52 Homesteading Skills in One Year – Project #1: Learning to grow raspberries
I planted a stick.
Okay, it’s technically called a bare root raspberry “cane”, but I’m telling you it looked like yours truly paid $8.99 for a stick. The tag, however, informed me it was indeed going to produce pints of lush, red melt-in-your-mouth berries.
So I simply dug a hole and the kids and I stuck that thing in the ground. I walked away as smug as could be thinking, ‘that was easy’. Later, I consulted my friend Google. This is farming lesson number one, folks. Always do your research before you plant.
It is advised to soak your stick for a couple hours before planting and to spread a couple inches of compost to the TOP of the soil after planting. The base of the raspberry should also be mulched to keep the weeds down. Raspberries have shallow roots so weeding must be done carefully. Better to put down mulch.
Now the directions on the tag said that you should plant red raspberries 3 feet apart in rows 8 feet apart. I scoffed a little at this thinking my stick doesn’t need that much room.
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! Red raspberries do indeed spread – A LOT. Red raspberries spread away from the original planting site by sending up new canes called ‘suckers’ away from the original root crown. So don’t…ahem…put a red raspberry bush say, for a random example, as a border in the middle of your planned vegetable garden area. But who would be stupid enough to do that anyway?
So this was my original stick….
And this is my raspberry bush one year later.
In one year! I was amazed. Maybe you are too, but any real farmers out there are now rolling their eyes and laughing because I didn’t realize raspberries need to be pruned. Summer raspberries are pruned after fruiting by cutting out the old canes and leaving the new to grow on. Fall fruiting varieties are cut to the ground in early winter or as soon as they are done fruiting.
Pruning only takes a few minutes and increases your yield, but I didn’t do it. Hence the “wild” look of my bush. You may also notice they are planted in front of a fence. How the heck did I think I was going to harvest the berries on the other side?
Thankfully raspberries are very forgiving and despite all these errors I was able to harvest a few pints of fresh raspberries. In fact, I’m told these are the easiest fruit to grow. So if you have any unused plot of ground maybe covered in grass that you hate mowing, a raspberry cane is your answer. They don’t need the best soil (they will grow in most kinds), you don’t even need full sun (raspberries do just fine in partial shade) and one year later you’ll be harvesting delicious little red gems that you can then use in this pie.
Unfortunately, I didn’t. A little raspberry goblin gobbled all the raspberries off my bush before they could even make it into the house.
Oh, you thought I meant one of the kids? No, it was me. Sadly, I had to buy raspberries. (Insert hanging head here.) But next year, after pruning my bush, I promise I’ll be making jam and pie with homegrown berries and hopefully you will too.
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Pie
See Grain Free Pecan Crust recipe
2 12.3-ounce shelf-stable package firm silken tofu (you can also use the refrigerated tofu too, but it is easier with the silken)
2 1/2 cups 70% dark chocolate chips (dairy free for those with allergies)
1 tsp coconut oil
3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
Melt 2 cups of chocolate chips with a teaspoon of coconut oil over low heat, stirring constantly.
Get out the blender and puree the tofu with the melted chocolate until it has reached a smooth consistency. This isn’t as easy as it sounds. I use a Vitamix blender to handle this task and yet I still have to stop the blender every so often and give it a stir. Blend, stir and repeat several times until you get a fabulous creamy texture. Note: If you use the refrigerated tofu, you’ll need to add about a 1/4 cup of water.
Chop the remaining chocolate chips and stir them in for a little crunch in your pie. As my daughter says, “it’s funner in the mouth”. And who doesn’t want to have a little party in their mouth?
Once the pie crust has cooled, spread the chocolate tofu mixture on top of the crust. Then place the pie in the freezer for about an hour to set. Sometimes I’m too hungry and I eat the pie right away. In this case, use frozen raspberries. The warm pie and frozen sauce are the perfect combination. Simply puree the berries and scoop a dollop on top of your pie.
If you have managed to keep the pie in the freezer for an hour, puree the raspberries to create a sauce and then warm over low heat. Pour a heaping spoonful over individual pie servings.
So what did you think of the pie? Are you going to order a raspberry cane? I’d love to hear how you made out. Simply leave a comment below.