Tuesday, June 14, 2011

thoughts on raspberries, compost and--of course--quilts

June--one of my very favorite times of the year. The garden is alive with color and promise beckoning me outside before and after work. As I weed and plant, I am constantly thinking of new additions. New plans that will make it even better. Shouldn't I move that blue iris over there? What about putting a daylily here? And then there are the raspberries.

Now I confess I love raspberries--so much flavor. Summer in a simple bite. That wonderful rose color. Dessert picked fresh in the garden as the day cools off. Delish!!!

But--and as you have learned--frequently there is a but--my raspberry patch is dieing. The plants become shorter and shorter. And they are in a location where their shoots spread into the asparagus patch. Even invade the Siberian iris. Now that is a problem.  With envy I admired the vigorous bright green rows of berries I drove by on my way to the studio.

So when my DH offered to plow up a patch in the meadow for a new berry patch, I leapt at the chance. Finally a berry patch surrounded by grass. The runners could be mowed. I quickly got on the web and ordered three different types of raspberries from Nourse Farms. I wanted raspberries for all seasons. And I knew that the old plants had played themselves out.

Plant in rich deep loam the directions said. Right, I grin. We live on top of a mountain. Now I grew up on the rich soils of Illinois. The soil there went down two, three feet. Lovely and lush. There is a reason my ancestors moved out there. But here, in Massachusetts there is ledge and rock sometimes even on the surface of the soil.  It is lovely--the views are great-- but the soil is thin, acidic and rocky.

After my DH removes the sod, I double dig the trench by hand, hacking through the stone,  pulling out the rocks and stray roots. Oh this is hard work. I bring in wheelbarrows of soil pushed aside years ago when the  meadow was cleared. But still I worry that this is not enough. The soil is not rich. It feels sandy and thin.

In for a dime, in for a dollar. Isn't that the saying? So I go to the local farm store--Shelburne Farm and Garden--and actually purchase bags of organic composted cow manure and lime. Remember I grew up on a farm. Buying bags of cow manure just seems weird--sorry.  I spend many hours of my youth shoveling manure out of the barn. I don't know if you understand what a big step this is for me. But if I am going through all this work, shouldn't I give my raspberries the very best start possible? I also buy lime. Lots of lime. I will create good soil.

And that is where this post actually becomes about quilts. (You knew I would get around to it, didn't you?) Sure my grandmother used my dad's long wool pants for the quilts that provided the warmth in the bed though she cut out the holes in the knees. And even during the Depression she insisted on selecting the feed sack cloth for the finer quilts that would decorate the top of the beds. I am convinced that sometimes the chickens ate pig food because the fabric was better.

And shouldn't we, if we are going to spend the time and effort making a quilt, make it using the best materials we can get. Not the discount fabrics that are out there. I tried that ONCE. But that is another story. Isn't it better to do it right?

Meanwhile here is the new raspberry bed. I mulched it with leaves raked last fall. Now I just have to wait until next spring. I can taste them already. What do you think? Do you have raspberries? And what materials are important to you?


  1. Hi Ann! Just a quick hello. I signed out the SAQA Portfolio 16 from our guild lastnight, and saw your work in there. I told everyone, "yeah - I know her. She's my blog friend." hehe. I showed them your piece and told them how all your work is in that style, and directed them to your blog. Hope they find you! Your work is so fabulous. ; ) Have a great summer.
    ~Monika Kinner-Whalen

  2. Thanks Monika. I was thinking of you just the other day hoping spring on the prairie is truly wonderful. Can't wait to see the quilts inspired by it.