A Gardener’s Diary: The mighty Saskatoon

The health benefits of the Saskatoon berry are astounding.

Happy Canada Day. Hope you enjoy all the festivities the North Okanagan has to offer.

July is a great month to take advantage of all the fruits and vegetables of our gardens. I can grow a lot of things but I just cannot grow good and large radishes like the ones I got at the Vernon Farmer’s Market the last few weeks. I will keep on trying and maybe one day I will learn the secret.

When we were kids, we used to go to my father’s cousins to help during hay time at the farm on the outskirts of Quebec City. They didn’t have the equipment of today.

As kids we used to go to the fields with the adults but stay out of their way. One thing we did was walk along the small ditches and pick Saskatoon berries. We called them “petites poires sauvages,” little wild pears. I don’t know where that name came from, but I always enjoyed the taste of these berries.

When we lived in the Kootenays, I picked them in a couple spots where they were nice and juicy. A good time to pick Saskatoons is at 5 a.m.

I now have my own Saskatoon forest right in our backyard. Somehow in the last six years, little seedlings have started to appear in different spots in the garden. Some of them, I transplanted and the others I just let grow where they chose.

I just finished harvesting enough to freeze, but the harvest would have been much better if Tom had picked them. He can pick any fruit without eating it. This is impossible for me.

I never thought about the health value of Saskatoons, so the other day I went on the internet and found The Saskatoon Berry Council of Canada. The fact that Saskatoon berries are relatively unknown in other parts of Canada and around the world is a real challenge for this industry. As a result, the market for Saskatoon berries is limited to the Prairie provinces and this is what the Saskatoon Berry Council of Canada is working towards changing.

The health benefits of the Saskatoon berry are astounding. Nutritional and clinical studies indicate that the phyto-ingredients in Saskatoon berries fight cancer, heart disease, diabetes, oxidative stress, cholesterol, diverticulosis, inflammation and cognitive impairment.

According to the Saskatoon Michigan Farm and Nursery website, it’s a long-accepted fact that fruit is good for the body. Certain fruit, however, offer such a high amount of antioxidants and disease-fighting capabilities, they’ve earned the name “superfruit” for their superior level of health benefits. Saskatoon berries are one such “superfruit.”

What’s more, research has shown these rich, dark purple berries hold one of the highest levels of antioxidants and anthocyanin contents available, more than what’s found in strawberries, raspberries, or wild blueberries. Recent research has shown Saskatoon berries are also high in fibre, meaning they can help control blood sugar, defend against diabetes, aid digestion, and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease.

They are also a rich source of five essential vitamins and minerals.

Saskatoon berries rank the highest in antioxidants in both fresh fruit and fruit pulp relative to other common fruits. They are also rich in dietary fibre: 100 grams of Saskatoon berries contain 24 per cent of the daily fibre requirement. They also have considerable amounts of micronutrients essential for metabolism.

For more information, call 250-558-4556 or email plantlady1@shaw.ca.

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in the North Okanagan and member of Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.