Sometimes the tiniest things bring happiness. This week my little pearls of happiness were a few blueberries from our garden. Seemingly trivial over which to get excited, but several years without a single berry made this morning’s handful of plump berries a trophy to tout.
It started 5 years ago with 10 select bushes of 3 year old organic plants. Location selected, prepared, and soil amendments properly incorporated, all directions were carefully followed for transplant. The first year the flowers are plucked, allowing the plant to develop a strong root system, so no berries. Year two, spring came and the worms from nearby infested tress decimated the leaves yet some berries did appear. However, they fell off before coming ripe due to weather conditions. So I focused on growth of the plants, again. Unfortunately the hired help for fall clean-up decided the bushes looked like weeds and pulled each one out with much tugging. Devastated, I rapidly replanted back in the same holes somehow hoping that would magically assist in recovery of what had been, just minutes earlier, strong and vigorous plants. Then a friend moved, she dug up her blueberries and gave them to me. Surely, I thought, with three times as many bushes we have much better chances to yield a great bounty despite the replanting! Next spring there were hoards of green berries, and bird netting went onto the bushes just as I had seen done by my neighbors, but the birds simply went under it for the feast, not one berry was had by a human.
The next year’s attempt included a wood-frame cage with bird netting tied to the fencing and posts, the bottom draped to the ground with extra to spare. Those pesky devils found their way through the ¾” netting, leaving only when lifting the net to free them. Persistent, I nearly declared war on the birds I adore and feed year-round, but I wanted a ripe blueberry! Instead I got really serious with the netting. A heavy gauge ½” netting that I tediously hand sewed together and meticulously formed over a strong metal framework tall enough to walk inside with the bottom held down by 4x4’s, there’s not a gap anywhere. It is a fortress with a plastic owl sentry warning birds of my intended wrath.
Finally, this morning’s yogurt was adorned with a handful of nickel sized, deep blue, sweet blueberries, absolutely delightful. Those blue pearls have made my summer wonderful!
Blueberries, anti-oxidant rich pearls great for snacking, salads, desserts and breakfast, are now in season. You can get plenty without fighting the birds, netting, or Mother Nature as locally grown blueberries are at the farmers market for the next 5-6 weeks perfectly ripe and ready to eat.
Other, slightly larger, pearls this week include quail eggs. The adorable brown spotted eggs could easily be confused with candy coated malted milk balls. Katie O’Donnell, a 4H member then leader for many years, has been raising quail and will share her wisdom gained with a display of birds, her special coops and cages, prized quail eggs and recipes from 2-5 pm this Friday. After viewing the quial kids can make their own hatching chick craft at the kids’ table.The Marshfield Farmers’ Market is open 2-6 pm every Friday at the Marshfield Fairgrounds, 140 Main St. with free Parking/admission/talks/kids’ activities weekly. www.MarshfieldFair.org/fm.htm