Blackberries and elderflowers

A friend from Christchurch posted on facebook last night of how grateful she felt that they (her family) had water and electricity, were all together, had cooked and shared a meal. She posted that she felt both grateful and simultaneously guilty. I remember that feeling most strongly from the days and weeks after the Pike River disaster. Now, as I look out the kitchen window at our garden and lawn and chooks, as I sleep well each night, disturbed only once by an aftershock on Friday night, I feel so lucky, a word stronger than lucky which I cannot find (if it exists).

I feel a big responsibility to make our place as earthquake ready as possible, to prepare for emergencies and maintain our house rather than go on holidays. I bought a large food grade plastic bucket from Simplifoods (used to be Binn Inn and still same kind of bulk buying shop) on Thursday. It once held golden syrup and now will hold (to be filled today) 28 litres of water for emergency supplies. I've been directing my energies into the garden rather than the sewing machine. Christchurch is the supply base for many many essential products on the West Coast and some shelves of the supermarkets have been stripped bare this week. I've planted some more leeks and begun the great herb rearrangement to free up more of the old chook run garden bed for growing vegetables. I transplanted one bay tree yesterday. I've also started some more sprouts for salads and bought more rocket seed. This is the front part of the old chook run below, minus the first bay tree. The bay trees, thyme, oregano and sunflowers have done well here, but as they have grown and spread, valuable vegetable growing space is being lost.

Yesterday afternoon was idyllic. The children and I visited our friend Raelene and collected donkey poo for the compost. The children played happily in the sun and when the big kids came back from their bike ride with purple mouths and the news of blackberries, we all set off with containers. We had some blackberries for pudding and after breakfast this morning and I have some aside for later today. We were blackberrying in an area where my late friend and relative Lou lived. Lou was a child in the 1930s depression in this area and for some of that time his father was out of work. Along with gathering blackberries, the family also went rabbiting and hunted wood pigeons to eat. It seemed rude that we were having such a lovely time when others over the hill are suffering so much, but also good that we were making use of local foods. I think I identified some elderberry blossom beside some of the blackberries. It's not very common on the West Coast compared to Canterbury and I need to look up how to propogate it.

We had good news for Brighid on Friday, after a worrying few days in which she seemed to get worse and specialist help was clearly going to be unavailable for some time. On Friday they did another ultrasound at our local hospital and the cavity is smaller and much of it has clotted. She still needs to be checked by the specialist but her body is healing, going in the right direction. We are so so so grateful.

To finish up my lovely afternoon yesterday, I jammed my own finger in the car door. So I'm typing without my right index finger which is now a funny shape and a funny colour and there will be no knitting and limited cooking and gardening until that improves.

Above and below, pumpkins which have grown from the buried bokashi. The top one is resting on the fence trellis.
My treasure: a musquee de provence pumpkin I grew from seed and which I found after I'd given up hope of any produce from this plant.

Not exactly picture perfect tomatoes, with holey shrivelled leaves beside the worn out fence, but exciting to me.
The bay tree in its new location with the other herbs by the back door. I had to prune the roots, so I pruned the top by a third as well. A local friend with a cafeteria was asking for fresh bay leaves recently, so he can have the prunings.
I'm pleased with the leeks in the photo above, and hopeful the purple sprouting broccoli will yield well. But the damned slugs have razed to the ground the three lettuce seedlings I planted in here just last week. Time to get the beer traps going.

The gunnera stump with salt on it, just before I poured boiling water on it. It's going to need more than that to kill it though.

Comments

Corrine said…
We have blacberries down here too. Very unusual, because as soon as the blackberries start to look nice we get our first frosts and that finishes off the berries (although not the actual plant) Take a careful look at the elder flowers you have found, as the flowers should be well and truely over by now. Ours all have berries on, but if you are frost free then maybe you have a longer flowering period, or it could be something else instead )Elder grows easily from cuttings, I'm trying to grow some that way as everyone seems to have discovered elderflower cordial and elderberry wine so there is a fair bit of competition to get to the flowers/berries before anyone else.
Thanks Corrine. I think I'll go take a photo this week and make a very careful comparison with images online.
applepip said…
Glad to hear of your good news about Brighid. Hoping she keeps healing well.

Your tomatoes outshine mine by along shot. Well done you.
Ange said…
The leaves on my tomato are all wrinkled and full of holes, too. Is it white butterflies?? Or what??
Ange I think it is some other kind of caterpillar but I don't know it's name. We've quite a collection of caterpillars this summer.
body lift said…
All photos are exceptionally well. Thanks for share this post.

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