How my unfarming came about has to do with the Neanderthalic urge to put up and store. And the thrifter’s predilection for reusing. And the editor’s obsession to refine.
How to grow blackberries
So, three summers ago, husband and I stoop and bend and stretch in the August sun for blackberries. Husband comes home proud with yogurt containerful after yogurt containerful. The man is doing this on the skimpy twenty minute allotments he gives himself to break from his Mon-Fri administerial duties.
Into the freezer each quart goes. Until finally we have enough. More than enough. Freezer is jam-packed full and it’s time.
Lay in the pectin, the sugar. Wash the jars. Run to Freddie’s for spanking new lids. Thaw hardened berry lumps. Hand crank through NorPro siever because this year we’re making elegant, seed-free jam. All well and good, but don’t toss the seeds in the compost. Oh, no! I tossed them in the compost. Because I’m thinking full circle usage here. I’m thinking urban back to the landers. I’m thinking we solar dry the laundry, we re-cycle our veg matter. We re-use. No one contradicts me. Husband doesn’t. I don’t.
Following spring: urban farm prep time. Rub hands together, gleefully raise eyebrows. Let’s use the “home-made” compost. Rub rub. Gleefully raise. Let’s dump the big green cylinder full of home-generated powerful veg glorp (fortified with plenty of blackberry seeds) on the home-made veg beds, rake it around, seed with our Bartell and Walt’s Organic seed packets and watch the home crops proliferate. Rub. Gleefully raise.
Not too shabby. Stuff grows. Spiky stuff that just might be those turnip tops Ed Hume was telling about. So what if the spiky stuff snakes over the lettuces and crowds out the carrots and zucchini. It’s stuff. Stuff growing in the home farm.
But where are the turnips? When is harvest?
Rip the calendar pages fast forward to November. Cornucopias, Pilgrims, turkeys, Indians—Let’s see what’s under these spiky things. Dig. Dig dig dig. Shovel. Why, my dear Miss Marple. Looks like we’ve got a crop of Hymn-a-Lay-in B.B. vines! Just in time for our Thanksgiving pie! Not.
Me with Real Thanksgiving pies.
Now row through a spring summer winter fall winter spring to…pant, pant, breathless, breathless–now. You think all those B.B. vines are gone? No ma’am, they ain’t. And so we’re applying draconian measures. Eventually, you see, we hope to reclaim our home farm. We hope for a garden bearing some goodly amount of crop and not insidious, soil-stealing, tender leaf and tuber crowd-outing BB vines, thank you very much.
We will not be defeated. No. We will sacrifice our weekends, our vertebrae, and our quality time to root them out. So we shovel and sieve and pick out the red roots with a jeweler’s eye. And we heap the shoveled and sieved and picked through clayey Pac. N.W. so-called soy-yull onto canvas tarps and hold off planting our Ed Humers and our Walt’s and even apply poison to the unroot-outable B.B. roots.
And some day we will reverse our backward unfarming course and just plain farm.