poetry and prose about place


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I love blueberries and so I am very happy – our blueberries are blue and ready for the picking at our summer property.

There are two ways to pick blueberries, with your hands…

or with a rake…

My husband bought me my rake years ago, so I use it when there are lots of berries and most are ripe.  There is a bit of a knack to harvesting with a rake.  The ripe blueberries are loosened and captured with the tines of the rake.  The basic technique is to sweep the surface of the bushes, tipping the rake upward as you sweep, since the ripe berries fall into a tine-less part of the pan.  The experience of raking berries is very different from picking.  The process is less calm, although you do get into a rhythm.  Also, the tines of the rake vibrate as you sweep, making a lovely musical sound!

We compared the yields between picking and raking, and we get about five times as many berries per unit effort with the rake (I am sure professional rakers do much better than this).  The rake gets lots of leaves and debris along with the berries, so the time saved in raking instead of picking is lost in the cleaning (in a professional operation, the debris is removed with fans or another sorting method).

Although we have lots of berries on the property, they are getting fewer each year because the growth of other vegetation crowds the blueberry bushes.  But we have a backup plan!

We also travel to the southern part of the province where the berries are in full production this time of year.  Our preferred place to get blueberries by the box or by the pie is in Pennfield, at McKay’s Wild Blueberry Farm Stand.

We eat most of our own blueberries almost immediately.  They also freeze very well.  Our favorite way to use the berries is by making Blueberry Dumplings.


Blueberry Dumplings

two to three cups of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup of water
2 tbsp. of sugar (more if you prefer a sweeter dish)

Bring the berries, sugar and water to a boil.

When the mixture is bubbling, turn down the heat.


1 cup flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. of shortening, cut into the flour/baking powder mixture
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup milk

Mix well and add by spoonfuls to the top of the cooking blueberries.

Cover the pan tightly with a lid (otherwise, you will have a blue-spattered stove).

Cook at low for about 12-15 minutes or until dumplings are fluffy and done in the middle.




raking blueberries


the sweep of the rake, the berry

touch, the ring of the tines

vibrato in blue, duet with the wind

in the whispering  pines



©  Jane Tims  2012

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

18 Responses

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  1. Hi Jane. Thank you for the kind words about our farm stand. I’m glad we’re a pleasant memory. I’m not always available around the shop or farmstand when it is harvest time, but ask for me and introduce yourself if you are able to drop by next the next time you’re in the area. Mom (Bonnie) is almost always at the farmstand though.


    Graeme Weir

    January 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    • Hi Graeme. Thanks for contacting me. We often take a trip to the blueberry stand just to get a pie or other treat. Everyone is so nice when we go and everything is delicious! I will try and say hello next time we are there. Too bad the summer is so far away!!!! Jane


      jane tims

      January 5, 2013 at 5:37 pm

  2. Blueberries! My favorite fruit. I’ve never seen a rake for picking blueberries. My first job in life, when I was 9 years old, was picking blueberries. I was paid $1.00 for a flat (I think a flat holds 12 pints). We had tin cans (coffee cans, usually) tied around our waists with string and we’d drop them in the can as we picked. Well, we were supposed to drop them in the can. I think I ate at least a third of what I picked. It was hard, hot work, but I loved being able to earn my own money (which I would spend at the shore in August when my parents packed us all up and took us to the beach for two weeks). I grew up in New Jersey (in the U.S.) and they’re known for their blueberries (in the U.S.).

    Your recipe sounds yummy, and I very much enjoyed your poem. 🙂



    August 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    • Hi Robin. What a nice memory! I picked berries with my cousins who were experts. I could hardly pick a full box (because I also ate them as I went!). Your pay was certainly not very high. Jane


      jane tims

      August 8, 2012 at 7:59 am

  3. I’ve eaten wild blueberries when hiking in the Canadian woods, but I’ve never gone blueberry picking so didn’t know the trick about using a rake.



    August 6, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    • Hi. I love picking blueberries, but my knees do not. The rake speeds up the process and then I can sit to clean them! Jane


      jane tims

      August 7, 2012 at 8:55 am

  4. Jane, you are a veritable font of knowledge. I also love blueberries; I have them on my cereal every morning. But picking them is another story, since the picking season always seems to be at the hottest and buggiest time of year. I like your backup plan – and your poem!


    Jane Fritz

    August 5, 2012 at 11:02 am

    • Hi. I picked a few blueberries today, but I see the blackberries are ripening now. No breaks for the berry-pickers! Blueberries are so good for you. Jane


      jane tims

      August 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm

  5. I like this post. It reminds me of childhood trips to the neighbouring blueberry fields. i’ve never used a picking fork and am intrigued by the idea. I think I would still prefer the meditative activity of hand picking.


    Carol Steel

    August 4, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    • Hi. I remember my uncle (who had a blueberry farm) discussing the pros and cons of the rake in the 1960s. I agree about the meditative aspect of berry picking, but the rake makes a very pretty sound…. Jane


      jane tims

      August 5, 2012 at 7:19 am

  6. Hi, Jane, I place black plastic all around the blueberry area so that the other plants that were taking over my garden would not encroach on their small plot. I have one bush that give early blueberries but two others that have ot started berrying up at all. I’m hoping next year to have blueberries from those two too. I use an acidic blueberry fertilizer for them to make sure they have the proper ph. I’ve been told that blueberries have shallow root systems… so that’s why I started protecting their area the moment I set them in. I must say I’m thankful for anything my little garden yields… it doesn’t really have to give us anything at all!


    Merrill Gonzales

    August 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    • Hi Merrill. You will likely have some blueberries… it sounds like you are tending them well. We have only wild berries. Our blueberry area in the front of our yard at home is about 10 feet by 30 feet. It is in a fallow year since we cut them back every couple of years to prevent competition. In the commercial blueberry fields, they burn them every year. Jane


      jane tims

      August 5, 2012 at 7:15 am

  7. Beautiful Jane, and they’re so good for us, too!



    August 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm

  8. We LOVE blueberries. Have wonderful memories of taking our nieces and nephew to a ‘You Pick” berry farm in AR. One niece would pick the red unripened berries because they were prettier! And another would eat more than what would end up in her bucket. Enjoy the ‘fruits’ of your labors! K


  9. I’ve never lived in a place where blueberries grow. You’re fortunate.

    Steve Schwartzman


    Steve Schwartzman

    August 4, 2012 at 9:51 am

    • Hi. You would have a wonderful time photographing the variety of species and the variety of ‘blues’. Jane


      jane tims

      August 5, 2012 at 8:55 pm

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