spotted wing drosophila on flower

SWD

No, it’s not Single, White Divorcee. It’s Spotted Wing Drosophila (aka Drosophila suzukii), and it’s the enemy of berry lovers everywhere.

SWD is a fruit fly from Asia, first detected in California in 2008.  2008 doesn’t seem that long ago to me, but this little fly is no laggard.

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A field of elderflowers in bloom

Is this Elderberry?

Elderberry has huge white, umbrella-like flowers but so do poison hemlock, Queen Anne’s lace, or pokeweed, all of which bloom at the same time. That can cause some (understandable!) hesitation if you are trying to harvest elderflowers for culinary or medicinal use. So here’s how to distinguish elderberry from these lookalikes.

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elderflowers close up - white with yellow stamens

Elderflower Eruption

The elderberry bushes are now flowering outrageously. What a month ago resembled small florets of broccoli have developed into 6” wide umbels of creamy white bloom. These blooms will roll out in waves over the next month or so, transforming our humble field of bushes into an ever changing floral ocean. 

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Pruning Time

Do you know how to prune an elderberry bush?  Me neither. Although I've grown elderberries for over a decade, I'm still relatively new at growing them on a large scale and managing them for production.

Despite not being certain as to the right approach,  I started pruning this week on a 50 degree February day, and I hope to finish within the next 10 days or so.

Some of our plantings are now old enough that they need to be pruned, so I’ve been looking at what the literature says and what other …

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Why Do We Grow Elderberries?

Why do we grow elderberries? 

Several people have asked this question, and it is a reasonable one.  Unlike some, I have no childhood memories of picking wild elderberries or savoring my grandmother’s sweet elderberry pie.

I only became intimate with elderberries as an adult, when I unboxed 2 small specimens of the ‘York’ variety. I had been exploring useful native plants that we might be able to integrate into our modest suburban yard. Elderberry seemed a possibility, small enough for our yard…

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