Saturday, July 02, 2011

Pruning Raspberries

The most important thing to know is that a berry cane will make a shoot and grow up one summer, but it's the following summer that it bears berries. And then it's done.

Ideally, you will cut all fruit-bearing canes shortly after they're done bearing. It's good to do this in July or August, while there's still obvious and clear evidence of which canes had berries on them. It requires less thinking and less decision-making. Just whack down whatever had fruit on it this year.

If you can get outside in June (maybe 2-5 weeks before this year's canes start setting fruit) and prune or thin, that helps. In the month before the fruit grows, you want to be thinning next year's canes. First, it's easier to thin the new growth when it's shorter than this year's fruit-bearing canes; it looks different enough that it makes the pruning/thinning easier. And easier is better! Second, you don't want the roots and the ground putting all the energy into making new plants (too many plants!) for next summer; you want to be using some of that effort to make plenty of big, sweet berries for this summer. Third, it's loads easier to harvest when there aren't a gazillion shoots out there with the fruit-bearing canes, hiding berries amongst the leaves, making it hard to reach your hand into the thicket.

In fall, thin next year's fruit-bearing canes again. Get rid of the spindly canes. Save the strong, sturdy canes. If you didn't get around to eliminating this year's fruit-bearing canes earlier, do that in fall too. If you expect naughty deer to invade your berry patch, or if you're worried about snow and ice harming your canes, don't prune as severely in fall, but do part of the job in fall and finish your pruning/thinning in spring. But the general rule of thumb is not to have fruit-bearing canes any closer to each other than 6-8" in any direction. If you're starting out your patch, and set down roots 18" apart as you're told to do, then you can have 2-4 canes coming up from the one set of roots, assuming you've got 12-15" between clumps of canes. When you've got your raspberry bed established, you'll want it to be rather solidly spaced, about 12" wide and who-knows-how-long. If you have more than one row of canes, make sure there is ample space between the rows for you to move, hoe, prune, and harvest.

The hardest part of raising raspberries is all the killing. It's so important to thin out baby plants, chop off plants that appear to have potential, and not try to grow too many canes, thinking that "more canes equals more berries." Nope. It doesn't work that way.

I have another week or so before my raspberries ripen. In the meantime, I need to grab the cherries off the tree before the birds beat me to 'em. Visions of pie are dancing in my head.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

God the Judge

"He will come to judge the quick and the dead."

Early in life, Luther quaked in his boots, fearing the Judge. We, too, sometimes wonder if God is going to smash us like a bug; we know we deserve it.

Plead my cause and redeem me;
revive me according to Your word. (Psalm 119:149).

Who pleads my cause? Depending on what the cause is, it might be my PR department or my defense attorney. Isn't it lovely that God is both my judge and the one pleading for me? It sounds like the prosecutor/accuser doesn't stand a chance!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Too Much Work?

The receptionists at the doctor's office were chatting about their weekend. One was the honoree at a baby shower. She was talking about her "haul." It was amazing to hear all the stuff that a baby "needs." Do babies really need a dozen cute outfits? Don't they pretty much live in onesies or jammies?

The other receptionist was telling about her weekend. On Saturday she mowed the lawn, did five loads of laundry, and made a cucumber salad. The first receptionist was astounded. How could anybody get that much accomplished in one day? The receptionist who spent her Saturday with chores admitted that she was entirely wiped out and so spent her Sunday doing absolutely nothing but sitting with her husband by the fire, relaxing.

I often berate myself for not getting enough done, for not being hard-working enough. But five loads of laundry and mowing and making one dish sounds like a typical (or possibly light) day of chores to me. Maybe I'm not as lazy as I think.

And maybe this explains why so many people have time for amusements (and can't understand that I don't). What I don't understand is what they're doing (or more accurately, not doing) that they have so much free time.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Curiosity -- Good or Bad?

It's a whole lot easier to homeschool a kid who's bursting with curiosity. They must know what's inside that book! They must understand how this-or-that concept ties in with a scientific principle! They must read more more more [non-fiction] when they come across tidbits and factoids in a story they're reading! They must play with a new building toy or science kit until they've got all the combinations and permutations figured out!

However ... I have also noticed that my kids who have less curiosity are also the kids who tend to be more content.

Some of my homeschooling friends talk about their FOMS disease (fear of missing something). It can lead people to spend too much time with friends online, or too much time listening to the news and trying to solve the world's problems, or too much time wondering what's the scoop on Facebook (whether it's a fight or an inside joke). I have had a terrible case of FOMS; I have had all my life; I am [sloooowly] getting better as I realize how comfortable it is to be in the garden or reading to Maggie when other people are in an online uproar.

So, it may be harder to do your schoolwork when you're not driven with curiosity. But if it means it's easier to be content and to not be a buttinsky, maybe that lack of curiosity will have some very good results later in life.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Bible-Story Schedule for 2011-12 School Year

If you're interested in a Learn-By-Heart schedule already put together for the next school year, there's one available at

In a pamphlet about our congregation, "providing Congregation at Prayer" is one of the bullet-points under "Pastoral Care" -- along with making shut-in calls and providing private confession and absolution. Yes, it's that important!