Berries | The Urban Forager

Happy New Year! Want A Resolution? Grow Something!

This year, figure out how to supply yourself with all or most of one food or plant product – for a season or for the year. What can you grow within the confines of your current home/living space? What is your favorite vegetable, herbs, or fruit? What do you love to eat? What do you want to have on hand? What can you find or forage from the neighborhood close by?

I love herbs for cooking, both fresh and dried. Parsley, chives, thyme, rosemary, mint and so many more can easily be grown on a sunny window sill, counter, table top or in a floor pot. For some places vertical growing is an easy answer on a sunny wall – inside or out. When you grow herbs, you can easily dry them, save them, and give the excess as gifts to others. Start small. Look at your herbs and see which one is used the most. Plan on having a supply of parsley (for instance) that you grow for yourself – in time to replace the dried herb in the cabinet when it runs out.

If you have a wall outside or planters, think about what you can grow that you enjoy eating. Peas can climb a wall, as can green beans, squash, cucumbers, and melons. You will need some support – I’ve used a cotton 4″ square netting to grow even heavy winter squash successfully. You can even let them mature in the gutter or on the roof if you can harvest them there safely.

Green beans are wonderful fresh, frozen, fermented and pickled. They are even good dried! Figure out how many servings of green beans you want for the year and then find out how many plantings you need in the space you have. You can make a Teepee on the deck with tall bamboo poles stuck in pots with 3 beans in each pot.

Most cities have fruit trees, grapevines, and berries that have been planted by others and are still bearing. Find ones near you (an apple tree, berry bush, or grape vines for instance) and keep an eye on them. When they are full of fruit, ask if you can harvest it and offer some to the home owner if they want some. I frequently find the home owner is glad to be ‘rid’ of them because they are making a mess!

So for now start small with a favorite herb, some veggies in a pot, or a dwarf fruit tree and learn how to take care of them. Enjoy the fruits of your effort, and then see if you want to do more. Please ask a salesperson if what you are buying is free of systemic pesticides. No one needs to eat anymore poisons!

I’d love to hear from you and learn what you have decided to grow and where you are growing it. Maybe you can team up with neighbors and each person grow a different food then share. Taking charge of any part of your food supply is an important step so get growing! Happy New Year!

 

Neighborhood Fruits

Tomorrow morning, Saturday June 23rd, meet me at 9 am in the back yard of People House, 3035 W 25th Ave, to take a walk in the immediate neighborhood and explore the opportunities for fruits in the city. Learn about identification, etiquette, public spaces, and what’s good as well as what’s not! After you start to see what is available in our ‘hood’, you’ll look at the trees and bushes around you differently. I’d love to see you there! This is going to be fun!

Berries and Cherries

If you are the type of person who loves to find really fresh fruits to pick, eat, and preserve for later, this is the time for berries and late cherries. What a great year it’s been for fruits! The mulberries were falling off the trees a few weeks ago, the cherries came next – both sour pie cherries and sweet black cherries. There are a few left, however it is becoming harder and harder to harvest them and then eliminate the little white worms eating around the pit. Everything loves cherries!!

I’m focusing on the huge crop of Saskatoons – also known as Juneberries, Serviceberries, and Shadbush. There botanical name is Amelanchier alnifolia, and they grow from Alaska to Colorado. In Denver they are used as an ornamental bush or tree, and they are getting ripe now! Looking like blueberries on a large bush or tree, (check out my video) they are best when cooked. I like to make jam or jelly, syrup, and use them in pie, muffins, or pancakes. This fruit was also used dried and mixed with dried meat and fat to make pemmican by the Native Americans.

Let me know if you have too many to pick and use or don’t want to bother. I’m still looking for sources of Elderberry and want flowers as well as berries. The flowers are out now (I think). Enjoy!!

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