Thursday, June 14, 2012

Raspberries and Roses

A few years ago we started a hay bale garden. We started with three hay bales, a little bagged dirt and Epsom salt. After about six weeks, we were rocking. The tomatoes never had much chance to ripen, however, given Cameron's love of fried green tomatoes.

The following year the bales began to slump. I had been laid off work, so I looked to create, meaning free, solutions. The neighbor had cleared their lot in anticipation of building a new home. I had free reign of cut wood, adding to my wood pile. Then I decided to use the large cut pieces, some up to a foot across, to line the outside of the garden. I thought that when they finally disintegrated, I'd have  more fertilizer for the garden. I spent a couple of evenings attempting to carry the stumps from the neighbor's lot, around the side of the house, and over to my garden. The project was, shall we say, a bit ambitious. The second afternoon my neighbor appeared at my elbow. I had resorted to rolling them, which was, while successful, time consuming and my lower back hurt. So Paul, my 80 something neighbor, wiry and spry, tossed each stump over his shoulder and lined them neatly around my garden. He couldn't remember his deceased wife's name, but he could work! In less than an hour he accomplished more than I had done in two days.

The following year I found raspberry plants at our local Aldi's. I had a total of four plants, but the a fire-ant nest cut the roots of one before I found them and left me with three. The package had said to cut the canes back after bearing, but I was a little shy of cutting them all the way back. I've had nice yields, I thought, a handful or two. So this year I became much more confident. It worked for the roses to be sheared way, way back. So I did the same with the raspberries. Rather than a few handfuls from my tiny garden, we've had handfuls. Enough for raspberries on ice cream a couple of times, and two raspberry cheese cakes.

I had never thought too much about how raspberries grow until today. Of course, birds usually get the first yield, a flashy red berry sings spring to them. But most berries grow carefully tucked under green leaves where I have to walk around the garden three times to find, peering between canes and looking up under the leafy, low canopy.

So  this evening I headed out to see what was left of the current raspberry crop. Every time I pick raspberries I think of my Mammaw RoseMary. Her love language was cooking, and she made the best raspberry, blackberry and rhubarb pies ever. As I picked berries, my eyes were drawn to the trailer next door. Hospice cares for Paul now. And my grandmother died of cancer 15 years ago when I was in grad school the first time. Time moves on for us all.

I miss you Mammaw.


  1. Finding each hidden raspberry is like a gift from Mother Nature!

  2. your going to have to explain to me what a bale garden is..