Thursday, 10 December 2015

Berries in the Valley

By Chris R.

The cool nights and rich soils of Possum Valley are fantastic for growing plants which we have had little success with in other locations.  We were especially excited to give berries a try and planted both blackberries and raspberries last year during winter months.  The plants were purchased while dormant, then placed in soil enriched with well composted sheep and chicken manure.  A thick mulch of spent hay was also added in spring when the first leaves appeared. 
The excitement of raspberries was short lived, with Gus and Chloe and their youngsters (the peacock family) taking a liking to the new growth.  A mesh guard has since been installed - watch this space for raspberry recovery news.  The blackberry, however, is amazing.  Note that we planted the thornless variety - take great care, especially in rural/bush environments that the thorned variety is not introduced, given it can rapidly become a weed.  The thornless variety is just as prolific as the thorned, yet much easier to manage.  
The blackberry is providing excellent shade to the north side of the hen house, great for cooling in summer and letting sun through in the winter when its foliage becomes sparse.  The hens enjoy the berries in reach and we don't mind sharing as the remaining crop is generous. 

We are enjoying fruit freshly picked from the bush and it is also delicious with vanilla Soy Good or in a crumble.  The fruit also makes a tasty jam, easy to make and store for the coming months. 
- 1 kg blackberries
- 1 kg caster sugar
- 3 teaspoons powdered pectin 

- Place the blackberries into a large heavy saucepan, crush lightly. 

- Add the sugar and pectin then heat slowly. 

- Stir until all sugar is dissolved, allow to boil for approximately  5 minutes on low heat. 

- Remove from the heat and cool for 1 minute then place in jam jars. Lid promptly while hot.

(This recipe is adapted from the CWA Cookbook).


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