For many gardeners, waiting for the first tomato of the season is like opening the paper windows of the advent calendar. Each day you open one window to count the remaining days, in anticipation of Christmas. Finally, the day comes when you can eat that fresh, juicy red tomato, much like opening gifts on Christmas day. This year, I waited for months to harvest my first real raspberries from my Raspberry Shortcake™ plants. From the first leaves in early spring to the white flowers in late spring to the small fruits in early summer, I watched and waited. In June, I was finally able to pick a handful of raspberries from my two plants. Like a proud parent, I gently washed the delicate red berries, placed them in a blue and white bowl, and put the bowl on the kitchen countertop to show my husband. I came back to a red stained bowl.
Apparently, my son saw them and helped himself, raspberries being his favorite fruit. Of course he did not know that these did not come from the grocery store and he will never know the time, labor, and anticipation that it took to produce these berries but I was glad that he enjoyed them; he thought they were quite tasty. We live in the suburbs so for him to eat raspberries fresh off the plant is a blessing. A regular raspberry plant can grow to be a large, thorny hedge with the capacity to take over the back yard.
Raspberry Shortcake™ is a container sized plant with no thorns, perfect for suburban homes. Although mine are in the ground, they can be in large containers year round in my zone 7 area. My plants were planted last year and this summer they are only about 2 feet tall. They receive morning sun and afternoon shade, which helps them retain moisture and not be stressed by the hot afternoon sun. So far, there have been no pests, diseases, or birds although I think the birds have not noticed them because of the afternoon shade. Because they are self-pollinating, only one plant is needed to set fruit. I received mine as trial plants from Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, a wholesale nursery in Oregon. Although known for its blueberries, Fall Creek Farm & Nursery recently has developed BrazelBerries®, a line of ornamental berry plants developed for containers to make berry growing easier for people like me (full time federal government worker, suburban soccer/volleyball/basketball mom). Also included in this line are three compact blueberry plants: Peach Sorbet™, Jelly Bean™, and Blueberry Glaze™. In this area, the large independent garden centers offer the BrazelBerries® but call first to make sure they have them in stock.
To make a long story short, I showed my husband the red stained blue and white bowl and explained that my first harvest was justly eaten. The next day I was able to pick a few more and every other day since I can pull off a handful for me and my son. I could tell him it is a healthy, organic snack but then that would ruin all the fun for a teenager now wouldn’t it?