Monday, October 11, 2010

Getting to Know my Backyard

I've lived in my house for nearly a decade, but there are still parts of my yard that I have never completely embraced. Specifically, that pear tree in the back. When we first moved in, my next-door neighbor remarked on how good our pears were. I don't eat pears so I bagged some up for him in years that I remembered to pick them and didn't give the tree much more thought.

As I've matured (aged?), I've realized that pears are probably not the worst thing in the world. When they started arriving on my doorstep in my CSA delivery box, I had to do something with them so they went into my smoothies. Turns out I'm okay with the taste, just not the texture of whole pears. (My kids take after me and won't go near the pears...)

Now, that I eat this fruit, isn't it great that I have a pear tree? NO!!! For the past two years, I've waited for them to ripen on the tree and it just doesn't happen. Instead, my dear little pug waits for them to fall off the tree and then he brings them back INSIDE through the doggie door and eats them on the CARPET. Finally, I got fed up with this and decided to do some real research on exactly what kind of pears I have and why they never ripen. I learned that I have Bosc pears and they will never ripen on the tree. Who knew? So... I picked the ones I could reach, brought them inside and ripened them (as directed by the OSU Extension Service Garden Hints) in a bag with a banana. This takes advantage of the ethylene gas released by the banana. The other option is cold-storage ripening, but that seems to take much longer.

I did have perfectly ripe pears -- for about a day. They were quickly moving into overripe, so I blended them up and froze them. At least now I know I need to pick them when they are easy to pull off the tree, not when they feel ripe. Hopefully next year, I can save my carpet (and the pug) from the agony of too many pears!

It's taken years, but I'm glad I've finally acquainted myself with my pear tree and actually know what to do with it next year. Is there anything edible lurking in your yard that you have been happily ignoring? Next on my list is that wild mint - I don't even know if it's edible...

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