2014-06-26 / From The Garden

Beware Berry-Loving Birds

By Cynthia Gibson

We are quickly slipping out of spring strawberry season, so if you have not purchased farmstand strawberries or visited a pick-your -own strawberry farm, do it this week.

The next two weeks kick off the sour cherry season. Those of you with sour cherries growing in your backyard know that your biggest competitor is the bird–any kind of bird!

Blackberries and raspberries are coming along as well. Raspberries will be ready for picking within the next two weeks. These will be the summer-cropping raspberries; fall raspberries do not start until August. Blackberries will ripen in three weeks and re-flower until fall.

Berry netting should be done this week. When the petals fall from the flowers, pollination has taken place and it is safe to net.

The best netting I have found is at Home Depot. The white netting is not on the shelves, but in barrels in the garden section aisles. It is sold in a roll that is 15-feet wide by 15-feet long. It cuts easily, is closely woven, and will not stick in branches or twigs. Because of all those factors, you can get two or three years use out of one netting.


Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She gardens and tends her miniature orchard in Newport. When it comes to growing fruit, birds are your enemy. The most noticeable thief is the catbird. They are adorable looking, with their sleek gray coat and orange undertail, but this is part of their disguise. Not only do they like humans, they will follow you around in your garden, visit close to your feet if you are sitting in a chair outdoors, and then before your eyes devour your currants, cherries, blackberries, and strawberries. What a bird!

They, like other birds, particularly like sour cherries. This is not the easiest fruit to grow in Rhode Island so it is considered precious. My tree is finally cropping after being planted eight years ago. To keep away all critters, net the entire tree.

Birds are so very clever. They do not start to peck at fruit while it is green, but the slightest hint of red on a piece of fruit drives them crazy. A pair of catbirds can clean out a 10-foot tall sour cherry tree in two days–so much for your eightyear wait!

Garden Tips

. Pick the last of the spring
strawberries. More will come
along mid-July.
. Net fruit trees and berry
bushes.
. Cut down rhubarb. If you cut
you may get a few more stalks by
August.
. Water gardens in the late afternoon, especially your tomato
plants.
. Time to trim privet and ilex
into shapes you like.
. Mulch rose and berry beds.

Simply Delicious Strawberry Pie

Serves 6 to 8
One baked pie shell; for a change
of taste try a graham cracker pie
crust
2 tbsp. powdered sugar
4 cups farm-grown strawberries,
hulled and sliced
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 pint whipping cream (whip
with a tbsp. of sugar) add a dollop per slice of pie.

Using a flour sifter, sprinkle the powdered sugar over the bottom of the graham cracker crust. Place two cups of the fresh strawberries into the pie crust. In a saucepan, place the remaining two cups of strawberries with the cup of sugar and cornstarch. Using a potato masher, mash the berries. Cook this mixture over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the sauce is transparent and thick, and the berries are soft.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, add the lemon juice, and let cool for 10 minutes. Pour the berry mixture over the fresh berries in the crust and refrigerate for four hours. This pie is best made in the morning for serving as a dessert at dinner.

Before serving the pie, whip the fresh cream with a tablespoon of sugar. Be generous with each slice of pie- it is a true taste of summer.

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