We’ve had some record-breaking warm weather this Spring – darn near hit 90 degrees before the first week of April was done! After an unusually warm winter, that means everything is coming into season early…including berries.
While we’ve pretty much been garden slaves over the last couple of months…tilling, raking, planning, calculating, and of course, planting, we have managed to steal away a few free moments here & there. In fact, a couple of weeks ago, we took the time to kind of wander the property around the house a bit…just looking around for no real reason. Lo and behold, the side property (about 4-5 acres) is full of wild blackberry bushes! We’re talking hundreds, if not thousands of square feet of wild blackberries!
Along the back property line behind the house, we even found (what we thought) were some ripening blackberries. Little red berries dotted the overgrown grass, punctuated by the occasional beady little black colored berry. Over the course of a couple of days, we managed to pick a couple of quarts of these lovely little black berries – tossing a few into pancakes, eating some right off the vine, and digging up recipes for fresh wild berries.
I noticed that we seemed to have two different types of blackberries – and even pointed out the differences between the two plants to my favorite partner in crime. Not knowing much about foraging for wild berries myself, and having no pocket reference something or other conveniently stuck in a hip pocket, we concluded that perhaps we simply had two different types of wild blackberries. At least, that is, until I had some free time to hit up Google and do some digging.
After researching wild berries and looking at hundreds of pictures – I found the answer. Sure enough…they’re two different plants. We have dewberries, which are, in fact, very close relatives to blackberries. These lovely little delights grown on vines, close to the ground. That’s what we’ve been picking the last few days.
They’re nearly indistinguishable from blackberries, except for the actual characteristics of the plant itself. Same white flowers, same green to red to black berries, even the same sweet-tart flavor. The difference is, these have red hairy vines and like to stick really, really close to the ground. (Watch those hairy vines…they’re really hair-like stickers you don’t notice until you brush your hand on something else and feel the sting of all those hairs stuck in your skin!)
We also have true wild blackberries – they grow upright on canes. Ours are somewhere between a foot and 3 feet tall. Some are just single “stalks” covered in green leaves and berries. Others (I assume more mature plants) are more bush-like.
Dewberries normally ripen in Georgia around late May or early June. Blackberries take another month or so. With our unusually warm winter and very warm spring, the dewberries seem to be coming in a few weeks early. They’re everywhere – both the dewberries and the blackberries.
Our dewberries seem to prefer the edges of the woods and small clearings between trees. They also seem to like the same kind of spots as honeysuckle, as the two seem to be frequent neighbors on our property. The blackberries, on the other hand, seem to like the wide open space of our side property. They do, however, seem to like the dips in the property, rather than the higher spots.
What I’m most excited about is taking these wonderful berries to market in a few days! We’ve made jams, fruit leathers, purple pancakes, muffins and all sorts of wonderful yummies for the house. Now, however, it’s time to share them with the rest of the world. We’re going to our first public market this coming weekend. Yippee!
For those of you in the CSRA, we’ll be at the Benderdinker in Evans on Saturday the 28th. The following Saturday, we’ll be Diggin’ the River at the Augusta Market on Riverwalk. If you can’t come see us in person, be sure to check out Augusta Locally Grown…we’ll be offering our farm wares there over the coming weeks. Pick ups are every Tuesday – your choice of Evans or downtown.
Hope to see lots of you there!
Oh…and stay tuned to the blog…we have exciting changes coming here, too! Wait ‘til you see the new farm logo I threw together.