Tag Archives: Blackberries

Blackberries!

blackberries1

Looks like this is going to be the best blackberry harvest that I’ve had in several years. It takes two years from shoot to berry. A a lot that can happen during that time. Lack of rain, too much rain, disease, deer, wind and winter temps can thwart a berries journey into being. The weather this year will determine the canes that come up this year and next to some extent. Also the rain or lack thereof will contribute to the number and size of the berries. All of the good weather in the world is for naught if I don’t get them covered prior to ripening. The birds will pick them clean if given a change.

This is the second picking of the season. The batch I picked a couple of days ago was just enough for a cobbler.

Late Cleanup

This week is my well earned vacation week. We aren’t going anywhere this week but I am using it to catch up on some projects.

Today I cleaned out the raspberry beds, cutting one to the ground and the other to about 12-18 inches high. They are just starting to wake up. I normally do it before now but it is still early enough I do believe. The variety is Heritage and since they will fruit twice I alternate beds so that each spring a bed is fruiting and that fall the other bed is fruiting. It makes for a very long raspberry harvest.

I also cleaned out the blackberry patch. Well…half of it anyway. I keep threatening to get rid of one non productive row. I do believe this is the year for it.

I bought some basil seeds yesterday that I will start tonight in the basement. I have some tomato seeds on order. I like to get them started by April 1 so I am right on target with that. I ended up not getting the garlic in the ground last fall so I started some in the basement about a month ago. I will transplant it outside probably this week.

There is still a LOT of cleanup that is needed in the flower beds. I am still not sure what I want to do with it though. We haven’t had the rain we need to keep it looking decent so I may just take out some of it and turn it back into lawn. The jury is still out on that one.

Harvest

Gooseberries, cherry tomatoes, blackberries, raspberries and a zucchini. A good haul. The spring crop of the raspberries is about over while the fall crop is being pollinated. The blackberries are just starting to ripen. The birds have found them as they do every year. Tonight I will have to prune back the new growth and net them if we are going to get much in the way of a harvest. The drought last year has really cut back the number of producing blackberry canes this year as was expected. Since the blackberry fruit grows on the second year’s growth, how the new canes grow this year will give an idea of a possible harvest next year. Barring a below normal temperature winter, next year should bring a great blackberry harvest. While watering this morning I noticed that the everbearing strawberries in the barrel on the back porch are in bloom again.

Berry Good

I often get up long before I have to start getting ready for work to browse the garden. The morning is cool and the birds are out in full chorus. I do the container watering at this time, harvest what I can and just enjoy the morning. This morning on my rounds I came up with some of the early raspberries, the first couple of blackberries, a couple of handfuls of blueberries, currants, the first of the gooseberries and the last of the strawberries. What an awesome breakfast!

The dill is just getting large enough to take a small harvest. This batch went into a couple of small paper bags to dry. The bags will get a shake once or twice a day to insure even drying.

Harvests and THE best Chocolate Raspberry Brownies on the Planet.

Looking on the counter I see today’s haul. A dozen or so jalepenos for hot poppers, a quart of raspberries, a handfull each of blackberries and strawberries, a couple of zucchini and a few green tomatoes for frying.

The Weatherbug calls for the possibility of rain today. I’ve known about this for a couple of days but I’m not buying into it. There have been promises of water before and here we sit not a drop. Just a few miles either north or south of us seem to get it but often it misses us. So… I am watering anyway. Not a lot, just an inch or so to soften the soil a bit. It is so hard in some spots now any rain would just run off anyway. I can almost hear a distinct ‘ahhhhh’ coming from the garden as I turn on the water.

I am putting the propagation bench (see the archives) to good use. A coworker gave me some rose cuttings last week from her miniature rose bush. I have 5 in cups on the bench. Another 5 black knight butterfly bush cuttings are also trying to root. I also have some basil that never made it to the garden growing in cups. It actually looks much better than the stuff outside. I’ve been harvesting it along. I got enough day before yesterday for a pasta salad that I love. mmm.

On to the brownies…

I picked this recipe up from the net. I made a batch with a couple of minor modifications and OMG it is THE best brownie I’ve ever had (if I do say so myself 😉 ).
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Chocolate Raspberry Squares Recipe by Robert Rothschild Farm

1/2 cup Butter, unsalted
2 oz. Chocolate, unsweetened
1/2 tsp. Instant coffee
3/4 cup Sugar
1 Egg
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 cup Flour
1 cup Fresh raspberries
1/2 cup Walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp. Flour
6 Tbsp. Flour
3 Tbsp. Butter, unsalted, melted
Garnish Robert Rothschild Red Raspberry Gourmet Sauce and fresh raspberries
3 Tbsp. Cocoa powder
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs
3/4 cup Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For brownie layer: Combine 1/4 cup butter, chocolate and coffee in a small sauce pan and melt over low heat. Cook and reserve. In electric mixer bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup butter and sugar. Beat to combine. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat just until incorporated. Add the melted chocolate and flour. Pour batter in a greased 9 inch square baking dish. Bake for 12 minutes.

For raspberry layer: In a small bowl, combine the fresh raspberries, walnuts and flour.

For top layer: Combine brown sugar, flour, cocoa, vanilla, eggs and melted butter in a small bowl. Reserve.
Remove brownie layer from oven and distribute the raspberries and walnuts over the top. Drizzle the top layer over raspberries. Return to oven and bake another 20-30 minutes.

To serve, spoon some Red Raspberry Gourmet Sauce on a dessert plate, place a raspberry square on top of sauce and garnish with fresh raspberries.

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When I made them I left out the coffee and raspberry sauce, substituted almonds for walnuts (didn’t have any walnuts) and probably used about 1 1/2 cups of fresh (just picked) raspberries. They turned out very moist and you could really taste the raspberries. I think they were even better the second day. This recipe is a keeper.

A Sticky Subject

The better part of yesterday afternoon was spent getting my floor so sticky that you can’t stand in any one place very long for fear of being ‘stuck’ there for good. The end result was 5 pints of blackberry pancake syrup and 6 pints of blackberry jelly.

I started out with about 15 cups of blackberry juice that was not easy task obtaining. One hint. Don’t bother trying to use an electric juicer to extract blackberry juice. What you end up with is a rather pale thick purple pulpy mess that I ended up not using. After many layers of cheese cloth and a sieve I ended up with enough juice for the projects. Next year I am probably going to invest in a steam juicer. I feel like I ended up wasting a lot of juice the way I did it.

I went with blackberry jelly over jam because of the seed issue. Most of the berries were ones I had grown this year but I did add some wild berries I had in the freezer. They are loaded with seeds, too many for my taste. I went with the jelly recipe from the pectin box but used the following recipe for the syrup.


Blackberry Pancake Syrup

Blackberry Juice
Sugar
Lemon Juice

For each cup of blackberry juice add 2/3 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 8-10 minutes, remove from heat. Once it settles down skim off the foam with a metal spoon if there is any and pour into hot pint jars. Seal in a boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes.

This will take a while to thicken and will seem quite thin when you remove from the canner. I’ve had it take a couple of weeks to thicken up before but if prepared properly it should thicken up fine.

I haven’t tried it but will try using raspberries with this recipe too perhaps adjusting the sugar a little as they aren’t nearly as tart as the blackberries.

I gathered some raspberries this morning and will work up a batch of raspberry jam this afternoon. Stay tuned…

2005 Berries and the mosquitos are making me anemic

I am guessing that 2005 will be known as the year of the great berry harvest here. So far… I have picked almost 36 lbs of blackberries from 6 vines and there could be another 3 lbs on there yet. The raspberries are up to about 3/4 lb every 24 hours and haven’t even really started. This was the first year my blackberries produced so it is possible that, weather permitting and no diseases or insects we will see even more next year. I am interested to know if the raspberries will put out as many canes next year. We went from 6 last year to well over 150 this year in the same spot. I am wondering if letting so many canes grow this year will tax the root system to the point of producing fewer canes next year. I am new to the berries so there is still a lot for me to learn.

The mosquitos are terrible. We had some rain this week and they are out in full force. 90F and I am in jeans just to preserve what little blood is left in my system.

ARRRRGGGHHH

After work today I came home and took some really pretty pictures (I thought) of the ripe raspberries and the zinnias. I didn’t check them till now, almost 10 pm, after the raspberries have been picked and frozen and long after the sun has set. As it turns out none of them turned out, all were blurry. I am starting to wonder if I have a problem with my camera as I am seeing more and more blurry pics lately. Oh well.

I’ve dehydrated more tomatoes than a sane person should. I tightly packed them into 3 qt jars and stuck them in the freezer for now.

Today was the first official day of raspberry season. We are still picking blackberries every 3 days or so too. So far I haven’t netted the raspberries and probably won’t till I start seeing bird damage. The canes are still full of bees pretty much any time I look.

I pulled out another row of beans and will replant it in a couple of weeks. That will probably be my last sowing this year. I also harvested some leeks. There were some kind of larvae in some of them. I haven’t looked into trying to figure out what it was as there were plenty without them. I tried freezing some chopped leeks in chicken broth for potato leek soup later on. I had always read that you could freeze them then I read another book that said they would turn bitter. We shall see.

It has been so dry here. I have two patches of zinnias. The one on the side of the house has a good case of powdery mildew. The other has much more air circulation and is free of PM. I’ve had to water pretty much all of the veggie garden, the rhubarb and some of the flowers. I had a hose blow out this morning. One of my hoses had been hit by the mower which cut just the outer layer. Over time that spot had weakened and this morning it blew. Gotta put a new hose on my list.

Hummingbirds, bees and some yard cleanup

The bulk of today was filled with cleanup. I did harvest another 3 lbs of blackberries which brings the total so far this year to about 11.5 lbs off of 6 plants. I cut down the cilantro and kept the seed heads. Not sure what I am going to do with them but they are drying on the back porch. With the ground nice and moist I was able to get some of the weeds out of the flower beds and part of the veggie garden. The raspberry bed is THE place to be if you are a bee. I saw more bees there than I have seen in any spot that size since I’ve moved here. Yeah bees!

I noticed an almost red big beef? tomato. It will be our first big one. We’ve been eating cherries for some time but this year I planted long season indeterminate varieties for eating tomatoes. I have some determinate paste tomatoes I am going to dehydrate but they aren’t near ready.

The monarda is waning due to the powdery mildew. I’ve cut it back but don’t want to spray as it lives in my herb bed. The hummingbirds still stop by the few flowers left hoping for a treat. One pulled away part of the flower as she was lunching and watching her trying to shake it off of her beak was quite a site. I decided to break out the hummingbird feeder and filled it with some boiled sugar water. Within 20 minutes I had 3 visitors. The honey bees have found it too and watching them and the hummingbirds manuever around each other can be quite entertaining.

I was at the Walter Kelly site looking at bee supplies. I would love to have an observation hive here on my desk but alas I would be run out of the house if I attempted to bring them inside. The tarantula is barely allowed in the house as it is.

Blackberries!

Out at just before 7am, I picked our first 2.105 lbs of these big guys and that didn’t even begin to touch what is still ripening out there. They are sweet-tart, just the way I like them. I see blackberry cobbler in our near future.

I’ve had to water a couple of times and if we don’t get some rain in the next couple of days I’ll water again. The netting seems to be doing the trick, now if I could keep the Japanese Beetles off of the leaves. With the netting, I found that pulling it away from the vines at the bottom and weighing it down with scrap lumber keeps the netting away from the berries except at the very top. Even those didnt’ seem to be picked at by the birds. Perhaps the netting confuses them and keeps them off the vines altogether. Its probably a 45 degree angle from the top of the row to where the netting meets the ground. As a control I left the row of Thorn Free plants for the birds. The berries are still on the vines but they are picked clean. There are only three of the Thorn Free vines, they are very small and not doing well. I’ll remove them next spring and replace with Black Satin more than likely.

I had a couple of berries with white sections. I think they are called drupelets? Not sure why but there were only a couple of berries that had them.

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Fruit Cobbler

1/4-1/2 Cup Butter
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Salt
3 Cup Fruit (or more)

Melt butter in casserole dish. Stir together milk, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Pour on top of melted butter. Do not stir. Pour fruit on top of batter. Do not stir. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or till golden. For a thinner cobbler use a larger dish and the 1/2 butter. For a thicker cobbler use a 9″x9″ pan and only 1/4 cup of butter.

by: kerry