Published October 7, 2016
In this edition:
Muscadines, Bullis and Scuppernongs are gone in the field.
We have a few gallons of bullis in the cooler for upcoming farmers markets and on-farm sales. We also have a few gallons of very mature, hence very soft and very sweet muscadines good for jam, juice or wine making. Only $2.00 dollars per pound! Suspect they willl be gone soon so best to call first (864-350-9345).
End of Season Special on (the LAST of) the prepicked seedless Saturn grapes There are only about 20 gallons of Seedless Saturn Dessert Grapes in the cooler. These work great to freeze, and make wonderful additions to smoothies, or for making jams in the winter! We need to move what is left - so talk to us and "Let's make a deal!"
We are in the midst of Izu, non astringent, persimmon harvest. The trees are small so we get only a few gallons (15-20 lb) every other day or so. We are only selling pre-picked persimmonss this year, and they will be available on-farm and at the markets. We will not open the persimmons for you-pick picking until the trees get bigger.
Never eaten a persimmon??? Ask us….we will give you a sample….they are very sweet, yellow-orange in color, kind of like an apple in texture but are climacteric, and in plastic wrap will keep for months in the refrigerator.
The TD Downtown Greenville Farmer Market will not be open on Saturday October 8 due to the concern of high winds. They will also not be open the following weekend due to the Fall for Greenville event. it will be open again Saturday, October 22nd and 29th.
The last farmers market at Patrick Square in Clemson is October 14 EXCEPT for it will be open on the first Fridays in November and December.
Stay tuned to our website homepage for the Six Mile market schedule.
Blackberry enthusiasts might find a couple of quarts a day in the southwest field under the rolled up shade cloth.Hours of Operation
Thank you for your support this 2016 season!
We would not be here without YOU!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch
Published June 11, 2016
In this edition:
picking is FANTASTIC!
Starting out in the farthest patch of the blackberry field, around row 167 moving towards the top farthest corner of the blackberry patch, the berries are clustered with the perfect sweetness and amazing flavor!
picking started June 9
Picking conditions are very slow. We are picking the varieties Climax and Premier. You should be very careful to only pick the plump ones. If you are new or don't know where to find Climax or Premier bushes ask the folks on the porch. We have many varieties with each ripening at a different time. Blueberry picking speed will improve rapidly! Stay tuned to our homepage for the most current conditions!
The Happy Berry Website is now Mobile Friendly!
Have you seen our new look on the website? It is now mobile friendly! Check it out at www.TheHappyBerry.com. We do still have some bumps and links to iron out. Please let us know how you like it or if you come across any of those "bumps" or broken links...
The Upstate Farm Tour, June
This year's Upstate Farm Tour opens the farm gates of 22 scenic and sustainable farms across the Upstate - including 6 new farms! See baby barn animals, taste artisanal cow, sheep and goat cheese, tour gorgeous organic produce farms, enjoy farm-fresh foods at meal stops, and take home tasty treats like pasture raised meats, freshly laid eggs, juicy berries and sustainably grown veggies.
Tour tickets purchased in advance are $30 per car for ALL farms, ALL weekend. Day of registration is $35. Buy your tickets in advance and Save $5! Or, become a CFSA member and you’ll save $5 more (members pay $25 in advance).
Tickets can be purchased, & complete information found, online at www.carolinafarmstewards.org/uft or at Whole Foods Market in Greenville, and other locations throughout the Upstate.
How to pick blueberries-
Blueberries turn blue before they are ripe. A cluster of blueberries will have green, turning berries obviously not ready, some that are blue but red on the bottom and finally those that are blue and plump. To pick the ripe blueberries requires a combination of eye and touch. Most of the practiced pickers take a small quart basket, hold it under the cluster with one hand and with the other hand tickle the plump ones off with your fingers. So how do you know when it is plump? We expect you to taste the berries so that you can coordinate your eyes, fingers and taste buds. The coordination is important because blueberries do not ripen after picking. Of course, if you feel that you have tasted too many you can donate to the sin bucket under the bell near the porch. And, if you want, you can make two clangs of the bell to acknowledge your sins.
to pick blackberries
Blackberries first turn from green to red and may be red for one or more days. They then turn shiny black. They can be picked at this stage but they will be a little tart. They continue to ripen on the vine and the shiny appearance declines. At this point sugar has increased. Once they are dull black they are just before falling off. They are at there sweetest at this point but if you bump the vine they will fall off. The rule if you have to tug on the berry to get it off the vine....it is not ready...it should come off reasonably easily. So what is reasonably easy? We expect you to taste to get your eyes, taste buds and the tug factor with your fingers coordinated. Of course, if you feel guilty because you were tasting a little heavy you can donate to the sin bucket. The proceeds of the sin bucket will go to a local charity. Just like with blueberries, once blackberries have been picked, they stop ripening.
is a must
Berries are living beings. They will continue to carry on respiration which uses energy (sugar). Therefore, it is important to preserve the quality of fresh picked berries that refrigerate just as soon as you get them home. Except for figs, berries are not climacteric- meaning they do not get sweeter after picking (like a peach or banana). If you are traveling and are going to be stopping for a bite to eat we recommend a cooler with an ice pack. Thirty minutes to an hour in a car unprotected from the heat can leave you with much lower quality berries.
See you in the fields!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch
Published May 31, 2016
In this edition:
THE HARVEST - At a Glance
Opening Day and Blackberries Begin – Wednesday, June 1
We open Wednesday, June 1. Blackberries are first up. Picking will start slow, increasing rapidly to good, then to excellent, and to “Holy Smoke- this is unbelievable!” in about a week! We will start with Black Magic and Prime Ark 45. There will also be scattered ripe berries in the Natchez, Chickasaw, and Kiowa. In these latter three it is mainly King berries and they are really big!
Blueberries – Forecast June 15
I (Walker) was scouting in the blueberries…and I found “shiners!” (May 29) in the Climax Variety. They were not sweet yet (I had to check) as blueberries turn blue before they turn ripe. They were still quite firm. Blueberries should be “plump” when you pick them but final swell has definitely started. We are sticking to June 15 forecast for blueberry picking
You are not going to believe the blueberry crop. The bushes are weighing down into the row middle so that we are having great difficulty getting through to mow the grass. Any “Crop Mobs” (volunteers) out there? The job is to use biodegradable string to pull up the branches where we can’t get through with the mower. Call Walker if you are interested – 864-350-9345.
Seedless grapes will be next up in the middle of July. They could possibly begin sooner as the berries seem to be swelling a little earlier. Stay tuned to the web site home page for updates.
Figs will follow the seedless grapes and are on schedule for August 1.
Muscadines are still forecasted at August 15.
Other Farm News:
Mulberries are being “eaten alive” by the deer. We are using Plot Saver tape, a bar of soap in each tree as well as an “organic” fertilizer made from bio-solids that has a reputation for repelling deer. We are seeing some foliage…Maybe we will get a taste this year.
Goji berries (wolfberries) are growing like weeds. If we ever see any berries they appear to be an easy plant to grow. “The Jury is still out.”
Persimmons look good. The fruit is starting to weigh the branches down and we will probably have to prop branches to keep them from breaking.
You will see we have been clearing land... We have planted a few more tea plants as a second story (shade) crop. Tea is also what we are trying to grow along the drive way. We have added fences too as, apparently, ground hogs (whistle pigs) have a caffeine tooth!
Maybe a few chestnuts??? We could plant chestnut trees in the same areas as the tea plants (in the woods and along the driveway). What do you think??? There are now much better varieties than Dunstan chestnut available that are sweet as well as resistant to root rot and blight. And if everything “goes south” chestnuts could provide the community with a carbohydrate source to eat both fresh and make flour with.
Hours this year will be the same as last (8 AM until Dusk Monday through Friday and 8 AM until 6 PM on Saturday). We use the evening hours on Saturday, and the Sunday hours to “fight the good fight” against the dreaded invasive species Spotted Wing Drosophila, to make sure you get quality berries.
Prices will be the same as last year for u-pick blueberries and blackberries ($2.50/pound) and we are going to try a little bit lower (50 cents per quart) for pre-picked. So pre-picked will be $6/ Quart or $24 per gallon (6 pounds) for blackberries and blueberries. We are hoping that picking time per gallon will be less this year, so those who pick for us will still make a fair wage. Please remember that prices can go up on pre-picked berries if harvest conditions change and require that we pay more to the pickers…
We are hoping for a wonderful season and to see you in the fields!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch
Published May 8, 2016
In this edition:
Good news! If nothing happens, it looks like we will have a terrific crop! Our last good crop year was in 2012 and this year looks like it may be even better!
Visit our website - Our homepage is updated more frequently than anything else. Be sure to check back in between newsletters for new news and harvest updates.
The markets have already started. While we don’t have any fruit yet, we are still selling various willows & woody florals- both trees to transplant and stems for dried arrangements. We also have jams and eggs at these early Farmers markets.
The market schedule for this year:
FRUIT FORECAST – remember that forecasts are subject to change…
IN THE FIELDS - HARVEST DETAILS:
First up will be blackberries and we are forecasting June 1 as opening day!
We do have some very early varieties now and might have a few blackberries at late May farmers markets. Blackberries are born on a shoot called a raceme. A raceme is a flower cluster with the separate flowers attached by short roughly equal stalks at equal distances along a central stem. The flowers at the tip of the central stem usually develop first in blackberries.
We had a frost event Sunday night/Monday morning April 10. We ran the wind machine that morning and had no damage in the blueberries but in a low area in the blackberries the king flower and a few subordinates got injured. We estimated about a 15% loss. The flip side is that in blackberries (and other members of the Rosaceous plant family) there is compensation… when fruit is lost or removed the result is usually an increase in size of the remaining fruit on the raceme. Bottom line is, despite the estimated loss, there is a terrific crop of blackberries!
BLACKBERRY FUTURE: We have planted Von and more Chester blackberries to improve our late season supply of blackberries. We will continue to have a few primocane blackberries but the volume will be extremely low in September and October. The shade cloth experiment was a failure. You can read about it on our website. If you want to learn more about Shade Cloth or other SARE projects, you can also visit SARE (USDA granting agency) website. The jury is still out regarding living shade.
Second up will be blueberries and we are forecasting June 15 for our early varieties Climax and Premier.
Looking at the bushes it is astounding! They are in ropes! I am a little worried that with that much fruit to ripen… they may be delayed. We will keep you updated. The Tifblue are going through normal “May Drop” which is good. There was too much fruit. The new varieties like Onslow, Ira and Columbus that we been transitioning to (from Delight) have reached full size and are loaded. There are still a few Delight bushes and because we controlled the leaf rust last year they are loaded. If you like big berries Columbus and Delight are the berries to compare. You may have noticed the new plants to the left of the drive way as you are coming in. They were planted November 2014. They are Ochlockonee with Powderblue as a pollinator. They are both very late season blueberries. Plants are small but coming.
SEEDLESS TABLE GRAPES
Third up will be the seedless table-grapes and we are forecasting July 15! Jupiter and Venus will be first. We will keep you posted.
The story in the grapes is a moth known as the “Grape Root Borer (GRB).” There is no insecticide control that works. For the last 2 years, based on what we understood to be the proper usage, we have been using a pheromone twist tie at 20 foot intervals treating 7 acres of land around and including the 1.25 acres of grapes. We have seen some improvement but we still lost 50 vines to GRB confirmed by seeing the worm in each vine. We consulted with the researcher that developed the pheromone and he says we should be using one twist tie per plant instead and focusing the pheromones only in the 1.25 acres of the vineyard. So we have a new plan going forward for the GRB.
We have vaccinated our grapes against Pierces disease (PD). GRB damage mimics PD symptoms. We also investigated rootstocks for GRB management. We found one called Dogridge, which in one trial was not resistant but was tolerant of GRB, and very vigorous as well as being PD resistant. It is still available in the trade. Others in the trial were not available. Another grower said he used it with no problems with GRB and provided us with wood to root. It is possible that a vaccinated vine could harbor the PD organism and vector it to the roots so PD tolerance in the root stock is important. We are rooting Dogridge as you read this. Our plan is to inlay Dogridge on existing plants and find a nurseryman who will put future replacements or new varieties on Dogridge. The future is an integrated pest management plan using rootstock and pheromones for control.
Figs are fourth up with a forecasted harvest date of August 1.
The story with the figs is that we have not been able to satisfy demand for over two years. Eight degree cold snaps on January 8 of 2014 and 15 is the partial cause. The trees are recovering nicely and we have planted a lot more trees. Further we are changing our pruning system and transitioning to maintaining the trees as a bush. Fig supply should improve this year. And be even better in years to come.
Muscadines the forecasted harvest date is August 15.
The plants that were damaged by the freeze events of 2014 and 15 have all been replaced. Where it was variety Supreme we have doubled the density and halved the length of cordon per vine. The hope is by reducing the bearing surface we reduce the stress and increase the vigor of this variety. We have also added a new big black seeded muscadine called Majesty. We also have another new big black one under test from Ison’s Nursery. I think the name is Sweetie but I will have to check, there was just a number on the tag.
We have added a new variety known as “Razzmatazz.” Razzmatazz is a seedless muscadine. Our first plants cost $99 each. We have negotiated with nursery and purchased a “lot” of them for a much reduced price but for really tiny plants. We will nurse the tiny plants along this year but we see flowers already on our first two plants (the really expensive ones). We don’t know when they will be ready??? We also have 3 more “numbered” seedless varieties from Jeff Bloodworth’s breeding program. He is the originator of all these seedless lines!
OTHER HAPPENINGS - Mulberries, Persimmons, Goji & Tea!
This spring the deer have been giving us a fit in the mulberries and in the persimmons. We are using plot saver tape in the mulberries plus really stinky soap –thanks to Lois Ryan. She is a friend from Crescent Moon goat dairy and makes the soap. She made a special stinky batch just for us to help repel the deer. Thank you Ms Ryan! We are also using it in the persimmons.
Goji berries are growing nicely with lots of flowers but we have not seen any fruit yet. We paid $50 for two pollinating plants… We shall see???
Did you know we are experimenting with tea plants? We have put protective shields around our tea plants and planted 20 more. We did not realize that deer or some critter had such a taste for caffeine.
Last fall we cleared land so we could get to the mulberry field. Ugh what a task! We are not going to plow it. Hopefully we can keep it mowed… and keep that carbon in the ground. No plans for it yet. We will look for your thoughts on this… The caveat is... it is a frosty site.
Sustainability and Resilience at The Happy Berry
Thanks for your support!
You make it all possible!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch
Walker, Ann, Zoe and Betty-Ann
Published February 1, 2016
In this edition:
WILLOW HARVEST IS IN FULL SWING.
We have beautiful bouquets, plants and starter kits for sale and are eager to teach you how to grow your own… We have about nine different varieties of willow starter stakes. With any purchase of our starter kits or starter plants, we will also teach you about the characteristics of each type so you know what to expect and when.
VALENTINE’S DAY and WILLOW BOUQUETS
Make it special with a willow bouquet to express your love for your Valentine Sweetie! You’ll never have to worry about keeping them watered and they can literally last for years!
WILLOW Programs & Events schedule
– Subject to change – check the home page regularly for updates:
If we are not at a show/program we will be open from 11 to 3 on Saturdays January through Dyngus Day in April. We will have plenty of willows, a limited number of daughter Zoe’s Willow Crafts, as well as fresh free range eggs from your Happy Berry chickens! If you are having a hard time catching us at the farm, and since we do have many Saturday events, it is always an option to arrange a meeting that is convenient for you. Just give us a call and we will set it up! 864-350-9345 (cell, no voicemail), or 864-868-2946 (answer machine).
October, November and December were the rainiest that we have ever seen… since 1979 when we began farming in Six Mile. (October- 6 inches, November 9.61 inches and December 12.34 inches.) Global warming is resulting in climate change. In response we are preparing an action plan as to how we are planning to be part of mitigation and how we are going to adapt to the changes. We will post this on our website soon. It is a draft that will be revised as the situation changes. We would love your input and suggestions!
COLD (Vital to the blueberries)
We are accumulating chilling hours at a good clip now (we were worried because some low chill varieties were beginning to bloom) so do not anticipate any delay in bloom once it warms up in late March. Let’s hope for no “roller coaster” weather during warm up. We have had a very good bud set last fall and winter. So if all goes well a big crop of blueberries is in the offing. The wind machine has been repaired from last year’s complications, and is now ready to help protect those precious buds during those nippy nights in early April.
In the blackberry fields, everything looks good except for the Black Magic. With the warm wet fall most primo canes bloomed all the way to the ground just before those harsh low temperatures hit us.
GRAPES are looking very good. We are still suffering from the ravages of the grape root borer in the Mars variety but will replant dying vines. The pheromone for grape root borer (GRB) seems to be working well with no apparent GRB damage to younger vines. Also another grower is helping us grow off some Dogridge and Saltridge root stock by sending cuttings. These vigorous root stocks will be used to approach graft the Arkansas seedless varieties. They appear to be tolerant of GRB.
MUSCADINES are looking great! We have planted 100 Razzmatazz seedless muscadines. Maybe enough for a taste…We have 71 Black MULBERRIES in the ground…maybe enough for a taste this year also. This fall we worked clearing up the some of the brush jungle on the west side of the farm. Come admire!
My daughter Zoe and I (“I” being Walker) have been busy acquiring as much knowledge as possible during the farm’s downtime. We attended a Muscadine Conference in early Fall, the Carolina Farm Stewardship conference in November, and the Southeastern Fruit and Vegetable Conference in January. We successfully accumulated 32 hours of intensive training, an average of 6 hours visiting vendors that support us and were able to spend time updating with fellow farmers and Extension Agents (priceless!).
Please stay tuned to our home page — it should be mobile device friendly very soon! And we update the home page much more often then we send out newsletters.
Thanks for your support! You make it all possible!
Walker for The Happy Berry Bunch
Walker, Ann, Zoe and Betty-Ann
Published January 23, 2016
Rain — October, November and December were the rainiest that we have ever seen… since 1979 or since we began farming in Six Mile (October- 6 inches, November 9.61 inches and December 12.34 inches). Global warming is resulting in climate change. In response we are preparing an action plan as to how we are planning to be part of mitigation and how we are going to adapt to the changes. We will post this on our website soon. It is a draft that will be revised as the situation changes. We would love your input and suggestions!
Pussy willow harvest is in full swing. We have beautiful bouquets, plants, and starter kits for sale and are eager to teach you how to grow your own. The nicest part about investing in a Willow Bouquet (to express your love for your Valentine Sweetie) is that you’ll never need to worry about keeping them watered and they can literally last for Years! We now have willow starter stakes for sale for those who would like to root their own. We will have nine different varieties available at the farm, and at our listed events as well. With any purchase of our starter kits or starter plants; we will also include all the info you need to know about the characteristics of each type, so that you can grow like a Pro with abundant yearly bouquet replacements!
Our schedule, as of now, is as follows; but we may be adding to this list depending on any new received invites in the near future:
April 6 is Dyngus day (Monday after Easter) also called Wet Monday- a fun day with perhaps a little romance. Pussy willow season will be over soon after Dyngus Day.
If we are not scheduled for a show/program, then we will be open at the farm from 11 to 3 on Saturdays, January through Dyngus Day in April with plenty of Willows and some of our daughters limited Willow Crafts, as well as fresh free range eggs from your happy berry chickens! Or, you can call us anytime at the office 864-868-2946 or the farm 864-350-9345. If we are not able to meet at the farm, we will arrange a meeting that is convenient for you.
We are accumulating chilling hours at a good clip now (we were worried because some low chill varieties were beginning to bloom) so do not anticipate any delay in bloom once it warms up in late March. Let’s hope for no “roller coaster” weather during the warm up season. We witnessed a very good bud set last fall and winter. So if all goes well, a big crop of blueberries is in the offing. The wind machine has been repaired from last year’s complications, and is now ready to help protect the buds for those nippy nights in early April.
In the Blackberry fields, everything looks good, except for the Black Magic. With the warm wet fall, most of Black Magic’s primo canes bloomed all the way to the ground just before those harsh low temperatures hit us.
Grapes are looking very good too. We are still suffering from the ravages of the grape root borer in the Mars variety, but are replacing any dying vines. The pheromone for grape root borer (GRB) seems to be working well with no apparent GRB damage to the younger vines. Also another grower is helping us grow off some Dogridge and Saltridge root stock. These vigorous root stocks will be used to approach graft in the Arkansas seedless varieties. The Dodridge and Saltridge appear to be tolerant of GRB.
Muscadines are looking great! We added 100 Razzmatazz seedless muscadine plants this fall, adding to our collection of new varieties; Maybe enough for a taste…We also added 71 Black mulberries in the newly cleared ground…maybe enough for a taste this year also. This fall we worked on clearing up some of the brush jungle on the west side of the farm. Come admire!
My daughter Zoe and I have been busy acquiring as much knowledge as possible during the farm’s downtime. We attended a Muscadine Conference in early fall, a Carolina Farm Stewardship conference, and the Southeastern Fruit and Vegetable Conference in January as well. We successfully accumulated about 32 hours of intensive training and classes, an average of about 6 hrs of visiting these conference’s supportive vendors, and received lots of updates with our fellow farmers and Extension Agents.
Thank You So Much for your support! You make it all possible! Please visit our web site (www.thehappyberry.com) – it should be mobile device friendly very soon!
Sincerely, The Miller Family and The Happy Berry Bunch