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Posts Tagged ‘berries’

The black raspberries have mostly settled in so I thought it was time to talk a bit about the findings so far.

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I put in a number of plants in early 2016 and was given another group last spring so we have a mix of 1 and 2 year olds. Last fall was busy so we didn’t do much in the way of care or clean-up on them either. They are planted in bed that has partial shade to almost full sun. It was were the neighbours hooked up to the sewer system so while it was well dug earth, it wasn’t really improved.

This variety fruits on the second year canes so there was only a very light crop last year. This year was a different story!

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We’ve been getting an average of 1-2 cups a day for most of the past couple of weeks. There are still some left to ripen but most are finished now. I expect we’ll only get another 6-8 cups.

While they are very productive, getting the fruit is a bit harder than picking the fall reds. The branches are very high, so some easily rise above 5′ to 6′ high in beautiful arcs, and all are equipped with vicious thorns. The light picking last year left my hands and arms really scratched up so this year I made some armour. A pair of older leather gloves had their fingertips cut off and a bit of brown faux leather was used to make a pair of bracers. They may not be pretty but they work. I’m still getting a few scratches around my elbows and some clothing snags, but am otherwise unscathed. To be clear, this isn’t me being overly sensitive, some sort of protection is a requirement. Even the birds have left them alone.

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The fruit itself has a surprising, unique flavour that is significantly different from the red. I’d always wondered why “blue raspberry” flavour had no bearing on any raspberry I’d ever tried but it’s clear it was based on fresh black ones. While they are pleasant fresh, they are, in our opinion, best used as a cooking berry. They cook up with solid, yet juicy texture and a deeper, richer “raspberry” flavour. The colour is also lovely. The red ones tend to both get a bit mushy and their red colour can also end up looking grey when cooked and mixed with other things. With the blacks, they cook to a rich purple with deep reddish juice. The smaller, drier fruits also hold together better and they work more like a blueberry in terms of being easy to be mixed in and still hold on to their shapes. They make a lovely pie.

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Overall, the black raspberries have made a well timed addition to the fruit collection. They are a great cooking berry and their timing has fallen in a fairly empty period. The strawberries are done and the blueberries are just starting so it gave us a nice bit of small fruit coverage. The plants seem low maintenance. We’ll need to remove this years fruiting canes in the fall and intend to do a deep leaf cover again. While they are extremely well armed, it is possible to pick around them and they have fended off both birds and other berry thieves.

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IMG_6683A few years ago we put in a group of haskap berry bushes. They were sad little sticks when they went in but have done extremely well. We got our first good round of fruit this year and while they are not quite as sweet as blueberries, they can be swapped in for them in any baked good. (the photo is one I took just before picking this spring) Being so happy with them, we had added a few more this spring, but kept the numbers low since they can be a bit expensive. That’s why I was pleased to find a group of them in an end-of-season clearout for a local garden centre. We had been thinking about opening up a new bed for strawberries and finding enough haskaps, at a great price, to finish filling in the row means no more waiting to move them. There were enough to give us a final count of two dozen, and to run the length of the bed to the east of the house. So the strawberries will be shifted to their new bigger home, and we’ll have full rows of both for next year! (and I’ll have to find a few more recipes for using our crop)

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raspThe garden keeps developing and it looks like a few of the longer-term investments are starting to pay off in terms of fruit production. One is the thimbleberries. Unlike our everbearing raspberries, they need to fruit on second year canes and it’s taken a few years for them to spread out enough so we are getting more than just a few to taste. The first year canes also seem to be good eating, as far as the bunnies are concerned, and they all got mowed down to under 2′, over the winter. (which was taller than the years previous where they were mostly eaten right down) That doesn’t seem to have stopped them from producing, so the deeper snow is probably why we’re actually getting a crop this year. This was the early morning haul yesterday and I got almost as much in the late afternoon. The berries are much larger, (most are almost the size of a thimble) a bit sweeter but not quite as tasty as the everbearing, but even so it’s really nice to have a decent run a couple of months before the big flood.

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The elderberry bushes keep getting larger and this img_5853 is the first year that not only have they have set lots of berries, but the birds don’t seem as interested in cleaning them off. I think it might be a case of the delayed season meaning that the birds are mostly done with raising of chicks so have less need to pillage them all out from under us. I’m surprised to be thankful about the berries running almost a month behind schedule, but if it means we’ll have a bit more time to do the picking, rather than have to grab what we can before the birds get them all then it’s a good thing. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out the best ways to use them. We tend to prefer to mix them with other fruits, rather than use them alone since the flavour can be a bit overpowering if it isn’t softened a bit and considering how good the other fruit crops are looking, I’m guessing it will mostly be apple. It looks like some tasty pies and crumbles are in our future!

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The blackberries are starting to ripen and they are huge!

blackberries, August 2013

blackberries, August 2013

While I had hopes of being able to make up at least one batch of my favourite blackberry crumble recipe it looks like they are going to do a slow, extended run of production. (there are even a few flowers still setting) So far, we’re getting a few daily and disposing of those is no hardship at all. It’s possible we’ll get at least one large group at the same time, but I’m not sure. For the moment, it’s mostly a matter of trying to beat Dad to the patch for the days supply!

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There is a large trench, along the border of the store and house properties.

honey berry plant, May 2013

honey berry plant, May 2013

It was cut in when the house was connected to the towns new sewer system. I had dreams of a blueberry patch along it but that hasn’t worked out too well. It turns out that rabbits consider the branches to be a tasty, winter-time snack. They’ll eat all of the new growth, as well as anything else they can reach so the plants get a bit smaller each year. On top of that, the birds are extremely determined about eating all the berries before they fully ripen. Since it’s not the best soil, and over the sewer pipe, I did want to stay with shallow rooted, production shrubs. With the blueberries being a failure, last year we decided to try some haskapberries. We put in a group of nine, and they were little more than sticks. With the drought conditions, they got watered, but not as often as I would have liked for new transplants. As a result, I was pleasantly surprised to see some vigorous growth, this spring. All of them have popped up with new branches and lots of leaves. A few have even set flowers. We’ll see if the birds let us sample the fruit!

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This summer’s drought has affected so much of the garden.

raspberries, Sept. 2012

Even the raspberries are having a hard time. They’ve survived and, while shorter than usual, have set their typically large fruit clusters. The thing is that they are running way behind in terms of ripening. We’re finally up to getting a handful or so of berries a day but this is nearly a month later than we’re used to. What we need is a good rain for them to get the production really rolling. Of course, we’re back in drought conditions, but there is some hope for rain next week. (at the moment It think we have the possibility of rain every day next week, but only one has it with a probability of more than 50%, so I’m not holding my breath)  If the fall runs as warm as is predicted, we may still get a decent harvest, but the canes can’t hold up to a solid frost.

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