Thursday, July 21, 2011

Finding Joy during a Summer of Failure - part 2

This year I took proactive steps in my battle with the deer. It seems to be working - or else the deer have changed their mind about certain things in my yard (right...) The deer fencing is not pretty - re-bar stabbed into the ground with half-rotten black fishing net draped on it & around the berry bushes. I will be lucky to get 2 summers' worth of protection out of the netting.

But this form of protection has allowed the blueberry shrubs to put on lots of growth & put out lots of berries. Last year the deer ate all the unripe fruit (odd as that seems) & then ate the outward-facing branches that I had pruned over the last few years to grow outward & up in a healthy, open manner.

This year, most of the new growth has been inward but there is hope yet for recovery. I really should look into taking cuttings & starting new plants. Having only 2 shrubs just doesn't provide me with enough for the winter & it takes almost 5 years for these things to start producing in quantities other than what you can eat standing by the shrub for 2 minutes.

The blackcurrant shrub has always had me perplexed. But it too is enclosed within my deer fence & this year has loads of berries that are starting to ripen. If we had a bit more heat & sunshine, I'm sure I would be eating a few of them now. I would dearly love to take cuttings off this shrub to start new plants as the blackcurrant is one of my favourites & I would like to start making jelly & jam with them.

I'm looking forward to sitting beneath this large shrub to harvest the fruit, hide from the world & commune with the bugs & birds & snakes - which seem to like to live at the base of my berry shrubs...

The loganberry patch is doing very well this year, despite the fact that I remove all cane supports (other than the fence that it grows on). The canes are so long & heavy that they are now leaning down & laying almost on the ground. I'm sure I'll miss many fruit this way, but this is one cane plant that you really have to watch out when handling it. Thorns are everywhere - on the canes, top & underside of the leaves & I'm sure the fruit have something on them to keep the birds from eating them before they are ripe.

The deer have shown no interest in these - yet. Soon I will begin my daily berry-checks. Even if I'm only getting a handful at a time in the beginning, it's a good way to stave off the marauding birds & potential bear incursion. I would dearly love to make loganberry wine again. They have such an unusual flavour - hard to describe. They are a solid fruit - not hollow like raspberries. There are different flavours too - depending on where it grows, what it grows in & what it's fed (mulch vs no mulch vs fertilizer type). I find them sweet tangy with hits of 'floral' on the tip of the tongue. See - hard to describe. But the jams are divine! Mmmmm - makes me feel better just thinking about harvest time!

The blackberries - wild & everywhere & invasive - are putting out lots of flowers. The roadsides are a-buzz with bees & it's quite nice to see these flowers bringing a different dimension to the green-ness of the coast.

I have high hopes for a good harvest this year. Even if it's a dangerous venture with all the thorns & the potential for a run-in with a bear on the other side.

I find joy in gathering berries - gets me out of the house, off the property & allows me to bump into people who might not know about wild foods they too can also harvest. Teaches your eyes to look at the finer details in plants too - lots of wild berries are hidden amongst the greenery.

Now, let's just pray for some warm weather & sunshine to help things ripen up!!


tom | tall clover farm said...

Yep it's been a tough summer for ripening and warm weather plants here in the Northwest, but we can always count on roadside blackberries!

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I love the wild berries too! I have a large number of wild black cap raspberries that I add to the raspberry wine bucket.

I have a few wild red gooseberries too but not enough to do anything with yet.