Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Fruit Swap is On

My grandmother used to do what we called "fruiting". She loved fruit as much as I love vegetables. She was no gardener, but she was a heck of a picker. She knew unerringly when the Strawberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Peaches and Grapes should be ready, and she would head out into fruit country to pick them, then distribute them along her route of family houses until everyone had been "fruited". I don't know when the fruit is ripe. I need a sign. One on the roadside that says "U-Pick Strawberries" is a pretty good clue.

Anyway, we've kept up the swapping with the veggies and fruit, making sure everyone shares the wealth of whatever we have too much of. Today as I was leaving Mom's house, she told me to stop and pick myself some Pineapple tomatoes from her garden. Those are one of our favorite slicing tomatoes, and my plant turned out to be an imposter. The plant I gave her is what it should be and she is getting some beautiful tomatoes


My mother's gardening philosophy is opposite from mine. Whereas my tomatoes lead structured lives, planted neatly in rows, pruned and tied tidely to stakes, Mom's tomatoes grow with wild abandon mingling with raspberries, asparagus and squash, creating a jungle like wall of tomatoes. Picking tomatoes with Mom is like a treasure hunt. We crawl on our knees, forcing our way deeper into the bush, prying tomatoes from the grip of intertwined stems.

But her results are as good, often better than mine.

Mom shows off a cluster of four Barlow Jap tomatoes.

Zucchini and cherry tomatoes

A salvaged step ladder makes a unique pole bean support

A couple of weeks ago, as I was out riding around the family farm, I spied some wild plums growing along a fence line. Mom says there used to be a plum tree at the other end, but now, all of a sudden, there are four or five clumps of plum "bush" and they are loaded with plums.

We checked them today and they are beginning to ripen. I tasted one and it was amazingly sweet, every bit as good as a large black plum. Where these came from and what they have been hiding all these years is a mystery. Because this fence line, before it was used as a horse paddock, bordered the kitchen garden of the farm homestead, I can only imagine that sometime in the last two hundred years, some farm wife took pits and skins out to the edge of the field and dumped them. This years growing season proved to be ideal conditions, and we have a surprise bumper crop of wild plums.

Mom picked five pounds of them and declared that due to their varied sizes, their best use would be plum jelly. Then she put them in my car.
I'll keep you posted.


  1. Sounds like you better get crackin' ! LOL !!!

  2. Your Mother sounds like a very clever woman!