Here I go Round the Mulberry Bush15th August 2018 • Stephanie's Blog • Stephanie Donaldson
Well mulberry tree actually – after eighteen years it has grown so large that I will be asking the tree surgeons to give it a trim this year, about a month after leaf fall. Learn from my mistake and if you do plant one, make sure that it has plenty of room to grow in all directions and won’t be a problem if its branches start to droop towards the ground, which is its natural habit. Pruning it won’t do it any harm as the tree is relatively young and still growing vigorously, provided we don’t lop off any major branches – this can leave wounds that won’t heal properly.
Pruning the tree will affect its productivity, which will be a shame as it has had its best crop ever this year, but it is shading one of the few sunny borders in this shady garden, so the sacrifice must be made. If I were able to allow the branches to bend towards the ground, picking the berries would be much easier, as it is I have been spending quite a lot of time up my trusty (and oh so stable) Niwaki ladder www.niwaki.com with my head among the leaves picking these incredibly juicy and delicious berries. You will never see them in the shops because they have zero shelf life – they must be picked and eaten immediately, open frozen on trays and then bagged up, or made into compote. I mix a quarter blackcurrants with the mulberries when making compote as it intensifies the flavour.
There’s no doubt that harvesting the mulberries is a messy business, I usually descend from the tree looking like I have been involved in a major crime with hands dripping red juice and sundry stains all over my clothing as berries fall apart in my hands or drop on me as I pull the branches towards me. It is worth it though and the good news is that the stains easily wash off my clothes and myself. I thought I had found an easier solution when I spread fine mesh on the ground to catch berries as they fell, but discovering that a fox had taken to sharing the crop with me (and marking his territory!) I decided that I would leave the fallen fruit to him.