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Archive for the ‘Fruit’ Category

Blueberry Picking

20160814_021828sI could never have exercised that willpower, I thought as I popped another handful of blueberries, fresh off the stem, into the mouth.

Years ago, my sister was asked to whistle as she picked the little berries packed with vitamins and antioxidants.

“Why?” she had asked, a little perplexed by the odd request.

“Because you can’t whistle and eat at the same time,” the farmer had replied with a straight face.

I’m not sure if my sister had obliged, but I was so glad the farm we were on had no qualms about us enjoying their berries. There were no ‘Eating is Prohibited’ signs and we weren’t told to whistle either.

But at just $1 a pound, the farmers probably didn’t really mind that pickers, like us, helped ourselves to as many berries as we wanted. After all, how many could we have eaten?

20160814_040113sAs it was, hundreds of overripe berries peppered the ground beneath the bushes. And despite it being the tail end of the season, there were still huge clusters of unripe blush and riper blue berries.

Armed with buckets, we went straight for the furthest bushes hoping to find those other pickers would have missed. The berries were waiting … by the thousands! The biggest berries were often out of reach on the highest branches, but our buckets filled fast nonetheless.

20160814_035537sAn hour and a half later, we made our way back to the blueberry stand, complete with berry-stained lips and fingers. Our haul tipped the scale at nine pounds! My first blueberry-picking mission was a success.

You’d think we had enough berries to last us a while, but no. We were back at the farm just a few days later for another berry picking session.

Those were happy blueberry-filled days. Nature has since set those same bushes aflame in autumn colours, frosting them over on colder mornings. And every berry has since been eaten, dried or frozen. 20160814_022844s

The blueberry season may be over up north, but the season is just round the corner for my friends down south. There’s already talk about netting their plants, protecting the berries from birds and squirrels.

Here I am, thousands of miles away, wishing I could join in the action. At best I can only start making plans for the 2018 season which can’t come too soon. Until then, the only blueberry picking I will be doing is from the supermarket shelves.

 

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Meyer Lemon

20160103_081246sApparently the Meyer lemon is the lemon of choice for many. I once bought what I thought were Meyers but they weren’t. What a letdown; especially when the bag was misleadingly tagged as such.

I continued to keep a lookout for them, but could only find regular ones.

Fast forward a few years ….

I was in Vegas a few weeks ago when I was told that my cousin had a lemon tree. You can pretty much guess the exchange that took place …

20160102_124213_s“Are there lemons on the tree? May I pick a few?” My cousin assured me I could but said they were not 100% lemon. “They’re a cross between a lemon and an orange,” he said.

Ding! … Ding!

I’m not a casino-goer but this must be how it feels to hit the jackpot. My cousin had the Meyer lemon!

I arrived at my cousin’s to see the Meyer. It looked like a massive cocoon, covered to protect the tender tree from the frost. “We’ve already picked most of the lemons but there are some left,” he said.

I peeled the covers off the swaddled tree. It seemed almost as momentous as the unveiling of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

20160102_132926bI gawked at the big juicy baubles before swaddling the tree once again for the night. I’d have a better look the next morning.

If the lemons had been enticing the day before, they were even more irresistible the next morning. My cousin handed me a pair of secateurs and I selected and cut a number of lemons and cuttings. Oh, joy, joy!

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So, how do the lemons compare? I find the Meyer lemon from my cousin’s tree bigger, juicier and less acidic than regular lemons. And while I always struggle to squeeze the juice from a lemon, I had no trouble at all with the Meyer lemon.

Would I grow a Meyer lemon tree? If I could, yes, without a doubt.

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Care and propagation: Morning sun, well-drained soil, water regularly. Best grafted, it is possible to propagate using seeds or cuttings

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Meyer lemon on the left, regular lemon on the right

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Figs

20150418_125202sFigs are a highly rated fruit, valued for their nutritional benefits as well as unique and luscious sweetness.

But it was the fig leaves that first caught our forefather’s attention and made fashion headlines some two thousand years ago when they were the basis of what was the haute couture of the day.

My first fig encounter with the Ficus Auriculata was when I was only six. The Ficus took on mythic proportions, with its massive leaves and fruit which grew from the trunk, branches and roots.

Figs have since become a lot less mysterious and a lot more appealing, especially when I realized that there 20150418_125311swere innumerable varieties of figs I could plant. Taking the local gardening scene by storm, figs have grabbed the attention of more than a few enthusiasts. Many have been buying fig cuttings and scions, enticed by the range of figs available in various colours of the spectrum; green, yellow, blush, red, purple, black and even striped ones.

20150726_105527_BlackGenoa_sMushrooming fig nurseries and websites have brought many exotic varieties of fig plants and cuttings right to the doorstep of the home gardener.

Buoyed by the tide of enthusiasm, I came back down to earth quickly when I realized how costly the plants were. The rarer varieties were way out of my budget and the more common ones were not cheap either.

My first fig was a rooted Black Mission cutting given by a school friend. Then came the Masui Dauphine and Brown Turkey a few months later. The Brown Turkey has yielded a few figs, but there hasn’t been sign of fruit on the Masui Dauphine. The Black Mission, unfortunately, didn’t make it.

my inspiration

my inspiration

A fellow gardener, on the other hand, has been enjoying great success with his figs. His plants, unlike mine, have been fruiting their heads off.

I’ve recently acquired the Conadria, Black Genoa and Taiwan Golden Fig and am emulating what my friend is doing, hoping that it’ll make a difference and that the plants will swing into high gear.

And, what do you know! Little nubs of fruit are already forming on the plants; little burgeoning figs that should plump out and ripen over the next few weeks. I just can’t wait!

Care and propagation:  Full sun; light, well drained soil; water moderately; propagate using cuttings     20150221_083621b

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