The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Pruning the berries

Pruning raspberries

I don't usually let anyone help me with pruning, partly because I'm a control freak but mostly because I'm still feeling my way along and don't feel comfortable enough giving instruction.  The raspberries and blackberries are pretty straightforward, though, and B.J. picked up my pruning method astonishingly quickly Monday.  (Yes, he is shaping up to be indispensible.  No, you can't have him.)

Brush pile

Last year, the brush pile full of pruned-off branches did okay in the middle of the forest garden, so I decided to repeat the experiment.  The previous pile had sunk down to where it was only a few feet tall, so this year's prunings didn't really raise the height up beyond the previous levels.  Hopefully my work eradicating weeds growing up through the pile last summer will make the area semi-weed-free this year, and last year's cuttings should be rotten enough by now that the nearby apple roots can take advantage of the compost.

Pruned blackberries

Here's the finished product --- blackberries, red raspberries, black raspberries, and kiwis are now all pruned.  They look a bit like shorn sheep against the snow, but I've found that heavy pruning is entirely worthwhile with brambles.  You get huge, delicious fruits that are easy to pick, so you eat more of them.

Daffodil leaves in the snow

Song sparrowPlus, it's just fun out to be out in the garden in early February, watching the daffodil leaves poke up through the snow and the song sparrows flit about.  Pruning week is one of my favorite times of the year, so I'm glad I've still got all the fruit trees to go.  Now, if I can just learn to wear gloves so I don't have to bite thorns out of the pads of my fingers all week....

Our chicken waterer makes care of the backyard flock easy enough that you have time for a berry patch.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Ok, we both live in zone 6. You are watching daffodils starting to grow. I am planning out how to deal with 2 feet of snow. Just not right!
Comment by Gerry Thu Feb 7 10:23:14 2013
Berries have been on my mind a lot lately. Here in Ohio, I'm putting off most of my activity until mid march, but there is a lot to consider. I'll be moving my black raspberries to hopefully a better position, and only keeping 6 out of twelve plants. (The others will be going home with a cousin.) I've got the finishing touches on my blackberry trellis to finish up, and getting spots ready to transplant my haskap to someplace they may like better too. Then there are the kiwis to prep for planting, and blueberries that will be moving to containers. Plus all the pruning. Whew I envy your warmer weather, I'm itchin to get outside!
Comment by MamaHomesteader Thu Feb 7 11:10:41 2013

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