Saturday, February 11, 2012

berry imperative

Two years ago we bought two one-gallon pots of "spineless" boysenberry plants -- with two plants in each pot -- and planted them next to our chain-link fence behind the herbs and occasional veggies that grow in a 30"-wide strip of south-side garden.

The summer of 2010 brought very few berries, 2011 a few more, and the 'fring' of 2011-12 has brought long canes that must be cut back and tied up properly if our little 'berry farm' is going to be at all productive this summer. This will be a chore, since not all of the plants are as spineless as advertised. I shall wear long sleeves and maybe even gloves to do the deed, but inevitably blood must flow and Lady Macbeth be "done."

Some of the boysenberry canes have grown to where their tips touched the ground and took root. These are usually called "pups," and dealing with them must be my first priority if we are to avoid an impenetrable thicket such as Alice's raspberries made in Idaho when she stopped tending them. If our  boysenberries strayed even a foot from the fence, they'd make it dangerous to pull garlic or pick parsley.

I think I can find room for three or four boysenberry pups along the fence, thus doubling our initial planting. Others will be potted for friends and neighbors (Marsha has been asking for them since she heard that we were growing berries) or shared with the garden club.

The history of boysenberries can be read on Wikipedia, and will explain why those of us who've lived in California for a long time can't hear the word berry without thinking Knott's. Now a massive theme park, Knott's Berry Farm was a place to take visitors from the mid-west for a chicken dinner topped off with Mrs. Knott's fabulous boysenberry pie. The rides grew from exhibits built to entertain folks who were waiting for tables.

I boggle at the notion of having enough boysenberries to make even one pie. Generally I've eaten them out of hand while on my morning putter. Filling a bowl and eating them with a spoon, lightly macerated, is for now a consummation to be wished.

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POSToccupations by Frances Talbott-White is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License