Friday, April 4, 2014

Spring is in the air






Wow, a lean beginning to the year but now things are starting to look up. The chickens really did take a vacation and decided to molt in January. They wanted to make sure they looked their best for Easter I guess! Now they are laying like crazy and I think omelettes are on the menu for the next few Sunday mornings. Our orange harvest was dismal. We've never had so few oranges. Maybe the orange tree was molting too, because now it is covered in beautiful white blooms. If you've never smelled an orange tree in bloom, it is heavenly. Each morning when I go outside to play with my toddler in the dewy grass I just sit and inhale the fragrance. Then I run and grab the baby out of the strawberries and peas. He loves to pick his own snacks, which I don't mind, but he doesn't check as carefully for slugs as I do. He also doesn't care if the strawberries are ripe, which is good for avoiding slugs I guess, because they don't want the green strawberries! One of the happiest parts of my mornings are finding pea pods for him and watching his chubby fingers pry open the pods to find the cute little peas inside. He carefully sits down on his lawn chair in the sun and eats the peas one by one, then toddles across the lawn to get another pod.

Not fragrant like the citrus blossoms, our pomegranate (shown above,) pear, peaches, plums, blueberries, boysenberries, and avocado are also in full bloom. I added a cute little tangerine to our citrus collection and it is blooming too. Once again our apricot did not bloom.

We've been working very hard in our community garden plot. We cleared out all the weeds, covered the plot in compost, redesigned the irrigation system, and have been visiting diligently every week to plant, harvest, and keep the weeds under control.

After years of seed collecting (buying and saving seeds but never planting them,) I've finally had the patience to start growing them instead of going for the instant gratification of buying starts. Some of the seeds aren't germinating, but thats to be expected since some are over 10 years old. I especially look forward to the interesting tomato varieties someone gave me years ago with names like Mortgage Lifter and Cherokee Purple. It could be a great tomato year.

January harvest tally:
16 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
9 eggs

February harvest tally:
5 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
35 eggs

March harvest tally:
8 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
68 eggs

2014  total:
29 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
112 eggs

We live on a 1/10th acre lot and rent a 20x20 foot community garden plot.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Out with a whimper

Where is that lawn boy?
Oh well, this year we didn't get a fall garden going in time to harvest much. And for some reason, the hens are taking a vacation. But we have already made a good start for next year, with lots of seedlings popping up, the fruit trees pruned, and the garden fence nearly complete. Hopefully the new fence will allow us to keep a little more produce for ourselves. Happy New Year!
 
November harvest tally:
5 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
57 eggs

December harvest tally:
4 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
38 eggs

2013 total:
493 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
303 eggs

We live on a 1/10th acre lot and rent a 20x20 foot community garden plot.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Preserve the harvest

I'm not very adventurous when it comes to jams and jellies. One type of fruit, some sugar and Pomona Pectin is simple and delicious, letting the fruit flavor shine through. Pomona Pectin allows for low sugar recipes as well as tweaking of the strict recipes found in other one-box-per-batch pectins. I'm a fan. This year our plum trees had a small yield, but this was only their second year of bearing fruit, so next year I have high hopes. Plum trees do very well in our neighborhood as evidenced by the littered lawns and spattered sidewalks of several front yards I pass on my walks. This year I worked up the nerve to knock on a few stranger's doors and ask them if they'd like some help in picking their fruit. I hate to see fruit going to waste. For one reason, good fruit is expensive! Call it local and organic and you would have to spend big bucks to buy fruit like that. Tree ripened fruit, especially the stone fruits like plums and peaches, have that juicy sweet summer flavor that you can never, ever find in a grocery store fruit. Then there is the problem of overripe, rotting fruit. It attracts undesirable critters like raccoons, possums, skunks, and flies that I want to keep far away from my yard and garden. So when I see a tree heavily laden, I offer to help. Not just out of the goodness of my heart, but for selfish reasons too. The owner of the plum tree explained to me that he was disabled and was having a hard time keeping up with the plums as they fell to the ground. My husband and I picked as many plums as we could carry, probably 20 lbs., and we barely made a dent in the tree. We enjoyed several plum desserts and made several batches of plum jam, delivering two half-pint jars to the plum tree owner. Diverging from my usual single fruit jam mode, I discoverd my all time favorite jam flavor ever; blueberry plum. I won't be passing any of that out at Christmas time. I look forward to the day when my trees produce more fruit than I can possibly use. If you see a tree in this situation, consider contacting an organization like SoCal Harvest or other organizations that pick fruit from the trees of homeowners for them then donate the fruit to local food banks.
 
October harvest tally:
35 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
71 eggs

2013 total:
484 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
208 eggs

We live on a 1/10th acre lot and rent a 20x20 foot community garden plot.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dehydrating persimmons and fruit leather.
This year my fuyu persimmon tree had a great crop. I harvested about 20 lbs. of fruit from this little tree in its third season. I knew the fruit was starting to get ripe when I found several half-gnawed fruit on the ground. By the time they were perfectly ripe, entire fruits would disappear overnight. I wrapped the tree in some plastic dropcloth sheeting that made a rustling noise when moved. I think that deterred the varmints for a little while until I could get around to picking. One night I was up late and noticed an opossum giving me a dirty look as I disturbed her midnight snack. Unfortunately, my older kids don't care for persimmons, and I've found most people I know have no idea what they are. So in addition to educating my friends with free fruit and the baby and I eating fresh persimmon every day, I've been drying them in slices. Persimmons dry extremely easily. Just remove the stemmy/leafy part, the calyx, with a paring knife. Peel off the skin and slice the fruit into 1/4" slices. Dehydrate until dry, but still pliable. The fruit remains a beautiful orange color when dry without any treatment though I've read that dipping the slices in lime juice before drying is tasty. Here in southern California, persimmons are becoming more popular. In addition to farmer's markets, I saw bags of fuyus at my local Von's this week. If you see some, give them a try. This fruit has been very easy to grow in my climate, bearing fruit in early fall.
 
September harvest tally:
27 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
20 eggs
 
2013 total:
449 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
137 eggs

We live on a 1/10th acre lot and rent a 20x20 foot community garden plot.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Summer time




July harvest tally:
167 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
5 eggs

August harvest tally:
31 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
0 eggs

2013 total:
422 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
117  eggs

We live on a 1/10th acre lot and rent a 20x20 foot community garden plot.

So what do I do with all these lovely peaches? Most get canned in quart jars with light syrup, a few pints of jam are made for later use, but some lucky peaches get made into this...

Peach Cobbler
Or this...



 
Grilled Peaches
What is your favorite way to use peaches?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Spring cleaning

March harvest tally:
40 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
20  eggs

April harvest tally:
39 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
15 eggs

May harvest tally:
39 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
15 eggs

June harvest tally:
38 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
15 eggs

2013 total:
224 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
112  eggs

We live on a 1/10th acre lot and rent a 20x20 foot community garden plot.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Busy, busy


February harvest tally:
34 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
20  eggs

2013 total:
68 lbs. of fresh fruits and veggies
47 eggs

We live on a 1/10th acre lot and rent a 20x20 foot community garden plot.