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.