Looking for Berries, Berries for Jam


This afternoon I took our two boys to the pool and my youngest, who is 3 and loves talking to just about anyone, notice that the lady next to us was eating cherries. He went up to her and said, “We have a cherry tree and we ate a lot of cherries. But they are all gone, so now we eat a lot of little plums.” We are indeed eating a lot of plums these days. This is the first significant harvest from our Santa Rosa Weeping plum tree. We’ve had it in the ground maybe four years now? It’s a beautiful tree.

And the blackberries are ripening too! In previous years both the plums and the blackberries were ripe around the 4th of July, but I suppose because of our cold, rainy spring things have been delayed a few weeks. Growing up, even only an hour away from here, we didn’t have any blackberry bushes near our house. However they grew wildly abundant a few hours north on the lake where we used to vacation with my cousins every summer. Somewhere amongst our busy activities of rainbow trout fishing, swimming, row boating, popcicle eating and flip flop wearing lakeside walks, we squeezed in a little blackberry picking. We’d walk out to this one berry lined lane with bags and pick as many as we could, without getting too scratched up.

Even now, despite the fact that as a grown up I have blackberries growing in my backyard and I have children of my own, sneaking in and out of those thorn filled canes, discovering spiderwebs, and figuring out how to reach that one far berry without getting too bloodied up, brings me straight back to my childhood.


I wish I could tell you some good solid gardening advice on how to grow blackberries, but I think most of you with blackberry growing experience will agree, we do our best to give these bushes a firm case of tough love. They don’t need anything from us. Once they take hold, they are relentless in their pursuit to take over your entire yard. Many times a year we put on our thickest gloves, muster up our strength and head out to prune those painful canes back to keep them in their place. It’s worth the territorial fight though, not only for their sweet flavor but for the memories they bring back.

If you have small kids or in need of a present for a little one, Jamberryhas long been a favorite of our boys. So much so that it has become memorized and often referred to as we go about our days. This line is shouted from the backseats almost every time we pass a bridge, ‘Under the bridge/And over the dam/Looking for berries/Berries for jam.’


Filed under just picked

7 responses to “Looking for Berries, Berries for Jam

  1. Thanks so much for this post. It reminded me I need to head up to my In-laws place and check on their blackberries. They live a couple of valleys over from Sonoma, so their’s should be on track with yours. I hope I beat the birds. 🙂 Visions of blackberry jam, yum.


  2. Jo

    We are growing blackberries! ThornLESS blackberries, and they are wonderful! Yet and still, when we lived in California, we picked the wild Himilayan berries as well. Even had a kit which included long sleeved guy shirts, thick gloves, and bent curtain rods for hooking the far away canes and bringing them closer.

    Now the berries are 3x larger, sweeter, and even jucier than those wild berries. But I shudder every time I walk by our berry patch even so. My berries are Arapaho, I am hoping to acquire some thornless boysenberries as well. Cobbler is my favorite thing and later today we will be making “3B” ice cream. 3B = blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries. I only wish the cream were going to come from my own cow! ;o)

    • asonomagarden

      Thanks Jo for your comment. I learned so much. First I didn’t know there were thornless blackberries and second I didn’t know ours were called Himilayan! And great tips for a picking kit! Your 3B ice cream sounds divine!

  3. that’s a true favorite book for us. I mean to get a lot of berries picked this year.

  4. Great post, You have reminded me that i need to make some more jam, i keep on forgeting to do it but now it is in my mind i will get it done today, Thanks!

  5. Lovely post, thank you. I carry my 19 month old son on my back every day for an hour to walk the dogs in the woods. Being berry season, we’re stopping frequently these days to pick and my little guy, who doesn’t say much but has lots of signs, signs “more, more, more”.

    Jamberry is his absolute favourite book! He enthusiastically acts out “picking” and “eating” of berries from the book. Pick me a blackberry! Trainberry, Trackberry Clickerty-clackberry!

    Love it!

  6. Pingback: State of the Garden « A Sonoma Garden

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