Sunday, July 10, 2011

The accidental garden fruit


For the most part when it comes to edible gardening you must plan for the seasons. Summers in Florida make me a tad lazy in the garden. Sadly, mosquitos and heat drive me further from the dirt and closer to the water. But this year something neat happened. While I was swimming and boating and staying in the a/c, my summer garden took on a life of it's own. In early June I threw some okra seeds and eggplant seedlings out and they are holding their own along with some bell peppers and a watermelon vine but one day at the beginning of the month I noticed a different vine growing among the okra, one that I had not intentionally planted. I am still not sure how or why it decided it want to be a part of the heat and humidity but I decided to let it continue to grow. I noticed last week large round fruits growing on it. It looks to me like a melon, maybe cantaloupe, but it's still too soon to tell. I trellised it to give it more space and both it and the okra are thriving at this point. In a similar respect, a couple of weeks ago while running in the nature preserve, I happened to look up just it time to notice a muscadine grape vine full of grapes, just like the ones we are growing in our back yard. For those of you who can identify this vine which is EVERYWHERE in this part of Florida, most if the time it is sterile, non-fruit bearing and thought of more as a nuisance. But here one was, growing in the wild with fruit on it. I must have seemed like a weirdo to any onlookers that day as it stopped me dead in my tracks, backed me up and allowed me to stare up at it with a huge smile on my face. It's discoveries like these that remind me how powerful nature really is and how important it is to treasure not only the food we can control but the food and nourishment we cannot control and that somehow, against what seems like all odds, finds a way to survive. There is a movement called "food foraging" that has been going on for quite some time. The idea is that when we open our eyes and hearts to the natural world, we discover it's potential to feed us and heal us in it's natural state. And these types of foods and medicines that grow in the wild are so powerful and rich because they are not being controlled by human hands and pesticides and because they are local and therefore address our environmental needs. There are books on this topic that I would encourage anyone to read. If for nothing else, to gain a new respect for the nature that surrounds us and its potential to sustain us even while we sit in our temperature controlled, densely packed homes.
I stumbled across this website and have not had too much time to peruse it but at first glance it seems educational and interesting:

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