does make it sound weather-related.

      I have a patch of iris which had never-ever bloomed where they are now (I moved them about 6 years ago). And suddenly this year they bloomed really well. Go figure!

      Have a great weekend, Cat!

  8. Farming is such hard work whether or a small scale or large scale. I don't think I'm cut out to do it for a living because you are at the mercy of the weather no matter how hard you try to control other things.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I always think of the old-time farmers as being a humble lot. Being at the mercy of the weather and recognizing their vulnerability, probably has a lot to do with their humility. So, while it would be a hard life, I think it would be good for my spirit.

      Have a great weekend, live and learn!


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