Dear Sun Spots: A few months ago, the Sun Journal ran an article about a young farmer in the Farmington area who was growing raspberries. I’d like to contact him. Could you please find his name and address for me? Thank you. – No Name, Lewiston.

Answer: According to reporter Donna Perry’s article on Aug. 2, there were a number of things Joel Gilbert of Wilton wanted to do when he grew up. Farming raspberries wasn’t one of them. That was until three years ago.

Now he has large, red, firm raspberries as big as his thumb amid green stalks at the Berry Hill Raspberry Co. on the hill of that name in Livermore.

Gilbert, 19, who grew up in Jay but lives in Wilton now, was better known for his piano playing and singing duets with his sister, Janna, around the area.

Gilbert has about $2,000 invested in his crop but he reused a lot of raw materials to keep costs down.

It’s going to get bigger

He’s also experimenting with black raspberries and yellow raspberries.

Another acre has been tilled and is waiting for a crop to be planted next year. Not only is Gilbert the chief grower, he’s also the chief seller of his berries.

He and his girlfriend, Melissa LaPlante of Rumford, have been taking the berries to the coast to sell. He also has allowed a limited amount of people who call him to pick their own. He can be reached at (207) 778-5740.

Dear Sun Spots: I graduated from Mount Abram High School in 1976. I am looking to contact some of my classmates. I would like to contact Kathy French. I would also like to hear from the reunion committee and other classmates of mine. It’s been 20 to 23 years since I’ve had contact with these people. Nobody has any idea how important it is for me to hear from these people. I am staying with a friend and I will get all messages and return all calls and letters. Please write to Garry Brault at 956 Lisbon St., Lewiston, ME 04240. My cell phone number is 212-5864. If you cannot reach me on it, please call me at (207) 784-3934. Please leave a message if I’m not home. Thank you. – Gary Brault, Lewiston.

Dear Sun Spots: I am looking for anyone who can tell me what causes cukes to go bitter. Thank you. – No Name, No Town.

Answer: In addition to responses from readers, according to www.foodforeveryone.com, the most likely answer is lack of water and/or lack of proper nutrition. Properly fed and watered cucumbers grow fast and are crisp and tender, and taste very mild.

If the soil surface near your plant roots is dry, you can be sure your plants are not getting enough moisture to sustain even, healthy growth and sweet-tasting fruit. The best solution is level beds, slightly higher than the surrounding aisles, with 4-inch ridges all around to hold the water in the root zone, and watering every day in warm weather. Much less water is used as compared to sprinkling or flooding, and the plant roots receive a constant supply of essential moisture.

In addition, everbearing plants like cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and eggplant need continued feeding over the many months of their productive life. Small amounts of a balanced natural mineral nutrient mix, applied weekly and watered into the root zone, will keep them healthy and producing right up until the frost kills them.

In the meantime, perhaps you and your family will enjoy the following recipe for Bulgarian Cucumber Soup. Ingredients: 1½ cups cucumbers, pared and seeded; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1 teaspoon salt; ¼ teaspoon white pepper; 1 clove garlic, minced; 2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped; ¼ to 1 cup chopped walnuts; 1 to 1½ cups yogurt or sour cream. Method: Mix together oil, salt, pepper, garlic, dill and walnuts. Marinate cucumber in this mixture for two to six hours in the refrigerator. Puree mixture in blender. When ready to serve, mix in yogurt or sour cream. Put one or two ice cubes in each bowl and pour in soup.

Also some co-workers offered the following tips:

One has been told if you cut off the end and rub the two cut sides together, it releases the bitterness. Another says her mother-in-law suggested always cutting off the tip, putting salt on the cuke and then rubbing the salt into the cuke with the tip to take the bitterness out. Hopefully these tips will help.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to.) Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be posted at www.sunjournal.com in the Advice section under Opinion on the left-hand corner of your computer screen. In addition, you can e-mail your inquiries to [email protected]


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