Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First Raspberry of 2013

We have been watching this raspberry grow.  It was the first blossom on the plant and the blossom I posted earlier.  We watched it start to turn yellow, then pink, and finally today that raspberry red.   I was out in the yard with all three kids.  Baby-now Toddler, had already finished off what was left in the strawberry patches and was wandering the yard looking for more red to eat.  I stepped away from him for just a moment to check out the raspberries.  Upon discovering this one looking ready to eat, I called all the kids over for a look.  I had my eldest "test" the berry by gently tugging to see if it would release easily or not.  She plucked it off the bush and handed it to me.  I pulled it easily into four equal pieces and we all shared that first raspberry.  Toddler immediately began making the sign for "more".  I don't know, it was still a bit tart for me but the kids exclaimed that it was great!   Toddler kept looking around for more and hovered by the snapdragons growing nearby.  I think he thought the red blossoms were more fruit! 

These raspberries, I must admit, have been causing me much stress.  What with worrying about the impending arrival of the spotted winged drosophila fruit fly and frequent sightings of green stink bugs, I am having a hard time enjoying growing these berries.   I have had to remind myself that this is simply a hobby.  This garden has nothing to do with my livelihood.  I can easily pop down to the farmers market, buy a flat of berries, make some freezer jam, and be done with it.

But oh, how excited I was to grow my own.  Before the SWD fruit fly.  My current plan is to simply pick the berries just before they are ripe.  The idea is that the fly lays its eggs on ripening fruit, so if you pick the fruit and eat or process it right away, before it is fully ripe, you won't see the larvae.  Sure there might be eggs in the fruit, but you won't notice them.  Let the fruit sit or ripen up for a few days and you start to see those tiny worms.  Maybe that's why the farmer's market and supermarket berries are always a little under-ripe, aside from making them easier to transport.  I guess this will be OK.  The kids don't mind them tart and they will be fine for cooking with. 

As for the stink bugs, I guess they just suck on the fruit.  Fine, as long as they aren't leaving larvae behind, I will try to keep them off my mind.  But I have considered going out there with our electric bug zapper/swatter and frying a few of them.  Husband reminded me that might singe the plants so I'll have to be careful.  I'm certainly not going to spray pesticides, as I have bees and ladybugs hard at work out there.  And I guess you don't want to squash stink bugs for fear of the smell. 

But again, before I get too worked up about it, remember it is just a hobby.  Pests are part of the deal. 

An awesome part about gardening with the kids is showing them how to really be human.  It is so human to plant a garden, harvest, to know what each plant can be used for.   Just today, my eldest noticed the chamomile flowers in full bloom and exclaimed that is must be time to pick the chamomile and make tea.  She harvested her little pile and this evening, after dinner, I showed her to pluck the blossoms off and fill the tea strainer.  I showed her how to hook the strainer over the glass and brew the tea in hot water.  She enjoyed her own tea with honey, shared with preschooler.   I just feel such a connection to generations past when doing these simple traditional things with my kids. 

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