It’s Berry Season

Himalayan Blackberry
Despite being a manly, athletic, dog-owning guy’s guy, I also enjoy picking wild-growing fruit. And ’tis the season.

What is in season now are the early berries like salmonberries, mild in flavor and not very sweet. But the real heyday starts with blackberries, which come into season somewhere between now and the end of August.

The fun thing about blackberries is that they grow everywhere and produce fruit like crazy. So grab a bucket and chances are you’re within 500 feet of a blackberry bush already. But I have a few hints about how to harvest them.

Keep in mind that the species you will almost certainly encounter is the non-native Himalayan blackberry (rubus discolor). Tasty fruit, came from Europe. You can tell it from the less common native Pacific blackberry (rubus ursinus) because the former has 5-leaf groups, and the latter 3-leaf groups. The Himalayan blackberry is a pest here, but that’s to your advantage: the other problem is that blackberry bushes are unpleasantly prickly. Solve the pestilent plant problem and the prickly plant problems with a hand pruner.

No, really: take a hand pruner with you, and cut the branches away as you pick. You’ll get more berries faster with fewer pricks, and you’ll be doing the ecosystem a solid by helping (however slightly) to reduce the spread of this alien invader.

Note that if you really want to wipe out a blackberry bush, you’ll have to use more desperate methods, which amount to either pesticides or completely mowing the canes and then digging up the roots. Apparently goats will eat blackberry bushes in preference to almost any other food, so if you have a herd of goats, kiss your blackberry problems goodbye.

2 Comments so far

  1. lydia22 on July 13th, 2008 @ 12:02 pm

    I know you say they’re everywhere, but if you had any suggestions on where to go for good picking, that would be great!

  2. yumiang on July 13th, 2008 @ 4:31 pm

    Try most parks around Metro Vancouver.
    Or drive around "undeveloped areas" (ie- no houses or developments) where no one is around to "prune" and take care of these prickly "pests"

    These are a few that comes to mind:

    Confederation Park, Burnaby
    Along Grandview Highway, near Renfrew Station
    Along the causeway that leads to the Lions Gate bridge in Stanley Park
    Along the ravine by Renfrew Community Centre

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