Tag Archives: elderberries

2018 Organic Garden Update – June

Fruit is set and ripening.

Blackberries & apple trees

It’s mid-June and we’ve had 4 decent days in a row, weather-wise.  The sun was out most of the time and on two days, the temperature actually rose into the 80’s.

The sun and the heat encouraged the plants to get on with their jobs! And I am happy to report that is just what is happening in my 2018 garden!

The blackberries are loaded with flowers and going about the business of creating their fruits.


Elderberries flourishing in the meadow.

Elderberry bushes

Burssel sprouts growing with blackberries

Brussel sprouts & blackberries

So are the elderberries that I planted in the back meadow.  They moved from bushes to trees, this spring!

It helps that Comfrey is inter-planted with the elderberry bushes as this herb pulls up nutrients from the soil but doesn’t use them so the elderberries get fed.


Most of my readers know that I trial a seed or two every year; Brussel sprouts are my trial this year. They seem to be growing pretty well, tucked in under the blackberries.   There was a bit of bunny damage but the plants got past  the nibbles and kept growing. I gave Brussel sprouts a try after listening to Margaret Roach’s podcast on the best ways to grow these and other cruciferous vegetables.

Tomatoes setting on my vines

Tomatoes despite the weather!

Considering the Septoria outbreak from all the rain and the cool days and nights, I am surprised to find that I actually have tomatoes on the vine, not a lot but there are baby tomatoes peeking out of the plants.

Cutting off all the infected leaves on every tomato plant appears to have thwarted the Septoria spores from taking over my tomato plants but we are under a flood watch again, today. So hyper- vigilance will be needed, again.

The onions and garlic are growing like mad and I took advantage of the clear weather to fertilize both.

Onions and garlic get fed

Onions and garlic

I normally just use fish emulsion and only from Neptune’s Harvest but this year,  because of all the rain, I supplemented with some organic worm castings.

Why supplement? Both onions and garlic are being grown in raised beds and both looked like they could use a bit of food this year. I usually only put crushed eggshells around my tomato and pepper plants but this year, because we have had so much rain, I also used fish emulsion and worm castings to feed these plants.

The eggplant and the cucumbers are growing well this year but I topped them up with some worm castings and poured a bit of fish emulsion on them as well, just to add a bit of food to their roots and leaves.

Cucumbers enjoying the sun

Cucumbers in the sun

Eggplant enjoying a warm day

Eggplant enjoying a warm day.


Planting Elderberries in the Meadow

Grassy meadow in my backyard.

Our meadow grows great grass!

We call this our meadow. Honestly, it’s really just half an acre of ground we
didn’t want to mow any more.

Lemon balm likes the meadow

Lemon balm took over the old firewood pile.

The idea started when I transplanted some of my mom’s Lemon Balm in an area that had been the firewood pile.                    Lemon balm grows fast and this took off and created an oval that’s about 6 feet wide and 12 feet long. Then milkweed dropped by for a visit and decided to stay, creating a ring around half of the lemon balm bed. The only plants that have tried to interfere were two invasives – Mile A Minute (it grows that fast) and every surface including the back of the leaves has stickers) and Bittersweet Vine.

The rest of the half acre is “naturalized.”

Okay, it looks pretty seedy but I have been working on this for a couple of years with little or no success. The grass is MONSTER and its rhizomes are about 1/2″ thick!

I’ve planted 18 perennials out in the meadow…black-eyed susans, shasta daisies, perennial flox, and cone flowers — all supposed to be hardy, to love the sun and to return, year after year. Most of them packed up in the dead of night and moved to the neighbors.

So, now my new approach is to plant bushes.

Transplanted elderberry growing in the meadow.

The first elderberry goes into the meadow.

Of course, the bushes have to produce so, I am putting 3 elderberry bushes in and 2 Goji Berry bushes. Just for fun, I picked up a Hazelnut tree at Sugar Bush Nursery and am adding it to the mix.

Luckily, we had dragged branches out to the meadow over the last 2 years, piled them up and left them. Occasionally we would look at each other, look at the pile and say, “We need to clean that up.” That didn’t happen until today.

Sticks moved so I could plant elderberries.

I call this sticks with ticks.

And when I started moving the pile from one bit of the meadow to another, I found absolutely beautiful, grass-free soil and a nice place to plant my berry bushes! (I also found 6 ticks on my neck, arms and head — I’m still itching.)

I dug holes for the elderberries, making them about 30 inches deep. Too deep for this bush which is shallow-rooted. But I knew my enemy — the soil.

Freshly dug, properly prepped holes for my bushes.

Freshly dug, properly prepped holes for my bushes.

It grows absolutely fabulous witch grass  and not much else. It would not be good for these berry bushes.

I broke up and added about 3 inches of twigs and branches – jumping on them once they were in the hole to break them even further.

Why branches?  In soil this hard, twigs help with drainage and keep these new bushes from drowning. They also break down slowly, adding nutrients to the soil that will feed the elderberries over time.

This hole is ready for its bush!

This hole is ready for its bush!

I topped the branches with  composted matter that included grass, straw, some well-composted manure and egg shells. On top of that, I put a 2 inch layer of soil. Now the holes are only about 8 inches deep.

The new baby bushes will be tucked in with some worm castings and some of the native dirt from the hole. They will also have ground cover and topped with grass clippings that will act as mulch and food.

Here’s hoping my new plan works and the meadow gives up a little real estate for these new baby elderberries and the Goji berries.

By the way, here’s the view of my garden and house from the meadow – what the bushes get to see when they look at home!

The view from the meadow.

Our house and garden from the meadow.