Monday, March 10, 2014

Infiltrating the Underground Blueberry Market

I'm a planner, and, more often than not, a tedious, painfully deliberate one. Each spring, my various planting and gardening areas become the target of my planning powers, and of my aspirations, hopes, dreams and wishes. I carefully consider each catalog, each variety, each seed--and I wait to see what germinates.

However, this season, my son and I quickly became obsessed with getting blueberry bushes. Once we discussed it, we decided immediately: we MUST have blueberry bushes. This past weekend, I had been researching what I thought might be some good mail order options online when...

Serendipitously, on Sunday, just prior to heading out to do some browsing at the local garden centers, and trying to sufficiently caffeinate myself from the switch to DST, I saw a Facebook post from a local enough blueberry farm with which I was vaguely familiar (in the Blueberry Capitol of the World, Hammonton, NJ!). This farm was selling $10 plants, but not just any plants: 4-foot, 3-year old, organic, non-GMO plants! In fact, they posted that they were open for business from 1-6 p.m. 

So, of course, we drove to DiMeo Farms in Hammonton, NJ to get four of the storied shrubs, hoping the deal wasn't too good to be true.

To be honest, many pieces of the process aroused suspicion. There were a lot of rules, too many steps, conflicting information that seemed...coded. Subterfuge (likely accidental) abounded. 
Thankfully, there were also a lot of blueberry bushes. 

After trying to decode the discrepancies between the open invitation to the farm posted on FB and the very specific directions to call the farm and "make an appointment" detailed on their website, I did call ahead (I tend to be overly conscientious). But, I got no answer. I decided to just leave a message saying that I saw their post on FB and to call me if there was any problem with us just showing up. 

I guess there wasn't a problem...
 We arrived at the farm and pulled in to the driveway, where we saw only a single truck (likely the farmer's own), parked near what is likely the owner's very lovely home, which was surrounded by blueberry plants. Somehow the only farmer working spotted us from across the fields and came hurrying over, and looked like he was making a cell phone call...the eagle has landed?

 This is not the farmer.

They do have a lot of blueberry bushes at DiMeo!

The farmer came over, directed us to park in a very specific space which he practically measured out with his precise gesticulations, and asked us how many plants we'd like. Then he went deep into the fields to choose them (rather than just grabbing four containers from the front) and put them in our car. He then told us "The Boss" was coming so we waited a bit, maybe five minutes. I asked the farmer if we could just pay him and be on our way and he laughed :-) Hmm. He went back to work. "The Boss" eventually came out. He was polite but guarded, and not particularly forthcoming with blueberry bush advice or interesting anecdotes. He gave us a handout on how to take care of the plants. I paid him (cash, of course, and, no receipt) and we (finally) made off with our plants. 

Score? Something...more?

Maybe I've been watching too much True Detective. Or, maybe I'm just thinking about that Bob's Burgers episode where the kids work at the "blueberry farm" for a summer. Hmm.

                                                       Here are our 4 plants, and a rainbow                                                        (No, Cohle, you are not hallucinating the rainbow.)

Apparently, I got a mix of organic Duke and Bluecrop blueberry varieties.

DiMeo has plenty of $10 blueberry plants right now, so if you are interested, give them a call to "schedule an appointment," or hit up their FB page to which they seem very responsive. 
Let me know if you need back up...

After stashing our blueberries, we took a side road to investigate this suspicious lake:


Can't decide where to plant the blueberries...I have two options, both of which have potential blueberry predators. Gonna have to choose between the pee-ers and flyers or the climbers and eaters. 

Once the blueberry issue is settled, I guess I'll have to start catchin' again.

Meantime, check out my spring planning post from last year, which includes links to past gardening adventures. 

Happy Spring!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Restorative River Walks

Well, I've had a lot of unwanted "excitement" here in the past few months. LSS (long story short) I've had kidney and related problems on and off since April that have been worsening since November, including a week long kidney "event" over Christmas vacation, four rounds of antibiotics (since July after 20+ years without any) and advocacy turned argument with the medical system. And, my tooth is still not resolved after five months of trying to fix it.

Now, I have a cold from my son's school.

It's just not going well.

But, I've been trying to get out and walk everyday along Cooper River and Hopkins Pond to keep myself active, regardless of how I'm feeling. That has been wonderful.

Here are some pictures:

               The Duckery.                                 Slippery Boot Prints                                                                                                                                                    Driveway Bunny 


                                                                          Woodland Bunnies!

There are a few male kingfishers who have overwintered and assertively guard their river territory, flying furiously back and forth and chattering their raucous chatter! 

(If you like you can read more about the Cooper River Watchable Wildlife Walk, the map there doesn't seem to include the portion in Haddonfield and Cherry Hill that I walk, but that's OK!).

Frozen seagull tracks or cross country ski pole imprints? :-)

Hard to know...

Hopkins Pond after the fresh snow we got on Tuesday night.

BTW, if you like these and want to see more, I'm mostly on Instagram these days, posting a pic or two a day from my walks, when I can take them.

Have a peaceful day!