32 years ago, we bought a house on an acre of land in the city of Fremont in the SF Bay Area. My mother, then 60, was living with me. Pointing at the side of the house which had perfect sun exposure, my mother asked if she could have that part of the land all to herself, to make a little farm (40’x40′).
We had gardeners come to prepare the land for her farming. My mother was right there with them and dug the furrows herself. You name it, she planted; vegetables, herbs and fruits such as strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, melons, etc. She knew exactly how to protect the plants from predators too. I was astonished and did not know this side of my mother, who had lived a privileged life.
In the beginning, we all wondered where this was going. Eventually, all of us, grandchildren included, were helping her harvest. Not only did we benefit from fresh vegetables and fruits each day, but she also made jams and pickles from the produce.
In 1980, med-flies were detected in several counties, spanning a wide portion of the California State. Further north in California, the agriculture industry was again engaged in a major struggle with the formidable pest. Hundreds of med-flies were discovered over a wide range of territory. The discoveries resulted in officials quarantining the region. Eradication efforts were greatly expanded in response to the crisis.
California officials responded by initiating massive efforts to strip and destroy fruits and vegetables in affected areas. The industry began to show signs of severe panic as this could be the beginning of a chain reaction in which foreign governments might impose severe trade restrictions on California’s produce. The CDFA (California Department of Food and Agriculture) finally announced that it was seriously considering implementation of an aerial spraying program over much of the quarantined area. This announcement met with staunch opposition from several city governments in the affected areas, as well as increased public interest group pressure. The spraying did happen.
Also, as a further action, each household received an ‘Offical Notice’ to uproot all food-producing shrubs, and pick all fruit from trees and to put it in thick trash bags (I think the bags were provided), for a special pick-up.
My mother was quite upset! Plants/products of her farm were like her babies. She could not uproot many months of her labor of love. The watermelons, cantaloupes, melons, cucumbers, squashes, were all still no bigger than size of a walnut. Extremely disappointed, my mother decided that she did not need our help and would take care of the issue herself.
Next day, returning from work, I noticed many filled trash bags at the curb. I knew I had to cheer-up my Mom. As the garage opened and I parked my car, I noticed that an entire pantry shelf in the garage was covered with large bottles of newly pickled vegetables! All marked by content, in brine or in vinegar. Hmmm
Unlike what I thought, my mother was in a good mood and busy cooking our dinner. She looked at me with a big smile and said, “Did you see my pickles? We have pickles for the entire year!”
I did not know that while they are just budding, baby watermelon, cantaloupes, melons, and squash are just like cucumbers. And yes, they can be pickled. We had delicious pickles for an entire year!
Click on the photos ↓ for recipes:
So, what’s cooking in your kitchen?