Sunday, July 24, 2005

Mad Dogs & Hillbillies

The wineberries were calling me. Wineberries are an import from Japan or somewhere, and are sweet because of some compound that breaks down if heated and so don’t cook them or they’ll set your teeth on edge. But they are these wonderful, red, raspberry-like berries. The first ones I ever knew were in a park in town. Not long after we first got this land we had been to visit my mom and saw some growing along the side of the road. We stopped, dug some plants, and planted them here. We thought they died. It was some years later that, seemingly suddenly, there was a nice patch of wineberries right where we had planted those.

This has been a good fruit year, and an example of the fruitfulness of continuing in a direction. We’ve always wanted to be as food self-sufficient as possible, for many reasons, and so we’ve planted lots of things. Some die, some don’t. Some are productive, most aren’t, at least not right away. And we’ve always got so many things going that nothing ever gets babied along. We planted blueberries and they sat there as sticks for many years. Then for a few years we had a nice snack of blueberries while working in the garden, but that was all. Last year was the first ever any blueberries ever made it to the house, but still, all of them were eaten fresh. This year we dried a bunch and at that we didn‘t manage to harvest all the blueberries there were. The same with the wineberries . We’ve had the first few peaches off the trees already, and will soon start picking for preservation (peach butter? peach preserves? dried peaches? canned peaches?), The pears are hanging heavy on the trees, and even if our own apple trees are sparse, we should be able to get enough apples

I followed the call of the wineberries to pick them. They are very sticky but the thorns not quite as bad as blackberries. And picking I said to husband with a smile in my voice, “Gee, I think picking your own food is too much trouble.” He laughed and said, “Everything we’ve done today is too much trouble. Milking the cow, making jam,” (we’d put up 8 pints this morning) “doctoring the cat,” (who had a bad infection in a July wound, not a good thing) “just walking down here for goodness sakes.” And we talked about how important food is, and how some people just don’t seem to get it. Someone once tried to mow some of our berries because they were “in the way”, not understanding, food is never “in the way”!

Imagine, just for a moment, that you wanted or needed to plan to provide your family with all the fruit they would need to eat for a year. What would you do? What plants and fruits would you call on, how would you grow them, how would you preserve them, how would you include them in your diet? When it isn’t a matter of picking up the long dead, shipped around the world five times, sprayed with toxic chemicals, certified bribed, out of season fruit at the store, what would it be?

We went on, out in the noonday sun, to pick another gallon and a half of blackberries, which will be turned into two more batches of jam.


madcapmum said...

When I read your site, I want to move south, south, south! Pears, peaches, wineberries - I'm drooling all over my keyboard.

Rhubarb does really well here, potatoes, cabbage, onions, garlic. We're setting as much of our little yard as we can to gardens, so at least for two months a year we don't have to shop. More dirt! More dirt!

justrose said...

p went through a stage when she was learning to eat when avocadoes saved her. what an amazing food that is. the book said you could grow a tree, but it took several years to produce. there is some patience involved, you're right!

oh and you would appreciate -- new neighbor has turned his rowhouseland grass patches that pass for lawns entirely into vegetable gardens. i hope the bunnies don't see it as too much of a snack bar.

the Contrary Goddess said...

I like it here in the southern Appalachians myself madcap. But we always think worst case and try to grow enough potatoes that if that was all we had to eat, we'd not starve to death.

Oh, and how I love avocados. Although I'll probably just buy them, at least for the time being. Veggies with fat ARE amazing -- there is this little weed that grows called purslane which is the highest veggie source of Omega 3 and is good raw or as cooked green.

And I know the rowhouses don't always talk to each other, but I'd love to hug that man with his gardens. But you can just landscape with fruit bushes and the like and produce an amazing amount of food. I don't know how people survive without at least growing a tomato plant or something.