Friday, April 22, 2016

The Raspberry Patch

My raspberry patch went wild, as raspberries tend to do.  I put these plants in about five years ago.  They were pressed on me by a friend who had to reduce his patch.  I was hardly consumed with enthusiasm to receive a bundle of sticks, bare roots wrapped in wet newspaper.  I had nowhere to put them so dug up some land by the kennels, the easiest solution at the time.  I was quite sure they would die, but not only did they all survive, they produced a decent harvest the first year.

Raspberries are imperialistic.  They annex adjoining land freely.  Little else can grow where they establish themselves.  Stalks are short lived, a couple years, and in death continue to reinforce the prickly fortress with their bones.  Within two years my raspberries began jumping their boundaries, marching across the ground like an endless army.  Kill one and two more appeared in its place.  They surrounded kennel doors, swarmed the fence, advanced on flowers, relentless in their expansion.

The harvest was epic, hundreds of berries sprinkled through the foliage, sparkling in the sun.  Fueled by greed for the ruby fruits I turned a blind eye to the transgressions of the bearing plants.  But as the years passed more and more of the fruit was inaccessible in the thicket.  Picking berries required long sleeves, long pants, and maybe a machete.  I considered buying a pith helmet to complete the picture. 

The patch needed to move, a big job that I postponed regularly.  Finally I laid out a new location and began digging.  The new habitat is bigger, more room for walking to harvest, and more accessible for pruning.  Most of my feral plants are coming with little argument, but a few have required a high powered rifle and tranquilizer darts to wrestle them out of the jungle.  I’m about 2/3 of the way through.  I’m a bit late with the transplant.  I should have started before the spring growth began.  The stalks have buds and some small leaves.  I think they’ll be okay with plenty of water and TLC.  A new kingdom that I’m already picturing covered in ruby red berries.