Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Seaberries of My Dreams

Seaberries grown at Elmore Roots are easy to grow and have a great flavor to use in your drinks. (Courtesy photo)

David Fried

There are four questions horticulturists and gardeners need to ask:

1. Would you like a cup of tea?

2. Do astronauts always take this drink into space or only to Mars?

3. What has narrow soft olive green leaves, interesting twisted trunks and branches and can stand drought and wind and tough weather conditions? Does it also produce a well- loved and very tasty fruit? Yes, an olive tree!

4. What has all of the above, is pretty new to North America, grows more like a large bush, protects itself from deer and goats and can take our zone three climate of 40 degrees below zero in northern Vermont? It is the super hardy seaberry!

Seaberries are easy to grow and quite attractive. Nothing else we grow looks anything like their shade of green. They rustle in the wind. All twelve million little long thin delicate-looking leaves reminding me of olive groves in Greece, bamboo forests in Hawaii, seaberry bushes on our farm.

In spring the males have very tightly bunched flowers, and the females have flowers spread all over the place. These female flowers become bright orange fruits that hug tightly onto the stems for a few weeks. We harvest them either by careful plucking on a ladder or by cutting short branches and freezing them so they come off the twigs easier later on.

Seaberries have a flavor that makes you stop and say, “Wow!” The closest thing is a rosehip or a tangerine. But really the flavor reminds me of that new drink in the 1960s or early 70s named “Tang.” We kids liked it because we heard that was what the astronauts were drinking up in space.

Seaberries are very easy to grow. They like well drained earth and sun. They grow very large thorns to protect themselves and their crop. You have to harvest them like a gladiator or a bee. Go in swinging with full protection of hands, arms and eyes, or reach in softly and gently on a windless day.

You can plant one or two males (one for backup pollination) and six to eight female plants. The females make the fruit. Our shrubs have grown to ten feet tall and six feet wide. We keep the height and width in check by harvesting the whole branches of fruit so it will be easier later on to get the frozen berries off. Trimming the branches back also helps to keep the fruit more within reach. Even after this rough care, the seaberry still looks good with its olive-like leaves and its Dr Seuss-like shape.

This fall we pressed seaberries with some of their leaves in our cider press along with apples. It makes a very pleasing and healthy drink. We have supplied seaberries to at least two local beer companies for seaberry beer. We handed some leaves and berries to friends who were fighting coronavirus or did not want to get it. We read that studies in Korea showed that people having seaberries seemed to be less likely to get the virus.

Seaberry is an easy and fun plant to grow. Sit back with your seaberry cider or seaberry beer and imagine going to the moon and back with an astronaut. Or come over to the farm, and I will give you a warm mug of seaberry tea. I am sipping seaberry tea right now. It is soothing and simple with just a little tartness from the occasional dried orange berry in the tea. Ah, homegrown food forest tea, there’s nothing like it.

David Fried of Elmore Roots Nursery, playfully writing about flowers and fruits and life.

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