Friday, April 13, 2012

Jubilee and the Ebb and Flow of Growing Things

This looks to be an amazing year for Mulberries. It is only April 13th and already the sidewalks and road around 'our' Mulberry trees are stained purple with dropping fruit.

They are not really 'our' trees, they are located in the yard of a vacant house about 3 blocks away from our home. In 2010, we first began to harvest from this yard and luckily, I was able to meet the owners and get permission (and odd looks, but I'm used to that) to harvest from their messy trees. All in all, over about 3 weeks in May 2010, we harvested about 14 pounds of mulberries from those trees. We made jam, syrup, juice and the most delicious wine--not to mention eating ourselves silly of the fresh fruit. In early spring 2011, I lamented to Curtis that we had overdone it on the syrup because I still had several jars left over from 2010 harvest.

In 2011, I carefully watched the calendar and the trees for a repeat performance, but it never happened. The trees produced some small fruit, but what little there was was snapped up by the birds, it never even got a chance to stain the sidewalks (my clue when whizzing by at 30 mph that the fruit is ripe). Pounds of Mulberries collected in 2011... zero. I was very happy for those leftover jars of syrup--and the lovely wine-- from 2010 because that was the only taste of Mulberries we got in 2011.

Andrew harvesting mulberries in 2010, see the stained sidewalk (and stained boy)

For 2012 it appears that the harvest will be early and significant. Already hubby and the kids picked about 3 pounds of berries in one trip. We hopefully will be able to replenish our wine stash, and make more syrup. From all I have heard, most fruit bearing trees and plants follow a cycle of ebb and flow. Pecans will have a bumper crop, followed by a bum year the same for oaks and others. I've definitely seen good and bad years in my garden, despite my constant and consistent efforts.

This is a good lesson for me about gardening in general. I can tend and prepare carefully, but sometimes there are just bad years. God even told us about this in Leviticus 25. Every seventh year was a kind of restart year (and every 7x7 years there was a Jubilee when everything was returned to the original clans). I don't fully understand it, but I do find comfort as a gardener that this is all part of the big plan. From Leviticus 25:

18 “‘Follow my decrees and be careful to obey my laws, and you will live safely in the land. 19 Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill and live there in safety. 20 You may ask, “What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?” 21 I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years. 22 While you plant during the eighth year, you will eat from the old crop and will continue to eat from it until the harvest of the ninth year comes in.

Pretty neat stuff, even if my mind does get a big boggled when I try to figure it all out. I'm hopeful for a great garden year this year. April 13th and there are blooms on my tomatoes, my beans and my potatoes. The squash is a bit scraggly, but still coming along. This week, I planted my okra seeds and four sweet pepper plants. In a few weeks, I will put in my sweet potato slips (from my MIL).

Good year or bad, I get such joy from working in the garden, planting seeds and tending the precious plants.

All the photos are from the 2010 harvest--and the bottling of the 2010 wine (in 2011).

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