By Brenda Powell
My husband Mitch and I fell in love with Tayberries last summer after buying a box at the Corvallis Farmer’s Market. We were in the middle of our first whole 30 and eating a lot of fresh, local berries. I am a huge fan of raspberries. Mitch favors blackberries. The Tayberry, a blackberry-raspberry cross, is the perfect marriage of our individual favorites. We enjoy the delicious sweet-tart taste. The berries are loaded with Vitamin C, flavonoids and antioxidants. I find them beautiful with their dark magenta to maroon color and elongated shape.
The Tayberry was bred as an improved Loganberry and it has an Oregon connection. The breeder, Derek Jennings, studied berries in Oregon after college. It was here that he learned of the Aurora blackberry. In Scotland, he bred Aurora blackberry with Raspberry 626/67 (yes, a number) to create the Tayberry in 1969 and named it after the River Tay. It was first introduced to the market in 1979.
Tayberries are fragile and must be hand-picked, so you don’t find them in most grocery stores. Now that I’ve spilled the berries about how wonderful they are, they might sell out quickly, so I think I need to plant some. Fortunately, they are available bare root now. Bare root means the plants come without soil. That makes them less expensive, easy to transplant and often more adaptable to their new environment. February is the month to find bare root berries, fruit trees and other fruiting shrubs at your local garden center.
Let’s get back to Tayberries. They do best in a sunny location, with well-drained soil and support for the heavy canes. The support can be wires strung between sturdy posts or a fence or trellis. There are You-Tube video’s showing how to build simple supports. Use an organic, starter fertilizer when planting and follow it up in 4-6 weeks with an organic, all-purpose food. Prune out the canes that produced fruit and leave the new ones to berry next year. Tayberries bear fruit on 2 year-old canes, so I won’t have any berries this year. I’ll have to make it to the farmer’s market early or drive up to Bauman Farms in Gervais. I hear they may have frozen Tayberries for sale now and they’ll have fresh ones in season. Just writing about them makes my mouth water. I can’t wait for summer and the taste of those yummy berries!