Growing Berries for Food and Fun

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"Growing Berries for Food and Fun"

a 'Notes from the Northwoods' book

by Sue Robishaw

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Picking fresh berries from your own home-grown plants is a treat no matter where you live, but in the cold short season climate of the northern Midwest there is a special satisfaction. Between the long winters, short summers, wild critters, busy schedules and varied weather it is a real joy to finally hold in your hand sun ripened fruit that you grew. This book helps you get there.  See excerpt below.

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Excerpts from the book:

I’ve had the joy and learning of some forty years of growing fruit on our homestead. From alpine strawberries (cute and tasty, lost out to larger fare) to a forty foot chokepear (awesome in bloom, largely inedible in fruit) it’s been an interesting and good journey. There are no absolutes here, and a good amount of trial and error. But we’ve been blessed with an abundance of fruit so many times that the years of lesser amounts seem insignificant by comparison. Every year is different and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope this book inspires you to get involved with some berries in your own life, however best suits you and makes you happy. I wish you the best in all your growing!

Ahhh, the fruit of poetry, of passion, shortcake fund-raisers, and delicious platitudes. How can you not love something with so much potential, so much promise. Why else do we put up with the decidedly tasteless pinkish chunks that get passed off as “fruit” in commercial fare, while we smile and nibble and oooh and ahhh, strawberries, this time of year! How nice. Of course we know better. They aren’t nice, and they aren’t truly strawberries. But we remember, and that’s what we see and taste. Real strawberries, fresh from your garden, under cover of netting, nestled in mulch, fussed over like the newest grandbaby, yes, there is your real strawberry. And worth every fiss and fuss it is. If you care for them, they will care for you. It is an honest and open exchange.

Every gardener deserves an “easy” fruit and for me raspberries fit that niche. At least that’s how I think of them, though rhubarb is truly much easier but I don’t consider it quite in the same fruit category. And blueberries, except for the cage, requires less maintenance than raspberries. Maybe it is because I generally don’t preserve the fruit that I consider raspberries easy. Mostly we simply eat them when they’re ripe, or make some easy raspberry vinegar. I know others do a lot more with the fruit, however, so that might be why they are so common in the home garden, even for those of us who live where wild raspberries abound.

Finally, after 28 years on the homestead, I did what I rather wished I’d done many years earlier -- I planted blueberries. It did seem a bit of a cop out, planting tame blueberries while living in wild blueberry country as we did, and maybe I felt a little bit guilty. Until those plants started to bear fruit. Then all I felt was joy, enthusiasm, and appreciation for the wonderful tame blueberries growing and producing in my garden. I had no idea they could be so good. And so easy. I still love picking and eating wild blueberries on a hike but real blueberry harvest comes from our own plants. This is how I got to that point.

Is there a fruit as filled with romance, history, myths and fairies as the venerable, soft blushed grape? It may be responsible for more discussions in more diverse settings than any other edible fare if one includes wine made from the grape. In warm-blessed climates it can understandably be the "nectar of the gods", with bountiful harvests and eaten sweet off the vine. But where we live the grape is a smaller cousin, has seeds, and is more in the “interesting challenge” category than “common crop”. But northern homesteaders are a hardy lot and what might taste downright spitting out sour to someone else can be quite pleasing to us, if we grew it ourselves, and if it managed to make it to ripe in our short season. Our vision may not be the same but the joy can be.

Strawberry Bed
Moving to a New Bed
Birds - Solution #1
Birds - Solution #2
Eating Strawberries
In the Beginning
Good Beginnings
A Nearby Wild Tame Patch
Enjoying the Fruit
Successful Planning
The Cage
Enjoying the Fruit
Getting Started
New Plants
To Mulch or Not to Mulch
Managing the Vine
About the Author
Books by Sue Robishaw and Steve Schmeck

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excerpts from "Growing Berries for Food and Fun"
Copyright 2016 by Susan J. Robishaw

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Updated 02/13/2022
Copyright 2016 by Sue Robishaw