Perennial Update

Although most of our garden is devoted to growing annual vegetables, we do have several beds set aside for some perennials that come back every year. It's nice to have some (mostly) worry-free crops that just do their thing without much attention: Just add a compost top-dressing in the spring and enjoy the bounty. Here's how our perennial fruits and veggies are faring this year. 

Our strawberry patch is three quarters of the way planted. The Tribute strawberries in the foreground were our first plants, and they are now in their third season. The lush patch in the middle are last year's Honeoye planting, and the dark compost section in the background marks our newly planted Seascape strawberries. 

I have to say, I'm not that impressed with the Tribute strawberries. Their flavor can be kind of tart for straight eating, and the plants have not bounced back from this winter very well. In another couple years it will be time to replace them, and we will probably try a different variety if these continue to lag behind the others. Both Tribute and Seascape are day-neutral, which means they continue producing berries throughout the summer. The Honeoye plants are June-bearing, so we should be enjoying a whole lot more strawberries this spring — hopefully there will be preserves in our future!

Our asparagus bed is sending up lots of good, strong stalks his year. In fact this weekend I will have to see about freezing some for the winter, as we haven't been able to keep up with it all. The kids have taken to snacking on it raw as they play outside, but there's still a lot of asparagus here. Success!

The raspberries are back in force, and look healthy and full. This year we will need to run some wire between those posts to support the long, floppy canes as they get weighted down with fruit.

The only blueberry buds we have so far are these--a grand total of five. One plant definitely did not survive the winter, and at least two others are looking very weak. These are third year plants, and they are barely any bigger than the were when we planted them:

I know that blueberries grow slowly, but this is very frustrating. I have increased their spring fertilizer amount and will be more diligent about watering. I suspect that they are not getting enough rain, and that the raised beds are working against their shallow root systems. I plan to set up a soaker hose around this bed to make sure that they get a good soak every day or so. If those things don't help, I may have to seek out some expert advice, because I'm running out of ideas. 

The cranberries are looking healthy, and I am hoping that a bit more fertilizer and water for them this summer as well will coax them into filling the bed with runners. Once the plant has filled out, it can put more energy into putting out fruiting uprights. We had just a few berries last year, so hopefully this year will be more productive. 

Finally, our rhubarb is doing great. It's nice and full, and we have good, strong stalks. In fact, this weekend I am looking forward to a rhubarb crisp for dessert. This plants is fully established, so we can cut as much as we want from here on out. 

So our perennials are mostly in good shape, with the exception of those stubbornly slow-growing blueberries. (If you have any ideas or advice on that, please share!) Not too bad over all, I suppose — as long as you're not particularly hungry for blueberries, that is.


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