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Picking ollalieberries brightens up a gloomy day!

Picking ollalieberries brightens up a gloomy day!

It’s one of those June-gloom days in Half Moon Bay.  We sorely needed a cheer-you-up activity and went ollalieberry picking!   Took a break from Plangarden and headed over to Pescadero, checking out Phipps Ranch to raid their berry fields.  Lucky for us, there was plenty of super sweet, ripe, almost black fruit to feast on.

Great thing about Phipps is that you get to eat and harvest at the same time.  We left with about 10 lbs – yum!  BTW, our own ollalieberries that replaced the pineapple guava bushes earlier this spring are doing well but there won’t be much of a harvest this year.

Here’s a quick ‘n easy way to make ollalieberry jam:

– Rinse ~2 lbs ollalieberries
– Throw in medium-sized pot
– Add about 1/2-1 cup sugar, mix into berries real well
– Heat up gradually for several hours, reduce to desired consistency, knowing that it will thicken when cooled.

We love putting this on everything – toast, pancakes, ice cream, yogurt, or just eating straight up!

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Last year I looked at the border hedge between my neighbor and me and realized that while the pineapple guava (recommended by Pam Peirce in her book Golden Gate Gardening) were doing ok, they were not the greatest looking plants.  The soil was horrible clay and had trees in it before.

Originally, I dug compost in right before planting the guavas.  Not bad, but still not good.  So at the end of last year I removed the bushes and started a several-month-effort to get the soil ready.  Mind you I don’t have much free time, so it may sound like I did more work than I really did.  I first dumped some vermicompost in the are (compost done with red composting worms).  I am lazy and don’t do too good of a job separating the compost from the worms, so I know the soil will have lots of worms.  Even if the compost worms can’t live there forever, they do great things for the soil and to decompose things.  I then threw on half composted materials.  Later I saw weeds coming up so for two weeks I dumped fresh grass on top and let it get hot and kill the weeds.

I called my local Half Moon Bay Nursery and confirmed that they would get berries in January.  After some initial rain storms I got out and turn the soil around and dug down to get the compost mixed in with the clay.  Then I finally planted the berries.  That has been a month and a half ago and now they are starting to wake up and the woody stalks are getting green.  The olallieberries are going to be the last to burst open, but then I do need to get some time so I can put posts in the ground and rung trellis wires.

While I don’t plan on entering too much into Plangarden on these, I will record the harvest so I know how much I get out of them.

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