Berries and Small Fruits

One of our mid-range farm goals is to have and ever-changing selection of berries and small fruit available throughout the season, with no gaps from strawberries until frost.  Reaching this goal will take a fair investment in both plants and infrastructure, so we’ll be piecing it together over time.

Part of our solution will be maintaining a permaculture “edge” which supports wild fruits.  Wildcrafted fruits can have exceptional flavor!

Cherries

Nanking Cherries

Nanking is a bush cherry native to China.  Rather than growing on a tree that takes several years to reach bearing age, Nanking is a large, twiggy bush that begins bearing fruit quickly.  In our case, we planted them in 2011, and in 2012 they were covered with blooms, and set a huge number of cherries, that were then all killed by the very late freeze.

In terms of flavor, the cherries are a cross between a pie cherry and a sweet cherry – lots of cherry flavor, but sweet for fresh eating out of hand.  They’re revered for pie making, but we think probably better for fresh eating, because they’re small with relatively large pits.  You’d have to spend quite a bit of time pitting them to have enough fruit for a pie.

Blueberries

We don’t yet grow blueberries – they require acidic soil, and ours is rather alkaline.  We are currently working to prepare soil to start our blueberry patch, but at present we harvest berries from Siders’ Blueberry Farm, just a few miles away.  They are not Certified Naturally Grown, but the farm has been managed as naturally as possible for decades by the same family.

Raspberries

Jaclyn Raspberries

Jaclyn is a fall bearing, red raspberry.  It’s a fairly recent (and patented…) variety that was developed with flavor as its primary goal.  Thus, it has very flavorful, sweet berries.  The berries are fairly firm for raspberries, giving them a bit longer shelf life (odd to talk about, with raspberry shelf life sometimes measured in hours…) making them best for fresh eating, though they also make good jams and preserves.

Wild Black Raspberries

The forest edge, particularly low lying swampy parts, are perfect habitat for one of Indiana’s greatest treasures – Wild Black Raspberries!  They’re tiny, with a short shelf life, and picking them is slow and painful (think thorns, mosquitoes, poison ivy…).  But they have an unparalleled flavor, great for cobblers, crisps, and the best jam around!