He was a grumpy man, and not very friendly.
A carpenter by trade, his passion was growing blackberries – huge, dark, delicious & juicy, thornless blackberries – and his large backyard was taken up with row upon row of them. The plants had come with him (hidden in his socks) when he emigrated from Holland after the war and he carefully propagated replacements as needed – but only for himself. Many people wanted his plants – thornless blackberries were an unusual novelty – but he refused to share. Rumor has it he would even sneek into his neighbour’s yard under cover of darkness and remove any shoots that had spread under the fence. His blackberry plants were only for himself.
Until he decided to share them – with me!
I’m still not sure why. But one day he came to the farm and said he would be giving me blackberry plants. He didn’t ask if I wanted them. He simply told me I would be growing blackberries. And so I did. Gladly! He gave me the plants and taught me everything about growing them.
That was more than 30 years ago now, and while my mentor and his plants are long gone, we are still growing & enjoying blackberries.
What’s in the box?
Blackberries, shishito peppers, tomatoes, beans, salad greens, onions, green onions, garlic, zucchini.
Extras – kohlrabi, eggplant.
It is finally blackberry season! And what a season it is. The berries are bountiful & beautiful – and they taste great! For those not familiar with blackberries, they are a bit sweet & a bit tart. If they aren’t quite ripe they can be sour. Too ripe and they are soft & mushy – but incredibly sweet. We try to pick them as ripe as possible but still firm. Unlike raspberries, blackberries are not hollow but have a soft, edible center core. The only way to eat a blackberry is to pop the whole thing in your mouth. Try to take a small bite and you will be covered in dark, staining juice! While best eaten fresh, blackberries also make great jam, juice, sauce & ice cream. (Lorie has her homemade blackberry jam for sale in the barn.)
*Please note that we do use pesticides on our blackberries. For many years we did not. That was one of the good things about growing blackberries – no spraying necessary! Then along came the spotted wing drosophila. Spotted wing drosophila is an invasive vinegar fly that has the potential to cause extensive damage to many fruit crops – especially soft and dark coloured fruit – like blackberries. In the last number of years it has been found throughout much of southern Ontario and most of the fruit-growing areas of North America, and has become a chronic pest in berry and tender fruit crops. Effective biological controls are not yet available. There are cultural practices that we use to help reduce the insect populations, but the only effective control right now is chemical. And so we spray regularly to try to kill the spotted wing drosophila and protect our blackberries. We would rather not! But then again, we would rather not have worms in our blackberries either!
Shishito peppers are one of our favourite vegetables. They are a small, thin, bright green pepper, with a sweet, fruity flavour and thin, tender, wrinkled skin. What makes a shishito exciting is that 1 in 10 peppers will be slightly hot! They are simple to prepare and delicious to eat! While you can use them as you would any other sweet pepper, they are best eaten charred in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the peppers whole, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister on all sides. This only takes a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and a splash of lime juice and some parmesan cheese, and serve immediately. Eat the whole pepper – except the stem.
The garlic is now dry and can be stored at room temperature in a dry area for many months. The bulb can be broken open and partially used without the remainder spoiling. Enjoy!
Around the farm this week …