Tag Archives: growing season

June berries verses Huckleberries

Having gone to several famers markets of late and found a number of people who are advertising Huckleberries only to find what they have are June Berries, also known as Service Berries or Sarvice Berries.  These two plants are very different, from when they ripen to the flavour and availability.  I am not going to go into deep detail as few people would remember that anyway but a basic detail of how they differ might help.

Huckleberries grow on low shrubs, in alpine conditions.  They are ripen late in the summer, have a glossy shine to them and cluster on the branch.   Huckleberries are nearly impossible to grow on your own. They almost refuse to grow if they are tampered with.  They often cost $60 or more a pound.

June berries grow on tall bushes, often reaching 15 to 20 feet. They ripen from late June to mid august depending on elevation.  They grow from low elevation to high elevation as long as they have water.  They have only a few berries together, look almost dusty, and are as common as Choke Cherries.  You can find them in many tree nurseries in the Rockies and can be planted for decoration, food, or wind break.  June berries are my absolute favourite but cost no more than blue berries at a fair price.  I would never pay more then $7 a pound.

Knowing the difference between the two can save you a bit of money but do not expect those selling June berries as huckleberries to be happy if you tell them they don’t know what they have.  June Berries

huckleberry branch

huckleberry branch

If you compare the two side by side you can fee the difference between the leaves, the berry texture as well as the way they grow on the branches.  When you are buying or eating wild harvested foods it is important to know what you are picking and what you are eating.  It is always wise to double check and ask questions.  If you happen to find berries while hiking it is always wise to be certain what you are picking before you eat any.  Not all berries are edible and not all berries taste all that good but now and then you can find some of the most wonderful things hidden just off the trail if you know what to look for.

 

Choosing a Site

So often people who dream of the “off grid” life are lured there but stunning images of a little cabin next to a creek or a lake. While beautiful such sites are normally a summer vacation home. You can get away with this in warmer climates but here in Montana this is a bad idea.
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One of the most important things you can do in a sustainable space is have a garden
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and while it might seem wise to put it near a water source this often leads to seasons too short.
While it feels wonderful in a hot dry summer to be near the water for the same reason it will frost late in the spring and frost early in the fall. This can lead to a great deal of disappointment and frustration.
A standard rule is that from any water you need to be at very least 50 feet away and elevation does count. Cool air will follow the shape of the land.
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It is always ALWAYS a good idea to take a full season to watch the land, to learn how it moves with sun, wind and water. Before you put in a long term garden (and that is very important) using pots for the first year is a good idea. It allows you to move your garden much easier than digging it up and remaking it.

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Gardens will be dealt with this spring as I put in new beds.
(the picture of the frozen creek is from early Nov. While frozen and frosted out about 100 feet from the creek itself just past that point it was my tomatoes were still producing with minimal protection.)