by Cathy Erway
[Cathy writes about Wonderberry Jam and much more on her new blog Lunch at Sixpoint. -mb]
One of the cool things about gardening is that you get to grow things that you didn’t even know existed. Browsing the catalog at Baker’s Creek, Seeds of Change or Seed Saver’s Exchange, some of my favorite sites to find crazy heirloom seeds, is like opening the door to a third dimension of food, where cantaloupes come in fifteen distinct shapes and flavors, and eggplant can be ghost-white, green, golden or red. Or rather, welcome to agriculture, pre-monoculture, again. Eight-ball zucchini, anyone?
I still don’t know of anyone else who’s heard of wonderberries. They seem to have slipped through the cracks of popular food culture, and that was what probably compelled my boyfriend, Shane, to order seeds for the plant. From the start, it was one of the most prolific growers, beating its neighboring brassicas and lettuces in its race to regenerate. Branches and leaves multiplied. Flowers blossomed and withered in early spring. Now, we’re looking at three great bushes that seem to want to crawl out of their keg-containers and blanket the rooftop with berries. Maybe that’s why they were regarded with “wonder.”