At week two it is time for the students to start helping with garden work: preparing individual and communal spaces for planting. Though Day in the Dirt (read about here) provided a healthy start, at there was still a lot to do. Everyone took up roles: weeding beds, pruning raspberries and shoveling compost were among them.
Above is a student, Hayley, pruning raspberries for a single late season crop.
She is cutting the canes to about 3 inches. Raspberry canes are biennial (live two years) while their roots and crowns are perennial (remain many years). The first year cane is known as “primocane” and after it goes dormant in the winter to wake up to its second spring it is called “floricane”. Hayley is pruning these second year canes because new canes will grow as the spring moves forward, fruiting sweet red raspberries in late summer.
Below is a simplified depiction of the biennial life cycle of the raspberry:
Frank Louws. 1992. Growing Raspberries in Ontario. Ministry of Agriculture and Food. Publication 105.
Before and after: weeding of student beds
The bed on the left is ready for some compost and a garden fork to loosen its subsoil while incorporating the compost deeper into the bed. The goal is to improve soil nutrition before planting. Details of this are described in part one of The Vegetable Gardener’s Bible by Edward Smith. (The book CTG students were assigned to read)