Welcome to the July 2021 Workcation series. The sixth post in the July Workcation Series is such a rewarding experience for me and it’s all about blackberry season! If you missed the overview post, about all the tasks we completed during our July Workcation you can find it here. I’ll link all the posts in the series at the bottom in case you missed any of them, when complete, there will be seven posts in the series.
Wild Berries on Kowalski Mountain
Whenever I can, I jump at the chance to pick wild berries. When my kids were small, we had a patch of wild raspberries on the edge of our yard. While my kids played, I would pick berries. It was such a treat to be able to share the sweet jam I made with my family for Christmas that year.
For years I have enjoyed picking a variety of berries at local farms in our area. I usually freeze the berries on trays and then they are easy to measure out later when needed. I love blueberries in my smoothies and my favorite quick bread is blueberry banana bread.
We have been aware of the berry patches on Kowalski Mountain. Some years we might get a sampling of the berries, but we always seemed to miss peak season when we could pick them in mass. I have taken canning supplies to the homestead the past two years in a row in hopes that we might catch the harvest and this year we did!
Important Lesson Learned
When you watch the video, you will notice that we referred to the berries as black raspberries. However, I learned that they are blackberries. The two berries look similar but have some distinctive differences. Unfortunately for us, we have already left Kentucky and can’t redo any of the footage that we recorded for you, so we’ll take this as a lesson learned and share our blunder with you, so that you might not make the same mistake that we did.
What is the Difference between Blackberries and Black Raspberries?
On the vine, the berries are harder to tell apart. Both berries have thorns but can come in thornless varieties as well. The wild version is full of thorns. They also have seeds in each of the individual drupelets or small bumps of the fruit.
Once picked, the biggest clue is in the core of the berry. Black raspberries will have a hollow core. When picked, the end of the stem remains on the plant, that stem extends to the center of the fruit, leaving a hollow core. The fruit is delicate and more perishable. They also have tiny hairs on the fruit.
When picked, blackberries remain intact, with the core remaining in the fruit. The fruit is shinier and more tart in flavor. I learned a lot from this page. Black Raspberry vs. Blackberry: What’s the Difference?
A Family Affair
Both my daughters still enjoy picking berries with their own families. On this trip to Kowalski Mountain my daughter, Faith Hardy and her husband Stephen joined us for a few days to enjoy the holiday. They were also lucky enough to join us during the beginning of peak season. The three of us spent a little more than an hour picking berries at the small patch right at the end of the driveway while Philip was working on repairing the RV faucets. Surprisingly, we picked 8 ½ cups of blackberries in just a very short time.
The next day, Faith and I tackled the big berry patch in the upper field. This patch is on the section of property we purchased last year. It’s not been maintained and is quite overgrown. The berries are deep in the patch, full of thorns. The berries were frequently high above our heads. Still, we picked about 9 cups of berries fighting the thorns to get them. Between the two days, we had enough berries that we could both make the delicious berry treats we hoped to.
Taking Advantage of Peak Blackberry Season
After Faith and Stephen returned home, I revisited both berry patches again and picked until I got tired of picking. The Japanese beetles are coming in full force and it won’t be long until they will ruin the fruit. I picked another 10 cups of blackberries over a few different visits to the berry patch.
Pruning Gone Wild
While I was picking n the bit patch in the upper field, I started doing a little trimming. It always starts with not being able to reach the delicious berries above your head, so I trim a little here and a little there, and before you know it, I had totally changed focus from berry picking to bush pruning.
Since the beetles were coming in so bad and we only had a few more days in our visit, I had nothing to lose. I removed some dead trees inside the patch. I pulled out the vines that do not belong and I cut some paths into the patch so that I could reach into the deeper sections.
The berry patch fought back. Since I had not planned on pruning, the shorts and tank top I was wearing was not the best choice for the job. I got torn up by the thorns on my legs and arms. I also manage to get into the poison ivy. I found it and tried to avoid it, but still somehow managed to get it on my arms.
There are still a couple of larger trees in the center I would like to remove, but they are a bit more than I can handle with the loppers. There is also a very mature thorn bush at the end of the patch that I do not think is a blackberry bush. However, it is so menacing, I stayed far away from it.
When I was finished, I had done a complete overhaul on the large berry patch in the upper field. I am hoping the hard work I invested in this year will result in a more pleasant picking experience in the future.
Join us in the Blackberry Patch
Check out the blackberry picking and pruning in this video. I’ll show you what I did with my berries. Please forgive the references to black raspberries, as we have learned they are indeed blackberries. I also made a rookie mistake with some of my filmings, cutting off my own head. I’ll get better friends, thank you for grace as I learn about this new endeavor.
Check out Faith Hardy’s Blackberry Creation on YouTube
COMING SOON: Faith created a YouTube video of her very own on her own channel. Check out what delicious treat she made from the blackberries she picked on Kowalski Mountain.
About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.
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2021 July Workcation Series Links.
Workcation Overview: July Workcation : A Summer Tradition
Building a Pen for a Very Special Guest