About two years ago, I planted 1 – mind you 1 – black raspberry plant I had bought at Lowe’s. It was a pathetic looking thing when I picked it up and looked it over. Its leaves were sprouting from the container, and I could tell it was screaming to get out into the ground. So I bought it and brought it home. I set it out on my patio and kept thinking I would get to it as soon as my other garden plants were in. I finally did, and therein lies the story.
I hadn’t been around raspberries in years. I used to have some when I was married and lived on the farm, and my great grandfather always had raspberries on his farm southwest of Indianapolis. I had pretty much forgotten that raspberries are invasive – and that would be a mild word for their propensity to take over every corner of a garden. I had also forgotten about the tale which mentioned bramble bushes and their prickly thorns.
So I planted my little black raspberry plant, and I watched as it decided to take over one entire corner of my backyard. I didn’t bother organizing the canes in any particular manner, and I didn’t bother cutting back as needed. So they grew and grew and grew. Every time I looked at them I despised them. I wanted them out of my backyard and out of my life. But I couldn’t figure out how or where to even start in clearing them out.
Raspberry patch making itself at home in my backyard
So I let them get by with their pushy ways and grow and grow. I let them shove out my ornamental grass, the coral bells, and the hostas which had been planted quite some time before the berry family decided to move in and take over. Oh, those plants are still there and toughing it out – hiding under the canes with their protective thorns and nearly invisible.
The only thing that even gives the raspberries any competition is the apple mint that I planted several years ago. Mints are also invasive, so the apple mint and the raspberries are duking it out in that corner of my garden.
But Monday my whole mindset changed. I was out in back looking at the soaked ground, and I noticed that there were an awful lot of raspberries that were ready to be picked. So I went inside and grabbed a couple of containers and went back out to tackle the unpleasant task of wading into the patch.
As I looked for a small space to insert one foot – just enough to get into the patch – I again thought why don’t I just get rid of these things. I found my footing but not without a few scratches from the thorns. I knew there would be plenty more pokes and scratches, so I braced myself for a little pain. I also stepped on some of the apple mint and the aroma was wonderful.
I started pulling the ripe, black caps off and putting them into the container. After a few, I thought I probably should see what they tasted like. I looked one over to make sure there weren’t any tiny, little critters hiding inside the freshly picked berry, and I popped it into my mouth. I couldn’t believe how good that one little berry tasted. So I ate a few more as I pushed into the patch to gather what I could. The ouches, the scratches, the annoying thorns hooking into my clothes and my skin no longer seemed to be such a big deal.
I have now been out to pick berries two times. I have enough to do something with. I just can’t figure out what. I will probably make some jam or jelly. I should have more in the next few days to make something else – maybe a pie? The picture below contains some red raspberries I had purchased from the grocery store this past Monday. I swear they feed them steroids. Red raspberries are good, but they are much milder than black raspberries.
I decided to take a picture of them side by side. I will take my little ole black raspberries any day. They may be smaller, but they have much more flavor. There is also nothing like eating a raspberry, warm from the sun and fresh off the cane. I no longer look at the bushes with disgust. I now thank my lucky stars I did not tear them out.
Now, instead of trying to figure out how to get them out of my life, I will be tending to them and making sure they are happy so that I have my black raspberry bonanza every year.