The astoundingly early Honeyberry (haskap)

If you have room for two shrubs in your yard, consider the Honeyberry – the earliest fruit I harvested in 2011. They’re described as tasting like a mix between a blueberry and a currant – so, with a bit of tartness to them. That’s a fairly accurate description… I quite liked them, anyway! Others wanted sugar added.

These are the two smaller of the commercially-released varieties from the University of Saskatchewan. Berry Blue and Blue Belle? They should be ~4-6′ tall at maturity.

May 6: first flower.

May 11: whole bush in flower.

June 2: green fruit already present.

June 13: ripening.

June 24: ready to eat.

About 8 oz total yield from two first-year shrubs, maybe 16″ high each.



October 4: Settling down for the winter.



From Fruits

I went to Seattle for PAX2009 and all I got was this thoroughly awesome Cornus kousa outside the Washington State Convention Center!

From Fruits

Just kidding – I got more stuff – but this is thoroughly awesome! The guts of this fallen fruit were very squishy. I did not taste it as the surrounding area was thoroughly impeccably landscaped and therefore likely thoroughly sprayed, but it was an exciting find to start the expo.

Highlights of the event itself: spinning silk hankies on a gemstone dropspindle while waiting in line and having a couple bystanders recognize what I was doing and give me a thumbs-up; meeting several likeminded knitters for an impromptu knitting group, and aspinnerating one of them!

Spring has sprung and I’m feeling productive

When I returned from the lovely Teaching Permaculture Creatively course, all the snow was gone and the perennials had started to sneak out of their leaf cover! This was almost scarily early, but I am taking advantage of the nice weather and the residual momentum from the course’s focus on designing OURSELVES as well and my convenient unemployment! to get some stuff done around here.

  1. Massive destash! I have too much stuff stored in the house and garage that is still good (or was at the time of storage), that I expected I would use sometime. This accumulation of stuff is getting in the way of the house and garage actually being functional – i.e., it’s hard to can when your jars are in three different places and you have to store the finished product so far out of your normal living routines that you forget to eat them. So, a trunk full of books is out the door, sold and donated to the public library; massive donation of decorative items that never had a horizontal surface to call their own is out to the local Abused Adult Resource Center thrift shop; three pickup loads of things that used to be good and are no longer are out to the landfill, including three unfortunate rolls of gifted wall-to-wall carpet that became instantly unusable their first winter in the garage when the mice converted them to condominiums. These and others have freed up a front closet which is about to get shelves, for storing kitchen gadgets and hopefully pantry food on the same floor l as the kitchen; most of the storage shelves at the base of the stairs, which have been cleared of ten years of dust and are about to see their first coat of paint in as long; and increased the visible floor area of the garage from 1/5 to 3/4. It is such a wonderful feeling to see all these dust-collectors out the door, moving me ever closer to my goal of owning no more stuff than I have places to put it (preferably places with opaque doors.) I have even made the conceptual step that I will not be able to use all of the four-ounce braids of spinning fiber I’ve stashed, and will be selling some of the handspun that isn’t speaking to me at the summer Urban Harvest local farmers’ and artisans’ market. I am enjoying my achievement of purchasing less than one braid a month as opposed to last December, when I was consoling myself for all that overtime by frequenting Etsy updates.
  2. Replacement windows have been ordered and so may conceivably actually get installed this year! This would free the way for replacement insulation and will hopefully mean I could use my north-facing bedroom without needing a space heater in the winter. Hooray for tax credits!
  3. This is the absolute earliest I have ever got my “plant as soon as the ground can be worked” seeds in the ground. While my raised beds are growing ever smaller due to their colonization by garlic, skirret, sorrel and other perennials, I do have my lettuce, peas, carrots, spinach, radishes and a bit more sorrel planted in. And some grass seed in the bare patches in the lawn.
  4. One of the big needs of permaculture in ND is actual in-ground demonstration sites. A movement that was started around sustainable landscaping really does need some of that landscaping available to look at and compare. I’ve completed the layouts for two sites in Bismarck and Mandan that have given me permission to plant fruit, and the plants are ordered; ground will be broken on the first site on 1st May. Unfortunately I will be purchasing the plants myself for both sites, but I should get use of somewhat over half of the fruit and the opportunity to add both designs to my portfolio.

Still on the list –

  1. Finalize a mushroom cultivation class for Glacial Lakes Permaculture on 8-May and for BSC’s Continuing Education on 20-May.
  2. Doublecheck materials list for both plantings and ensure I have them in place for next weekend.
  3. Wash some raw fleece so it can dry outside in this gorgeous weather!
  4. Finish working through “Independence Days: A guide to sustainable food storage and preservation” and design my food system for the year.
  5. Construct a hackle and blend some fiber!

This has been a great spring so far. Unemployment is awesome. My husband even mentioned he’s been enjoying having me home so he can assign me chores. Now to convince him to read “Your Money or Your Life” so we can maybe work towards getting this a full-time thing.

Wild Food Summit 2009

The Wild Foods Summit 2009 is being held at the White Earth Rediscovery Center in Waubun, MN, just east of Fargo, ND, June 17-20.  A wild foods event that isn’t in Oregon! Awesome! And what’s even cooler – I recognize two of the instructors’ names.

Steve Dahlberg – I joined the Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society just to hear him speak about the fruits he grows on his zone 3 farm, and still have the handout from his session. Probably not coincidentally, he was also a founding member of the Permaculture Research Institute – Cold Climate, the permaculture group closest to me geographically.

Sam Thayer wrote The Forager’s Harvest: A Guide to Identifying, Harvesting and Preparing Edible Wild Plants and frequently appears in the pages of Countryside Magazine and Small Stock Journal, my favorite of the homesteading magazines (it’s got Mother Earth News beat all to heck, let me tell you.)

I am seriously considering attending this… although I reserve the right to stash a bag of granola in my car in case of emergency. Primitive camping is not my favoritest activity of all time, especially if accompanied by uncertainty of tummy.

Fruit Backing?

I just saw this in a JoAnn’s circular – wouldn’t this be a perfect backing for my Fruits afghan?

It’s a cotton-blend stretch sateen bottomweight, so perhaps a bit heavy for this use. I ordered some to check the colors in person – so even if it doesn’t work I should have a killer skirt for my gardening talks!


Lingonberry Square pattern is up

From Crafts

I finally bought myself my very own copy of Uncommon Fruits for Every Garden, a book guaranteed to make your mouth water and your green thumb dream of orcharding. Lee Reich is highly appreciative of lingonberries, as they’re a cranberry cousin that can be eaten fresh (when totally ripe). A lot of the awesome fruits I will be featuring here do need some added sweetener to make them palatable (sea buckthorn, anyone?) so this is quite a useful trait.

There are two variants of lingonberries. Both will spread to form a reasonably good groundcover (although you’ll want to interplant with something else, as they won’t quite control weeds by themselves) – the taller get to perhaps 1 foot tall, while the var. minus stay creepers 4″ or below. The square is meant to represent the creeping variety spiraling over a paving stone, the tips of the branches laden with fruit.

Wikipedia Commons
Vaccinium vitis-idaea, by Jonas Bergsten

Click on the Rare Fruit link at the top of the page for all my fruit square patterns together in one gallery; scroll down for links to the original pattern.

A bowlful of Lingonberries