Making the decision to ease back on The Palace which was taking all my time and energy at the expense of all the other spring preparation tasks has been a little liberating. It allows me to assess the rest of the garden and make some new priorities.
While also wanting to take a little and often approach to staying on top of the basics like the weeding and bed preparation, there are other projects on the list. Some are on things it would be nice to do, but others need to be done. I can’t make excuses. The biggest project is to restore order in the berry area. Once I decided it needed more than just light maintenance, I kinda just left it, thinking I’ll take care of it all in one go when I deal with the problem. So, the weeds have grown and aside from the original problem, it has become a bigger job than it need to have been.
The original problem is to do with the wind. While the shape of the dome greenhouse copes so well in the strongest of winds, allowing me to sleep well on the stormiest nights, it causes problems behind it. I had a look at diagrams of wind patterns over a dome shape and most of the wind just goes up over without trouble, but a portion of it follows the shape of the dome about halfway down and then creates an eddy. As soon as I saw the diagram it was like an ‘aha moment’ but at that same time I think I’d already figured it out.
The eddy of wind has circled about the strawberry bed and undermined it, causing the bed to collapse. In the meantime, there are piles of sand from the path in unexpected places. Repairs are needed. But it is a big job and I’ll probably need Hubby the Un-Gardeners help. I will excavate all the sand that has built up on the side of the blueberry bed and install a windbreak to help prevent the eddies. Then I can fix the strawberry bed. Then I can tidy up the strawberries – removing the oldest third and replacing them with runners and removing the excess runners and tidying it all up. This bit is time sensitive as it really needs to be done before end of August for the benefit of the plants. Which puts pressure on the whole project. As I have also neglected the raspberries and the blueberries these also need attention – particularly the raspberries as they also have winter prep needs.
And then if it wasn’t a big enough project, I need to dig trenches and connect all the irrigation to one central hub so I can use the 6 Hose Water Distributor and water 6 beds with the water computer so when I’m away in November the berry plants don’t suffer like they did a few years ago.
So, there is a lot to be done sooner rather than later. I decided to break the project into smaller tasks to deal with one step at a time. In my mind the easiest was the raspberries. All it needed was a good weed and a prune – no more than a couple of hours right?! Err no. The first day I started to do it was one of those patchy days when it looked like a perfectly sunny day one moment and bucketing down the next. I managed about 20 minutes before the rain set in for good and I gave up.
The next day I focused on just taking out all the weeds and found it didn’t take much neglect for some pretty impressive weeds to take hold. An Inkweed plant had invaded the garden in a couple of ways – coming through the fence and engulfing a large swath of the garden with its broad leaves. And its thick stubborn roots well and truly made themselves at home in the lovely rich swamp soil. It was a monster of a plant.
Once I had the weeds out, I had another decision to make. What to do with the raspberry runners. The summer ones were quite abundant and leafing up nicely creating a raspberry carpet across the bed behind them and beginning to engulf the currants. My instinct was to save them and maybe give them away, but from my short 2 metre row of summer berries, there were enough to start a commercial raspberry operation. I had to tell myself that the raspberry runners were no more than invasive weeds and should be treated as such. So, I took my time and dug through the soil to remove every last one.
Initially I thought it was just the summer ones being naughty, but they were just further ahead than the autumn ones and just below the surface were hundreds of ready to shoot buds, so I dug through that side of the bed with a ruthless determination. The only raspberries growing in this bed will be the ones I want to grow in this bed.
Once the bed was clear of everything except the desirables, I pruned the autumn raspberries to the ground and ruthlessly thinned out the summer ones. In the past I was greedy for raspberries so they were planted a little too close, which aside from the wind eddies could be why I haven’t had such a great raspberry result. And then finally I topped up the bed with compost and other goodies.
It felt good to stand back and look at a garden bed and see it completely finished and ready for the new season – aside from the irrigation and wind protection.
I feel like good progress is being made and I’m not fretting as much as I have been about this problematic corner of the garden.
Come again soon – spring is closer than we realise.
Sarah the Gardener : o)