Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Adventures As A Local Food Grower

To many people, growing plants, vegetables, or any type of greenery is an easy task.  However, this is in no way my case.  I am a very, rather I should say, extremely lousy gardener.  Not long time ago, I even tried to maintain alive a very tiny cactus that my daughter gave to me as a present for mother’s day.  Needless to say, my attempt ended up in a wrinkled, dead, sadly looking cactus. To this day, my daughter never forgave me for letting her precious gift go to waste; and she avidly promised by no means to give me another plant as a present. 
Today, I am no better plant grower.  However, through trial and error, I have learned a few tricks here and there, and thanks to our lovely, and very intelligent mother nature I can proudly say that I have fortunately ventured into the amazing habit of growing my own fruit trees in my backyard; with great success, I believe.
After enthusiastically reading, and later practicing about sustainable agriculture proposed in innumerable occasions by Alice Waters; or discovering Michael Pollan´s encouragement to bring pleasure back to eating in his book In Defense Of Food, I have found out the incredible satisfaction that is to cultivate yourself part of what you eat.  Persistence and hard work have let me to delightfully taste the fruits of my own harvest.
My story as an improvised horticulturist began in a lovely house in a nameless town, where a once manicured lawn was rapidly surrendering to abandonment and decay.  Ordinary plants disorderly grew everywhere, and the thirsty grass seemed more like a desert than an oasis.  A cadaverous mango tree was the only tree still standing in the yard.  Just a few yellow leaves decorated its treetop like a fragile, aged bold man. Nevertheless, the plot was spacious and the place had a great potential to become our home for the coming future, and the whole family absolutely fell in love with it. (It is too bad that I did not take any pictures at the time)
 Days passed, and we arduously cared for the garden.  We watered the trees, fertilized the soil, and colorful plants and flowers dressed up now our new backyard, delighting us with a gratifying sight.
The mango tree leaves flourished, and eventually flowered.   Precious little flower buds populated its once neglected branches.  Soon, hundreds of mini-mangoes fully developed into luxurious fruits, sweet, ripe, and juicy ambrosia, which daringly tempted every visitor who came to my house.

It was as Eve was luring Adam in God’s Garden.

One thing led to another, and sooner rather than later I had planted one papaya tree, two autochthonous banana trees, one lime tree, one avocado tree, my own aromatic herb garden, and a Clementine tree.  However, the latest did not make it to this summer.  I am, somehow, still trying to find out what happened.
Early this spring, we tasted our organic papayas, and they were sweet morsels of delight. The papaya tree is the envy of my neighbors.  And to this day, enormous papayas are continuously growing out of it.

The banana trees are about 5 feet tall and are still maturing.  I am hoping to dutifully enjoy some of my local bananas by March next year.  Like I said, patience is the key essence of being a gardener, a trait I yet have to properly develop.

The young avocado tree is still too tender to offer its fruits, but its dark green leaves are proliferating trough the branches making it hard for anyone to see the trunk.  I can imagine myself savoring the creamy almond taste of the avocados, once the first flowers appear.  I surely will share with you some of my best recipes like shrimp cocktail avocados, or red onion shavings and avocado slices dressed in balsamic vinaigrette once I collect my reward.

             Planting an herb garden is a recommendation that I seriously follow anywhere I get to live.  Nowadays, more and more food connoisseurs, great American chefs, even food bloggers like me are convincing people to get into the habit of procuring oneself a little terracotta pot, or if you are lucky enough, your own piece of land where to grow fresh oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary and anything else that you can get your hands on.  Trust me, any meal cooked with love, passion and of course, pesticide free, organic natural herbs make a huge difference in your taste buds and in the taste buds of your loved ones.
And so, my adventures as a food grower continue as I learn new things every passing day.  And to this moment, when I take a look at my garden, I can’t help but momentarily travel back in time to that first sight of my lonely, thirsty mango tree.  My neglected piece of land has become my refuge, my psychologist (because I talk to my plants,) my pride and joy.
My point behind this story is that with this recipe that mother nature has passed on to me:  a teaspoon of love, a pinch of carefulness, a bit of sun, and a dash of fertilizer you too can grow something very unique in your terracotta pots, or around your garden. Something that will fulfill an unknown sentiment inside you, which once awaken it could never be stopped, and like an addict it will require you to increase the dose.   For starters, you can procure yourself one of those small basil aromatic plants, follow my advice and the next time you need basil for your Capresse salad, use your own grown culinary herbs and taste the difference.  You’ll know what I mean.
Nothing can compare to the pleasure that it is to sample the fruits of your hard, caring labor, and for that, I am unconditionally thankful to our mother nature.
For now, I am just deciding on what tree I should plant next ...



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victoria said...

Que belleza de blog

Que Naturaleza..Que parajes..La zapatilla de la reina.Cada vez que iva a Vilaflor pasaba por las Cañadas de la reina y mi abuela me decia..Mira mi niña la zapatilla de la reina
Geacias por compartir parte de mi tierra
Tu nueva seguidora Victoria

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