I laid my first mulberry shoot over today. It’s been nearly a year and a half since I lovingly nestled these seedlings into the rocky ground. I had to dig the holes with an iron bar and pick-ax. Despite minimal care (one of the major reasons for using mulberry is its hardiness, the other is its value as animal fodder), nearly all of them survived. I had to replace a few and I moved some to change the final configuration of the fence.
After a pruning early this spring, the strong roots sent up vigorous shoots which I gloated over as dotingly as a parent over a precocious child. Pride does indeed come before a fall. My lovely green children were ruthlessly chopped down by a hailstorm. Yet the determination of a plant in its native soil and climate as well as a healthy dose of goat manure spurred them on to rapid growth. Just a few weeks later, it is time for the next phase of building the fedge.
The process, called pleaching, consists of carefully laying the shoots horizontal to the ground. A plant is programmed to reach away from the earth toward the sunlight. by lying the single stem over, I should be rewarded with a new shoot at each leaf junction, providing a much more dense hedge. Once those shoots reach the height I want, I will begin to cross and graft them. This will turn these separate trees into a community of leafy green, each sharing nutrients and energy. It also will make a very dense and strong hedge enclosing the yard and separating it from the street.
I suppose we need to get used to using the gate area…….