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  • Writer's pictureOC Edwards Co

Boysenberry: An(Other) Orange County Native

Weather's been mild lately in Southern California. 'May Grey' has been the rule, which is actually great - it means we get the combination of warm days and cool nights. We also get those off-shore breezes. If you're near the Coast, you get the welcome smell of firewood burning - mixing with the ever-constant smell of ocean air with it. Trust me - we'll take it every time.

With Knott's Boysenberry Festival still on our minds (and a little clinging to our waists - :S) I remember some of the legend of that berry, it's roots and how it became a staple of Orange County.

For those of you have ever grown or found berries in the wild - they are an interesting fruit. They can be an onerous vine - growing where you don't want them to, or mingling quickly with neighboring plants.

To cross pollinate a berry, simply grow them next to one another. In the case of the boysenberry - named for Rudolph Boysen - he had found that the cross between dewberries and loganberries formed this sweet, elongated cousin. Once perfected, Boysen took the plant from farmer John Lubben's farm up Napa way, to Anaheim. Word spread of Boysen's sweet, dark berries - however, the fruit turned out very difficult to ship. This all went down in the early 20s.

Local Orange County farmers, George Darrow and Walter Knott, went to the abandoned Boysen farm, found several plants being choked by weeds, and brought them back to health at Knott's Farm.

Indeed the fruit was delicious - the berries are soft, juicy and aromatic - satisfying where other berries of its kind may be tart or hard. To overcome the fact that boysenberries break down within a day of harvesting, what better way than to preserve, syrup, or prepare for pies? The rest is history.

What benefitted it (and Knott's Berry Stand's) success, is that certain varietals of berries grow quite well in the Southern California climate. Typically only if there are mild springs and cool summer nights, with overly acidic soil and plenty of ocean breezes. They need a lot of space away from activity - so, if you happen to be in the wilds of OC, keep your eyes open and you may spot the rare berry or two.

It's Knott's 100th Anniversary! A hundred year's ago this one on America's hit list ('Say It with Music' by John Whiteman).

Have a great day and remember to subscribe!

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