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Jan. 28 - Filled the bird feeders and shoveled snow. Lots and lots of snow.
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Posts Tagged ‘growing fruit’

Red Haven Peaches Waiting To Be Bottled

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Peaches to be bottled

One of the joys of growing your own fruit is being able to bottle as much as you want or need to without it breaking the bank. Peaches in the store and at the Farmer’s Market here on Thursdays cost a small fortune. It’s one thing to buy some to eat but having enough to put up is a whole different ball game.

The Red Haven peaches are going to finish up by early next week and then the Hale Havens will begin to ripen. I’ve tried one that was almost ripe and it was sweeter than the Red Havens. When I’ve finished bottling peaches from the first tree it will be about time to get started on the second…and so on and so on. Six trees should take us through September and then it will be time for a well deserved vacation.

We do share a lot of our peaches, thankfully so many people really like peaches. I can’t imagine what we would do with all that fruit if we didn’t share.

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Bottled Peaches

Our Red Haven Peaches Are Finally Getting Ripe

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First picking of Red Haven Peaches

We have six peach trees and all of them have peaches that ripen at different times. This way we have a long peach season and we aren’t pushed to do something with all those peaches all at once.

We have Red Haven, Hale Haven, Autumn Star, Elberta and Early Elberta. We also have a mystery peach that has been here for about 50 years, which is about 46 years longer than us. The Red Haven is the first to ripen and it is a teaser. The peaches turn beautiful, rich shades of red and peach long before the peach is ripe. Looking at the tree you would think it was ready to be picked. Not so. Those peaches may look ripe but they stay hard as rocks for quite a while. Then one day they begin to soften. Thankfully, they don’t all soften at the same time, just a few here and there. Soon though they will all be ready to pick.

We like to share them and of course we eat quite a lot too. We will be busy bottling peaches for the next six weeks or so.

Giant, Sweet Blackberries Ripening

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Huge blackberries out of the garden

A couple of years ago I planted 6 thornless blackberry vines in a patch I had prepared just for them. It turned out not to be such a great place because the nearby trees didn’t allow enough sun to get to the plants and so they grew but didn’t produce much fruit.

Last fall I moved them to a sunny area near the raised vegetable beds. I provided something for them to grow on by driving two pieces of rebar into the ground, one on each end of the blackberry bed and arching a PVC electrical conduit (which I had painted black to blend into the background) over the bed and down onto the rebar. This works great because it is a little flexible and I can pull it down a little so that I can reach the berries.

Apparently the vines are very happy

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Blackberries ripening in the garden

in the new location because the vines have more than quadrupled in number and are producing prolific amounts of berries. We will have plenty of berries this year. The berries are huge and when they get ripe they are so sweet. I picked a basket full today to make a cobbler. Being sweet is great for just eating raw but for a cobbler, the tartness of the berries is perfect.

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Arbor made from rebar and PVC electrical conduit for blackberry vines to grow on

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Peaches Are Growing And The Hardy Kiwi Are Blooming

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Peaches beginning to grow

It’s so fun to watch as the fruit on the trees begins to grow and the strawberries start turning pink. This year, besides the peaches, apples, apricots and assorted berries, we also have current bushes (with currents) and the Kiwi are finally blooming. This is their 4th summer and the first time we’ve actually seen blossoms. So we’re hoping to finally get Kiwi fruit. These are the hardy Kiwi and the fruit is smooth and small. It doesn’t need to be peeled and it is said to be very sweet. Can’t wait to try them.

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Kiwi vines with blossoms

Also, as the plant (a vine that can grow 40-50 feet) matures, the leaves begin to get pink and cream colorations on them, making it look like the vines are full of blooms. See this post from Cornell for more information: http://www.fruit.cornell.edu/mfruit/kiwifruit.html

We have a male and a female (yes, you need both) vine and they should cover one end of our grape arbor.

So looking forward to eating our very first Kiwi.

Improving Plant Growth With Less Fertilizer? Great Products For The Garden

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Product Samples To Test In Our Garden

Last fall I wrote a post about a product I’d heard about called “Blend” (see post http://wp.me/p1OXDF-BE ) and all it could do to improve the qualities of soil. The company that produces it is located in Arizona and since we were down there for a wedding reception, we took time to tour their facility and learn a little more about them.

It was an amazing place, much larger than I had imagined. I learned that Blend is only one of many products they produce to improve and condition the soil and to feed plants.

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Mixers At The Lizuid Fertilizer Plant In Arizona

There are mixtures that stimulate the root growth (for stronger, healthier plants) and products that improve the uptake of nutrients (macro and micro). There are pesticides made with Thyme oil. Plants need such a variety of nutrients and most soils don’t provide all that plants need. Most fertilizers provide the basicĀ  Nitrogen, Phosphate and Potash (the numbers on the fertilizer containers) but not the many other nutrients required by plants.

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Preparing My Samples

They were generous and kind enough to give me some samples to bring home to try on our garden. I am so excited to be able to use them, since I’ve heard such good things about them. At this time they only sell wholesale and their products are used all over the world, even China. (Isn’t it nice to know that China actually buys something from us?)

Hopefully, they can be persuaded to retail some of their magic plant serum to some of us here in the U.S.

I will be posting pictures of plants grown with (and even some grown without) the different additives. It will be interesting to see how it does in our garden.

Fresh Dates? Yes, Please

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Date Palm

I’d written about dates from a previous trip, but I hadn’t yet tasted fresh dates. The ones we saw were all dangling from trees. See post: http://wp.me/p1OXDF-1wf

On our recent trip we sampled fresh dates in Arizona and in California (both delicious) and now I’m trying to figure out a way to grow dates here in zone 6. The trees are beautiful (as you can see) and one tree would produce almost enough dates to keep me happy for a year. I’m not sure they would produce well in a greenhouse, but that seems to be my only alternative.

We learned so much about dates, for instance, they like it hot, hot, hot but also need lots and lots of water. That’s why they grow in the oasis. The giant, premium dates are called Medjools and the smaller, round ones are Deglets. There is a long, thin one called Barhee, which I loved. It is drier and chewier than the others and it has a nutty flavor. Dates are very nutritious and full of anti-oxidants.

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Fresh Dates...So Delicious

I took some to my daughter today and even though she doesn’t like dates, she tried them and loved them. See her blog at: http://greenardelle.blogspot.com/

If you can’t get down to Arizona or southern California, you might like to order some fresh from the grower, and no, I don’t get a kickback šŸ™

The great place we stopped at can be found online at: http://www.browndategarden.com/Ā  They also grow grapefruit and oranges. We got some of their Temple oranges that were amazing. The people there were so friendly and helpful. We will definitely look them up again when we’re in California.

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Date Palm Grove

 

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Dates Drying on the Tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve never tried fresh dates, then you don’t know what you’re missing.

 

This Is Our Goal – Growing Plenty Of Sweet, Juicy Grapes On The Arbor

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Grapes on an arbor. This is our goal...out dream.

There aren’t many sights prettier than the sun filtering down through grape leaves, with all the shades of green showing so clearly. The only thing to improve that sight, would be great clusters of grapes hanging down.

When we moved into our house 3 years ago, we planned how we would arrange the garden so that we could squeeze everything (well, almost everything) into it that we wanted. We decided to have a grape arbor across the back of the yard and we wanted it large enough to provide eating and seating areas underneath it.

Before we had the arbor built, we planted the 11 grape vines. We didn’t want to waste any time because we knew they would take time to mature and reach the top, and start producing big fat, delicious grapes. We did get a few grapes last year, and they were really good. The two posts at the north end of the arbor have kiwi vines growing up them instead of grape vines.

This year will be the fourth summer in the ground and the grape vines will be a lot more mature. It will be exciting to finally have a nice, green canopy for shade under the arbor.

 

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Arbor site (looking south) - Grape Vines planted before arbor built. Lots of ivy and plants to remove. 2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Under the Grape Arbor (looking South) 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Treasure Trove Of Gardening Books Which I Refer To Often

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Part of library which includes gardening books

Long before there was an Internet or Super Highway of Information, there were books; gardening books written on any subject you could imagine. Sometimes, even though we can just Google any subject we are curious about, it is nice to be able to refer to a book. Books are not all created equal, of course, and some are chock full of information and get referred to over and over again. Some of my books are interesting and filled with pretty pictures, but I don’t often open them. It’s easy to tell which of the books in my garden library are of most use to me, by the worn look of some of them.

Some of my books have been given to me as gifts, some I’ve bought new, but the majority have come from second hand book stores, thrift stores and garage sales. If I had paid retail for all of my books, my library would be worth a small fortune. I would suggest to start your own garden library, even if you start with only one book. Become familiar with all the information in that book. You’ll be surprised at how little nuggets of knowledge can come to you when you need them.

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Gardening books

Look for books on the topics that interest you the most and you won’t be able to put the book down until you’ve devoured all theĀ  informationĀ  in it. I’m partial to roses, herbs and perennials so I look for books on those subjects. My interest has gradually spread, soĀ  I had to look for a wider variety of books. Now I not only have books on gardening (roses, perennials, growing herbs, raised bed gardening, organic gardening, growing fruits and vegetables and annuals) but I also have books on garden design, how to landscape, how to deal with problems in the garden like pests and disease, container

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gardening books

gardening and all about birds and how to attract them to my garden. I even have books about decks and arbors etc. and potting sheds. Since my gardening books are used as reference books, I keep them accessible and always at my fingertips.

 

Thank goodness for smart people who write books and share what they know.

 

 

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garden books as reference

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Apple Picking Time

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Ripe apple on the tree

One of the favorite activities of fall is picking apples. Even if you don’t have apples growing inĀ  your own yard, in most areas, youĀ  can go to a “Pick Your Own” orchard. There is nothing like an apple picked ripe and fresh right off the tree. There is an art to picking apples that most people aren’t aware of, and with a few little tips, you’ll be a better apple picker.

Can you tell when an apple is ripe? You can’t just go by the color, because not only do some apples remain green or yellow when ripe, but even the red ones may actually turn red before the apple is ready to pick. Apples stay firm, and you can’t just give them a little squeeze to judge ripeness either.

One way, to tell if the apples are getting ripe, is if they began to fall off the tree. The damaged or diseased fruit will fall first and then the good apples will begin to come down. It’s when the good apples are falling you know they are ripe. It may be better to pick them a little before this stage though, since sometimes the ones that fall on the ground are a little over-ripe. With apples, it’s best to pick them before this stage since they will store better if not too ripe.

Sampling the apples give you an indication of how far along they are toward ripening. If the species your trying is suppose to be sweet and itisn’t yet, give the apples on that tree a little more time. Some apples are tart when they are ripe though and it may be harder to recognize when it’s best to harvest them.

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Apples on apple tree

Another really good way to tell if they are ready to pick is that the seeds will be dark. If the seeds are still light, either green or tan, then the apple isn’t completely ripe.

Ripe apples can be almost lifted off of the limbs with little pressure. If you have to pull hard then you know the apple isn’t quite ripe yet, so go to the next apple. Like peaches and other fruits, all of the fruit on the tree doesn’t ripen at the same time.

If you plan to store your apples, instead of using them right away, then be sure to leave the stem on. When the stem is removed, it leaves a small opening for rot to begin to develop. Even though apples are hard, not soft like peaches, they still need gentle treatment. They will bruise easily if dropped or poured into containers, and the bruises can cause them to rot.

If you have a cool, dark place to store them, you can enjoy fresh apples for a long time. There are so many things to do with apples, from pies, salads, cakes, applesauce to cider, and they can be bottled or dried as well. Growing apples is a smart thing to consider doing and each fall you can enjoy the bounty.

Here is a good site to get more information about growing apples.

http://www.aboutappletrees.com/growing_apple_trees.shtml

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Apple pie, of course. YUM!!

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