Blackcurrants

In 2014 we started selling black currants on line. Our entre into this market was  heavily supported by Farmhousedirect and Australia Post. The following is the article that was written at that time. we have learnt a lot since that time about packaging and handling and hope we will have the opportunity to supply you once again.

Black currants

Black currants

 

lots of blackcurrants

lots of blackcurrants

However the black currants were unaffected and we had very good black currants; so many in fact that we didn’t know what to do with them all. Unlike machine picked black currants our black currants are washed and clean of stalks and other foreign matter. This makes them ideal for desserts and of course jams.

 

We made lots of blackcurrant jam and mixed berry jam and froze a lot but still there were more black currants to pick.

we made lots of blackcurrant jam

we made lots of blackcurrant jam

Blackcurrants everywhere

Black currants everywhere

Looking at the internet I discovered that there is a big market for frozen and fresh black currants in the United States. Maybe we could do the same here!

I then contacted Farmhousedirect who handle our products for on-line sales as well as many other similar producers. They were very supportive and we arranged for a special sale to happen with dispatch to go out the following Monday by Express Post.

Well I was dumbfounded for within a couple of hours all our black currants were sold. In fact due to an error in my ad we really didn’t have enough.

Now we were entering new territory. How were we going to get these items to our customers? My experience is that they didn’t deteriorate quickly in our chilled coolroom. However they did tend to juice and the skins became softer. With this in mind I decided to pack them in heavy duty plastic bags and vacuum seal them.I then enclosed this bag in another lighter bag just in case the bag was not perfectly sealed. We do two sizes fir mail orders namely a 1.5kg and 4kg package which we dispatch in express mail bags.   All the bags once packaged were put back in the cool room until dispatch which was planned for the Monday. However for locals either near us or in Tasmania we can dispatch in any size and freight is generally cheaper.

On advice from FarmHouse Direct we send them via the Perth Post office just outside of Launceston , Tasmania so as to be at an Express Post outlet. We had now discovered that all Post Offices in Australia were not equal. In fact there was not only a National Network but a State Network too. And to further complicate matters if you moved into another State Network all bets were off as to how long it took to get there.

With these processes in place the system seems to work well. Deliveries as far as Queensland often get there the next day.

So to all our customers thank you for your support . And to all out there more suggestions would be appreciated.

 

 

Fertiliser

Just an update. As I said in the last post we had rain on the weekend. Whilst this could cause disease in the fruit trees such as brown rot it meant that the fertiliser I added last week got soaked in the ground.

Ideally you should add orchard fertilisers in the dormancy period so that the soil has time to absorb these nutrients. One can happen is that surface feeders get an imbalance of nutrients as they are too close to the fertilisers and this can cause serious problems. So the rain just helps accelerate the distribution.

Lisa sidedressing strawberry rows with compost

I also had a truckload of dolomite delivered. The problem with getting fertilisers to Scamander is the freight component. This applies to everything we get delivered and increasingly it has affected our profitability. It not only applies to deliveries of raw materials coming to the farm but also to sending fruit and other products away. For example we have almost given up on sending our apricots interstate as the freight is too much and the value of apricots too low. Even a high value product like cherries is having a much harder time selling its product on the mainland due to the gradually decrease in its selling price.

Getting back to the dolomite the pH in many  paddocks has been dropping. It was still just ok in most places but not so with the newer paddocks across the river which were cleared after the bushfire. This area has really only had one spreading of dolomite and that was probably almost 4 years ago. The soil tests showed that the pH was 5.5 and visibly some species of grass had disappeared that we managed to establish 3 years ago. Also this year that paddock has been waterlogged due to poor drainage and runoff accumulating in certain areas due to the layout of peripheral roads.

One of my aims this year is to get the pH of this paddock up to about 6.5 and to shape the ground by ripping and grading so that drainage and runoff problems lessen. I will need this paddock in future years for more strawbs.