Feb 22, 2009

love the one you're with

I'm from the southwest. I like road trips in the car with the windows down listening to conjunto music, bakingly hot weather, sandals, javelinas and jackrabbits and roadrunners, cacti, swamp coolers, big skies filled with insane lightening, and walking really slow. That said, I've lived away from "home" longer than I lived there, making it so that I can't use where I'm from as an excuse for everything anymore.

It's warm enough to be rainy here in the Hudson Valley, but not really warm at all, and me and my stack of seed catalogs can't stop fantasizing about planting season. I've been following chatter about growing various fruit in southern California, and it's driving me a little crazy. As if I don't miss fresh pomegranates, kumquats, tangelos, and prickly pear tunas enough. Should I really be listening to people talk about their avocado, jujube, and meyer lemon trees? It hurts.

I have to focus here, what grows here. Past years have seen the beginning of my perennial fruit excitement: I've planted raspberries, elderberries, cranberries, wolfberries, ligonberries, hawthorne berries, black turkey figs, cherries, apples, a plum. Some of them have done swimmingly, some didn't make it through a season. Some aren't really meant to be perennials in this climate, and are angry with me for dragging them indoors for the winter. (Hang in there little goji!) I think it's spectacular that wild fruits and nuts were here in the yard before I came. Woohoo for mulberries, black walnuts, wild strawberries, and quince! And there's that one fruiting tree that I still haven't been able to identify after five full years.
I can't help searching for additional food perennials for this climate. I've found siberian kiwis which I'd love to give a go, and pawpaws, which seemingly would require hand pollination (alternatively fascinating and frightening, since I'm not that skilled a gardener). Maybe seaberries and honeyberries, too. Or an asian pear for the mini orchard.

Many of these plants won't produce anytime soon, but it is amazing to be learning about them, and turning this yard into a truly edible landscape. When considering planting a fruit tree in her yard but knowing she wouldn't be there anymore when the fruit came, my friend realized someone would live there, somebody would benefit. If I do someday run back to Arizona and go to work for Iskash*taa, may this yard feed whoever lives here well.

*The berries pictured aren't edible. They are cotoneasters, and just look dramatic in the snow. Especially with a cardinal sitting on the branch. The other picture is of black walnuts from my yard. No longer green, but with the fruit still "on."

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