Home Life Kitchen Garden

Trimming the Mulberry Tree

Tractorcade Hits Big Grove
Tractorcade Hits Big Grove Township

LAKE MACBRIDE— Reaching into the cooler, forearms covered with sawdust and sweat, I pulled out the last remaining bottle of chilled water. At 86 degrees and the air full of gnats, my mouth was dry.  I drank greedily— momentary coolness quenching my thirst.

The mulberry tree grew from a seed dropped long ago by a bird sitting on the rebar marker of the corner of our property. Because of the way it grew, three of us now own a part of that tree, although I have been its caretaker. In this tree I first saw Cedar Waxwings eating berries. Under it, the deer and rabbits graze on the fallen mulberries. While a volunteer, it has been a good tree and too long neglected.

A neighbor asked me to trim it because the branches were so low he couldn’t get under it with his riding mower. I thought to myself, “that’s my problem too.” Today it was pruned. It looks much better with all the low hanging and dead branches cut away. The mulberries are beginning to ripen, indicating the turn of the season to summer.

The Great Eastern Iowa Tractorcade is a thing here. Farmers from all over get together in Cedar Rapids and for four days, go on extended excursions in tractors of all kinds. Some of the equipment is older than I am and still working in fields. The caravan extended a long distance, and based on the errand I was running when I passed the tractorcade, it took more than an hour for them all to pass the lane to our home. It is a chance for families to do something fun to show off their farm pride. Children of farm parents take time off city jobs to participate.

Row of Lettuce
Row of Lettuce

It’s the lettuce season and more in the local food arena. The lettuce in our garden looks better than I have ever grown it. The CSA has been providing four or more heads of lettuce per week, so between both sources there is enough to be generous with our friends.

The lettuce seeds I planted last week have sprouted, growing the next batch of seedlings to plant later in the month.

I picked the second cut of spinach from the first row of plants, washed and froze the leaves on a cookie sheet with a silicone mat. Once they were frozen, I bagged them for cooking later in the year. We usually make a spinach-rice casserole with frozen spinach leaves.

Each day is bringing plenty of work, and progress in getting the yard and garden in shape. After so many years of neglect, it needs it. At the end of a day, before an evening meeting, supper is a salad made with what’s on hand in the fridge. A simple spring life in Big Grove.

Dinner Salad
Dinner Salad