The Cottage Grapevine

When we first moved into the Cottage, we couldn't believe our luck: There was a thriving grapevine that produced Concord grapes on the north side of our tiny home, and an overgrown tree with a seemingly never-ending supply of avocados on the opposite end-- we could lean out of our kitchen window to grab the fruit. That season, we also planted peppers, strawberries, herbs, and citrus trees, all with surprising sucess. 

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This abundance of home-grown goodness lasted a few years before our neighbors on the south side sold their house... and with it, the sprawling avocado tree.

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The new owners hacked off most of its branches. (I admit, I cried.)

 Above: Adam clipping grape clusters.

Above: Adam clipping grape clusters.

Soon thereafter, aphids (or something similar) ate through almost everything we'd planted in our tiny garden. The only thing still standing strong was the grapevine, thanks to ongoing care and maintenance by our wonderful neighbors, Donna and Kevin.

 Left: Clipping the grapes in 2014. Photo by  Monica Wang . Right: Picking fruit between our home and the neighbor's. Photo by Lily Diamond of  Kale & Caramel .

Left: Clipping the grapes in 2014. Photo by Monica Wang. Right: Picking fruit between our home and the neighbor's. Photo by Lily Diamond of Kale & Caramel.

Fun fact: Kevin and Donna's beautifully designed, environmentally-savvy, vibrant cottage is featured in Justina Blakeney's 2nd book, The New Bohemians Handbook. Their house was built via the same blueprint as ours back in the 1920s. Much like our little home, it has undergone numerous changes since then, but the similarities are still very evident.

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Adam and I have reaped the benefits of this grapevine every spring and summer since we've lived here. The fruit is ready to eat in August when it turns a rich purple. But my favorite month as far as the vine is concerned is late May.

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That's when the leaves and tendrils rapidly stretch far and wide, and create a cooling canopy over our little yard in preparation for the summer months, which seem to keep growing hotter and hotter.

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Around this time of year, our neighbor, Kevin, spends hour upon hour clipping and cleaning the grapes, with which he makes delicious sorbet, jam and preserves. Adam and I have joined him in this process in the past.

Recently, Adam and I have been able to share the joy of the vines with West.

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Our son has been climbing up on the bench in the garden and picking the fruit off the vine ever since the clusters began forming.

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He's so excited to finally be able to eat them.

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The grapes are sweet. They have seeds and tough skin, but our little one has already gotten the hang of squeezing out the fruit and plucking out the seed.

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 Above: We used West's  toy wheelbarrow  to sort batches of grapes-- it's larger than any bowl we have on-hand.

Above: We used West's toy wheelbarrow to sort batches of grapes-- it's larger than any bowl we have on-hand.

As always, home-grown food is my favorite gift to both give and receive. It's eco-friendly, created with love, and requires no extra storage space! I believe that the simple stuff is oftentimes the best.

 Above: Gifting grapes in 2015.

Above: Gifting grapes in 2015.