A brief commercial announcement: For locals and anyone visiting the area, tomorrow, Thursday, July 25th will be our first open day of the season at the blueberry farm. We’ll have our earliest berries, the sweet, delicious Hardy Blues (pictured above, photo taken this afternoon) available, so come by and pick if you can. Hours are 10:00am to 5:00pm. I will also update the harvest hotline (206.855.0947) in the evening, so call ahead to check if you want to pick on Friday or through the weekend. This early in the season, we have to watch the ripening process closely to make sure we have plenty of berries before we can make the call on opening.
We also have u-pick, self-serve dahlias available and looking great. Open from dawn to dusk. Same place, Bainbridge Island Blueberry Co., North Madison, just south of Valley.
Whew! Long day today…all the projects I had 10 months to take care of are getting done now. Just in time. Will still be working on getting our new farm sink up and running tomorrow while people are picking. Come on by if you can. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
Friday, a package arrived in a small wooden crate with a white bag stapled inside. The kids knew what it was right away, and in what’s becoming an annual tradition, started getting stoked for “Ladybug Night” at the farm. After dinner, we took the crate out into the field, pried it open and spread our “pesticide.” We watered the blueberry bushes and released our 72,000 new friends at dusk, in hopes of keeping them close to home and devouring aphids.
So far, most of our efforts to grow blueberries organically involve lots of extra work, hassle and expense. But this isn’t one of them. I’d rather watch the kids laugh and shriek while spreading ladybugs, than sit on a tractor in hazmat gear, spraying toxic chemicals any day. Go ladybugs!
Note to jonesing berry pickers: We are getting close, but the berries aren’t quite ripe yet. I think we’ll probably be able to open in about a week to a week-and-a-half, but to be sure, call our harvest hotline for updates starting after the 20th. 206.855.0947.
It seems like a kind of miracle, but here they are! Actually looking like blueberries, and nice ones at that. When the berries start taking shape, we start getting stoked for the upcoming season. Of course, we also start feeling the panic of a thousand things we still need to do before the berries ripen and we open for picking, but it’s a lot more fun working around the bushes when you can see what you’re working for.
It’s been quite a bit warmer this spring than last, so the berries are ahead of where they were this time last year. But it’s still too soon to predict when we’ll be able to pick. If it stays warm and sunny, it could be a lot earlier than last year. If June-uary descends on us, things could slow way down.
So…if you live nearby or plan to visit Bainbridge and want to pick, your best bet is to call our blueberry “hotline” (206.855.0947) first. We’ll start updating it as soon as we have a better idea of when they’ll be ripe. The usual blueberry harvest time around here starts in late July, but as above, the actual dates are “subject to weather.” Stay tuned!
The blueberries are almost in full bloom now, with bees buzzing around and some sunshine on new leaves this week. Gotta love those bumblebees. I’ve heard that their mass-to-wing-area should make flying an impossibility, and yet, there they go, bombing around like little helicopters. Unlike honey bees, bumblers are all-weather workers, and have the strength to get into the tight blueberry flowers, so they do the bulk of our pollinating. Last year, Stacy discovered that when bumblebees can’t reach inside the flower, they cut a tiny hole down low on the petal and access the nectar and pollen through the side. Amazing.
This is the point, I think, when actual blueberries and the U-pick season start to seem like a reality. Of course, it’s also the time when the workload seems overwhelming and the chore list grows faster than we can cross things off of it. Stacy’s really busting it up there, and I’m helping as much as I can, and I’m still not sure if we’ll get it all done. I guess that’s why farm families used to have so many kids?
Opening day is still at least two and a half months out, but it feels like we’ll need every minute of that to be ready. Back to it!