All Posts   Posted:   March 30, 2016 by Nicole Forbes - Dennis' 7 Dees Education

Almost every morning I make a smoothie for breakfast; the ingredients vary depending of the time of year, what is in the refrigerator and/or what is growing in my garden. Although there is almost always a banana added for sweetness I like to have the majority of the other items come from what I can grow and pick fresh from my own garden (I have yet to overcome the challenges to growing bananas in the back yard). I make my smoothie with a base of greens like spinach, kale or Swiss chard – add the banana, and lots of fresh or frozen berries before toping it off with water and a scoop of protein powder. I have a hard time keeping fresh berries on hand due to their high cost at the store and the challenges of keeping them fresh during the week as I use them. Picking my berries at home & as they grow is a great way to save money while eating as fresh and as local as I can.

Kale and Swiss chard have been growing in my garden all winter and I have recently planted more for the early spring season; spinach is going to be planted very soon too and will continue into summer months when my kale gets unhappy in the heat. As for berries, my favorite ones are strawberries and blueberries. Strawberries are easy to grow, make a nice ground cover and can produce fruit over a long season. Blueberries, especially the newer ‘half-high’ varieties, are available as semi-evergreen compact plants that display early spring blossoms in pink or white, colorful new growth and nice fall foliage plus summer berries that are plentiful and tasty; they are even handsome enough to be used as ornamental shrubs in the landscape. Most varieties are self-fertile but have increased yields when planted with more than one type. 

Each year I add to my strawberry patch as I ‘retire’ the oldest plants; there always seems to be some newly available variety that I want to try so I welcome the opportunity to fill in vacant spaces. This season I am smitten with a variety of pineberry/strawberry called ‘Hawaiian’. The striking appearance begins with white skin covered with bright red seeds on a relatively small, sweet berry that tastes a bit like pineapple; although it is self-fertile, yields will be greater when planted with a red strawberry variety. I don’t know much more but I am sure excited to try growing them and plan to buy them this weekend since I am sure their supplies will be limited. My strawberry patch has a combination of both everbearing and June bearing varieties so I can have enough to make strawberry ice cream & shortcake but also have plants that give me a daily handful of fruit for my smoothie plus a few to eat fresh in the garden.

Blueberries have come a long way in recent years; plant breeders, including some right here in the Willamette valley, have been creating new & improved varieties of blueberries that are crosses between the standard high-bush and low-bush varieties – called ‘half-highs’. This new wave of blueberries grows to about 3-4 feet tall and wide with semi-evergreen attractive foliage and most are self-fertile. Having a preference for acid soil makes blueberries perfect for Portland area gardens and certain varieties have been bred for colorful spring growth, heat tolerance, or other popular landscape qualities. One might think that with all that focus on better looking plants we might have to sacrifice flavor – but happily this is not the case! Pink Icing, Pink Sorbet & Jelly Bean are just a few of the new introductions that I have tasted with great surprise at their wonderful flavors. Stop by one of our garden centers early this spring to pick up some berry plants to add to your garden while our selection is best and you’ll soon be living the sweet life of a backyard berry grower!

Almost every morning I make a smoothie for breakfast; the ingredients vary depending of the time of year, what is in the refrigerator and/or what is growing in my garden. Although there is almost always a banana added for sweetness I like to have the majority of the other items come from what I can grow and pick fresh from my own garden (I have yet to overcome the challenges to growing bananas in the back yard). I make my smoothie with a base of greens like spinach, kale or Swiss chard – add the banana, and lots of fresh or frozen berries before toping it off with water and a scoop of protein powder. I have a hard time keeping fresh berries on hand due to their high cost at the store and the challenges of keeping them fresh during the week as I use them. Picking my berries at home & as they grow is a great way to save money while eating as fresh and as local as I can.

Kale and Swiss chard have been growing in my garden all winter and I have recently planted more for the early spring season; spinach is going to be planted very soon too and will continue into summer months when my kale gets unhappy in the heat. As for berries, my favorite ones are strawberries and blueberries. Strawberries are easy to grow, make a nice ground cover and can produce fruit over a long season. Blueberries, especially the newer ‘half-high’ varieties, are available as semi-evergreen compact plants that display early spring blossoms in pink or white, colorful new growth and nice fall foliage plus summer berries that are plentiful and tasty; they are even handsome enough to be used as ornamental shrubs in the landscape. Most varieties are self-fertile but have increased yields when planted with more than one type. 

Each year I add to my strawberry patch as I ‘retire’ the oldest plants; there always seems to be some newly available variety that I want to try so I welcome the opportunity to fill in vacant spaces. This season I am smitten with a variety of pineberry/strawberry called ‘Hawaiian’. The striking appearance begins with white skin covered with bright red seeds on a relatively small, sweet berry that tastes a bit like pineapple; although it is self-fertile, yields will be greater when planted with a red strawberry variety. I don’t know much more but I am sure excited to try growing them and plan to buy them this weekend since I am sure their supplies will be limited. My strawberry patch has a combination of both everbearing and June bearing varieties so I can have enough to make strawberry ice cream & shortcake but also have plants that give me a daily handful of fruit for my smoothie plus a few to eat fresh in the garden.

Blueberries have come a long way in recent years; plant breeders, including some right here in the Willamette valley, have been creating new & improved varieties of blueberries that are crosses between the standard high-bush and low-bush varieties – called ‘half-highs’. This new wave of blueberries grows to about 3-4 feet tall and wide with semi-evergreen attractive foliage and most are self-fertile. Having a preference for acid soil makes blueberries perfect for Portland area gardens and certain varieties have been bred for colorful spring growth, heat tolerance, or other popular landscape qualities. One might think that with all that focus on better looking plants we might have to sacrifice flavor – but happily this is not the case! Pink Icing, Pink Sorbet & Jelly Bean are just a few of the new introductions that I have tasted with great surprise at their wonderful flavors. Stop by one of our garden centers early this spring to pick up some berry plants to add to your garden while our selection is best and you’ll soon be living the sweet life of a backyard berry grower!