Magazine article Sunset

A Fruitful Endeavor

Magazine article Sunset

A Fruitful Endeavor

Article excerpt

Mulberries may be elusive, but their flavor is extraordinary, say these backyard growers. Plant them now and reap the rewards come summer.

KEVIN and MONICA lynch didn't set out to become urban farmers. The husband and wife, both schoolteachers, started as novice gardeners, just trying their hand at various edibles in their Palo Alto, California, backyard. Then they tasted a berry off their first spindly mulberry tree. "It was love at first bite," says Monica.

The flavor was unlike any fruit they'd tasted-sweeter and more complex than a blackberry, with a slightly grassy-tasting stem running through the core of the fruit. And unlike some other berries, which can be hit or miss, says Kevin, "every mulberry is really good."

Unable to find mulberries in markets, the couple planted more trees. Ten years later, their backyard is a mini orchard, and the Lynches have reorganized their lives around the summer harvest season. "We used to go to San Diego and spend five days at the beach each summer, but now we pick mulberries," Kevin says. With their iPods on and containers dangling from lanyards around their necks, the couple work from dawn to dusk, staining their fingers with purple juice.

While they've found plenty of uses for their berries at home (they may have invented the mulberry martini), the Lynches also sell fruit to local restaurants and at the farmers' market in downtown Palo Alto. Sons Osy (short for Osmanthus, the couple's favorite shrub), 12, and Halo, 10, often man the cart. "It's a breakeven business for us," Kevin says. The payoff is personal: "It started with the berries, but the friendships keep us growing." info themulberryguy.com

If you plant bareroot trees in winter, you'll be able to harvest in early summer; the Lynches pick mulberries from May through August.

IDEA

Store bareroot tress in winter, you'll be able to harvest in early summer; the Lynches pick mulberries from May through August. …

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