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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fine Free Fruits at FAR Manor

The blueberries peaked and dried up the week I was suffering from cramps in my back muscles, so I didn’t get too many. Even more unfortunate, the blackberry harvest has been a little disappointing this year. I found a stand near the manor that looked good, but the month of drought has really taken its toll this year — most of the berries are small and were a bit dry-looking. But we had a little rain Sunday night though (hallelujah!!!), and they reconstituted on the vine.

Ripe blackberries

I’ve picked a little over a gallon so far, a good ways behind my “3 gallons in one afternoon” pace from last year. I’d like to get another gallon, which should make about 8 pints of jelly. There are couple of spots where the berries are big like they were last year, so I’ll focus on those first.

Meanwhile… a trio of Smooth Sumac trees came up in front of the manor this year. I originally mis-identified these as Staghorn Sumac, but those have hairy branches and these are… well, smooth. The third pic features a somewhat concerned bugly (click on any of the pix for a closeup, of course). The berries smell abso-freeking-lutely heavenly.

Sumac trees Sumac berry cluster Sumac berry cluster, with bug

I (not knowing what they were) have pulled up many of them in previous years, but these three looked good where they were so we left them to see what they turned into. Now they’re fruiting, three big bunches on each tree. Dang, I got lucky. I'll keep pulling 'em up, but more carefully now as to give them some room. The fruit is good for jelly and a drink often called “Indian lemonade” as the natives introduced it to the white folks. There’s a pretty good stand near the office, on the little street that goes behind the fast-food joints, so I’ll grab them when the time comes too.

Anyone interested in foraging for wild food should keep up with Wide-Eyed Lib’s diaries on DailyKos. He runs a pretty good series of foraging diaries. I still think a field guide is an essential; I got one at the local indie bookstore last night. I’m no stranger to foraging; we used to hunt for morels in Michigan in springtime (my dad still does it) & I know where the good stands of blackberries are around the manor, even if the berries were a bit small this year.

That’s a start to my forest garden, anyway… wild fruit & planted herbs scattered around the manor. I might scatter some of those sumac berries around the edge of the “garden spot” behind the manor, which I won’t ever tend as a regular garden unless I lose my job. Maybe some will come up & I’ll have a crop. (Their roots are shallow so I can always pull them up if I change my mind later.)

Tomorrow, I will relate the tale of an urgent move.


  1. Hay, Far. Too bad about the drought, we've got nothing but rain here. It has rained almost every day for the last month or so. My onions have likely drowned. Our very early tomatoes are on the vine but won't turn green. I'm hoping for at least a pumpkin or two. The vines look to be doing well so far. At least the srawberries and scallions have yielded nicely.

  2. Sounds like you're getting your rain *and* ours, Boran. I'm not surprised about the 'maters, they need some hot weather to do their thing. I hope you get to dry out (and we get to get wet) and everything recovers well.


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