"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

An Abundance of Berries

We have been picking raspberries daily now for almost two weeks. The seedy and uniquely flavored black raspberries come on quick and are gone within a month, they're my favorites. While our everbearing red ones produce from mid June all the way into the first part of October on a good year. The hearty fall gold berries are just beginning to show and will also be available well into early autumn. Most of these berries will be frozen and used with kefir to make morning smoothies and the occasional dessert (crisp)...yum. The fresh berries are included in our salads, wild huckleberries are especially good that way.

This is one of the best years we have had for the various raspberries we grow. It helps to take the sting out of the total lack of currants this year, almost all of which were knocked of the bushes in an early spring hail storm. Although we should have some blackberries this year they also felt Mother Nature's harshness this past winter as heavy wet snow took its toll on them, breaking many of the canes. I should have cut them back more as I did with the raspberries.

Is it obvious yet that we love berries? I could live without a lot of things but never berries, be they from the wild or our garden. Nutritionally speaking raspberries and all berries for that matter are high in various vitamins and antioxidants, but don't forget to use the leaves as well. Raspberry leaves contain, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, B1, B3, E and many other beneficial constitutes.

Raspberry leaves have been used by Native American woman and others throughout history as an aid in childbirth. Not only for humans this is supposed to be an excellent herb to use on pregnant animals as well. Apparently it tones the uterus, improves contractions, and helps restore numerous vitamins, minerals, and is a rich source of easily assimilated calcium for the mother and newborn.

We have begun using the leaves in salads and teas for the vitamin C and calcium content. I am a big believer in vitamin C that has been derived fresh from plants. Truly, a little raw garlic, French or wild sorrel (high in C), and a few Oregon grapes eaten every day or so and I can't remember the last time I had a cold or flu. At this point I don't even shy away from others that are sick...watch, now I've surely just jinxed myself.:)

The young leaves are best used fresh but can also be dried for later use. We dice them up and add them to our daily salads or steep a few leaves in boiling water for tea. Like clover, this also makes a really great sun tea (wild huckleberry leaves can also be made into a fine healthful tea).

Peppermint and sage steeping for this morning's tea.

Black raspberries or black caps also grow wild throughout Northern Idaho and my backyard. I am very careful to keep them away from my garden variety as they sometimes carry diseases.

The fall gold berries can be very productive and have a great flavor.

In the below picture I am standing next to the thorny fall gold berries, some will get 9' or taller. Picking them can be a real challange.


Roasted Garlicious said...

YUMMMM i love berries too... its been so hot and dry on vancouver island the berries were getting large but with no rain, are starting to shrivel already... the 'fall gold berry' looks similar to our salmon berry, what's the true name for it?

Stefaneener said...

Our fall golds are just babies - those are beautiful! Lovely berries. Maybe I'll go pick some today.

LynnS said...

Berries are such a great little convenience food! What wonderful bounty you picked!!

Mrs. Mac said...

Thanks for the heads up about the black capped raspberries not getting too close to the garden variety berries ... we have both in our back woods/yard. There's nothing that can compare to pulling fresh frozen berries from the freezer in the middle of winter, eh? Good selection you have.

Mr. H. said...

Roasted Garlicious,

We have had the heat as well but also a little rain every couple weeks. A perfect environment for the berries. The orange raspberry was sold to us as a "Fall Gold Everbearing Raspberry". I have always wanted to try a salmon berry.

Mr. H. said...


Raspberries really are a great berry. The everbearing ones produce all summer and then give you as many babies as you could ever want in the spring. What more could you possibly ask for in a berry. They certainly out-produce our silly blueberry plants.

Mr. H. said...


Last years bounty was hard earned, mostly wild berries due to the weather. This year we have already met our minimum berry storage quota for the year, funny how that works. Interestingly enough I almost miss the challenge of the hard years more.

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac,

Yes, they say to try and keep your raspberries 600' away from wild ones to reduce the risk of virus diseases. We manage to keep them about 150' away and have never had an issue.

I love having a variety of berries. We are trying to get a few stubborn honey berries to grow for us and I really want to get my hands on some marionberries. Patience Mike...all in good time.:)

Did you get as much rain as we did the night before last? It rained and blew so hard my corn started to fall over. Not too much damage though, and we certainly needed the rain.

It's me ...Mavis said...

You posted the picture of the black raspberries just in time....they are growing like crazy in my neighbors yard and we were not sure if we should eat them or not.....but now I know :)

Mr. H. said...


Oh you should eat them, and fast, before the neighbors realize what a treasure they have over there. Some people, me, just love them for their unique flavor...others not so much due to the seeds. They freeze well, and are excellent in desserts. We had some on our salads yesterday.

Silke said...

Oh, now you've done it! I am hungry for pie...;)

These berries look amazing! We eat lots of berries and are talking about putting in some blueberry bushes here. We'll have to find some that like our climate.

Your tea looked great! during the summer we make our iced tea from steeped lemon balm leaves - so good and refreshing!!

Kim said...

Berries are a favorite around here also. We lost all of our raspberries a few years ago but have finally replaced them this year. They look incredible. We will also be ordering the gold berries this fall.
Everything looks so yummy!

el said...

Mike, I'm in the take-or-leave camp with most prickly-caned berries. Too many bad childhood memories or something! That, and with our nasty grass, trimming/weeding/picking = NO FUN. However your amazing canes are quite beautiful.

But grapes, blueberries, currants, and gooseberries? Yeah, I am so game, mainly because they're not prickly and grow really well here!

Call me lazy. Might plant an everbearing row next year though...

Mr. H. said...


Pie, I love any pie..except mincemeat, but only because I have never tried it.:) We have a huge lemon balm plant, I don't think we have used the leaves for tea though. I shall try it soon. I'm still loading my salads with cilantro since you mentioned it, thanks again for that idea.

Mr. H. said...


I think you will like the fall gold, if you have not tried them before. Watch out for the thorns.:)

Mr. H. said...


I understand your thoughts on thorns, you should see our arms. We need a farmers tan just to hide the scars.:) Our currants can be unreliable and the blueberries...what can I say about those blueberries. The blueberries struggle for us to say the least. So we brave the pricklies because we rely heavily on a good raspberry/blackberry crop each year. They almost always out perform, except last year.

We are working on the grapes and had a few last year, I need to find a sunnier local for them though, or no wine for me.We may have to try making some out of elderberries, perhaps some of your champagne.

Do you grow jostaberries? If not perhaps you would like some cuttings this fall or early next spring. Well, I hope you do plant some thorn-less everbearing raspberries so that I can read about what creative and delicious recipe you comprised out of them.:)

Ruralrose said...

My first visit here - I am so impressed - this is a great blog, great content, great pictures - thanks so very much -

my favorite berry is the gooseberry which grows very easily, i have been growing honeyberry bushes for the last 7 years and only this summer there where little berries, they are supposed to be like blueberries only an inch long, have you heard of them, peace for all

Mr. H. said...

Welcome Ruralrose,

Thank you for the nice comments regarding the blog. I am also a huge fan of gooseberries and currants, although this has not been a good year for ours.

Oh the patience required to grow honey berries. I planted a couple bushes about 4 years ago, moved them to a sunnier location last year, and just this year got my first little honey berry. It was a treat, but man...4 years for one little berry.

You will have to keep me informed about how yours do as I won't be growing anymore until I see a little more fruit worthiness.

May both our honey berry bushes be loaded with berries next year.


Learning to be Self Sufficient said...

Just thought I'd say that your blog is amazing. It's inspired me to get Yellow Raspberries. Which I never knew. Thank you for the wonderful reads.

Mr. H. said...

Learning to be Self Sufficient - I think you will like them, they don't hold up off the vine quite as long as some of the red varieties but more than make up for that in flavor and vigorous growth.

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