The raspberries are producing nicely. I started picking them July 6, which is around 6 weeks earlier than last year. I am thankfu I learned how to prune ever bearing raspberries. Last Fall I pruned the ‘old’ woody canes down to the ground and left the one year old green canes & the new canes standing. The one year old canes are the ones which are producing berries now and the new canes will produce in late summer. Might sound confusing, but the important thing is to cut back all the old woody thick canes to the ground in Fall. My patch is mulched with bark. I have rope supports and bird netting over the top. This year I didn’t want to share with the birds. It is also fenced in with chicken wire. I fertilize with worm castings and comfrey tea monthly. Once the bark mulch starts breaking down, the soil will become more fertile. If it doesn’t rain in a 10 day stretch, I water the patch. It is a small patch, about 8’x8′. I have started another patch down in the bog area, 5’x8′. I didn’t have it fenced in so the bunnies ate every cane down to the ground last winter. I now have a chicken wire fence around it and netting over the top of arched conduit pipe. The plants have started to grow back. Next year should be better. Maybe I will have enough berries to freeze. Dave and I eat berries daily. I share the rest with my Mom and my Grandkids.

Happy gardening my friends.

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Yesterday I made yogurt, today I strained it. Picked raspberries, so yummy. Fertilized the front sidewalk garden and the flagpole area. Pepper sprayed the front sidewalk flowers. I have a lot of bunnies around. Lucky I have extra marigolds around the yard. I had to replace three of the marigolds and I put a chicken wire cages around them so the bunnies don’t eat these young tender plants. Weeded the blue bottle path and straightened the blue bottles. I want them to look pretty for the garden tours. Weeded the front edge of the garden a little. It is like concrete. We need rain. In the morning the plants are lush and plump from the dew and low temps. BUT come afternoon they are dehydrated and limp from the hot sun. I think I might water the edges. They get the most abuse because Dave drives on the edge with his tractor tires, really compacting the soil. The weeds seem to survive those conditions. I have ground covers planted on the edges and they are also quite tuff. I have to water the bog veggie pots daily now that the plants and root systems are huge. They look great. On the other hand, the potato bed looks bad. I looked for some potatoes pulling away the straw. It is saturated with water. Couldn’t find any potatoes. I hope I am wrong and they are hiding. It is the lowest spot in that area. I thought the potatoes would be among the straw…not. I will take a fork to the soil and see if I find any potatoes that went deep. Mom came over for a couple of hours and ‘deadheaded’ the flowers and of course pulled some weeds. Thank you Mama. I love you. It was a beautiful day in the garden.

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A must in my landscape is garden grooming. Today I tried something new. I used the string trimmer to ‘cut back’ my Snow in the Summer, ground cover sedums and Meadow Sage. All of these perennials are on the edges of my gardens. It worked really nice. Saved my hands from a lot of labor & pain. Of course by mistake, I cut a few other plants that were close. But ‘oh well’ they will grow back and bloom.

I cut back by hand my Spring Daisies before they ‘go crazy’ dropping their seeds all over the gardens. But I do take a couple of flower heads that have dried and spread the seed where needed. Fleabane is an herb that I let reseed in my gardens. It adds a TALL white in the border and blooms after the Daisies. Yes, Fleabane is one of those ‘go crazy’ herbs/flowers that I control before it goes to seed. I love the height and the ‘airy branching’ it has.

Deadheading is now in full swing. Rose Campion and Knautia are in full bloom. Deadheading is a must in my gardens to insure that the plant continues blooming throughout the Summer. and All of these plants are what I call COME AGAINS. Year after year they give me wonderful color.

BEFORE the 4th of July, I make sure I ‘cut back’ SOME of my Phlox, Great Blue Lobelia and Goldenrod by 1/3. I have large clumps of these perennials I only cut back part of the clump. This method will give me color over 2 months, maybe 3 months. The ‘cut back’ plants will bloom later and shorter. After the ‘uncut’ plant blooms, I will ‘deadhead’ the plant, which will bloom again later in the season.

A great book and the only garden book I have on gardening is The Well Tended Perennial Garden

HAPPY GARDENING my friends. I hope you found this interesting and helpful.

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I have been using the chop and drop method of feeding my soil for two years. Easy and very effective. No hauling away debris to the compost pile. All it consists of is when I ‘dead head’ or ‘cut back’ in the perennial flower beds, I let the foliage lay on the ground around the plant. When using this method on the edges of the garden I tuck the foliage under the plant, out of sight. In the center of the garden I just let it lay.

In the vegetable gardens I pull or cut back the old lettuces, radishes, sorrel and let it lay. Comfrey is an EXCELLENT mulch for the veggie garden. I get about four cutting a season. It is so full of minerals that feed your soil, which feed your plants, which feeds YOU. :0) I have Comfrey planted by each of my vegetable beds. Makes it easy to chop it down and lay it on top of the beds.

It took me 18 years to learn this method. Better late than never.

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Rotating where you plant your vegetables is very important to ward off disease. I am lucky enough to have the area to do a 3 year rotation. I plant my potatoes where I had my compost pile the year before. Last year was the first time I tried this method and it was the best harvest I had ever had.

Last year I planted my potatoes the first week in June. After the last frost date. This year I am starting my potatoes in April. Way too cold and wet for potato planting in Wisconsin, zone 5. BUT this year I put up a little hoop house and black plastic on the soil to warm this area before planting. I will be planting about 12 ‘pieces’ of potatoes, which have at least 2 ‘eyes’ on each piece. I will allow them to ‘callus over’ before planting. I will write another article on how I ‘chit’ potatoes. I will cover the newly planted area with a ‘row cover’ and the hoop house over that. This double protection should keep the potatoes warm enough to grow. If the sun ever comes out, I will have to vent the hoop house. I do this by opening both ends, allowing air flow. A hoop house temperature can rise very quickly into the 90’s -100F if the sun is shining. How do I know this? I have FRIED many plants forgetting to vent the hoop house. Live & learn.

I will write updates to keep you posted on how this experiment of planting potatoes early is going. Don’t forget to sign up for my forum. The blog (here) and the forum have separate ‘to join’ areas. You might like to check out my video on this potato hoop house.


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