May 3, 2014
berrries, Gardening, Healthy Lifestyle, Strawberry, Tomato Growing, Vegetables
asparagus, beets, cucumbers, lettuce, Mater Sandwich Tomato, Pineberry, strawberries, strawberry jam, vegetables
With 10 half pint jars of low sugar strawberry jam in the pantry and enough berries for another batch….. am Berry happy. As noted in the title…..this is a Berry good time of the year. My strawberries have been in full production and recent exploration of the local woods show a bumper crop of Dewberries ripening.
Dewberries pose a challenge though. Number one they are small and it takes a LOT of picking to make a batch. Secondly the vines have tiny hook like thorns…..curved perfectly to snag a stray hand, finer and/or arm…..it is usually AND! I will head out this weekend to gather some up….A lesson learned from last year – I will wear long sleeves and wear some gloves, thin enough for dexterity and thick enough to prevent the hundreds of micro-scratches!
Wild Dewberries…tiny but very tasty! – Shaky iPhone photo
The strawberries may be slowing down…..the” June Bearing” varieties peaked in late March early April. I have about 100 new” everbearing” types that will give me a light crop through the summer and go like gangbusters next year. Those added this year are the Ogallala variety. Les prolific in my backyard farm are my Pineberries. They are hardy and spread like crazy but the berries tend to be small. They are a taste treat……It was a bit of a learning curve to tell when they are ripe.
So – Which berry is ripe? They both are. The berry on the left is the Pineberry. When the seeds are red and a hint of pink is showing….it is ready to pick, taste, consume and enjoy!
The Pineberry taste is a mix….the first is the tart-sweet and then an instant later a pineapple like flavor. I have decided to just add them to my freezer bag for the strawberry jam making! These Pineberries throw off a huge number of runners. I would say that they would be an ideal edible ground cover!
What else am I eating from the garden…..asparagus, not too much this year but the newly planted crowns will create a good crop next year. The snap peas are done and just harvesting mature seed pods for next year. Lettuce….good crop but showing signs of bolting. Harvested the red and white onions yesterday and letting them dry out….not real big but so fresh and tasty. White radishes and beets….I will let the beets go another week and then pull them up. Elephant garlic is looking very good and healthy. The red potatoes have about another 40 days to harvest although I am tempted to did down and gather some babies! Tomatoes are looking very robust and healthy……a new variety for me this year is the “Mater Sandwhich” variety. I looks like an heirloom and I am anxious to taste test it. The unfortunate truth is that is a hybrid variety. I like the looks of the fruit…..can’t wait to taste test! Cucumbers are coming up nicely and I hope to be overwhelmed with Cucumbers in about 45 days or so.
December 11, 2012
Gardening, Tomato Growing, Vegetables, Winter Chill
carrots, gardening, lettuce, Meyer lemon, peppers, tomatoes, turnips
The freeze or near freeze last night put the hurt on two of the 4 remaining tomato plants. The Juliett plants showed significant freeze burn on the extremities and my potted patio plants have begun to droop. Some of the droop is due to the large number of tomatoes ripening and trying to ripen. I picked quite a few today and will get the remaining in tomorrow. I saved some so my little buddy Caleb two doors down can pick some. During his last visit to the garden I had to do some coaching concerning what was ready and what needed to wait….poor little guy, there wasn’t much that he could pull! Tomorrow he can pick large and small tomatoes, Poblano peppers, Meyer lemons, turnips, carrots, radishes and some leaf lettuce. If his mother approves I hope to capture his joy and smile in some pictures to include in the near future.
A large mixing bowl with at least double that remaining. They may have to sit in the widow sill to finish ripening.
A closer look at the tomatoes and a few radishes.
December 11th, 2012……I will have to wait about 90 days before I can put my transplants out for 2013. With a little bit of shelter I might be able to get these tomato plants to over-winter, hmmmmmm, another potential experiment !
December 9, 2012
Composting, Gardening, Healthy Lifestyle, Vegetables
asparagus, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, turnips
I am back home for a full week before running off to California again. Now I don’t mind going to California mind you, at least they are having a California start into a winter. It was nice, cool, a little rain, some wind and a bit of fog. I didn’t mind that a bit. Houston will not budge, it is still stuck in a end of summer doldrums well into December. Today, December 8th, a day removed from one of the most emotional days in American history, December 7th 1941, the bombing of Pearl Harbor we are still running our AC unit!. Today in Houston we were “blessed” with 82 degrees for the high and 64 on the low side. Sunday should mirror today. Monday, yes Monday, our version of winter will arrive and may even linger for most of the week. The high will be 54 degrees and the low will nudge freezing at 34 degrees F. My tomatoes in the barrel on the patio are days away from being ripe but I am afraid that they will finish the process on the kitchen counter. I picked one and sliced it this evening and it is a bit too firm.
A barrel full of tomatoes nearly ready to pick.
I picked some turnips and a few carrots today, one of the turnips had a growth runaway. It just dwarfed the rest of its bed mates. I made a mess of turnip greens for an evening snack and the turnips, well I will find a way to get them into play over the next several days. Turnip greens update – I just ate the greens with a little sea salt and crumbled, thick slice bacon along with a glass of my recently kegged Dirty Honey Blonde Ale. Turnip greens are something I didn’t grow up on but the great flavor and vitamin component will make them a more frequent visitor to the kitchen. Both the greens and the beer wee pretty durned good. Some further reading on turnip greens. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=144
Turnips and carrots ready fo the kithen
An extra large turnip!
The freeze or near freeze will finish off my tomato vines, the ancho/poblano peppers will hang on a little longer changing from that characteristic dark green of the immature Poblano to the red color of the mature Ancho – same pepper but two names based on color and maturity – as it matures it turns red and becomes hotter. The name ancho is associated the mature red dried version.
The rest of the garden….carrots are getting thick their beds, turnips are kicking butt, my curly kale is getting close to picking size, broccoli may be getting close to heading, the cabbage is showing signs of creating heads and the Brussel sprouts are now showing some energy to reach on up and develop some size. The sugar snap peas, I’ll have to wait as the sugar snap peas are just starting to flower. I have been pinching flowers off of my poor confused strawberry plants – they think it is a warm early spring…..I may have to chat with them as I have done with the asparagus – be quiet, develop your roots and wait for the real spring. My lettuces are looking good but sparse. I will put a third round of lettuce seeds out and hopefully it won’t be too warm for better germination.
Kozmic Purple carrots
Last week a spread a fresh batch of worm castings and have a very full wheelbarrow full of finished compost to spread. A brief visit to my friend John’s garden this evening showed a need for some of my compost. Some clean-up work will be needed as the tomato plants will have be pulled. I have some onion sets for him and I think some garlic cloves. By the end of the week I should get his garden looking good and ready for our brief winter.
The neighborhood is filled with leaves just begging for a visit from my leaf vacuum/shredder……I may have to go back to work for a week just to rest up from what I have planned this week!
November 26, 2012
Composting, Gardening, Vegetables
asparagus, lettuce, peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, worm poop, worms
Did a quick walk around in the garden and I can’t believe that it is late November and I still have tomatoes setting fruit, the ancho/poblano peppers are still producing, and the usual winter veggies are looking good!
Tomatoes – or at least one variety in my garden.
Juliett Tomatoes still seting and turning red!
Swiss Chard – looking very healthy.
Turnips are coming along nicely –
Turnips are gaining some size. This one is tennis ball sized and asking to be picked!
Meyer Lemons – I can taste some lemon curd in my future!
Peppers – aren’t they a summer crop?
Poblano or Ancho peppers – locally known as Poblano – great for Rellenos!
Roses and Camelias are blossoming!
I just love the blossom patterns!
Miniature red rose. Bought as a house plant for my wife but is now happily residing next to the Camelia bush.
The strawberry towers are getting filled!
Sweet Charlie strawberries are in place and growing.
I ate some fresh picked asparagus this moring and then cut the ferns back one more time! Spread some compost pulled weeds – duh! Every day I can pull weeds! I thinned the beets and planted some red and white onion sets….need to head over to John’s house and populate his garden too!
I am in town all week so I should get a lot done….more composting, harvest the worm poop, shred some leaves, make some lemon curd and did I mention pull some weeds?
September 28, 2012
California, Gardening, Memories, Travel
Baywood Park, Camarillo, gardening, lettuce, Los Osos, Morro Bay, Santa Barbara, Succulents, vegetables
I was out to California last week and spent a couple of days over at my mother’s place in the little quiet town of Los Osos/Baywood Park. It is just a short jaunt to Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo from her house. I finished the trip with a drive down the coast to my daughter’s home in Camarillo. That was nice, I spent time with all three grandchildren and was able to see the baby bump of my great-grandson tucked away in the womb – can’t hardly wait for February!
Mom had a list of about 12 items she needed some help with and I worked my way through the list. Some items involved technology issues, i.e., resetting the phone date & time, drafting instructions for printing photos from her computer, scanning and making copies – the stuff that an 83 year old wants to do but this tech stuff is still mystifying….as she says, “Kinda like magic!” I was able to get my hands dirty with repotting some of her succulents and moving the heavier pots around the place. I am so envious of the growing environment she is blessed with. Mom is doing very well and is back to running the Tai Chi class for about 14-16 women in her development 3 days per week. She is a pretty perky old gal and sharp as a tack. During her nap time I got to wander out and take a few photos.
September 22, 2012
California, Gardening, mulching, Philosophical, Photography, Travel
almonds, carrots, dairy, lettuce, melons
I mean that in the nicest way. I am in the Golden State for a bit of work and then off to the coast to visit my Mom. Her to-do list has grown to two pages. I am keeping with the gardening theme as several tasks deal with re-potting and replanting! I get spoiled on my California visits….you can find a twig, stick into the soil, add water and it will grow.
Oh, there are some draw backs – this is the time of the year in and around Bakersfield when they are defoliating the cotton and the shakers are knocking the dust and almonds off the trees. The air is thick. I have also noticed that there is a familiar strong scent all over town. I grew up a little south of town near Larson’s dairy. This familiar scent reminds me of time spent across the road around the dairy….There is an earthy component in my Larson’s dairy memories but I am afraid that the proliferation of the mega dairies that have invaded the Kern County landscape have permeated the south end of the San Joaquin Valley with a scent that has gone beyond the earthy farm scent it is an odor…..it has begun to stink!
Shift gears – the good things are abundant….I drove over to Mom’s place through the Cuyama River Valley – truck loads of carrots were heading down to the processing facilities in and around Bakersfield – I passed through probably 10’s of thousand of acres of carrot fields….many just harvested and others dense with lush tops crowded into little green furry hedges. Melons lying in the fields leftover from the recent harvest, thousands of burlap sacks bulging with harvested onions waiting for the trucks to roll through. Sprinklers shooting the high arching streams of water irrigating the fields spreading across the valley floor in a seemingly endless vista. And yes, the big guys are here too – Grimway Farms and William H. Bolthouse – in the next week or two look at the label on a carrot bag…..I just drove by what you are eating now! (US based readers and maybe Canada too).
Los Osos, the bears in Spanish, is where Mom now makes here home….the cooler weather is home to the lettuce, cabbage, parsley and flower growers….I will try to shoot some photos today or tomorrow for another post….Pumpkins both large and small are peeking through the dying vines in the fields now…..beautiful, dark black rich soils contrasting with the greens, yellowing leaves and bright orange of the pumpkins! Should have stopped then but I was on a timeline to catch a sunset!
Looking across the bay in Baywood adjoining Los Osos.
Lovely evening….I was one of dozens at water’s edge watching the sun put on it’s evening show – free of charge!
August 29, 2012
asparagus, beets, cucumbers, lettuce, peppers, tomatoes
I promise to keep my promises this time.
I promise to thin the carrots I planted Monday. I will not let them crowd each other into a carrot top hedge of green. I helped my self by being a little less generous as I sprinkled the seeds into the rows.
I think I can grow bigger/longer carrots if I ask a few more to step up and become compost volunteers.
I promise to thin the lettuces as they emerge so they can develop into nice leafy heads of tender munching. New technique yesterday – I sprinkled seeds over a section that I am trying a no till approach. The area has a fairly deep mat of grass clippings, compost and some shredded leaves. After sprinkling the seeds I used a steel rake to tamp the seeds into the substrate, watered well and will monitor. I have read that lettuces like to be planted very shallow and benefit from exposure to light to germinate…..we shall see.
Lettuces and turnips crowded together in my friend John’s bed…I was just as guilty!
I promise to thin my beets so they can mature into good-sized globes of goodness. I started them in divots space about 4 inches apart – several seeds to each divot so I need to select the strongest to survive the thinning process.
I promise to thin my turnips – see reasons above.
A few made it to decent size but I had far too many nugget sized beets and turnips.
I added a few spinach seeds and a few chard seeds … may be a little early but I have many – many more….they may also need to be thinned as they sprout.
I should have reined in the sweet potato vines …. so if I plant some next summer I will do some thinning. We had two sweet potatoes that were sprouting in the kitchen so I just tossed them into the bed with my asparagus – no problems with weed control in that bed. The vines have overwhelmed the are smothering any chance the weeds may have had. The asparagus ferns are ginormous….also helping with weed control. The adjacent bed is also overwhelmed with the vines, also weed free. I did some trimming today but it is well after the fact…in hte process I have discovered new sweet potatoes….. how many more are hiding in the tangled jungle of vines?
This is an 8 foot bed by 4 feet wide. The sweet potatoes have covered this bed, choked out the weeds and climbed the cucumber trellis! WOW!
This is the asparagus bed – the two tossed out sweet potatoes landed here and spread like crazy! The asparagus ferns, if standing straight up are 6-8 feet tall. I used tall tomato cages to keep them partially upright! An 8 foot by 4 foot bed!
My long beds – 24 feet long – are somewhat cleared and seeded as discussed above. Some pruned tomato plants, some newer transplants in place, some cucumbers, are hanging on through the heat ( picked 3 this morning), a few flowers, ancho & anaheim peppers are still producing and i’m waiting for emerging seeds!
A look toward the asparagus bed and the sweet potato jungle. Early morning with a little shade from our big oak tree.