Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pruning Berries...

...With A Five Year Old.

We have been enjoying a couple of dryer days here in the northwest, yesterday was even quite sunny! With all the rain it is important to take advantage of the few warmer days to get outside and in the garden. Since most of the garden is still sleeping, it is time to prepare for Spring, pruning and weeding.

With my one year old on my back, Griffin and I headed out to prune the overgrown raspberries and blueberries. This time of year it is farely easy to determine which branches produced last year and which ones are already growing buds ready to bring us fruit this summer. Even a five year old can do it.

Yesterday I was busy with the clippers removing dead branches while Griffin helped by collecting the pruned sticks in his little garden cart and dragging them off to the compost pile. Raspberry canes bear fruit at the top the first year and all the way down the cane during the second year. So I prune the tops off of last year's canes, and remove completely the two year old canes. Griffin also helps by pulling off the dead little sticks running along the newer canes.

Today we worked on our little patch of blueberries. Griffin asked if he could help. Together we looked at the difference between the dead brown branches from last year and the new red branches with buds for this year. I explained the clippers were too sharp but he could help by snapping off all the little brown sticks as long as he was careful not to snap off the buds.

All gardening with kids (like most things with kids) takes a certain amount of letting go of control and not getting too upset if things do not turn out quite as you planned. When Griffin inevitably said, "Oops, I snapped off a bud.." I used it as a teaching opportunity, to explain that it was okay to take off some because then the rest of the berries would grow bigger. I mentioned his favorite giant apples from his Grampa Kit's garden, then explained how his Grampa prunes some of the buds on his apple tree so that more energy from the tree can go into the rest of the buds and they can grow into giant apples.

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