...if you have a backyard and a kitchen, this blog might be for you!

a chronicle of tips and recipes on everything from gardening to canning and baking your produce, even if you're planted in suburbia...in fact, especially if you are planted in suburbia.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Beyond the Borders (or Farm Life Outside Your Own Yard)

It's that time of year--when I start the morning's garden work in a long-sleeved chambray gardening shirt only to chuck it in short order--when the sun breaks above the neighbor's rooftop to shine on me. This is the time when garden work is slowing down. As plants die away, you don't replant. The lettuce and radishes of fall don't require quite as much care and the weeds aren't as much of a problem. In fact, the biggest job is keeping up with feeding those remaining plants on a regular basis so they stay fruitful. I like to use Miracle Gro powder and my watering can. I "spot" fertilize every couple of weeks this way. I've tried the canister of food that attaches to the hose but still prefer the watering can method.

Even with the fertilizing, I'm often finished with my garden work in short order, and the basketful of produce is manageable. No more daily canning. So what to do with the extra time? Well, it's raspberry season, so I take a "field trip" to the local berry patch to pick some raspberries.

Our berry farm is only a 10-minute drive from our house because we're in one of the peripheral suburbs of Indy, but I know there are others--as well as orchards and you-pick vegetable farms--scattered around the city's circumference. A few are even hidden within the city proper.

The one we use has various berries available for picking all season long--from strawberries in the early summer through black raspberries and blueberries right up to now--raspberry season, which will continue until the first frost.

A hot-morning haze blanketed the farm when we arrived. We got there a little before opening time, so we sat rocking on the front porch and enjoying the aroma of the misty farm air until picking time came.

The raspberry patch was a bit of a hike but was well worth it when we got there. The bushes were drooping with the weight of the many ripe berries.

Garden Helper came along today as he's studying plants in science--specifically fruit and seeds and their role in plant reproduction. He helped pick the berries with me as we rambled down the rows. He doesn't complain too much about the work here at the berry patch, and you're about to see why...

The berry box weighs in right at the fudge and ice cream counter! Usually, if he has done a decent job of picking, he gets a scoop of ice cream and receives a sample of the fudge. To date, he's sampled almost every type of fudge they make! In the heat of the summer, nothing caps off a hot hour in the berry patch like a dish of hand-dipped ice cream!

A step back from the counter reveals some of the other wares available at this berry farm. Besides country crafts, a refrigerator/freezer unit offers out-of-season berries as well as many other options--from rhubarb to root beer--for purchase. This is where I get my gooseberries whenever I'm making my husband's favorite gooseberry pie.
They also offer mixes for various muffins and cobblers and just this summer, added canning supplies along with easy mixes for salsa and pickles.

The sun is well up and has burned off the haze by the time we leave the berry patch. If there's such a place anywhere near you, I'd highly recommend making a visit! Not only is the hand-picking a rewarding experience, you get to take home the fruits of your labors.

And while we're still in the jelly-making frame of mind, we'll use these berries to make one of my family's favorite recipes. I'll share it on the next blog post.

Today's sign off: happy picking!

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