Monday Recap: Having A Berry Good Time

It appears we have transitioned from asparagus season to berry season here. Blueberries were the first berry on the scene. The harvests went from a trickle to a torrent in no time. We’ve been getting over a pound a day for about a week now. My wife has been gathering them early in the day before it gets too hot. Which means we are having blueberries every morning for breakfast. In the below photo she’s all suited up to try and avoid mosquitoes and ticks.

my wife in the blueberry patch

my wife in the blueberry patch

We have gotten a lot of questions lately from friends and gardeners about our blueberries, so I thought I would try and answer some of the common queries. There were three mature bushes here when we bought the place in 2007. We have since replanted one of them that had very small and not very tasty berries. And then we planted six additional ones, giving us a total of nine. The varieties we planted are Chandler, Elizabeth, Patriot, Nelson and Elliot. Those plants came from places like Raintree Nurseries, Stark Bro’s and Indiana Berry, and were well-grown bare root plants when we got them. Our harvests this year are coming from seven of those bushes, as the other two aren’t big enough to bear yet.

Chandler blueberries are big and tasty

Chandler blueberries are big and tasty

I haven’t done any real “how-to” on blueberries since I don’t feel like I’m an expert, but I guess we must be doing something right since last year we got 50 pounds from them and we are up to 13 pounds already this year. They are relatively pest free here for us. The birds get a few, but we hang a few aluminum pie plates and some old cd’s around and it seems to help keep them away.

blueberries ready for eating or freezing

blueberries ready for eating or freezing

We are getting a decent amount of raspberries too, though nothing like the blueberries. Our planting of these is smaller, mostly occupying one bed where strawberries previously grew. There are a few yellow ones planted in another bed, but they are not making many berries yet. I am no expert on raspberries either, though I have to say these are growing better than I expected. I never got around to making a trellis for them but they seem to be doing all right without one.

red raspberries

red raspberries

And amazingly, last week we got the first blackberries of the season. The ones in the below photo are Natchez, which is a relatively new planting for us. The Apache variety is not quite ripe yet. These are the only two blackberries were are growing, as the rest have been voted off the island, so to speak. The Natchez berries are almost as big as the Apaches, and perhaps a tad sweeter, though both have great flavor.

Natchez blackberries

Natchez blackberries

And last but not least in the berry parade, we got a small harvest from our two young currant bushes. Looking at the total amount, maybe it was the least! It certainly wasn’t enough to make anything like currant jelly or jam, so we enjoyed eating them fresh. I do think their tart flavor would go well with rhubarb. I’ll have to try that when the bushes (and the harvests) get a little bigger.

red and white currants

red and white currants

But as wonderful as berries are, they are not the only game in town. I started harvesting the Kossak kohlrabi last week. These are giants, with the biggest one so far weighing in at three pounds. We eat a lot of them raw, but we’re also experimenting with other treatments. My wife is going to try roasting them this week (it’s her week to cook).

Kossak kohlrabi

Kossak kohlrabi

I planted them a little farther apart than usual this year to see how big they might get, and they responded well. In the below photo I put the Kossak next to a quart container of blueberries to help show its size. I did a Spotlight on this variety last year, if you want to know a little more about it.

Kossak kohlrabi with quart container

Kossak kohlrabi with quart container

Squash is coming on now too. It’s only a trickle, but that’s not bad. We’ve enjoyed it raw and cooked so far. And I made some Spelt Chocolate Zucchini Muffins to satisfy my chocolate cravings.

summer squash harvest

summer squash harvest

Also joining the harvest lineup is cabbage. That in the below photo is the flathead variety K-Y Cross. It weighed in at three pounds, and has a nice sweet flavor for a spring planted cabbage. All of the cabbages are maturing at about the same time, so we will no doubt be giving some away.

K-Y Cross cabbage

K-Y Cross cabbage

I’ve also begun drying herbs. Mint is growing pretty lush about now so I cut enough to fill the dehydrator and started it drying. I’ll dry it and other herbs throughout the summer to keep us supplied. We probably use more mint than any other herb, mostly for tea.

mint in dehydrator

mint in dehydrator

I hope you have enjoyed this update of current happenings at HA. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, cooking or planting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays.

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21 Responses to Monday Recap: Having A Berry Good Time

  1. Jenny says:

    Interesting, I’ve never thought about drying mint. Will have to try it. WOW on blueberries and that huge kohlrabi! Very nice harvest this week for you.

  2. Daphne says:

    That is a lot of blueberries. They are something I’ve never had much luck with, though I keep trying. I would kill for a pound a day. I could even freeze some with that many. As it is I usually just eat a few berries off of the plants.
    Daphne recently posted…Harvest Monday, 23 June 2014My Profile

  3. The blueberries look amazing, as does the rest of the berry lineup. The kohlrabi is quite impressive as well.
    Rachel @ Grow a Good Life recently posted…Harvest Monday: June 23, 2014My Profile

  4. Amazing blueberry crop! We have very alkaline soil, so I think we won’t be growing blueberries any time soon. We did plant currants, and are looking forward to seeing them mature.

    That kohlrabi is a little bit crazy.
    Lisa and Robb recently posted…A Quiet Time With The BeesMy Profile

  5. Barbie says:

    Your berries ae stunning. I am really dying to try currants. I am considering a bush but I’ve never tried them. Looks like you’ve got a great variety of things coming in now. :-)

  6. Margaret says:

    That is just an amazing blueberry harvest…I have so many “wants” on my fruit list right now, but blueberry bushes are right there near the top. That cabbage looks amazing, as does the huge kohlrabi – I’ll be growing that (or at least trying to) for the 1st time this year as a fall crop. Even though I haven’t eaten it before, it just looked too interesting to pass up when I was browsing seed packets last week.
    Margaret recently posted…Harvest Monday – June 23, 2014My Profile

  7. Julie says:

    Having that many blueberries must be fabulous! Planting blueberry bushes is on my list of things to do for next year, so in a few years hopefully I can have some blueberries. Those are huge blackberries! Blackberry season is starting here and luckily we don’t need to plant any because there are several places nearby where they grow wild. However, the berries are probably a third the size of yours.

  8. Another great post, and another amazing harvest. Those blackberries are HUGE.
    Lou Murray’s Green World recently posted…Harvest Monday on April 22, 2014My Profile

  9. Jay says:

    I’m berry envious of your berries! That was bad I know. We hope to have some in a few years as we just got around to plating some here at our homestead.
    Jay recently posted…Harvest Monday, June 23, 2014My Profile

  10. Michelle says:

    That’s a beautiful perfect cabbage, makes me want some coleslaw. And such a big kohlrabi. I stopped growing kohlrabi because I found that we weren’t eating much of it, it always seemed to sit around while we enjoyed other veggies from the garden. I not sure why that was because I like it, but I guess it just didn’t inspire me.

  11. Dave's SFG says:

    Berries for asparagus is not a bad trade. I’m amazed you get that many blueberries without netting. Maybe Indiana birds are not as piggy as the birds up here, but I’m lucky to get a few for myself.

  12. Thomas says:

    Wow, that cabbage looks spectacular. Mine are still the size of tennis balls. Good to know about the pie plates and cds. I will have to give them a try as I’m sure the birds are eyeing our blueberries. I bought a fake owl to place near the bushes as well.

    Nice blackberries too. I planted Triple Crown in early May. Is that by chance a variety you voted off the island? haha. I thought that was one variety you grew.
    Thomas recently posted…What’s in Season – Stir-fry VeggiesMy Profile

    • Dave says:

      Thomas, I have grown Triple Crown for many years, and it is a great tasting and productive variety for me here. It wound up being my 3rd favorite blackberry, and we cut back to only two varieties. So yes it got voted off, but it is still a great blackberry!

  13. Our blueberries still have to ripen but the fruits are nothing like as large as yours. Are the yeoow raspberries autumn fruiting?
    Sue@GLAllotments recently posted…Let the harvest commenceMy Profile

  14. Jennifer says:

    Wow, your berries are amazing! I’ve been trying to grow berries for a year now, with limited success. Strawberries have done well. Blackberries have taken root and I might get a berry or two this year. Out of three bare-root raspberry, only one has survived. And out of five blueberries, only three have survived and they don’t seem to be doing all that well. I’m very curious what sort of climate, soil, sun, fertilization you have to produce so many blueberries! And that kohlrabi is a monster. I’ve never tried cooking kohlrabi as I enjoy it raw, so I’ll be interested to read how it is cooked.
    Jennifer recently posted…~ harvest monday June 23 2014 & mini garden update ~My Profile

    • Dave says:

      For blueberries, I mix some sphagnum peat in the area before planting. Then I fertilize twice a year (April and June) with a fertilizer for acid-loving plants. I used Espoma Holly-tone this year. I also check the pH of the soil around the blueberries periodically, and add sulfur if it is not acid enough. We do water during periods of drought, and water lots in the first year when trying to get them established. We lost some plants early on too, but replanted and kept at it until we had them going. They are growing in full sun, and we mulch with pine needles and pine bark. Any time we can pick up free coffee grounds at the grocery or from our favorite baristas, we spread those around the base of the plants.

  15. BaconBrown says:

    Your harvests look great. This year has not been a good year for me as we are struggling with a groundhog. He has eaten all our kohlrabi leaves :(

    When you cut back the mint does it grow faster? I have mint plants and love them for tea and Mojito’s but I just pick it as needed.
    BaconBrown recently posted…Springs finally here!My Profile

    • Dave says:

      I’m not sure if it grows faster after cutting, but it does make for more shoots. It’s sort of like pinching back basil, or coleus. It will make for a bushier plant, and more to harvest.

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