There is another thing going on I find really interesting. This is from a site about Urban Edibles in Portland, Oregon. My daughter is moving there. As a chef and a food fanatic, she'll love this.
"Some nice foliage may make Portland, Oregon a “green” city, but amongst the leaves is a surprising amount of edible food sources. On one side of town there may be a public street lined with fruit trees whose bounty gets swept in to a dumpster year after year, while on the other side some kids may be anxious to make some plum jam. This project aims to make more available the natural food sources throughout the city that go undiscovered each year. Nut trees, berry patches, unsprayed fields of dandelion roots are all welcome. We invite you to share the sources you already know of, search for new ones with your friends, and participate in our official scouting days."
How many drives do you take where you see fruit or nuts or berries on the ground or sidewalk, going to waste and you think, gosh, I'd LOVE to pick that up, but I don't want someone thinking I'm a) stealing from someone or b) pathetic & starving? Wouldn't it be nice to have something so prolific that people watching you *harvest* thought, cool! Can I do that too? I've been practicing this for years here, with permission, to get 99.9% of my mangoes for the hot sauce I make and sell. Who knew I was trendy? There are rules, which are simply good guidelines. These are the main ones:
- Don't take more than you need. "A tree full of ripe black cherries can be really exciting but how many will you use before they go bad?"
- Ask permission before you pick. "We do not condone unsanctioned harvesting practices or trespassing."
- Pick in a balanced and selective manner. "The last thing we want is to damage the sources from which we harvest!"
- Watch out for pesticides and other contaminants. "Paint chips, pesticides, motor oil spills and even car wash runoff can affect the quality of the sources you pick from.
So, we who are planting now (I've been planting since I moved here, sometimes with success, often with frustration, always with a grin) are only following a long tradition, using much easier methods - especially if you are growing where there is a piped water source, rather than cistern only as a water supply, which used to be the only water supply for all. The benefits of homegrown are obvious. Better food, being outdoors in the gardens, growing locally, sharing the bounty. I have never grown a garden that was successful and not had too much to keep...there is always some to give away when the growing is good. It's part of the joy of it.
Yes, we on Culebra have unique gardening issues. I have iguanas, for instance...but hey, others have deer, or moles or early freezes; there are any number of obstacles to overcome no matter where you live. But that is part of the pleasure of picking those herbs, or that first tomato or squash or onion; you won!
I remember a cattle/grain farmer uncle of my ex-husband telling me that he planted one row for the animals, one for the insects and the rest for himself. One crop he grew was field corn, the hard kind used for animal feed. In the center of these acres (they called them sections) he would plant the sweet corn for family use. When he took me into that inner circle to pick some ears for dinner, I felt...honored. And delighted. This is/was a guy who let me drive his combine, this gigantic, seriously expensive amazing machine, just laughing when wheat was spilling out of the catcher, because, as usual, I went *too far*. He taught me how to kill and hang and skin a pig ('Are you sure you haven't done this before, beach girl?)'how to cut the balls off a young calf - yes, they scream - and how to cook them and enjoy eating them (yes, they really were good, headcheese, no, mountain oysters, si). Good man, Uncle Bill!. Oops! Tangent city! Raising animals will be coming along here, no doubt.
Point? Growing a garden is more than planting and weeding and watering and harvesting. It's a communion with the world around you, the rocky and sweet of it. Stressed? Go dig up a watermelon patch in rocky soil! Perspective is a beautiful thing.