Respect your Elders

There is one blueberry bush in our yard (of about 10) that has berries on it. I suspect that's because it's tucked beside an elderberry and the birds have been so distracted with the elderberry they haven't noticed the blueberry. Whatever the reason, it will have a nice-sized harvest when/if they ever ripen.

Yesterday I went to check on it and saw the elderberries are ripe! I'd had it in my mind that they'd be ready sometime in August. I guess that needs a mental correction? Anyway, it seems early to me. I harvested about 3/4 of the clusters from the 2 largest bushes. There were enough clusters that were nearly bare to tell me there have been ripe berries for a few days at least. The remaining unpicked clusters are mostly green and will be harvested in a couple weeks, I suppose.

Earlier in the spring I saved a few flower heads for use as herbal tea. Now I have about 2 cups of fresh berries. I'll probably dry half and syrup (You can verb 'syrup' right? You can verb 'verb' right?) the other half. Elderberries have historically been used for prevention of winter ailments, they're packed with vitamins (A, B, and C) and immune boosting antioxidants.

Later today we're going blackberry picking! Any berries in your neck of the woods? What's lookin' good?

For those interested in growing elderberries, one of my bushes was started from a twig I simply stuck in the ground. I believe it is Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra). The other is one I purchased from Gardens of the Blue Ridge and is the North American native elderberry, Sambucus canadensis. If you're interested in purchasing one, I can't recommend them highly enough.