For a fruitarian, summer is the time s/he anxiously waits for. With the last days of February it begins with mulberry, then comes green jackfruit, followed by grapes, watermelon, love apple and ultimately ending with the king of fruits: Mangoes.
Most orchard owners do not care much for mulberry for various reasons as it invites scores of birds and then there is the problem of picking the tiny fruits. But my purpose has been to build an ecosystem where I am happy to have the bird, the snakes, the butterflies, lizards and all sorts of benign and harmful insects. Well, the birds do chomp away a lot of mulberries. I let them have it for I have benefitted from their transgressions. They have brought and deposited seeds in my garden, of which some have grown into trees, namely the Laburnum, Singapore Cherry and several others.
In my childhood, I knew mulberry as shehtoot. In Marathi, it’s known as tooti. Having spent my childhood days in Cantonments in places like Kanpur, Ludhiana and Ambala we were exposed to the cream-coloured variety which we devoured returning home from school after having written our exams. I have the magenta-coloured one. It makes its appearance as green, turn’s red with time and ultimately assumes the dark shade of magenta making one feel that it’s black! And that’s when the birds come to have their share. Not a stray one or two but scores of them raising a ruckus.
Plucking them individually is a chore and time-consuming though Mangal likes them that way even climbing the tree. I try the easy way out spreading old sari all around and violently shaking the tiny branches. The ripe ones get dislodged and drop down.
My mulberries—I have three of them—yields fruits twice. In October-November and once again in March. The trick is to prune the tree every year which results in the appearance of new branches along with leaves.
Though packed with nutrition, mainly anti-oxidants mulberry have a very short shelf-life and thus not available in the market. They also contain large amounts of vitamin C as well as Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, really high levels of Iron, and Dietary Fiber which all help to give the body and mind incredible energy.
According to www.ReturntoNature.us.They are also high in minerals like potassium, manganese, and magnesium and contain the B vitamins, B6, Niacin, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid. Mulberries contain flavonoids and phytonutrients and are extremely high in anthocyanins which help to fight against cancer as well as reduce ageing and neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes, and bacterial infections. The berries also contain resveratrol, a powerful blood flow increasing antioxidant which you have probably heard promoted through the wine industry as their new claim to fame. Resveratrol is a powerful healer for many conditions such as ageing diseases, inflammation, and a number one go to as part of a herbal protocol for the treatment of Lymes disease.
Growing them is very easy as a mere cutting planted during the monsoon can yield a tree. I try to populate my orchard with one mulberry every year.
This year I had a bountiful harvest. It made wifey very happy and she made several glasses of smoothie which we have been downing your throats every morning. She has promised to make jam and pancakes too.