Monday, April 13, 2009

Native Blackberrys for Sun and Profit

Today I planted blackberry shoots from my mother-in-law, and am looking forward to both shade and berries at almost no cost!

Previously, I'd stayed away from blackberries; even though that were a popular food source in the Puget Sound area since before history was recorded, I'd been told that cane fruit don't do well in pots. My "garden" was a limited number of containers on the patio and patio-roof of our apartment building, so I focused on what seemed more practical: sunflowers, nasturtiums, salad greens, tomatoes and several pots of things that died. While most of these were a complete delight, it was annoying to pay $29.95 for a current bush that flowered once ( very lovely! ), then dropped all its leaves and died. Surely there's a better way to get some foliage with a few berries!

Enter my mother-in-law, who gardens a plot at the home of her boyfriend-since-forever Larry. Every year she has to cut back the blackberries so there's room for anything else. She gifted me with a shoot last fall, which I dutifully put into a spare pot and waited for it to die. Naturally, it shot up four feet so far, in spite of the harshest Seattle winter in memory! I'm training it onto some repurposed bamboo and look for it to provide beauty, shade and, let us hope, berries!
Anything worth doing once is worth doing to excess!
Recently, our apartment complex's management cut back on plant service (...something about the economy seems to worry them. Wonder why?) In the past, they'd hire someone to bring in a few racks of flowering plants for some truly massive outdoor pots; the blooms looked nice enough but when the check cleared, they faded away. There are also some longer-lasting bushes that do o.k., but every couple of months, one of them suddenly turns brown, drops its leaves, and dies. Perhaps a plant vampire stalks Belltown? At any rate, the obvious thing to do is to as management if I can plant in the empty space in their pots as a pea-patch; they were quite agreeable, leaving me with the problem of following through; suddenly I had more "acreage" than I knew what to do with.

In a burst of technophilia, I texted my mother-in-law to request more shoots. She agreed swiftly and with amusement; in my pots, native blackberries are a godsend; in her pea-patch, they're just a weed.
Cue the music; there's a life-lesson there. Something about staying on good terms with your mother in law? That can't be right!
So today, I'm playing Johnny Blackberryseed. Er, Johnny Blackberryshoot. Whatever. While I am planting plenty of other food crops, I'm especially proud of this as its (A) native vegitation and (B) free free free!

May you have as much fun for as little money!

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