ROCKDALE BLACKBERRY FARMS
Rainbow that appeared over the entrance to our farm on July 18, 2010
Leonard and Lynda Kubiak of Rockdale
Our primary mission is the production of organic blackberries, preservation of wildlife, leaving a very small footprint on this planet by growing our own food, producing our own energy, spreading beauty, helping others to go green.
WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE FARM THIS MONTH
We're currently pruning,fertilizing and watering our berries for the 2011 berry season.
We're also working preparing our Brazos berry plants for the 2011 season. These are availble for 39.95 for 10 healthy plants including shipping. 100% of our berry plant proceeds goes toward food for the wild critters on our 36 acre preserve.
BRAZOS BLACKBERRY PLANTS
|CATALOG NO. brazos10
10 Brazos Blackberry Starter Plants & Shipping
10 select Brazos Blackberry Plants. Price includes packing and shipping for 10 plants.
Usually ships in 5-7 business days.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BLACKBERRIES
When the plant antioxidant story became public a few years ago, one of the first fruits to rise to the top of the ORAC charts was the blackberry (Rubus ursinus). Known as the "cabernet" of berries for their earthy, wine-like taste, blackberries are an easy and healthy addition to anyone's diet.
This fruit has multiple macronutrients — high dietary fiber (up to 20% by weight), carbohydrates, heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats (especially in its numerous chewable seeds), low overall fat content (<1%) and protein combined with high micronutrient levels of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. Blackberries are a particularly good source of vitamin A, potassium and calcium.
Blackberries Are Rich in antioxidant vitamins A and C
Possibly the most promising benefit from consuming blackberries is their substantial quantity of phenolic acids which are antioxidant compounds known as potent anti-carcinogenic agents, as well as having numerous other potential health benefits.
Phenolics in blackberries include anthocyanins, ellagic acid, rutin, gallic acid, hydrocaffeic acid, p-coumaric acid and cinnamic acid, plus excellent contents of the antioxidant vitamins A and C.
Nutritious blackberries are a great addition to recipes or as a healthy fresh snack by the handful. Blackberries don't have to be fresh to be nutritious, as quick-frozen and canned berries retain most of the fresh fruit qualities.
Flash freezing, which is used to make IQF (immediately quick frozen) blackberries, helps trap nutrients and plant chemicals soon after harvest and provides for a healthier fruit. Increasingly seen in whole foods stores across the US and Canada, blackberries (especially Marionberries) can be purchased frozen in one pound bags year round.
What is the antioxidant strength of blackberries and what chemicals account for it? Due to their rich contents of the phenolics mentioned above, blackberries have an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) of about 5350 per 100 grams, making them near the top of ORAC fruits. Cranberries and wild blueberries have around 9350 ORAC units, black raspberries about 12,000 and apples average 3100.
HISTORY OF BLACKBERRIES
Because blackberries have grown in Europe for thousands of years and were in use by native Americans when the US and Canadian West was opened, historical practices and folklore have survived on both sides of the Atlantic.
European blackberry juice was used to treat infections of the mouth and eyes until the 16th century. In the Pacific Northwest, the powdered bark of blackberry brambles was used for toothache relief. A tea made from blackberry leaves is said to aid digestion or arrest vomiting according to First Nations tribes in Washington State and British Columbia. Blackberry root concoctions have been used to remedy dysentery.
Blackberries contain relatively high quantities of ellagic acid, tannins and cyanidin glycosides. These are antioxidant phenolics that have a wide range of potential health benefits under current research.
The following anti-disease properties have been isolated in experimental models during studies specifically on blackberries. With their close relatives — red or black raspberry and boysenberry — medical research among all the Rubus species likely applies to one another. Accordingly, see this section in other essays on the red raspberry and black raspberry.
Although there are no clinical studies to date proving these effects below in humans, medical research shows likely benefit of regularly consuming blackberries against:
pleurisy and lung inflammation
anti-thrombosis (inhibition of blood clotting)
several types of cancer
age-related cognitive decline.
A member of the rose family (Rosacea) and Rubus species of brambleberries (also called "caneberries"), the blackberry has become our most important fruit export. As with other Rubus species, blackberries have a unique structure that actually contributes to their nutritional value — it is an "aggregate fruit" composed of many individual drupelets, each like a small berry with one seed, surrounding a firm core called the receptacle. These individual drupelets contribute extra skin, seeds and pectin with dietary fiber value to the nutritional content of blackberries, making it among the highest fiber content plants known.
NEW FOR 2010-Pick Your Own Berries
For 2011, we plan to continue to offer a no-frills pick-your-own blackberries on a small farm setting! Bring yourself and your family and enjoy a country outing! We have several rows of blackberry plants that you can pick to your hearts content.
The price for Pick Your Own berries is $15 per level bucket (about a gallon) . Call ahead for reservations. Picking buckets and "carry home" packaging will be supplied. No need to bring anything but yourself, family, and a camera. Insect repellant might be a good idea. An ice cooler might be helpful during hot weather to carry your berries home if you have to travel a fur piece. (No open-toed shoes or sandals please. Our fire ants are managed but you can't tell when they might decide to reappear.)
Critter Sightings at the Farm
The past few months, we have enjoyed seeing the following wildlife critters at our farm in Rockdale Texas. We keep feed out for the critters and they visit our farm on a regular basis.
Some of the abundant wildlife sightings here at the farm include:
BLACKBERRY PRODUCTION AT THE ROCKDALE FARM
Blackberries ranked as one of the top foods rich in vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fiber.
A university study recently tested over 100 foods. Blackberries ranked the highest in per-serving cancer-fighting levels of antioxidents. Here is a ranked list of the top 10 fruits, vegetables and nuts:
4. Artichokes, prepared
10. Cloves, ground
At Rockdale Blackberry Farms, we are experimenting with a variety of blackberry types including the following:
Brazos is an erect blackberry released by the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in 1959. It is early and has very large, fair quality fruit that is maintained over the entire fruiting season. The fruit is slightly sour and rather seedy. It is productive and is well adapted to fresh market outlets.
Blackberries are easy to grow in home gardens. Blackberries are biennials and begin bearing the year after planting. The first year they can bear 2,000 pounds per acre, or about 8 gallons per 100 feet of row. Plants may produce for 15 years if managed; but, the best production is usually during years 3 through 8. Blackberries grow best in sandy soil; however, they can be grown in soils that are at least one foot deep, have good drainage, and have a range of pH 4.5 to pH 7.5. On soils with a pH of 8.0 or above, plants will experience severe iron chlorosis and chelate will be needed. If internal soil drainage is not fast, grow blackberries in a raised bed.
Blackberries are a warm southern climate crop and can be grown anywhere in USDA Hardiness Zone 7, 8, or 9. Rainfall or irrigation will be needed weekly.
Planting is usually done using root cuttings about the size of a pencil, which are dug in winter, and may be stored in moist sawdust or sphagnum moss wrapped in plastic. They are laid horizontally in the ground about 2 inches to 4 inches deep and 2 to 3 feet apart in the row. Dormant bareroot blackberry plants may also be planted during the winter. Plants should be spaced two to three feet apart in rows eight to twelve feet apart. Nursery plants in containers can be planted at any time of year, although early spring is best and watering will be critical.
Pruning is necessary to control diseases.During the first year, growth is sprawling and does not need topping. Although blackberry roots are perennial, tops are biennial. Prima canes are produced the first year and produce rapid vegetative growth only. Cut prima canes back when they reach 36 to 48" to encourage branching. Floricanes are the second year of the biennial cycle and bloom in March. The fruit ripens in May. After fruiting, the floricanes will die and should be cut to the ground. To make picking easier, some growers hedge the rows to a 4' height and a 3' width while others train the prima canes onto a vertical three wire trellis. Every three years mature plants need to be mowed to the ground to remove diseased wood and rejuvenate growth. This usually reduces yield the following year. It should only be attempted where irrigation can stimulate prima cane growth by the end of the season.
Fertilization should be limited to nitrogen applied in small amounts in a band along the row, beginning at bloom. An initial soil test will indicate some deficiencies as well as pH. If soil pH is over 8.0, blackberries can show iron chlorosis, which is corrected with soil applications of Fe 138 Iron Chelate or foliar iron sprays every three to four weeks.
Irrigation is required for both new plantings and mature bearing plants. Drip irrigation lines can be buried at planting time, or laid on top of the ground beside the plants and covered with mulch. Begin irrigation in March or April and reduce watering by September in order to slow new growth and allow hardening of the canes. Infrequent winter irrigations may be needed during drought years.
Blackberries should be picked every three days to obtain a maximum sugar content. Keep berries under refrigeration. The storage life is only one day without refrigeration.
CONNIE'S RECIPE FOR BLACKBERRY FRIED PIE
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 cups blackberries fresh
2 cups flour, all-purpose
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 x vegetable oil for frying
Combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a saucepan; add
Cook and stir over medium heat until the mixture comes to a
Cook and stir for 2 minutes & set aside to cool.
Make the dough: Combine flour, baking soda and salt.
Combine oil and milk & stir into dry ingredients until mixture
forms a ball.
Roll out on a cutting board to 1/8-inch thickness dough; cut into ten (10) 4-1/2 inch circles.
Place 1 tablespoon blackberry filling on each circle. Fold over & seal edges with a fork.
Fry the pies in a skillet over medium heat in 1/4 to 1/2 inch hot oil
until golden brown, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.
Drain on paper towels.