Sunday, 24 February 2008

When will winter end?

This is not a plaintive cry about grey skies and chill winds.

It’s actually a question that I have asked myself round about this time every year. We grow autumn-fruiting raspberries, and they need to be pruned in late winter. But just when is that? Well, it’s before there’s any new growth – defining things by the absence of something is not entirely helpful. Anyway, pruned they must be.

There’s a logic that says, ‘These are tough plants, you won’t do any harm’. But there’s an equally logical position that says, ‘This is Scotland! You can get snow in late April, so it makes no sense to cut them now’. But if you leave it too late, you run the risk of damaging the new growth.

So why am I boring you with this (assuming anyone’s still reading at this stage)? Well, as I spent a very productive morning sorting out my raspberries, I thought that there were various metaphors and parables emerging.

Sometimes we need to prune things in an apparently harsh way for them to be fruitful – even when this seems counter-intuitive. Acting too late can do more damage than being a wee bit premature.

Pruning alone will probably lead to a decent crop of berries in the late summer/ autumn; but if you also weed thoroughly and provide a mulch of compost, you’re more likely to get a fantastic crop.

Since we garden organically, there’s a real pleasure in mulching with home produced compost, and knowing that the pruned raspberry canes will be shredded and used to mulch our other fruit bushes (blueberry, blackcurrant and bramble) is quite satisfying.

Then there’s the promise of fruitfulness in place of dry, dead canes – albeit with a healthy dose of faith needed.

Finally there’s the benefit of being out in the fresh air for a couple of hours – and feeling physically and spiritually refreshed as a result.

Here’s hoping for a bumper crop from the raspberries and the thoughts that emerged this morning.


His Girl Friday said...

I'm hoping to put in a garden this year...including berries which may or may not like the high desert...we'll see, I've got some shady areas..must see to some squirrels as well. :)

That Hideous Man said...

Once you've got your garden licked into shape, you will miss all these blessings... in which case I have the perfect solution for you, not 20yards from where I am sitting now. It could help you to,.. 'expand your ministry'!

Endlessly restless said...

THM - I'm sure you'll find my rates perfectly reasonable, although I must point out that having already completed my shift at work, premium rates will apply!!