Tag Archives: Hobby Farming

Mulberries – an insanely sweet seasonal treat

And now for 2009's biggest sugar hit

Just when it felt that the last of the seasonal indulgences of the year were being processed by my increasingly stressed digestive system, we find that our mulberry tree is, for the first time, laden with deep purple fruit, thanks to the miraculous success of my net strategy (and no, I’m not talking Web 2.0 here).

Mulberries are relatively slow-growing trees, and our five-year old Hicks Fancy – which is suitable for cooler climes – is still more or less contained by the cage that surrounds it to keep out the deer and wallabies that are constantly marauding the block.  We scored a handful of berries last year, but it wasn’t until this week that I got to pick a whole punnet’s worth from the tree.

I’m always been told that the primary reason that you don’t often see mulberries in markets is because they’re notoriously hard to store. This might be true, but I know that for me such talk is merely hypothetical, because I can’t imagine why I’d allow even the smallest fraction of any yield out of my sight until I’ve consumed it. For despite the sinfully syrupy taste – imagine eating jam straight off a tree – there’s enough sharpness in these berries to ameliorate what might otherwise become, after a modest binge, an almost nauseating sweetness for all but the most ardent of dessert tragics.

Still, if you want to tone them down just a tad, combine them in a fruit salad with some genuinely tart berries – we tried this with our black currants and jostaberries and plain yoghurt – a concotion that can only be conjured for a few days at the end of the year. And perhaps that’s just as well.

Advertisements

Farming with Labradors

Moose on high alert under the berry bushes

Moose on high alert under the berry bushes

Even harvesting summer berries can have its solitary side. But not if you have a couple of Chocolate Labradors ignoring your every command. While not as keen on eating redcurrants and jostaberries as his daughter, Elka, six year-old Moose (see above) still enjoys chilling out in the canopy between our redcurrants and blackcurrant bushes, providing welcome paws for thought and companionship, and, as far as can be meaningfully verified, keeps birds, snakes and vermin at bay. Of course, if we had any truffles lurking beneath our four hazelnut trees, they’d be onto them in a flash. In the weeks to come I’ll be posting  a few hundred of my favourite snaps of Moose and Elka hard at work at Icy Creek, but in the meantime, I’m sure you get an idea of how busy we all are from the “action” shots above and below.

Elka having a field day

Elka having a field day

Jostaberries on ABC Melbourne 774

These jostaberries will be almost black when they ripen at the end of the year

These jostaberries will be almost black when they ripen at the end of the year

I’ve been invited on to the morning show on ABC rlocal adio on Saturday (Derby Day) for a chat about – amongst other things – jostaberries I’m keen to hear in advance from anyone else who’s been growing them in Victoria,  especially hobby farmers (as I’ve yet to see them sold commercially in any market or greengrocer).  A bit more about this relatively new hybrid between gooseberries and blackcurrants can be found on my Jostaberries at Icy Creek page.

In the meantime, get ready to weigh in on the burgeoning pronunciation controversy. Are they “yostaberries” or “yustaberries”?