Sunday, May 25, 2008

Anything worth doing, is worth doing to excess - Growing Challenge

Well, we finally had to admit that our much-loved raspberry patch was out of control today. It was in the mint, it was in the oregano, it was in the pathway, it was in the veggie we bit the bullet, got out the loppers and started cutting it all back. I couldn't believe how much still needed to be taken down - and I even gave away at least 50 starter canes this spring to other gardeners!

I had planned to dry raspberry leaves to make raspberry leaf tea this year anyway, so we decided this was the perfect opportunity to get enough leaves to actually do something with. So while my sweetie cut the canes down, I sat out in the walkway and stripped the best of the early leaves off and put them into a bag. We ended up with probably four gallons of raspberry leaves. Maybe if we're lucky, that will give us a half gallon of dried tea - maybe a bit less. Here's what it looked like all spread out on the table after I ran it through the sink and the salad spinner.

While we were going through and taking out the overabundant raspberry canes, we also came across some rampant catnip. Some of our cats love catnip, and it's also supposed to make a nice calming herbal tea for people, so I picked up a couple of gallons of that while it was being weeded out and got it ready to be dried for tea.

We have a lot of other potential tea makings in the yard - calendula, marigold, blackberry leaves, various fruits, galangal leaves, lemongrass, rose petals, mints, currants, strawberry, lemon balm and lavender. I'm planning to dry tiny dices of some fruits to flavor some of the herbal teas - perhaps tiny dices of peach and apple and fig. Some dried strawberries and raspberries and currants would also likely make some tasty additions, as would dried lemon, lime and orange peel. I'm planning to just get everything we have out in the fall after the harvest is in and spend a few days trying a pinch of this and a pinch of that to see what we enjoy drinking. Should make an interesting winter project!


valereee said...

How big does a raspberry patch need to be? Would a 3' x 6' raised bed be big enough? I'd love to have raspberries!

Idaho Locavore said...

Hi Valaree - well, you could probably raise about 6 clumps of raspberries in that space - but the next year you'd be fighting to keep them from spreading all over. If you decide to try it, you might want to sink some pretty deep barriers around the bed to keep the roots contained. We planted a dozen canes about three years ago, last year used the babies coming up all over to do a third row of them, and this year we gave away about 50 starter canes, plus chopped a bunch more down and used the leaves for tea - AND we still have a bunch to clear from the supposed path through the rows! If they really like where they are growing, they can become almost like weeds.

As for the size of the patch, you probably wouldn't get a lot of berries from a patch that size, but I'll bet you could get enough leaves from it to make a nice stash of raspberry leaf tea. And if you dried some of the berries and chopped them up, you could add them to the leaves and have something truly yummy, I think!

Good luck if you try it! :-)

kneazle said...


Just found your blog as I was looking for other locavores on blogger (they need a search engine). I didn't see your e-mail, but here's mine and my blog. Would you like to exchange links? I will certainly link your blog to my page. I used to be all about primarily encouraging my community to get on board with this idea, but lately, I think it's good to just promote the idea everywhere! Besides, I love the posts and ideas!