My gardens are loving this wet, hot, humid weather. The tomatoes and cucumbers are spreading, growing out and over the sides of their raised boxes. I've had to stake the tomatoes in creative ways to keep them in check. The cucumbers have a trellis to climb, and they're making their way up, looking healthy and producing beautifully. That said, the one garden that is truly out of control is the fruit garden. The raspberry vines are taking over, pushing their way into the designated grape space, and the strawberry vines have crept into all four corners, not to be outdone by the wandering raspberry vines. I spent some time in the fruit garden last evening to try and make a dent in the chaos, but there's plenty more to be done.
Last summer, I had more raspberries than I could handle. I made black raspberry jam, red raspberry jam, and red raspberry vinaigrette. The family enjoyed the black raspberry jam but didn't appreciate the red raspberry jam like I did. I adore red raspberries. When I see them, the memory of riding my horse along a country road where the berries grew wild comes to mind. I remember feeling like I'd found a treasure. I slid off my horse and picked berries, popping them into my mouth, delighting in their warm berry scent combined with the sweet taste. The red raspberry takes me back to being 14, exploring country roads by horseback.
My raspberries this summer, though, have no blooms, no fruit. I have lots of vines. The leaves are a vibrant green. Nothing looks amiss except it appears there will be no berries this year. To figure out what is going on, I read a few articles. I found out I am the culprit; I went too far in pruning back the canes last fall. This year's producing canes grew last year and should have been left alone. Oops. On the bright side, next year's crop should be fantastic.
Last summer, the grape vines produced beautiful clusters of grapes. I watched the grapes grow all summer long, going from being tiny green pea-sized fruits to glorious purple marble-sized fruits. I patiently waited until they were at the perfect stage for picking, and the day I went out to fill my bucket, every single grape was gone. Something beat me to them. I figure a raccoon had gorged itself, enjoying the sweet treat I had watched over all summer.
My grapes this summer, however, have no clusters forming. The vines are strong. The leaves are huge and green. Everything looks healthy. Yet again, after reading up on grapevines, I learned I went too far in pruning last fall. This year's producing vines had developed last summer, and I cut them off. Oops again. Next year . . . next year will be a bumper crop!
Each summer I learn from mistakes I made the summer before. The good news is the plants are healthy and doing well, so there's no need to replace them. By the looks of it, I better start prepping now for the amount of berries I'm going to have next summer. One of my to-do jobs is to create a space for my canned foods; I might get started on that now so when I have jars of jams and other goodies, I'll have the place to put them.
On a side note, today's ride took me northwest, to new roads and scenery. On my way back, I had the pleasure of witnessing this.