Sunday, August 06, 2006

Hard and Fast Rules for Picking wild berries

1. Go in the morning. The birds are singing. The moquitos aren't awake yet. They wake up about 4 pm. Never pick berries in the evening.
2. Wear insect repellent. I use Watkins brand with DEET, I get a slight headache but not as bad as some others. I seem to have a reaction to DEET. Take it with you, it will wear off as you perspire. When you start hearing the buzzing near your ear, put some more on.
3. Wear Boots. Walk carefully. There can be groundhog holes or other lumpy places. If you are picking around old buildings there can be nails.
4. Wear sturdy jeans. You are going to see lots of juicy berries, just out of reach, that will require you to push further into the thicket. Thorns hurt. Leather chaps would be nice but I don't own any.
5. Wear a light-colored, long-sleeved shirt. You're trying to avoid insect bites, thorn scratches, and poison ivy. Work on your tan later. The sleeves will protect you from unattractive scratches. Dark colors absorb heat, light colors reflect it. It might be cool in the early morning but it will get hot as the sun climbs higher in the sky.
6. Wear a hat with a brim. I can't tell you how many times I have saved my eyes from being poked out because the hat brim caught the branch. The hat also protects your head from insect bites and the sun.
7. Take along a pruner or a leatherman tool to cut canes that might cause injury.
8. Take a water bottle. You can put it in the freezer the night before to keep it cold. Reuse the bottle, you don't need a new one every time!
9. I like plastic baskets for picking. I got the one in the photo for $1.50 at PamIda. You can put the basket right in the sink to rinse the berries. Less handling means less bruising. But take along some plastic bags or more containers. You never know when you will find something unexpected, like these elderberries that were ripe this morning!
10. Ask permission if you are not picking on your own property.
11. Let someone know where you are.
12. Take a first aid kit along.
13. Wash off your hands and any exposed skin as soon as you can, if you saw any poison ivy at all. Wash your clothes with Fels-Naptha soap before wearing them again.
14. Process the berries right away. If you're not going to use them the same day, freeze them. Or give them away. Hint - if you're picking on someone else's property, a small amount to them is advised!

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