Intelligent Raspberries

I’m not much of a gardener, to be honest. More of a pottering-around person than someone who actually knows what they are doing. Sometimes I celebrate having cut the grass by having a beer while wandering around my quite small garden looking at things with my head to one side. So I was quite surprised when I finally got the raspberries right this year, definitely more by accident than design. I am confused as to what I am supposed to cut back in the autumn. Two years ago I cut all the raspberry canes back, thinking it would cause them to grow stronger. It didn’t, and there were a paltry few raspberries to be seen last summer. So last year I went to the other extreme, and I cut nothing back. I inadvertently threw some vegetable fertiliser on them in May and I must have got the timing right for once. The raspberry harvest has been abundant. While I have been out picking them, I find that I am completely absorbed in what I am doing, which of course is so relaxing. I seem to have a muscle memory of exactly how much pressure to put on a raspberry to persuade it to be picked, and if it resists, I leave it be. I also unknowingly remembered that a great way to find extra ones is to kind of hang upside down and look up at the bushes. I am amazed at how many gorgeous, plump, ripe berries I have missed until I do this. Probably because of the weather (the usual “soft” Irish summer i.e. lashing rain all the time) the berries are huge. They are so huge they are impressive. I began to realise that in the past, when something was flowering nicely or producing fruit I took it for granted and just ignored the plant, expecting that it would continue to do so without any input from me. I guess it’s my age, but now I am more inclined to reward good effort with fertiliser or whatever might be needed. Taking less things for granted. It can only be good. I also use the biodynamic principles of leaving 10% of the harvest for the slugs, snails and birds. Of course, where I grew up, they would say that I am for the birds but hey, not my problem. All I know is that I have an abundant harvest, and if my fellow creatures want their share, that’s okay with me. I also whisper “thank you” to the plants each time I collect the raspberries. I have had great enjoyment out of sharing the bumper yield with my neighbours. One of them slowed down his car yesterday and shouted “The raspberries were lovely!” which made me laugh. Imagine, such pleasure to be had from such simple things. So that’s why I think raspberries are intelligent. They respond to kindness like all the rest of us, hide their berries under the leaves so you have to go looking for them, which makes you spend more time in the garden, which lets your soul be peaceful. Clever fruit.

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