Years ago, a hillside was tidied up. An apple tree growing there was pruned, grass around it ripped up. At the roots of the tree, clear plastic was laid, a layer of black plastic was laid over this, on top of this was laid colored woodchips
Alone, surrounded by short, browning grass in the heat of summer, its lower limbs sawed off, the apple tree died.
The owner changed. A new hand touched the wounds on this mortal tree, felt sorry, pulled back the layers of plastic, let the grass grow wild.
Today I walked up the stone steps of this hillside, followed the meandering path that cuts through the long grass, and grasped one of many rusty-red peaches dripping from my trees.
Several of the peaches are fruiting abundantly this year. Because I have several kinds, some are ripe now, others a couple of months from now.
A fruit here, a fruit there has been the norm for years. This year there are just loads of fruit, beyond fresh eating, from goumi, gooseberry, saskatoon, currant. I often emerge from the food forest with fruits and berries for others to try. Some look at the fruit, look at the food forest, look at me puzzled and ask: “Where did you get those?”
I have actually done the least in the food forest this year than any year before. I haven’t even mowed much of it. The rose bushes and blackberries I let grow up in the back of the food forest actually provided some fine mulch when I trimmed them back.
The amorpha and comfrey provided some very nice mulch also. I mainly mowed beside the road in order to mulch a new bed. Yet, as I walk around, plucking clusters of shining sweetness, I‘m quite pleased to see my beds are expanding themselves. Within the beds, several plants have achieved some of the most lush growth yet, with the turnip rooted chervil way above my head, and forming new patches in new beds.
To bite into the dewy sweetness of a fruit warm with sunlight here is unlike that of anywhere else. All fruit is a process. It is the workings of a place, coming to such a refined state as food. To bring in a fertilizer here, and bring in a spray there, is like making a patchwork of places and processes, in my mind. I much prefer fruits with vibrant flavor from comfrey mulch growing at the trees’ feet, (comfrey mulch and tea does produce a notably rich flavor in garden vegetables too) and the spice of essential oils wafting around the air from such pest confusers as oregano or Spiraea.
I’ve had the privilege of working with chaos after letting it back into the garden. I think it’s got the idea of what I’m after. At this point in the food forest’s development, I am sure the chaos quite eagerly gets to work as I walk away from Mortal Tree, a fresh pit of a peach at its roots.