A milestone!

Week 6—Another milestone achieved!  Over 1,300 votes for Hilltop Hanover Farm to win an entire orchard.  Soon the large organizations with thousands of votes will be taken out of the contest (some early winners are announced at the end of May).   Then the real push begins.   Even a small group can win if all their members continue to vote.  We need another 1,000 votes before the peas are done—that’s usually by the end of June.

Every day, make sure to:
Go to the Communities Take Root website www.communitiestakeroot.com
Register once or log in, if already registered
Scroll down the page and find “NY”—you’ll see Friends of Hilltop Hanover Farm—
Click Vote!  Then collect your coupon for $1.00 off Edy’s fruit bars
Put “Vote!” in your Outlook, daily minder, or calendar so you don’t forget!

Red currants, black currants, and gooseberries—you never see them in the supermarket, but they are so easy to grow.  What can you do with them?  Red currants make absolutely the best filling for jelly rolls (and it’s not bad on toast).  Sweet, a little sharp and really good.  Try scattering some on top of your morning cereal.  Yes, they’re a little tart, so you can add a sprinkle of sugar, and a cup has more than 4 times the vitamin C of an orange and more potassium than a banana.  The red currant’s siblings are white and pink currants.  All form manageable bushes, and if you choose a mildew resistant variety, there’s generally no spraying for bugs or disease.  Picking season begins in June, right before the cherries ripen.  They are small, but if you get them by the racemes (the dangly things that makes them look like bunches of grapes) it goes pretty quickly.  Varieties to look at include Rovada, Poorman, Primus, Pink Champagne and Cherry Red.

Black currants—what to do with these?  They have a different scent and you don’t want to eat them off the bush.   If you go to Europe, you’ll find Ribena, or black currant juice, in all the grocery stores.  Ireland is known for black currant preserves-assertive and delicious.  Of course, let’s not forget cassis, the black currant liqueur used in a kir (champagne and cassis).   All these are possible with a couple bushes of Consort, Ben Sarek, Titania, or Crusader.  Moreover, most of the newer varieties are immune to white pine blister rust, which attacks both currants and white pines.  This is such a serious disease that growing currants and gooseberries was outlawed at one time; New York, however, passed a law allowing commercial and home growing of red/white/pink currants and gooseberries, as well as resistant varieties of black currants.   Look for large berries—it makes picking much easier.
Gooseberries round out our trio.

What a funny name for these large berries that can be made into pies, fools (like a crumble or betty) and jam.  They come in red, pink, yellow-white and green, and some can be eaten right off the bush if good and ripe.  Many have thorns, so that’s something to watch out for.  American gooseberries tend to be more mildew resistant than the English types.  They include Poorman, Hinnonmaki Red (or yellow) and Captivator.  European gooseberries are somewhat more susceptible to mildew (the British Isles don’t have our wicked summer temperatures and humidity) but are equally tasty:  Catherine and Invicta are good ones to choose.

Red currants, black currants and gooseberry bushes will give you a fine start on growing fruits you won’t find in your supermarket.  Next week we’ll explore some other unusual characters:  paw paws, persimmons and mulberries.  Keep those votes rolling in!

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