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BERRIES!

I picked some rowan berries last week, which are now in the freezer, becoming milder and more edible in flavour before undergoing transformation into rowan jelly.  There seems to be a bit of a shortage of crabapples this year - most of my favorite crab trees are completely fruitless.   I think this must be down to the dampness of the spring, though it may have something to do with the lack of summer sun, too.    But I did find one tree that had clearly managed to seize exactly the right moment to flower, so I have enough crabs to make jelly.

My apple trees - well, they have *some* apples on them. But not many, and they are rather small crabby efforts: I fear we will not get many eating apples this year.  I think I have to put it down to a bad year.   It's been a bad year for figs too - just not enough sun to ripen them. I've only had three ripe figs all year, and none of them were really dark and sweet.

Blackberries, however, are everywhere, and I filled half a tub with them on this evening's dogwalk before Yogi plastered herself in mud and we had to go and find the pond.   A lot of the blackberries are flyblown already - all this rain definitely favours the flies - but a walk down the west side of the hill into the sunset found enough worth the picking.  Going back up the hill, the sun had fallen below the level of the mounded clouds overhead, so a golden radience flooded in over the shoulder of Bodmin moor, illuminating a goodly number of berries that I had failed to notice on the way down.

I wonder about the flies that lay their maggots in blackberries, are they a special sort of blackberry-fly, or are they generic flies just taking advantage?

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
lindahoyland
21st Aug, 2012 03:15 (UTC)
I love gathering blackberries!
bunn
21st Aug, 2012 08:38 (UTC)
There's that feeling of triumph when you spot the perfect berry half-hidden under a leaf, and the feeling of achievement as you go home all scratched with your box of black-purple booty! Plus, free food!
firin
21st Aug, 2012 17:16 (UTC)
They don't grow uncultivated over here, so I really do miss that pleasure and achievement. It's really not the same when you have to pay and then wander down perfectly assembled lines of blackberry bushes.
wellinghall
22nd Aug, 2012 09:08 (UTC)
I remember adaese's Californian cousin's surprise, ?ten years ago, when adaese made a blackberry tart with wild blackberries.
firin
22nd Aug, 2012 15:30 (UTC)
I think it's because the heat here kills plants which are not cared for, watered etc. Even a few consecutive days without rainfall can do it and this is of course very likely throughout the summer period. Anything growing wild gets pretty stunted during this season.

bunn
22nd Aug, 2012 10:13 (UTC)
Cultivated blackberries don't taste quite the same either - bigger, more consistent, and not quite so sweet, or at least, the one I grew in my last garden the berries were like that. That was variety 'Oregon Thornless' which does have the advantage of having very pretty leaves and no prickles, but I don't think I'd grow it again.
wellinghall
21st Aug, 2012 11:47 (UTC)
Thank you for the blackberry warning - we shall get out there soon!
chainmailmaiden
21st Aug, 2012 18:23 (UTC)
Our fruit crop has been a disaster this year, we only had 6 morello cherries set, hardly any strawberries & most of the rasps have gone mildewy before getting ripe :-( The best crops are going to be the rosehips & the elderberries. I am pleased though that my new, very young apple tree set 2 apples, & the cobnut has reached double figures for the number of nuts produced :-) Since the Hawthorn hedge has fruited too, I may make hedgerow pie :-)
wellinghall
22nd Aug, 2012 09:09 (UTC)
Blueberries: none.

Whitecurrants: a handful.

Raspberries: loads. We didn't even know we had raspberries when we moved in!
bunn
22nd Aug, 2012 10:14 (UTC)
My rasps have done OK and I had a fair number of strawbs in the greenhouse: the outdoor strawbs did not much, but I think the birds beat me to them!
wellinghall
22nd Aug, 2012 10:23 (UTC)
Ah, yes, strawberries. We had very few of those, too ... but that is mainly due to Foghorn and Ceridwen.
carmarthen
21st Aug, 2012 22:27 (UTC)
I'd guess the flies are specialized (although perhaps to a few different kinds of plants); most insects tend to be fairly specific about where they lay their eggs.

...and urgh, I have never encountered blackberry-maggots and now I feel slightly queasy at the prospect.
wellinghall
22nd Aug, 2012 09:09 (UTC)
Me too. I had better stop reading, I think!
bunn
22nd Aug, 2012 10:25 (UTC)
Very important when blackberry picking, that little rollover you give each berry after you pull it off the stem, to check that the white bit in the middle hasn't gone maggoty!

I do know people who argue that the maggot is only made of blackberry anyway and they aren't noticeable once cooked. To which : EW. :-D
wellinghall
22nd Aug, 2012 10:30 (UTC)
Quite!
bunn
22nd Aug, 2012 10:37 (UTC)
The Internet thinks the maggots are from the raspberry beetle, which is a specialist. I have to admit I am a little dubious: I see a lot of different flies while blackberrying, and not many raspberry beetles!

(I did start trying to find out if other flies lay eggs on berries too, but it quickly became just far too revolting so I gave up. I think fly researchers must also be a special breed. :-D )
carmarthen
22nd Aug, 2012 15:39 (UTC)
Entomologists are all a special breed. I'm fairly into insects as a hobby, but I still shy away from the world of parasitoids and find maggots rather disturbing. And let's not even talk about parasitic worms, urgh.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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