Thursday, 18 August 2011
Are you a fan of berries? Could you ravish a raspberry, bolt down a blueberry or do you just love a sweet juicy strawberry? Berries are bursting with goodness and count as part of your five a day. Home grown berries are even better as they are the freshest sweetest berries you will ever taste. Once they have been planted they cost very little to maintain and you can feel proud that you grew them and picked them yourself.
I used to buy berries from the supermarket, however they are quite expensive especially when out of season and I often spent at least £3 a week on them, which adds up over time. When we moved to our house around a year and a half ago, we were given a blueberry bush and some raspberry canes as housewarming presents and we planted them straight away. We had berries from them a few months later. Then this year at the beginning of the season my husband went out and bought a large strawberry planter and filled it with strawberry plants, which were a gift from my mum, who had grown many of them herself. We also discovered a good source of blackberries in the hedges surrounding our garden and some wild ones growing a short walk away from our house. So for very little start up cost we have had access to berries for some months now and I have stopped buying them from the supermarket entirely.
This year, the raspberries came first, as we have an early variety. We started with around six canes, but there are many more now. I can't remember exactly when they started, but we definitely had a good supply of raspberries all through June and some of July. One day we picked as many as 50 raspberries and we were picking them daily, as we and our children were eating them as fast as they could ripen. There are other varieties which will fruit later and so we could extend our supply if we wanted. They do need a good water daily if you can during the season, unless it has rained and they do recommend cutting them back after they have all finished, but other than that, they are fairly low maintenance. They also don't take up much space, We have all our canes growing in a small border up against our kitchen wall.
The strawberries came around the same time as the raspberries - late May to early June, I think. They weren't so successful. The ones we had tasted delicious, but they were few and far between. Apparently it takes a few years for them to really take off, however a strawberry planter doesn't take up much room and we had plenty of raspberries to keep us going. We did have a strawberry fix though, as one weekend several weeks ago we went fruit and veg picking and picked some really delicious strawberries. It was great as it was a wonderful day out with the kids and it felt good to be picking fresh local produce.
Although we have no strawberries or raspberries at the moment, we found as soon as they stopped the blueberries started coming into season and at the moment we getting 4-5 every few days. Not great amounts, so I am hoping the supply will increase next year or otherwise we will plant some more bushes.
Blackberries are also in season now and are plentiful. Every 2-3 days we pick them from the brambles growing in the hedges in our garden and last weekend we filled a large container with wild blackberries, which are growing near our house.
If you are interested in finding out more about berries, their uses and their health benefits, have a look at this website: Seasonal Berries
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