Monday, August 20, 2012

A Small August Harvest

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Lately, I've been participating in the Monday Harvest blog thingamajigger (hosted at Daphne's excellent blog). Most people are documenting massive garden bounty, and as usual I'll be showing stark photos of the austere randomness of our garden.

We have a small Murcott mandarin tree, that has been holding onto three not-quite-ripe-looking fruits for an eternity. (Seriously. I think they've been on the tree for over a year.) This past week, I decided that letting the fruit stay on the tree was stupid, and picked one of the fruits. Then minutes later, Robb was watering the tree and the other two remaining fruits jumped off the tree. They must have been so lonely that they committed suicide.

Murcott is the same variety marketed by Florida growers under the name Honey. It is thought to have come out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture citrus breeding program in Florida in the early 1900s. The fruit was quite tasty. Nicely acid, and not too sweet. We've got some baby fruit coming along. Let's hope it doesn't take seven years for this next batch to ripen.

While on the subject of fruit harvest, I should mention that we got four small Laroda plums off of the volunteer plum tree that has been my grafting experiment. The graft was made back in the spring of 2011, and the fruits were relatively small. But my-oh-my! They were truly delicious.

We're seeing the end of the pluots, and the persimmon keeps dumping unripe fruit on the ground. Claire over at Curbstone Valley Farm wondered if eating windfall persimmon caused our hen Harriet's gastric distress. She thought that the typical astringency of the persimmon might have been a problem. We let these persimmons "blet" (or sit around until they get mushy) and once they're in that state, they are remarkably bland. Far too bland for human consumption, that's for sure!




The chickens are laying a few eggs. Anne Elliot, our bossy Wyandotte seems to be our best layer. She's producing light brown eggs. Harriet was laying darker brown eggs, until she got sick. And someone -- maybe our Easter Egger Isabella, maybe Anne Elliot -- is laying medium-light brown eggs. It seems that the colors are variable, from day to day, so unless we actually see a hen leaving the nest box (and screaming her head off) we're not sure who has laid what.




We've been harvesting a bit of honey. This year, the bees were really prolific, building up huge populations (and swarming like crazy). What they weren't doing a lot of was stockpiling honey. I suspect they were using all the incoming nectar to feed the young bees. Clearly, the bees need the honey more than we do. So we'll only harvest a little bit, as the opportunity arises.

Harvesting just a little bit seems to be the theme of our vegetable garden right now. We're getting a bit of kale, and some windfall apples from our next door neighbors. Beans are trickling in. Things are slow, and I'm not sure if this is due to my ow incompetence or our concrete-like soil, or just the time of year. I really do find gardening in California confusing, in comparison to gardening on the East Coast.

8 comments:

Crafty Cristy said...

I feel the same way you do--others harvest massive amounts, and I show off the small amounts I harvest. But I am glad to harvest anything.

How cool to have bees. I want bees. My family is not at all supportive of the idea.

Michelle said...

Gardening is a little different here (major understatement), but you will get the hang of it evenutally. It's only taken me about 20 years or so, and I've lived here from day zero.

I like the little of this and little of that harvests, I'm too busy, um, lazy to deal with gluts these days.

Suicidal mandarins, what a hoot!

Michelle said...

Gardening is a little different here (major understatement), but you will get the hang of it evenutally. It's only taken me about 20 years or so, and I've lived here from day zero.

I like the little of this and little of that harvests, I'm too busy, um, lazy to deal with gluts these days.

Suicidal mandarins, what a hoot!

Shawn Ann said...

eggs and honey! Would love to have those. I think that is pretty good!

Stefaneener said...

It looks scrumptious. I feel like Queen Slacker, since my harvests are minimal. Oh well.

camissonia said...

Looks like you've got quite the home farm going for you. I'm sure nothing tastes better than fresh produce, honey and eggs!

Mary Hysong said...

mmmm honey sound wonderful! I had to give up beekeeping when I became allergic to the stings. Well just keep adding lots of organic matter to your soil, it will improve! and every year will get better and better

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Gardening around the Bay Area (SF, or Monterey) seems different from one year to the next. I think I garden now for the element of surprise ;) Throw in a few rogue rodents, just to mix things up, and it's anybody's guess what will grow and/or yield. Like you, our eggs seem to be the most consistent commodity, although I am happy to say we did finally get some honey, but only from about a third of our hives. I agree, when the colonies are busy making bees, they don't seem to squirrel away much extra honey, but I'm grateful even for a smakeral.

I still wonder about Harriet and those persimmons though. Bletted or not, they're still unripe, and still contain some potentially problematic tannins, like shibuol. I'm just not sure how much of an issue those are for birds...I'll need to do some extra homework ;)

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