We paid $33 for the privilege of picking 12 quarts of berries, a low price for our area. Betsy prepared nine of the quarts for the freezer by washing, slicing and mixing them with one cup of sugar per six cups of berries. She then put them in 18 one-pint containers and stored them in the freezer.
We’re looking at devoting one of our inside-the-fence garden beds to strawberries. It would be a long-term project, as berries you plant don’t yield until the second year at the earliest. We have some strawberries outside the fence now, but they get chomped by animals. We could take runners from those plants and plant them inside the fence, though chipmunks could still get at them.
Another option would be to devote some space to strawberries at our community garden, where we have a lot more space to spare. Shavahn Best, who has the garden plot next to mine, has successful strawberries growing in a circle that provides a nice contrast to her more rectangular beds.
Meanwhile, the first raspberry harvest is near. Raspberries require no work besides pruning the old ones in the winter, but they require a lot of often-prickly labor and don’t last very long once picked. While picking, I wear a long-sleeved shirt and a work glove on my left hand to hold and move the branches, while picking with my right, ungloved hand. We put them in cut-off plastic milk jugs that hang around our necks.
You can make jam right after you pick them, but Betsy discovered a better way. She picks them over, adds sugar to the squished berries, and then freezes the puree until she’s ready to make jam. Most years we get two crops, in July and September, and we encourage our neighbors to help themselves to the berries that grow along the street. We also have raspberries near our fenced garden.
Betsy planted gooseberries about five years ago, because she has fond childhood memories of the gooseberry jam her aunt made. They grow well in partial shade, and are bearing well this year, though woodchucks have nibbled the ends of a lot of the branches.