Saturday morning I picked berries. I got quite a haul! Tayberries, Gooseberries, WILD cascade blackberries, the first of the raspberries and the last of the strawberries. For those of you who have never had the chance to taste our wild, native cascade blackberries, they are marvellous - tiny, intensly flavorful, and sweet. I clambered through the bushes all around the yard, and got pretty scratched up in the process, but it was worth it. There's a king's ransom worth of these little gems in that colander.
This is our entire gooseberry crop for the year. I mentioned a while back that we had put a remay tent over the bushes to keep the sawflys off. Well, it worked perfectly to keep the flies and their voracious larvae off, but it also raised the temperature (remay is commonly used to protect plants from frost) and I believe that caused a lot of the berries to drop off prematurely. We noticed the problem a few weeks back and switched the remay out for a traveler's mosquito net that I had from back in my south america study-abroad days. It's working just as well to keep the bugs off, and the remaining berries ripened nicely. Next year we'll get it right from the start!
The Tayberries continue to impress. We have three of these plants along the fence, and they are absolutely covered in huge red berries. This is only their first year producing (they were planted last spring) so I can hardly imagine how many berries we'll be getting in future years. The new canes they are sending up - next year's fruiting vines - are super vigorous. Tayberries are a blackberry-raspberry cross from Scotland, they have the vigor, berry size (as well as seediness), and habit of the blackberries and the color and flavor of the raspberry. Amazing.
What to do with all these berries? Make Jam & Jelly of course! Charlotte came over in the afternoon and together we put up three batches of tasty summer preserves. The blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries went into a mixed-berry jam. The Tayberries are pretty seedy, so we cooked them down into juice and made one batch of straight tayberry jelly, then we cooked down the gooseberries into juice and made a final batch of jelly with a tayberry-gooseberry blend. They all set perfectly and taste amazing!