BLACK RASPBERRY BONANZA

About two years ago, I planted 1 – mind you 1 – black raspberry plant I had bought at Lowe’s. It was a pathetic looking thing when I picked it up and looked it over. Its leaves were sprouting from the container, and I could tell it was screaming to get out into the ground. So I bought it and brought it home. I set it out on my patio and kept thinking I would get to it as soon as my other garden plants were in. I finally did, and therein lies the story.

I hadn’t been around raspberries in years. I used to have some when I was married and lived on the farm, and my great grandfather always had raspberries on his farm southwest of Indianapolis. I had pretty much forgotten that raspberries are invasive – and that would be a mild word for their propensity to take over every corner of a garden. I had also forgotten about the tale which mentioned bramble bushes and their prickly thorns.

So I planted my little black raspberry plant, and I watched as it decided to take over one entire corner of my backyard. I didn’t bother organizing the canes in any particular manner, and I didn’t bother cutting back as needed. So they grew and grew and grew. Every time I looked at them I despised them. I wanted them out of my backyard and out of my life. But I couldn’t figure out how or where to even start in clearing them out.

Raspberry patch making itself at home in my backyard

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So I let them get by with their pushy ways and grow and grow. I let them shove out my ornamental grass, the coral bells, and the hostas which had been planted quite some time before the berry family decided to move in and take over. Oh, those plants are still there and toughing it out – hiding under the canes with their protective thorns and nearly invisible.

The only thing that even gives the raspberries any competition is the apple mint that I planted several years ago. Mints are also invasive, so the apple mint and the raspberries are duking it out in that corner of my garden.

But Monday my whole mindset changed. I was out in back looking at the soaked ground, and I noticed that there were an awful lot of raspberries that were ready to be picked. So I went inside and grabbed a couple of containers and went back out to tackle the unpleasant task of wading into the patch.

As I looked for a small space to insert one foot – just enough to get into the patch – I again thought why don’t I just get rid of these things. I found my footing but not without a few scratches from the thorns. I knew there would be plenty more pokes and scratches, so I braced myself for a little pain. I also stepped on some of the apple mint and the aroma was wonderful.

I started pulling the ripe, black caps off and putting them into the container. After a few, I thought I probably should see what they tasted like. I looked one over to make sure there weren’t any tiny, little critters hiding inside the freshly picked berry, and I popped it into my mouth. I couldn’t believe how good that one little berry tasted. So I ate a few more as I pushed into the patch to gather what I could. The ouches, the scratches, the annoying thorns hooking into my clothes and my skin no longer seemed to be such a big deal.

I have now been out to pick berries two times. I have enough to do something with. I just can’t figure out what. I will probably make some jam or jelly. I should have more in the next few days to make something else – maybe a pie? The picture below contains some red raspberries I had purchased from the grocery store this past Monday. I swear they feed them steroids. Red raspberries are good, but they are much milder than black raspberries.

I decided to take a picture of them side by side. I will take my little ole black raspberries any day. They may be smaller, but they have much more flavor. There is also nothing like eating a raspberry, warm from the sun and fresh off the cane. I no longer look at the bushes with disgust. I now thank my lucky stars I did not tear them out.

Now, instead of trying to figure out how to get them out of my life, I will be tending to them and making sure they are happy so that I have my black raspberry bonanza every year.

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Environment, Gardening, West Central Neighborhood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to BLACK RASPBERRY BONANZA

  1. Charlotte,

    Awesome! This reminds me of a story I need to post on my own blog. Thanks for the memory trigger ;). Kristina

  2. Phil Marx says:

    My dad had about a half acre that he gardened. He would plant different things every year, so we had a lot of variety. As a choild, the corn was the best, because it was way taller than me and fun to hide in. And I was about the only kid around that even knew what a kohlrabi was.

    In addittion to the changing gardenscape, there were a few constants as well. We had apple and peach trees, and hazelnut bushes. But the best thing growing in the yard was the black rasberry patch!

    Apparently my dad had brought one small shoot from his hometown in southern Illinois. By the time I arrived a few years later, it had already spread into about a 10′ x 20′ patch. And this entire patch was cleaned out by us every year.

    Thinning the herd and getting the inner berries was accomplished with one act. After making barren the outer row, we would just stomp down a few spots to get inside a bit further. We just kept this up until we reached the center. Dad assurred us that no matter how much we stomped, the patch would be full again next season, and it always was.

    Yes Charlotte, thanks for the memories!

  3. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Charlotte,

    Like Phil thanks for the memories. Mine was of going to my grandfather’s place. He had about 3/8 acre garden with all kinds of stuff growing.

    I remember picking all kinds of berries along fence rows. Mom would make some pies, jams, or toppings for ice cream. Of course Mom was always fighting with us kids to leave them alone so she could make the pies and jams. If it had been left up to us we would have eaten all of them before Mom could do a thing with them.

    Again thanks for sharing your story as it was uplifting and special thinking of when life was a little more simple then it is today. God Bless

  4. Those invading little berries look scrumptious! You’re fortunate that you can grow those instead of buying 2 little pints (or half pints) for $5.00. I’m glad those berries were persistent.

    I’m learning the best things of life are the simple things resulting in less clutter, stress, and money. -Magda

  5. Ira Johnson says:

    I live on a 100 acre farm with lots of fence rows left, and I have berries to pick. Mine are just getting ready. The least amount we get picked is about 6 gallons and have picked up to 20 gallons in a season. I always put on the long sleeves and jean, but end up with my hands looking like they’ve been through a battle.
    I have a really good recipe for pie from my mother’s college cookbook from the early 1940’s. I wash and drain the berries, measure them stir gently, and pour into a plastic ziploc bag. I make a 2 crust pie and bake for 10 minutes at 425 and then for 35 or 40 minutes until the center is bubbling.

    Or I place the pie filling in a ziploc bag, lay it in an aluminum pie tin and freeze. They can then be stacked after frozen. In the winter, I make up a fresh crust and bake the pie. It tastes so much like fresh pie and everyone loves my pie.

    Here it is: 4 c. berries, 1 c. sugar, 2 T. flour, 1 T. lemon juice, and 1/8 tsp salt. Be sure to put a tablespoon of butter or margarine on the fruit before putting on the top crust.

    I enjoy your blog. Keep up the good writing.

    • Sharon says:

      Thank you for the recipe. Mother knows hers so well she just puts it together. I like directions. Thank you again.

  6. Deb says:

    Great berry story! My grandmother was from southern Iowa and always made black raspberry pies with crust that melted in your mouth. My mom followed suit living in Minnesota, but the berries were harder to find. She usually went to the local berry farmers and we picked them ourselves.

    Now, my sister and I start our search in July to find them usually at farmer’s markets or rarely at a grocery store that buys from local farmers.

    Today, July 19, I was able to find a huge amount at the Mill City Farmer’s Market in downtown Minneapolis. We’ll make one pie now and freeze the others for one at Thanksgiving and one pie at Christmas. We use a red raspberry pie recipe from Betty Crocker. It’s the best taste of summer.

  7. Sher says:

    I read your story with great amusement! I just went through the same experience myself. Poked and scratched and hair tangled, but had to get those black raspberries! They are the absolute BEST. I too had a grandmother who made black raspberry pies for the holidays every year and it was my most favorite pie. Unfortunately, she made everything by handfuls of this and that, so I have been unable to duplicate her pie (insert frowny face here!). However, I think I will try your recipe and see how it goes. Thanks for the chuckle and recipe.

    Sher

  8. Sarah Austin says:

    Great Story…I came looking for info on how to prune mine
    I planted 2007 and had a crop in 2008 even tho I picked off blossoms…I wore out. Soooooooo good. My mom had black raspberries so I planted also…along with reds, yellow,and purple. But blacks are my favorite!! (yellows melt in your mouth)
    I will try the receipt….I assume you meant to say turn down the temp but to what?
    Thanks for the info happy planting….Sally from Colorado

  9. Ira Johnson says:

    This recipe was intended for red raspberries but had the footnote to substitue blackberries. I meant to say “turn the oven down to 350” :).

    Even my 10 yr old grandson considers this his favorite pie. We had one for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. Since I freeze so many fillings, I take one to about any pitch-in dinner and they are always eaten.

    Enjoy!

  10. Diana says:

    I hope you’ve been reading about how black raspberries are being tested for their ability to help treat certain types of cancer! Seeing that the fruit only grows for a short period of time every summer, take full advantage of it, pick the berries, wash and drain them, spread them on a sheet pan and freeze those little beauties. You can put them in ziploc bags for storage in the freezer for months! They are best when eaten immediately after washing, but there’s nothing better than my mom’s black raspberry pie! We had wild bushes that grew in our country lane when I was young. Memories… now I have to pay over $4 a container for them? If I had a large piece of land, I’d plant bushes and let them grow like mad so I could feed my berry insanity all year long, lol!

  11. Anne Dorley says:

    My all time favorite pie. If my mom wanted to reward me, it was always black raspberry pie. About 15 years ago, I realized you can’t buy black raspberry pie filling any more. I found a local grower (near cleveland) who sells them in July, and I usually stock up and freeze them then. With a 3 week harvest season, you’ve got to get them while you can. I have a secret, though. Sometimes you can buy them frozen for $2-$3 for a 12 oz. bag at Trader Joe’s, and they are the real thing. One of the best foods on earth.

  12. Daniel says:

    I planted mine next to a wall. I strap up the first year shoots and let let the 2 year shoots drape. EASY PICKENS. Fall comes, Cut out the brown ones,remove straps,,,Repeat.

    • Mollie Cornwell says:

      Daniel, what type of soil is best to grow the black raspberries? Or can I plant them anywhere? I had some jelly this past year and I absolutelu fell in love with it!!!! I’m not the best at gardening tho’ so I need help!! Please?

    • Mollie Cornwell says:

      I forgot to tell ya’, I live in Kansas. Hope they grow here!@#

  13. nanc says:

    If you end up having too many to eat freeze them. I wash them and spread them out on a cookie sheet to freeze. The next day put them into a freezer container or vacuum seal bag. they make a great snack in the middle of winter on ice cream or to make that pie.

  14. Alexandra says:

    What kind of dirt do you need? They grow wild and don’t care about their dirt. Mine is hard clay…one of the few things that grow in it.

    Hey Ira…what was the recipe for the pie crust? I’m looking forward to trying yours! Thanks!

  15. Sharon says:

    Good for you….. in so many ways. It is the number one antioxidants in North America. They do give us many memories of our younger days. I am in Oklahoma and cannot get them to bloom. I guess, it is just too hot. But when I can get back to Ohio I try to go when the berries ripen. My favorite is the pies. I envy your berries growing so well. Thank you for your story.

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