There’s no question that browsing through seed and nursery catalogues is dangerous. The fruits and vegetables are luscious, colorful and perfect, and even though I have access to organic fresh fruits and vegetables through our local food co-op, I no longer feel comfortable buying produce that has travelled thousands of miles to get to me. Besides, nothing is ever as good as something just picked that day. The seed catalogues waken a longing for fresh. They make me think about last fall’s harvest when vegetables happily ruled our life, and we only went to the store for milk, olive oil, tea and toilet paper.
If I had a large piece of land on which to garden, I would not be able to resist the temptation to try many more new vegetables and fruits. My husband declares that we will never move out of town if only for the simple reason that he does not want my ideas for a garden to take over (and I suspect he worries about Barbara’s husband in this regard!).
So today I did something radical. I called my friends Margy and Jordan, whose chickens I care for when they are out of town, to ask if they would let me plant raspberry canes and blueberry bushes at their place.
Oh, and currants. Maybe goose berries, too. (Secretly I also want to plant an asparagus bed, but am not ready to confess to this.) I haven’t mentioned these other berries out loud yet.
Planting cane berries is not an idle thought. When I look at the different kinds of food that could be produced in this county, given its soils and climate, berries — cane berries in particular — will grow well here. They are easy to flash freeze. They are wonderful in jam. They are delicious. And they are really, really nutritious.
What I really want is a berry house, like the one my friend George had in Connecticut. He built a house of netting around his berries, so the birds and animals could not eat them, and under it’s roof grew varieties of cane berries, blue berries, goose berries and currants. When our son was three, I remember going into George’s berry house to pick — a giant play pen full of delicious fresh fruit.
Margy and Jordan said yes. We’ll meet soon to decide how many bushes to buy. We’ll have to meet over dinner because we all love to cook. I suspect my husband and I will maintain the bushes, and supervise the pruning. They’ll monitor the watering. We’ll plan together. We’ll harvest together. Chances are, we’ll have to cook together often, too, because part of growing fresh food is savoring it with someone else.