While mowing the field over the weekend, I spotted these berry plants growing wild. I did some investigating online, and I believe that they are Service Berries. The leaves of this plant match the descriptions of service berries on several websites. I’ll be sure to give one a try as soon as it ripens. If they are pleasing, I’ll transplant some of these berries to my large long term garden situated all around my home.
After finding the service berries, I thought I’d have a look at the rest of berries, and post pictures of them. I planted Goose Berries a year or two ago, and they are just this year starting to set berries, which resemble a striped marble.I haven’t yet tried one, as I’m unsure when they are ripe.
I did try the cherries which are bright red above. They are still somewhat tart, and small for cherries, so they must not be ripe yet. I’m quite amazed at the number of cherries which grow on a single bush.
There are also tart cherry bushes in my collection. These berries are a bit sour when they ripen to a dark red, but I still enjoy them just the same. I’ve heard they make great cherry pies, but I’m not much of a cook so I haven’t tried it.
Finally my favorite berry, and one I’ve had a lifetime of experience picking. They may be small, but the plants are usually short enough to duck under mower blades, and they spread out into patches dozens of feet wide and long if left unchecked. Before giving up my sandbox, I used to have a detailed map in my mind which would guide me to the appropriate location on the farm to find lots of ripe berries.
I had started constructing a small area in which I hoped to get my Strawberry plants growing year after year. I may have made a mistake however when I choose the location for this berry patch. I broke ground where I used to have a small chicken coop and compost pile. I often supplemented my chicken food with garden goodies, and some of the seeds must have found their way into the ground, where they have been growing like mad.
I’m a bit undecided how to respond to this All Volunteer Invading Army. I’m sure the plants are squash, but I’m not sure what kind. If they are Zucchini, I would welcome a very early treat, but if they are winter squash, I’d be more concerned for my Strawberries. I’ve spent about $20 on five different types of strawberries and other supplies to get them to grow great, and I was really looking to make an all Strawberry patch. For now I guess I can let them grow a bit more, and check on my berry plants daily. If the berries seem to be struggling, I’ll just have to choose: Berries or very early Zucchini.
I still need to call the Rototiller guy and schedule and appointment, so for now I need to work the soil the old fashioned way: By hand. I was using my garden hoe to level dirt as part of my chicken coop project, and couldn’t find it when I was ready to get started, so I used the rock pick in the photo above. I am so impressed with how well this pick works that I will be using it from now on to work the soil in the first pass. The tool is somewhat heavy, so once you lift it off of the ground, gravity kicks in and propels it deep into the soil, much easier they a hoe.
I planted some De Cicco Broccoli right next to my already thriving Swiss Chard. This is my first year growing broccoli from seed, and with all of the spring rains, I’ve just now gotten it planted outside. Hopefully I haven’t ruined the taste of the produce by exposing these young plants to temperatures above 90F in the greenhouse. I guess it really doesn’t matter, as I’m not a big fan of most cold weather veggies. I’ll just smother these broccoli heads in cheese, or chop them up real small and add them to macaroni and cheese or spaghetti for nutritional value.
So here’s the progression of my cold weather crops plot, with Peas on the far left, Cabbage and Cauliflower in the second row, Swiss Chard growing like mad in row three, and Broccoli on the right. The Chard is doing so well, that I’ve had to use a plastic barrel to hold my sprinkler high enough off the ground to hit all the transplanted seedlings.
There is one cool weather crop that I have a fond taste for: Strawberries. I used to spend hours in the fields of Sullivan County, PA collecting the smaller wild versions of these. I would return home at a young age with my shirt held out holding a large collection of berries witch surely stained my shirt. I couldn’t return without enough to share with the rest of my family, and my father would usually look at my filthy stained shirt, smile while shaking his head and hand me a large bowl, to which I’d return once again filled. This was once my favorite activity, with Blackberries and Raspberries also in abundance. Now that I’m older, I hope to build a more complete collection of edibles on the farm for my nieces and nephews to pick. I’ve got everything from Gooseberries and Apache Blackberries to Honey-berries, Strawberries, Grapes and Cherries so far…. I guess if I’m not conning myself these berries are as much for me as the children.
The weather has still been mostly rain lately, and I’ve had little progress on my Chicken Coop / Shop. I finally got all of the first layer studs for the roof in place, and I’m planning on ordering some rough cut 4 x 4s for additional support.
The chicks are starting to get too large for their little pen in the greenhouse, and I was given the above cage by a neighbor who was planning on burning it. I took about an hour of my time and sided it with the same sheeting I’m using on the larger Chicken Coop. I’m still undecided if I will add dark brown trim to the corners, and I still need to clean out some of the former occupants leftovers.
This will serve as a temporary enclosure, for medium chicks. I will still be using the large shed for chickens, but this smaller pen will give me more time to do it right, and make a building that will last; and have a spacious wood shop =) .
I’m grateful to be sparred the same flooding as in the mid-west, and I’m not complaining a bit about the “puddle” shown above. This water is about 4 feet deep, and this usually happens every year. The photo helps shown just how much rain we have had lately. There is so much water soaked into the ground, that when we had a brief and heavy rain over the weekend, it all ran off, and flooded everything in it’s path. The good side to all of this water is the amazing tones of green so early in the season.
I managed to break up the soil where I had my old chicken coop, and I planted some strawberries there. They should have plenty of well rooted fertilizer from the chickens time in this area. Their is strawberry that is almost ripe in this patch, and lot’s more that are growing. I didn’t think about this when I bought the plants, but I hope they are ever bearing, rather then “June Bearing”, which only get strawberries around the month of June.
I also received and planted two Honey Berry bushes. They require two different plants for proper pollination, Wild Honey and Honey Sweet. I made markers to help me keep track of the names, but to make sure I don’t mix them up, I planted the Wild Honey plant closest to the forest behind my house. I’m still waiting on a some Goji berry plants, and a Paw-Paw tree. I guess I should be thankful for all of the rain, since it helps these plants and the strawberries cope with being transplanted. If it were hot and sunny, the roots would dry out quickly, and I’d loose these new members of the farm.