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Show #21

Berries are a summer favorite. Today we're down on the farm to learn about strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. Some gardeners think berries are exotic and difficult to grow but that couldn't be further from the truth. It is easy to grow a patch of berries in your yard and yield pounds of fresh fruit. Not only are they easy to grow but they're loaded with vitamins and minerals and blueberries, for example, contain anti-oxidants that fight cancer.

Jim Glanville the General Manager of the Inn at Essex, which features the New England Culinary Institute welcomes Garden Smart to Burlington Vermont. The Inn at Essex is a beautiful property featuring a golf course, 6 tennis courts, massage services and 120 beautiful rooms. The trip today will take our viewers to the Intervale where you'll learn how to grow and maintain berries, then later chef Jean Yves will create some mouth watering culinary delights. Jim hopes everyone will enjoy the show and come visit Burlington.

Adam Hausmann is an organic berry farmer. Often when thinking of berries one thinks of fields filled with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. But these can be easily grown in your backyard.

Adam especially likes raspberries. There are 2 types of raspberries, the summer and the fall bearing variety. Adam recommends the fall variety because of their ease of care, they are simple to grow. Pick a small corner of your backyard, a fence line, a hedgerow, whatever it might be and till up a small area. Plant the raspberries a foot or a foot and a half apart, mulch them in and you should have fruit for 15-20 years with proper care. Adam heavily composts raspberries because they're heavy feeders. He shows us foliage growth on the plants, because of this and the fact that they will grow to 5 to 6 feet high, they need a lot of nutrients, a lot of nitrogen, they also need a lot of energy to fruit. So around planting time every season he integrates an inch or 2 of compost. The compost slowly integrates itself into the soil, it adds organic matter, nutrients and with rain and time it percolates down into the roots throughout the season. The soil becomes healthier, it holds more moisture which will get you through drought periods better, it keeps disease away because you have healthier canes and healthier plants. He recommends that any home gardener start a compost pile, it will be helpful for not only raspberries but vegetables and flowers as well. Adam has installed a drip irrigation system and puts mulch on top of that. He has 300 foot rows, the drip irrigation emits water roughly every foot or so. This ensures that every plant receives ample water - a gallon or 2 per hour. He then adds mulch. Adam uses either straw or grass clippings, both work well as will sawdust mixed with horse manure. This is another way to add more organic matter into the soil. In Vermont, fall raspberries start fruiting in mid August and last until early frost. It is a great producing plant that yields fruit for months. He has friends in the south that have these plants producing until Thanksgiving, if not longer. If you grab the cane it has little thorns but they aren't very sharp, almost a soft spine, not like a blackberry bush. Because of that they're great for kids, children can easily reach the fruit, which grows on the side, it's east to pick off and nobody gets poked. There are red raspberries, as well as yellow raspberries. Adam has 3 different varieties of reds and a yellow fall bearing variety that comes on a little later than the reds. All are incredibly sweet and delicious because they have time for the sugars to mature. The berries are large, thumb size, not as crumbly as the summer varieties and they melt in your mouth. After harvest Adam lets them die off by frost. This gives them a chance for the carbohydrates to go back into the roots. In late winter or early spring he mows them to the ground. You can use a hand clipper but it's easier to use a lawn mower when mowing to the ground. Remove all of the canes left over, this will eliminate a lot of disease and keeps the plant healthier. Raspberries are easy to maintain, a great crop to grow in your backyard. All you do is add some compost, mow them down once a year and they will create a beautiful hedge to fill out an area. Keep them contained with raised beds or some edging but other than that it's pretty simple.

Blueberries are being used more frequently as a landscape shrub. There are different varieties-a low bush and a high bush. If in the south you might want to use the southern high bush or Rabbit Eye. In Vermont Adam uses the Northern High Bush. It is a small plant but loaded with berries. These plants are in their 3rd season and are roughly 3 feet tall. During the 1st two years Adam, in the springtime, took off all the blossoms so the plant sends all the energy into the roots. It's simple you don't need to cut them off, just strip them off with your fingers. This helps the plant get established. Blueberries are fabulous. They will outlive us and can grow to 100 plus years. And if properly maintained will grow to 4 to 6 feet tall. Blueberries are unique and have special soil requirements, very exact soil requirements. They prefer a nice light sandy loamsoil and they need a low PH. An ideal blueberry PH is between 4 and 5. Adam does a number of things to lower the PH. He mixes in peat moss, probably about a bucket or gallon for every plant. A good pine sawdust also works well, he adds about 8 inches to keep the PH stable. Blueberry roots are really fine, hairy roots and they love the lightness of sawdust. To lower the PH you could also use sulfur, regular powdered sulfur or elemental sulfur and spread it around. Be careful not to put too much on per season, it could burn the roots. A common problem blueberries might encounter would be yellowing of the leaves. That is caused the PH being too high. Remedy that and you eliminate a lot of their problems, they're a long lived plant and they're a great landscape shrub as well. They're beautiful in the fall, their leaves turn an incredible crimson and stay that way for quite a long period. In Vermont after the beautiful maple trees turn color and drop their leaves the blueberries still have their leaves and their color lasts for a while longer.

A higher maintenance berry is the strawberry. It's the end of the season here but there are still some left. For a home gardener you don't need a whole lot of space to support your family when growing strawberries. A 2 by 8 section should be sufficient. To begin, till up the space, incorporate a lot of compost, bringing up the nutrient content. They like a good neutral soil, a PH around 6 if not above. You get individual plants, plant them in the ground, make sure they're not too deep or too shallow, you don't want the roots to dry out. Space them about 8-12 inches apart. They will first produce flowers, take those flowers off so the energy goes to the roots. After that they'll start to produce runners or daughter plants as they're also called. These new arms reach out and basically new plants are being established. Root those plants into the ground and they'll form what is called a matted row. In your more or less your first year you'll form a nice thick planting and your 2 by 8 foot section will be completely filled out. The second year you'll actually have fruit, even an abundance of fruit. After fruiting the 2nd year you want to renovate the plant. First mow everything to the ground. Then narrow the beds from say 2 feet to about 8 inches. This can be done with a hoe or roto tiller. Then fertilize the plants, that will give it a good boost and it will start to send out runners again. The runners will form new plants and increase the vigor of the strawberry plant allowing it to fruit year after year. Another way to grow strawberries is to grow them in containers or barrels. Put the individual plant in there, let them produce, then yank them out at the end of the season and start over again next year. That way you can have strawberries on your patio or deck.

Adam this has been great. You've taught us all about blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. They're not difficult to grow and can add a lot to our lives and gardens. Thank you.

One of the few raspberry pests is the raspberry cane borer. It is an easy pest to control organically because all you do is clip it out, no spraying and no one gets harmed. It's simple to find, look at your cane, you'll see where it is dead, then go down about 6 inches and you'll see 2 little girdle lines. The adult has girdled the cane and laid an egg in between. If you don't clip this out that egg will hatch, the worm will go down that cane and kill the whole cane. So as soon as you see the died back area, go 6 inches below it, snip it out and importantly throw the diseased cane in a bucket or bag and take it away so that the insect doesn't stay in the yard. It's a simple way to keep your raspberries looking great.

Today we're also looking at a tomato growing machine. It is a self watering container that comes with a tray that you set inside and a lightweight soil mix. All you need for the summer is about a cup of fertilizer. Fill the container with the soil, it acts as a sponge and wicks up the water allowing it to stay consistently moist throughout the season. On top of that it contains a red plastic mulch that stimulates the plant to produce more fruit and in higher yields. It also contains a specially designed cage that fits into the planter. You put 2 varieties of whatever tomatoes you like in the planter and all you need to do is fill the water reservoir every few days, if the tomatoes get really large it might be every day. There is no weeding and you consistently get between 20 and 30 pounds of tomatoes per season. You don't necessarily have to grow tomatoes although some say this produces the best tomatoes ever. Some actually grow salad greens or flowers, anything will grow in this 3 and 1/2 square foot container and it produces great yields.

We're in the kitchen with Jean Yves, the Executive Pastry Chef at the New England Culkinary Institute. The chef is going to create some wonderful dishes utilizing fresh berries. Jean Yves explains some of his cooking philosophy. Summer is the time to harvest all those wonderful fruits, especially berries. All winter long we wait for local strawberries, for example. Local berries smell so nice, they don't look as beautiful as berries from Florida or California but the taste is completely different. He also has local raspberries and they too taste much better. His friend Chef Tom has brought him some fresh Currants, which are unusual. Also included are blueberries and blackberries, although the blackberries are not local, but are huge. Chef always likes to try to find local when possible.

He starts cooking. He has prepared a base for a fruit tart, it is typical shortbread cookie dough. The recipe is simple, he calls it a 3,2,1. 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter, one part sugar. It is very nice, very rich, very crumbly dough, so when you eat the tart it will melt in your mouth. He has a mold to make the shape, puts the dough in the mold. He next adds the cream, it's a regular custard pudding, professionally called pastry cream. He folds a little bit of whipped cream in to make it even lighter. He spoons the cream inside the tart. The cream has a sweetness to it but isn't heavy. Jean Yves then starts working with the berries. He removes the green, cuts them in half, selecting the freshest and best looking ones. They smell great even when cutting them. It then becomes a matter of arrangement. The raspberries are local, fresh and gorgeous. He adds the blackberries for color, adds blueberries and strawberries. But you could use whatever fruit you have in whatever shape, size or decoration you like. It's beautiful. Presentation is important so he puts it on a large plate, a 12 inch plate, he likes working with over sized plates. He finishes with a garnish and it is simple yet elegant and beautiful and very healthful.

Jean Yves, when thinking of berries, thinks of a sauce and a fantastic desert for the summer. He makes a sabayon which is a wine sauce that will go very well with the berries. As before we'll use strawberries, raspberries, a few blackberries for color and blueberries. To make the sauce he has started water boiling. He adds 4 egg yokes to a cup of white wine. He has used a Pinot Gridu but a Chardonnay would work, just don't use a sweet wine because he adds sugar, half a cup, and mixes together. On the double boiler he puts the bowl and poaches the mixture. The eggs will coagulate, you keep stirring vigorously until it becomes foamy and it will get thicker. This takes about 1 minute for a small quantity and this quantity would be good for about 4 servings. If you aren't sure when the mixture is ready you could use a thermometer, when it reaches 180 degrees it's ready. You gain a lot of volume when doing this and can smell the wine. Drizzle the sauce over the berries, if you really like the sauce put a lot on. To finish Jean Yves adds the red currants. It's very simple, yet delicious and makes it easy to impress customers or guests.

Thanks Chef Jean Yves for making this sauce and the tarts. The recipes are great, we appreciate the lesson.

Links:

The Inn at Essex

Gardeners Supply

New England Culinary Institute

Adams Berry Farm

Recipe: Sabayon

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