IS THERE ANYTHING MORE PLEASING THAN A freshly picked berry? A delicate raspberry gently plucked from the vine or a basket of strawberries from your favorite farmer’s stand? The scents of the berries fill the car as you drive home, enticing you to reach over and grab a handful.
When it comes to the berries in our garden, it feels like we spend half our time competing with the animals to get our fair share. The army of squirrels, birds, and dogs easily have us outnumbered. We initially grew our strawberries as ground cover, with the fruit as an added treat. We had imagined ourselves stepping out into the garden first thing in the morning and picking a handful of strawberries to enjoy with our breakfast.
That notion remained a fantasy because our first Rhodesian Ridgeback, Dante, quickly discovered how much he liked them and started rising bright and early to have a pre-breakfast snack. We do, however, have his voracious berry appetite to thank for helping us develop a sharing attitude. The same birds that steal our blueberries also help control the bugs in the garden. The squirrels are kind of cute munching on the berries, and they give our pups a workout trying to protect said berries. We can’t walk by the strawberry patch without sweet memories of Dante foraging for his daily breakfast.
Over the years we’ve been fortunate enough to find more types of berries that grow in our climate than we had originally thought. Raspberries and blueberries have now found a home in our garden—two fruits we had initially given up on.
Despite all the berries we are able to grow, we’ll travel insane distances to track down particularly exquisite varieties. Take a summer road trip through Oregon or Washington and you’ll find brambles of blackberries growing like weeds all over the hillsides. And once you experience a marionberry, your taste buds will be changed for life. This has fueled our inspiration to grow them in the garden and use them in the kitchen. Cocktails, pastries, and desserts filled with sweet berries all reign among our favorites. We just need to plant plenty of extras to make sure we have enough for the animals and ourselves.