Yes kids, it is that time of year- where we put on our long sleeve shirts, leather gloves and get up close and personal with the invasive blackberry on the northwest coast. I have been harvesting the inner bark for basketry and binding since 2009, and this year began back in May for fibre processing experiments, but traditionally now- from mid July to early August is best for my environment- but that can change from one side of a parking lot to the other- depending on shade in the area, and as one elevates above sea-level the season gets pushed back.
What to look for:
- both fruit and flowers on the stocks ( fruit still green)
- the long runners that are not fruit bearing this year- that is what to harvest
- the 5 sided edges of the young Himalayan berry stock have higher ridges at the edges, and dip into valleys- not flat sided. As the stock ages it rounds out losing these grooves, the older stocks have a skin that is woodier, and very hard to strip off, look for the peaks and valleys!
Watch our video on blackberry processing for more tips on technique, and if you can- come join Joy and me tonight from 6-8 pm, or Monday the 21st 6-8pm in the parking lot in Stanley Park by the horse stables- just across Pipeline road from the bus loop. I hope this winter is the time I finally get around to making myself a blackberry bark sunhat….