I’m a berry boy. I love my berries. Unfortunately, Southern California doesn’t so much, or at least so I thought.
Strawberries being the huge exception (they are amazing down here), I always thought that growing berries in our garden would be a futile task. I’m talking blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries. They were so easy for us to grow on the ranch in Oregon. It seemed like all we had to do was plant them and forget about it until we were ready for a mid-day treat.
Oh how the horses would stretch and strain to try and reach the raspberry vines. Lips stretching like little kids fingers reaching into the cookie jar high on the counter. The fence between the raspberries and horse had to be double high and narrow enough between rails that they couldn’t slide the heads through to reach our precious red fruit.
8 years ago when we were initially planning our garden here in Southern California we made a list of plants we loved. Next we grudgingly crossed out the ones which wouldn’t grow well in our zone, then started designing the garden based on the remaining plants. All but the strawberries were crossed off the berry list. Silly us.
Little did we know that many of them can grow quite well down here. Our ignorance was partly due to some varieties which have been developed or shown to do well in our milder climate, and part because we didn’t do enough research.
But a garden in never finished. It is always evolving and changing and a berry boy is now quite happy with his Southern California garden.
We’ve been able to add 4 blueberry bushes (3 diff. varieties to see which does best), a couple raspberry vines and a blackberry vine to add to our strawberries as our berry plant inventory.
The blueberries went in first. After a year of planting, adjusting and growing, we’ve started to see a nice production off of them. Well, almost. We see a lot of growth and green berries, but our mockingbirds have discovered their berry goodness. At this point our teenager plants can’t produce more than the #%^%@-ing mockingbirds can eat, so we’ve only been able to eat a handful. Sigh.
The raspberries and blackberries have replaced a set of vines we took out this spring after its trellis broke. The jasmine was nice, but the berries are bad-ass. There is nothing like a home grown raspberry and they have been “goin’ gorilla” as the two baby vines are giving us almost a cup worth every other day. The blackberries are growing and fruiting well, but our blackies have yet to hit their season.
Sara Kate’s gorgeous cookbook is filled with beautiful recipes full of fresh, seasonal produce and ingredients. It’s hard not to be inspired to cook, share and feed your family and friends when flipping through each thoughtful page and photograph. Each dish is sure to feed and please a crowd for any occasion and gathering.
So because of her book and love of giving, we’re more thoughtful about sharing our blueberries with the birds. At least on the days they beat us to the berries. A boy still has to have berries of his own.
-Todd & Diane
Fizzy Blueberry Meyer Lemonade
Yield: 1 Drink
Total Time: 5 Minutes
- 3 Tablespoons (45ml) fresh Meyer Lemon Juice (about 1 lemon)
- 1-2 Tablespoons (15-30ml) Simple Syrup
- 1/4 cup (60ml) Blueberries
- few dashes Bitters of choice (usually we'll use orange bitters)
- Soda Water
- Mint for garnish
- Combine lemon juice, simple syrup, and blueberries in a blender. Blend until smooth.
- Fill a glass with ice. Add blueberry lemonade. Top with soda water.
- Garnish and serve.
Note 1: A basic simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio of sugar dissolved in water. example- One cup sugar dissolved in one cup of water. We usually make larger batches and keep on hand in the refrigerator.
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Recipe Note for Salt: All recipes containing salt are based on kosher or sea salt amounts, not table salt. If using table salt, reduce the amount used to taste.