Thursday, May 4, 2017

Blackberry "winter" in the hills

Appalachian weather lore quietly abides despite climate changes which seem to be escalating. Each switch from cold season to spring is flagged by plant or tree growth across the entire region, the gradual resurrection of field and forest appearing as a dance of veils swirling to a dervish of summer's heat in flickering layers of green.

The last cold snap coincides with the blooming of wild blackberry canes. Savvy gardeners watch for the predictable chill, prepared to plant the last of cold-tolerant vegetables, and to cover and protect the early, more vulnerable plantings. Cabbage family plants will thrive throughout, yet much-beloved tomato plants need tender, loving care.

Within mere weeks, the care pays off in lettuce, onions, beet leaves, and other early greens. A month or so sees corn, beans, and ripening tomatoes, while "Irish" potatoes (Kennebec, Pontiac, etc.) and sweet potatoes settle in for a slow sort of production culminating in autumn's last hurrah.

"Putting up" food is a tradition we practice regularly, including herbs we use as seasonings and as foods. Blackberry winter is here in eastern Kentucky, Serviceberry ("sarvis"), dogwood, redbud, and the like have passed. The crisp nip in the air promises hot days and humid nights close at hand.

It's time to count the canning jars, stock up on supplies, and settle into the job. History requires remembrance and perseverance. Tomorrow will thank us for today.