The BrazelBerries Arrived!

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Last week I received a “sweet” package in the mail. With names like Peach Sorbet and Raspberry Shortcake, you’d think that I had a secret admirer with a sweet tooth. As much as I appreciate a good dessert, these gifts were plants from Fall Creek Farms in Oregon. Both are patented varieties of a blueberry and raspberry plant, targeted to home gardeners with little space and minimal skill. Even though I write about gardening, I don’t consider myself a gardening expert, but I’m always willing to try something new. A couple months ago I had a nice conversation with a garden-focused PR firm, Garden Media Group, and they mentioned that they would like me to participate in a trial so that I would hopefully write about my results for the SF Chronicle. I had forgotten about it until my package arrived.

Raspberry Shortcake is the wholesaler’s inaugural variety in their BrazelBerry collection. It’s a dwarf raspberry that maxes out at 36″. It’s perfect for patio containers, is thornless, and doesn’t need a pollinator. If planted in the fall, it would have produced fruit by now. But since I just now potted it, I’ll look forward to a crop next year.

Other stats:

zone 5-9

plant in full, neutral soil, good drainage

fertilize in early spring and water moderately

Also, new canes will produce fruit in spring. Once fruiting is finished, prune out canes at the base that have fruited, leaving new canes to fruit next season.

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Peach Sorbet is billed as a four season show stopper as it has beautiful foliage in the spring and fall in addition to lovely white flowers before setting fruit. In most mild climates it will keep its foliage year round and can turn deep eggplant in color. Many gardening books and landscapers have been jumping on the blueberry bandwagon and praising this plant for its ability to be a decorative hedge and produce amazing fruit. Edible gardening 2.0. All varieties in the BrazzleBerry collection are self-pollinating.

Other stats:

zone 5-10

grows to a 2′ compact mound

requires full sun, acidic soil (incorporate peat moss or organic matter), good drainage

fertilize in early spring (acidic) and water moderately

Also, the plant produces new canes each spring and fruits on them. Once fruiting is complete, prune canes that have fruited leaving new canes to fruit next season. Annual pruning promotes plant growth and berry production.

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Made the trip from Oregon in better condition than my Raspberry.

Made the trip from Oregon in better condition than my Raspberry.

Check the BrazzleBerries website for availability by entering your zip code in the “Where to Buy” field.

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Plowing Through Spring Gardening Titles

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I swear I’m not addicted to online shopping. It would appear that way, though, from the daily deliveries I’ve been getting. First came a large box of gardening books from the Independent Book Publishers Association. They asked me to be an editorial judge for their annual Benjamin Franklin Awards. These books are either self-published or are being produced by small publishing houses and are a vital part of living in a free society. Many taboo topics or topics not deemed “marketable” by large publishing houses often go unpublished. Organizations like the IBPA provide exposure for small presses and self-published authors.

My other deliveries have been coming from mainstream publishers, delivering requested review copies of Spring gardening titles for an upcoming piece I’m doing for the SF Chronicle. Gardening books are hot right now and many publishers are churning them out. Word on the street, though, is that many authors aren’t being appropriately compensated for their work. As someone who pines to write a book someday, this is troubling news.

Non-celebrity authors actually write their own books, many procure or do their own photography, and basically pour several months of their life into a book. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t already love the subject. But it is a shame that writing has become a disposable art, like so many skill sets, and the more we can find it for free on various platforms, the less we are willing to pay for it. If you can afford to, buy books, especially when they are peddled by the authors themselves. Often these books have already been bought by them and the proceeds go back to them immediately. There’s a lot of good stuff out there this year so garden, read, and garden some more.

Artisan Fragrance Salon

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Last Sunday I had the pleasure of visiting the 1st Annual Artisan Fragrance Salon, sponsored by TasteTV. It took place in a SoMa gallery and the heady fragrance nearly knocked us out the moment we arrived. But nothing like the unavoidable department store haze that attacks you from all sides. Many of these niche or indie fragrance companies don’t rely on alcohol as a fragrance carrier. Therefore, no sprays to penetrate the air. These are high-quality close-to-the-skin fragrances that are oil-based. Most don’t test on animals or rely on animal musks. I went to sample Sonoma Scent Studio’s fragrances for an upcoming SF Chronicle story I’m working on. I was delighted with their vintage fragrances and clean-looking packaging and am really excited about the story. I was also intrigued by several other lines, including Portland’s 40 Notes Perfume and LA’s Sarah Horowitz Parfums. These are luxury niche fragrances that are on par with some of the most iconic fragrance houses around. You can find them on their individual sites, or can shop on Indie Scents. The outing was a revelation for me since I never knew such a niche existed. Really though, why not? Boutique wine, artisanal food, and locally made manufacturers are commonplace now, and that’s so great. I encourage anyone that is interested in supporting small businesses and fragrance to seek out these smart business women. Not all are run by women, but the women I met at the show were definitely smart.