The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Bountiful berries


I suspect this will be remembered as the first year of really awesome fruit.  Sure, we've been eating strawberries and blackberries and raspberries since year two, we had one big peach year, and we've enjoyed little handfuls of blueberries and gooseberries and figs.  But 2013 marks the point where our fruit production has started to feel bountiful.

In large part, the fruit success isn't even due to more plants bearing (although they are).  I've also started putting "pick berries" on my list every day, allotting twenty minutes in the morning to plucking four bowls of raspberries (and whatever else is ripe) to provide dessert for lunch and supper.  As such, berry-picking has changed from a rushed event that I sometimes neglect tacking onto the end of a long day, to a meditative (and tasty) pause in the morning's work.

Homegrown fruit

Unripe apple seedSpeaking of those new plants getting old enough to bear, we ate our first homegrown apple Wednesday!  As you can see from the photo to the left, I should have waited another week or two until the seeds turned brown, but the Early Transparent apple was still richly tart and delicious.  More on high-density versus forest garden fruits once the other five apples are fully ripe.


Mark and I have slightly different preferences in fruit department, so I like to perform flavor tests when something new starts up in order to find out what our average affinity for that new variety is.  I'm a fruit snob and enjoy a complex blend of sweet, tart, and other flavors, and I'm willing to work around seeds or whatever else it takes to make that snobbishness a reality.  Mark likes his fruit easier to eat and higher in sugar content.  With that data in mind, here are our current berry favorites, from awesome to pretty good, based on this week's taste test:

Caroline red raspberries
Poorman gooseberries
black raspberries
black raspberries (too seedy)
Poorman gooseberries (too grapey)
Caroline red raspberries (a bit insipid)
Invicta gooseberries (too grapey)
Invicta gooseberries (a bit insipid)

I use this data to plan which varieties to expand, which is why our red raspberry patch has gotten bigger every year due to the sparkle it brings to Mark's eyes.  It looks like I should probably get around to installing a later-summer-bearing red raspberry sooner rather than later, and maybe I will put all those baby Poorman gooseberries in the ground here after all.  (You can read more about our fruit-expansion plans here.) 

Our chicken waterer is the POOP-free solution to a filthy homesteading problem.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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We love Heritage red raspberries. They are super easy to transplant new growth, love full sun and yield twice. Here in Virginia, they are just ripening their first yield. Another, often larger yield will come in September. I'm a blueberry and raspberry girl and love seeing your pictures and hearing about berry bounty:-).
Comment by Jane Thu Jun 27 07:51:58 2013
Mike would have gooseberries at the top of his list, where I would have black raspberries. It has been a good year for berries. We're still waiting for ours to bear like yours, but I have been able to pick almost two gallons at my parents' home.
Comment by Brandy Fri Jun 28 06:08:21 2013

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