2011 Blackberry PatchThey are in the blood and sometimes they draw our blood through their thorns! Growing up outside of Gary, Indiana, we lived in farm country. It was a completely different world than our city cousins or the Air Force life I would eventually join.
Ten acres of strawberries, black raspberries, vegetables and woods with a small pond kept us out of the house and busy in the spring/summer – whether working or playing, it did not matter. We were the “berry pickin” cousins and as we got older we loved the moniker. We enjoyed the vacations we took on “berry money” to Colorado, Maine, North Carolina and Kentucky.
After 18 PCS moves in the Air Force we settled back into the country! Six acres of woods and a few open spaces to plant a vegetable garden. Imagine my surprise when I walked through the woods to find a beautiful wild blackberry patch in the back. We picked them and they were sometimes sweet and sometimes not. We loved them in cereal and we put them in our home made yogurt. We froze enough for winter and one year when my elderly father visited us for health reasons he picked enough to fill a half freezer! MilAve_Deborah almost cried “uncle” on the berry picking.
2012 Blackberry PatchThis year is a tough year for the berries. In past years we always had rain at the right time to plump up the berries and keep the plants healthy. We have had no rain for a month and temps of up to 107. Very unusual for West Michigan, so this year they needed some sort of irrigation which we did not have. The plants have wilted and the berries are smaller or dieing on the branches. Our crop is going to be cut by 90% and this “farmer” is a bit sad watching them shrivel.
So we made a plan for the next year which would be of value for a good rain year or a bad one like this one. Not our original idea but a modification of someone else’s. We are going to get 5 gallon plastic buckets (such as empty paint ones) and clean them thoroughly. Then we will place them in the patch in strategic locations. Placing a small hole in the buckets will allow rain water to slowly drain out and extend the rain advantage and if it gets dry we can pull a trailer with buckets of water out there to fill them.
Might be some extra work but the benefits will be a continued blackberry season in even dry conditions like this year. Any other suggestions? We are always looking for new ways to help improve gardens and natural food production.
MilAve_Col_K and grandson with berry picking buckets