May Day and the Berry Bash

Happy May Day! Traditionally, Beltane is a celebration of fertility, which makes sense, since the dandelions are reproducing with wild abandon in my garden even as we speak. I spent an entire day in the garden this weekend, taking advantage of the window of beautiful weather; it was immediately followed by yet another rainstorm. Good for the transplants, less good for my mood.

Tristar day-neutral strawberries. Photo from

But I had sun, glorious sun for one day, and I devoted it to the berries. I love berries–strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, you name it–and I do not love the prices charged for berries in the stores. Unfortunately, last year’s drought took a toll on my strawberry patch, frying about half the crowns. I decided to consolidate the Honoeye strawberries that had survived, then plant some TriStar day-neutral strawberries in the cleared patch. I figured I could knock it out in a couple of hours and then move on to the vegetable garden, which was in serious need of attention.

Yeah, right.

First I had to remove all the weeds that had infested the patch and re-edge it. All those dead plants had cleared enough space for a fine crop of dandelions and grass. Then I started transplanting the survivors. After about two hours, I’d done all I could stand. I hated to throw the extras in the compost, but a passing neighbor took them off my hands. (Pass my house at the right time, and you’re likely to go home with tomatoes, plant divisions, or half-a-dozen eggs).

With my patch now weed-free, I thought I should freshen it up with compost. I took the fork to my old compost pile, moved the top half of stuff to my new compost pile (behind the garage, enclosed entirely by materials I already had in the garage, I’m prouder of it than is entirely sensible) to uncover the finished compost, hauled out the window frame covered with hardware cloth (Mr. Dan and Mr. Roy made it to replace the window glass in the garage during the summer so the chickens don’t get heatstroke), slapped it over the wheelbarrow, dumped compost onto it, and sifted the compost (please do not tell Mr. Dan and Mr. Roy I repurposed the window as a compost riddle).

I tell you, that compost was beautiful stuff. I’ve never sifted compost before, but it was a lot easier to work into the bed than the chunky stuff I usually get out of the pile. I hauled it to the strawberry bed, raked it in, and planted 50 Tristar berries. It took forever.

In other berry news, I planted a Northland blueberry in a raised bed in the back garden. Sure, I’ve killed 5 blueberries so far, but I’ve got to hit on the right combo sooner or later, right? So now I’m trying raised beds where I can control the pH better than traditional beds in the ground. I’ve amended the hell out of them with sulfur, but I still need to test for pH. I have a fancy dohickey I got ages ago when I worked at S&H that’s supposed to tell me the pH; I just found it in the back of all my seed starting stuff. Go figure.

I had hoped to get the raspberry supports up, but ran out of time. I did get a second crop of potatoes in though. Now, if I can get one more decent spring day in the garden, I can weed the veg garden and clean up the front-of-house border.

Tra-la-tra-la, the lusty month of May!

Categories: In the garden, The garden year | Tags: | 1 Comment

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One thought on “May Day and the Berry Bash

  1. Dawn Doup

    My berry patch is transplanted, new supports and wires and a few new black berry plants. Repurposed some ones tossed rod iron address sign off the curb and made the most adorable “Berry Patch” sign. Had to plant more strawberries as well. Never had luck with blue berries either so am trying my luck with honey berries. Had a surprise when i picked up Joy to get the egg I thought she was laying and found 10!!! Shocked, since 4 out of 6 are brooding and thought the others just lazy but NOOOOOO…they were hiding them at the other end. Now Gabby sitting pretty on 10 eggs that will hopefully hatch approx May 15th. Garden in and REALY need to get back in the house to clean. ps I to love my compost. I hate it though when i hurt a worm digging in or turning it.

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