Category Archives: black raspberries

Only Child on the disappearing chocolate and other foods

Only Child's raspberry bushes (in part over to the right

Only Child’s raspberry bushes (in part over to the right)

Chives in  my front garden - here for now

Chives in my front garden – here for now

When we think of crop, vegetable and fruit damage due to “weather” we think of drought, too much rain and insect infestations. But it wasn’t necessarily a regular occurrence and the following spring and summer season, we would get out vegetation back. Either the perennial would grow back or we would plant another crop of wheat or barley.

Today, many of our foods are heading for permanent extinction and some of them are not what you would normally place in this category.

Foods such as bananas, maple syrup, honey and chocolate.

Yes, chocolate. Attention all of us chocaholics.

What are the culprits?

Let’s take honey first, as you’ve probably heard about this one. Bees make honey and it is the bee population that is shrinking. The culprit: Colony Collapse Disorder. It’s killed over one-third of the bees in the United States alone. Bananas are being felled by Panama disease.

Okay, so that’s pests and the like. But much of the shrinking food is caused by – you guessed it – the extreme weather we’ve been having the last 10 to 15 years. Those of you who have read some of my previous blogs on weather know who/what I think is responsible here. Suffice to say, I will quote the lady I talked to on a bus the end of May. She said, “God controls the weather.”

Back to the food. Considering all that is disappearing, we might be able to forget about dieting. But we might also have to forego being healthy. Back to the bees. They don’t just make honey; they pollinate a lot of our vegetables and fruits. Think: pumpkin, sweet potatoes, apples, almonds, blueberries, peaches, avocados, cucumbers, cranberries, onions, blackberries, grapefruit, raspberries and oranges. The list goes on.

What is one to do? Extract the seeds from the fruit or vegetable and plant it the next year, then repeat the process? If the plant grows, that is. I purchase seeds from a Canadian seed company that does not treat its seeds. What if it and other seed companies no longer had seeds to sell?

Which doesn’t help me with my two favourites from the above list – chocolate and raspberries. As some of you know I have a huge black raspberry bush which provides me (and my son, his girlfriend and my friends) with delicious fruit. I freeze the extra for winter use on cereal, or as dessert. The bushes started as three small half metre plants I brought from my Aurora home to my Toronto home when I moved in October 1998. What happens if the number of bushes decrease instead of increase? Or worse still, suddenly die off?

As for chocolate, that is not grown in Canada or the US but in West Africa (Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire). Chocolate substitutes such as carob just don’t feed the taste buds or my very soul. In my hallway I have posted a sign given to me by another chocaholic. The sign reads “Who cares what the question is; chocolate is the answer.”

So, what is our answer? I only know that whenever I see a bee – honey or otherwise – busy in the flowers, in the blossoms, I say a “thank you” and give the bee its space to do its business.

What do you think? Are you a chocaholic?

You can read more about this at http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2014/03/26/are-these-foods-doomed-to-disappear/ and scroll down to the links for other related stories.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under black raspberries, Fresh produce, Fruit, Only child, Rain, Weather

Only Child muses on raspberries and roses

Burgundy Iris among the white roses in Only Child’s front garden

I’m discovering new ways to relax in my garden. I don’t have to just sit out in the garden, looking and reading. I can relax while I’m doing. Just as well because my raspberries have appeared two weeks early this year because of our early summer weather. So for the next few weeks I’ll be out there almost daily picking raspberries.

Then there are the roses. The white ones in front were spreading their branches and flowers all over the place including over my driveway. I don’t drive but some of my friends do, so to avoid any vehicles brushes against the roses, I cut the bushes back.

It hurt me to do so. But as I trimmed them back, the process turned into almost a meditation, a ritual. And this morning when I went out in full raspberry-picking gear (long pants, long sleeves and wide-brimmed hat to avoid getting scratches from the branches) much the same thing happened. Instead of rushing through it all like I was battling time, it turned relaxing – even when I dropped a berry; I thought, “That’s one for the birds.”

I’m not sure my late mother actually sat and relaxed in her garden, except when I was a toddler –and here the photos tell that story. Mom was always out in the garden picking red raspberries, beans, and currants, until she persuaded me to do so. I loved picking beans and raspberries, but not the currants. They don’t taste good raw and they seem to attract bees. Mother’s busyness in her garden paid off in the many fresh raspberries, plus her own version of canned currant jam and jelly and mustard beans – the latter I’ve never been able to find since. And unlike me, she pruned her raspberry bushes properly so she didn’t have to pick in a maze the next season. I use the “hit or miss” procedure although I do keep in the new shoots for next year’s berries and cut back the deadwood – what I can reach. Somehow I don’t get it as smooth and clean as Mom did.

Maybe, Mom did relax in her garden after all – by picking berries and trimming the bushes.

Then there were her rose bushes – but that’s for another post.

For now, those of you in Canada, enjoy the July 1 Canada Day holiday weekend coming up and those in the United States, enjoy your July 4 holiday…in a garden, if possible. Next week I’ll get more serious. Meantime, I’ve added a few more pictures of my garden.

Enjoy.

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

Fushia pink roses by the sidewalk of Only Child’s house

Poppies popping up among the chives by Only Child’s veranda

Front view by steps to veranda shows yarrow, coral bells, chives under the boxwood. Raggedy Annie among the rosebushes is in the background.

Only Child as a toddler in the backyard with her late Mom who is sitting in the Muskoka chair.

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Filed under black raspberries, Fruit, Gardening, Home and Garden, Memoir writing, Mother, Mother and Child, Muskoka Chair, Only child, Raspberries, Roses, Sharon Crawford

Only Child learns lessons from picking raspberries

Only Child's black raspberries and bush up close

My black raspberries are out in abundance. Every day I’m out there picking and picking raspberries. I learned a few summers back to dress for the occasion if I didn’t want want my arms and legs to resemble being mauled by a tiger. So, out I go wearing jeans, a long-sleeved blouse, running shoes and a floppy hat, and later dripping sweat.

There’s an art to reaching in and around the heavy bushes to get at the ripe raspberries without dropping the yogurt container I use to collect the berries. There is also an art to pruning the bushes in the fall and my Mom seemed to grasp it automatically. As I write in my memoir

Mom tackled bushes, in particular, her raspberry bushes gone wild, down the other neighbour’s side of the garden and behind our garage, ready to tango with the hedge dividing garden from lawn. Mom marches out with the pruning shears and cuts branches in snips and starts.

“They’re getting all over the place,” she mumbles. Snip. Snip.

I watch in bewilderment, no idea how she decides. She just knows.

(Excerpted from You Can Go Home: Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2011 Sharon Crawford).

I sure don’t know what I’m doing when I prune the raspberry bushes in the autumn. I prune the branches that bore raspberries the past summer because they are done. I also prune any growing too thick. Somehow, I really missed something last fall as this year’s raspberries are too bushy.

Not complaining – I’m getting more berries and I’m sharing with my son and his girlfriend and my friends next door…and eating lots and freezing lots.

But all this raspberry picking has taught me some lessons – many can be applied to life in general and running a small business in particular. So, here are the lessons of my black raspberries.

1. Patience

2. Persistence.

3. Generosity and sharing.

4. Dressing appropriately for the occasion.

5. Preserving food for winter, which could also be saving money

5. Eating fresh berries well within the 100-mile diet.

6. My bit for the organic movement – I don’t spray my raspberry bushes.

7. Health benefits from eating raspberries – high in antioxidants and may help prevent cancer. See http://www.naturalnews.com/black_raspberries.html for more information.

8. Health benefits from picking raspberries – the zen effect of the continuous picking of the berries and being out in the garden away from traffic – cars and people.

But I won’t have the benefit my late Mom had – properly-pruned bushes making it easier to get at the berries.

Here’s the rub – I have many more berries to share and enjoy.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

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Filed under antioxidants, black raspberries, cancer, Gardening, Health, Only child, Only child memoir, Raspberries