Strawberry Patch History

Berry Patch History

strawberry 01aGrowing strawberries for the family took us a little while to get right. Pete and I started seriously growing them in 2015 at our place in Elk, WA. Beginning with seed, because of budget restrictions gave me very little success, but I didn’t give up and kept planting for 3 years. Looking at this picture they look pretty scraggly. Finally we determined that the location they were put in the garden was not good for them.

Moving

strawberry 02aWhen we expanded our garden in 2018, I decided to move the strawberry patch to the other side. First, building a 8″ raised bed approx 16 ft long x 2.5 ft wide using old concrete blocks and then transplanting the plants. We were blessed with a gift of more starts from my friend’s beautiful patch, and she also showed me how to pull the runners as I picked. Even though this was a new patch, because of the move, these 2 suggestions really made a noticeable improvement to the strawberry harvest and fruit size.

Bigger

strawberry 12In the spring of 2019 my strawberries were overcrowded and desperately needing thinning. I removed the concrete blocks (CMU) surrounding the raised bed. Then we tilled the area around the original raised patch, and lowered the soil level to be equal with the surrounding garden. We could disc the soil with our tractor then.

strawberry 19Thinning the overgrown area, I transplanted them to the newly tilled area in rows about 4-6 inches apart. The strawberry area became a 20 ft x 8 ft patch.

strawberry 42This is what it looks like this year and now this old gardening girl is beginning to wonder, “What was I thinking?” We are already harvesting a lot of berries this summer. Sometimes my body talks to me about it and I am making friends with Tylenol and Aspirin in the evenings.

Strawberry Heaven

strawberry 41A couple days ago was my first time picking  this year and it amounted to 1-1/2 gallons.

strawberry 44I picked 5 gallons of fresh strawberries in the garden this morning. Looks like I am going to be real busy with these berries this year, picking, eating, processing and canning.

strawberry 47If you are in need, call us and we will share… or you can get permission to come pick yourself. We are considering selling at a minimal price to our friends and family or maybe a farmer’s market because we will probably have quite a nice harvest this year.

strawberry 46We do love these beautiful red berries. Today, I plan on making syrup, juice and fruit roll-ups after it cools a little more this evening.

 

Drops On Berry Wet Hucks!

Artistic Challenge

Very, berry, wet huckleberries! Drops of water are covering all the berry surfaces! The prior huckleberry study had a few drops on the berries and leaves? Another discovery of an artist challenge, “the rendering drops”. Drops aren’t easy, because each one is different. Due to, the surface that they rest upon and their location in the lighting scheme.

Berry Wet Hucks I2919 with drops
Very Berry Wet Hucks I2919 the beginning

I reserve the majority of the white areas needed with mastik to be able to render the droplets. First, finishing up the leaves in the background allowing better definition of the edges of my main subject, the berries.

Illustrating Roundness

Next, defining the lights and shadows, ultimately shows roundness of the three berries. While applying light washes of color, then allowing the color to spread. Similarly, removing any unwanted color with a dry brush before my mixture dries.

First, using a touch of white mixed with the purple makes the opaque highlight where the light first strikes the berry. Next, adding magenta as a light wash brings out the red tint that shows through the purple on the berries whenever you view them in the sunlight. Touching the body with purple bleeds into the wetness of the magenta wonderfully. Darkening the purple with a touch of ultramarine blue and burnt umber brings a rich shadow out on the lower surface. Adding a mixture of blue, brown and purple produces the darkest shadows that separate the front berry form from the huckleberries appearing behind. Lastly, I give a light reflective edge to the edge furthest from the light source.

Drops

Now, it is time for the final touches which are the drops. It gets much easier to render these drops if I remember drop is a round shiny object that I can see through. Drops allow what is behind it to peek through, while simultaneously exhibiting highlights and shadows on its round surface. These little shiny round guys are rendered with white watercolor applied very carefully. Simple touches of white bleeding into the background.

I made the details on the front huckleberry with sharp and distinct edges. Similarly, the rear berries have subdued edges to emphasize that they are further away in our depth of field.

Barry Wet Hucks I2919 finished drops
10″w x 7″h watercolor on 140lb wc paper

Huckleberries love-at-first-bite

I love huckleberries

Living in the Inland Northwest has given me the privilege of loving huckleberries every year. I look forward to every summer being able to go pick them. Climb up the mountain and taste just one, and you will be hooked-for-life! They are a divine, sweet and tart taste that can only be understood by experiencing the flavor, yourself. There is no better berry on the planet, they taste so darn good! Literally, it is a shame that huckleberries are not able to be grown commercially.

privilege |ˈpriv(ə)lij|
noun

a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people: education is a right, not a privilege | he has been accustomed all his life to wealth and privilege.

Huckleberry Know How

Do you know your edible wild berries?

Lately, many thoughts of these berries have resulted in me doing a series of studies in the studio. I thought I’d share some recent watercolors of these magical fruit delicacies with you. Grabbing two small pieces of left-over 300lb Arches watercolor paper measuring 6″ x 5″. I draw close-ups of bunches of berries, showing how they look when I go to pick them. Then, using mastik to reserve light areas, I begin experimenting.

HuckBerryTrioStudyI2719_1
Initial study of a trio of huckleberries in watercolor
HuckBerryTrioStudyI2719
6″w x 5″h watercolor study of a trio of huckleberries

Huckleberries

These berries are dark smooth little guys with a gorgeous purple color that sometimes show as a magenta in the sun or almost black in shade. Noticeably, they have a very unique bottom that is a little dimple inward with a dot in the middle.

HuckBerryFiveStudyI2619_1
Initial 6″w x 5″h watercolor study of five huckleberries
HuckberryFiveStudyI2619
6″w x 5″h watercolor study of five huckleberries

Lighting and colors vary a lot for these bushes under the big trees of the forest. Consequently, I try backgrounds in different values and colors. Sometimes, we are in bright sunlit blue-sky areas where the green leaves almost look chartreuse in color. Here, the background is dark when the look of the brown ground kind of mixes into the leaf color.

Pickin’ Choke Cherry Berries

Choke Cherry’s

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Choke cherry picking is one of the funnest kinds of berry picking! They fall off in clumps into your bucket when you pick like you are milking a cow. Near my friends house in northern Spokane, Washington my friend noticed some loaded ripe chokecherry bushes during a walk through the trees with her little dog, Skippy. She gave me a call and we met the next afternoon to get some. Choke cherry jam is super “ono” luscious!

Berry Pickin’ Friends

choke cherry picking
Linda P. choke cherry pickin

I am so happy to have a berry pickin’ friend, Linda, sorry about the branch in front of her face. My friend is very special to me because she is a true berry picking cohort. Who can you call and say, Hey, the berries are on over here do you want to go pick? I know her response will be, Sure!, if it is at all possible. Then we either meet at the trail head or drive together to the location and pick to our hearts content.

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There is no babysitting required between the two of us. We both love the outdoors, and peace & quiet of harvesting these delicious little fruits, even though there is rarely much peace and quiet as we cruise together and talk about all kinds of stuff.  A good friend that loves gardening, cooking, flowers and berry picking is really a treasure to any pirate soul like me.

Want to Get to Know Someone?

Go pick some berries with ’em. I remember the first time Linda and I went up in the mountains to pick huckleberries together. Not knowing her very well,  I assumed that she may not know what is needed, and boy was I wrong! Bringing an extra bucket with the basics that most people forget about, lunch for two, water, bug spray, TP, sunblock I found that was not even necessary. She surprised me at how prepared she was showing up with jeans, comfy shoes, and long sleeve light shirt with lunch, water, TP, small bucket (with bungie cord belt to hold it close at the waist), along with a hat and jacket. I have learned so very much about picking berries from this expert already.

Larry and Pete in garden
Larry and Pete in garden

Here are our better halves discussing important world events in our the garden. Linda and I are so lucky to have found the best husbands who also enjoy each others company.

I count my blessings every time Linda and I go for berries together. We get to see some of the best views in the mountains as we walk and talk, and when we get home we can exchange recipes for the best jellies, jams, and syrups that ever existed on the planet. We get together to do dinner and play cards together as often as possible. Thank God for the gift of wonderful friends to share our lives with.