berry season

Berries are starting to happen around here, and I just received a flat of strawberry plants.

Around here, individual species will ripen at different times depending upon the location of the individual plant. Sun exposure and altitude both make a great difference, and we have a great variety of sun exposure/altitude combinations in a fairly small area. And so I've been able to eat ripe (and even overripe) elderberries, for example, on a sunny mountaintop a couple of miles from home while the berries at home are still flowers.

Black raspberries are almost over now; the blackberries are pink and won't be ready for a while yet. I did find one scraggly, very ripe blackberry growing out of the rocks in a sunny spot on the river - its bitterness was a shock after feasting on a few sweet black raspberries.

Yesterday Rocko and I went down to Camp Hope late in the afternoon. I had just finished rotating my car's tires, and needed to give it a test drive. Plus, I was hungry and I know where there is a patch of big red raspberries down there. The berries weren't anywhere near ready, but we found a neat new trail that ends at a lovely pool in the Pigeon River. From there, I rock-hopped a good distance upstream (my Merrell hiking boots lived up to their "waterproof" designation) through beautiful trout waters. In fact, that section of the river has Trout Unlimited signs on it.

This morning, I headed down to the store for a pack of smokes and stopped at the swimming hole in "downtown" Cruso. When I got home, there was a voice message on my phone. A month or so ago, I asked my neighbor to save me a few strawberry plants the next time she was thinning her berry patch, but at her Master Gardener class last night, they gave out flats of strawberry plants. She grabbed one for me.

I drove right down to her house and picked them up! There are 18 plants in the flat, and my available planting area is not large, so I'll be planting them in various places around the southeast corner. The ones that are in good spots will thrive and spread. I don't have a lot of sun, but the wood strawberries do OK so I hope these will too.

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