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Dreaming of summer fruit as winter hangs on

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It’s the Winter That Wouldn’t Die — below-normal temperatures, piles of snow everywhere. Talk of a big flood, again. But I’m dreaming of summer’s fruit.

The apple trees in my yard are still bare, still holding on to last year’s apples that didn’t get picked. I’m sure the birds who stayed here through the winter appreciated them. I need to figure out some way to get those apples — maybe I’ll strike a deal with my neighbour, whose yard they hang over so enticingly. It looks like the same tree is bearing two kinds of apple — I wonder who spliced them together so many years ago? The crab apples on my side made the most delightful applesauce last year, but I can’t wait to get my hands on those eating apples, so tantalizingly on the wrong side of the fence.

The rhubarb bush my husband planted when we bought this house almost 20 years ago will pop up quite early, once the ground is thawed. For years I didn’t know what to do with those big leaves but now I have learned the joys of stewed rhubarb with ginger, preferably with home-made vanilla ice cream. Mmm.

The raspberry canes behind my deck are just poking up through the snow, all dry and withered. Once the snow is gone, we will cut them back so the young growth can spring up. I rarely get to make anything with those raspberries, because they disappear into our mouths as we walk up the back steps. Maybe I’ll snag a few to put in my rhubarb stew.

A certain candidate for sharing the stew pot with my rhubarb is the fruit of my strawberry patch — at least, if the bunnies don’t get my strawberries first. I’m afraid I’m going to have to bite the bullet and put  up wire netting around my strawberries.

Another plant I’m looking forward to seeing is one that most gardeners probably dread — the humble dandelion. The greens are very good for you, a little bitter but excellent mixed with kale or other dark greens in a stir fry or quiche.

I’m sure you have all sorts of wonderful things in your backyard that you’ve been neglecting because you don’t know what to do with them, or it’s too much trouble to harvest them. Don’t let summer’s bounty go to waste!

This year I’m planning to devote some of my time and energy to the wonderful people at Fruit Share Manitoba. They are looking for volunteers to help pick, co-ordinate, promote and many other functions. You can contact them at info@fruitshare.ca or 204-272-8520, to volunteer or to book a harvest in your yard.

Hadass Eviatar is a community correspondent for West Kildonan. Check out her blog at: http://hadasseviatar.com/blog.

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