Monday, March 06, 2006

Blackberries at Rosebud

Dear Readers,

I think it must be over a month ago now that I mailed some young bare root blackberry plants to a community garden program on the Rosebud Reservation. I received an e-mail from them stating they were doing very well. They are pretty excited about the prospect of blackberry jam . . .

Those blackberries are spending this winter indoors. I am pretty sure they will need a good thick straw or leaf mulch to make it through the icy winters they get up there. Or maybe if they are industrious enough they can bring some in every winter just for insurance they will make it.

If the blackberries do well they will eventually make a nuisance of themselves. I have been thinking over all the uses of blackberries. Blackberry flowers make a nice tea, and I hear they are edible –though that I have never tried eating them myself. Blackberry roots are considered medicinal – they are very astringent. Blackberry leaves make a good tea – it is similar to red raspberry leaf tea - but contains a little more tannic acid. They are used for the same things as Red Raspberry tea. (Some folks are on special diets to reduce tannic acid – blackberry leaves / roots / stalks are definitely not for them.)

I have heard that if you catch the spring shoots from the blackberries at just the right time – they are edible like asparagus. I have tried and so far failed at this. But it may be that I am not preparing them right – or maybe it is an acquired taste. I will try again this year.

Also, I am pretty sure if you catch those shoots at just the right time they could be gently pounded and then dried and prepared for use as a basket or cordage material. You would have to catch them after they had developed some pretty strong fiber, but before they became woody. I have done some initial experiments – but now I am too beat up from the accident to carry them on. Maybe in another year or two.

Last but not least, I have been reading about how important “carbon” is for the soil and for soil organisms. Well the blackberry shoots – when mature definitely contain a lot of carbon. I am in the market for an electric shredder that can take up to 2” limbs. I can make lots of carbon rich mulch out of the blackberries that surround my yard. I am looking forward to it too!

All for now!


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