But Will There be Enough for PIE???

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Arapaho Blackberries
My friends! The facetious, bull hockey artist known as yours truly is asking a stupid question. Why is it so stupid? Look at the evidence to your immediate right! Know what that is? That's about 5 lbs. of LIP-SMACKING blackberries harvested directly from the Bird Back 40. Know what's so special about this harvest? I'll tell you what's special.

It ain't done yet.

It's just getting started.

That 5 lbs. is a proverbial "drop in the bucket." 

Loaded Arapaho Blackberry Plant-Bird Back 40
Is 5 lbs. of freshly harvested blackberries enough for a blackberry pie? Is Bill Bird a facetious, bull hockey artist? Therefore -- we know the answer to the pie question. There's enough for pie. There's enough for two pies. Wait! Make that three pies! Anyone venture to guess, FOUR? Can you eat four blackberry pies? I honestly don't know if I could (in one sitting). But, I'll tell you this much. It sure would be fun to try!

The surprising thing about this haul from the Bird Back 40 is it came from just ONE blackberry bush. Yes, there's more. This boatload of berries came from the Arapaho Blackberry, which was nothing more than an impulse purchase three years ago at Lowe's Big Box store in West Sacramento. Hey! I needed another blackberry to complete my blackberry plantings.

Ripening Arapaho Blackberries
Up next is the harvest from the Black Satin Blackberry plant. I'll admit -- the harvest from the Black Satin is not going to be as wonderfully prolific as the Arapaho. Boo Hoo. Bill Bird gets two pies instead of five. Oh darn. Woe is me. Cue up the world's smallest violin. Oh -- wait -- did I forget to tell you about the boysenberry harvest?

I'll admit -- I didn't do any research about the Arapaho before I bought it. The bare root vine just happened to be there on that February afternoon three years ago. It looked good. I bought it. I wouldn't find out about this special plant till some years later when I finally got around to researching what I purchased. I'll be honest -- this isn't the smartest way of planning out a fresh fruit garden. Do your research FIRST -- then buy. That's a good rule of thumb.

Look Ma! No thorns!
But -- every once in a great while -- a squirrel finds a nut. In this case, the nut dropped directly from the tree and smacked me upside my head. As I would come to discover -- the best thing about the Arapaho plant is the thorns.

It doesn't have any. Say what, Willis? No thorns? Blackberry plants and thorns go together like peanut butter and jelly! A blackberry plant without thorns is one step short of sacrilege! You can do that now? The short answer is, "yes you can." A trip to the backyard blackberry patch no longer means a trip to the nearest medical center to be treated with Bactine and bandages.

Next Year's Fruiting Cane Emerges
The Arapaho is a fairly recent introduction from the University of Arkansas Department of Forestry and Agriculture. If UC Davis is famous for developing and breeding new cultivars of strawberry plants (which they are), the University of Arkansas has the market cornered on thornless blackberry production. The Arapaho, which was released to the public in 1993, is just one of many recent blackberry introductions. 

The University of Arkansas Blackberry Breeding Program has recently developed many excellent blackberry cultivars including: Apache, Arapaho, Cherokee, Comanche, Cheyenne, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Kiowa, Navaho, Ouachita, and Shawnee. Almost all of them are thornless and almost all grow and grow well from one end of the country to another.

In fact -- the one variety of blackberry that isn't supposed to grow well in the Sacramento area is, surprisingly, the Arapaho. It's recommended for Garden Zones 3-8. Bill Bird gardens in Zone 9A. I can attest that it really doesn't matter. The Arapaho loves it here -- and I have the lip-smacking pie ingredients to prove it.

Another nice thing about the Arapaho is it doesn't require any staking. It will fruit more if you do tie it to something -- but the Arapaho sends up canes as thick as a small tree trunk every spring and summer. Those canes that emerge this year will serve as the fruiting canes next season. Sure enough -- while the Arapaho was growing a boatload of fresh blackberries for Bill and the wife that is Venus this spring -- next year's fruiting cane emerged from the raised bed it calls home and has grown straight up to a height of seven feet. When next spring arrives, it will eventually get so heavy with fruit production that I'll need to tie it to something to keep it from collapsing.

Blackberry Pie! For me?
No matter. That's why God invented fences. And 4X4 posts. And concrete. And, nevermind...

As for the age of question of: Is there enough for pie? Well, photos do tell a wonderful story...



Bill - I like making individual fried pies with my berries. I wash, dry, then freeze my harvest.

Rox said...

Pie...it's not just for breakfast anymore.