Harvest Monday on April 22, 2014

Once again, I am late posting my harvests for last week. And I didn’t take many photos either. But I sure had some good harvests.

Our Florida Prince peach has decided to ripen all of its fruit at once. This is one container of three that I picked.

Our Florida Prince peach has decided to ripen all of its fruit at once. This is one container of three that I picked.

I made a peach pie this week, but we ate it all before I could photograph it.

We harvested oranges, lemons and limes this week, plus lettuce and artichokes, but this is all that made it in front of the camera for a portrait.

We harvested oranges, lemons and limes this week, plus lettuce and artichokes, but this is all that made it in front of the camera for a portrait.

This is the temperature on our back deck as of a half hour ago. It is up to 99.1 now. I HATE the heat!

This is the temperature in the house and on our back deck as of a half hour ago. It is now up to 99.3. I HATE the heat! We have no air conditioning. 

My garden hates the heat too. It is only April 29. What the heck is this summer going to be like? My collard greens have wilted. My beautiful salmon-colored orchid cactus opened up one magnificent blossom yesterday, but it is all wilted today.

The Santa Ana winds are howling outside. I will not be gardening today. However, I did turn some of my lemon harvest into some ice-cold lemonade with mint in it. Yum.

Here is our harvest from last week.

FRUIT

2 lbs, 8 oz Lemons, Meyer

11 oz Limes

4 lbs 6 oz Oranges, Navel

11 lbs 4 oz Peaches, Florida Prince

Subtotal FRUIT 18 lbs 13 oz

VEGETABLES

1 lb Artichoke

2 oz herbs

4 oz Lettuce

Subtotal VEGETABLES 1 lb 6 oz

TOTAL PRODUCE 20 lbs 3 oz, plus 17 EGGS

Well, that is a record harvest. I don’t think I’ve ever had one this large, not even in August or September when the tomatoes turn ripe. My tiny little yard is doing itself proud this year. Now the challenge will be salvaging the rest of the peach harvest from the squirrels, night critters, heat, and wind, and then turning it into pies or frozen peaches before mold takes over. Why do food preservation needs always seem to fall on the hottest days? Even in April? Gimme a break.

If you had a harvest, or to see what others are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions. For some reason, I have not been able to post comments there, or on any BlogSpot blog. Is anyone else having this issue? This is a WordPress blog.

Easter, 2014

I tried an experiment this Easter: dyeing boiled eggs using natural dyes. I think it worked really well. I tried beets, red cabbage, yellow onion skins, and tea bags. Then for a lark, we popped a boiled egg into a glass of red wine that was a bit past its prime. We got a nice pale purple out of that, as well as tartaric acid crystals all over the egg. That gave it a nice and very unusual glitter. The wine-dyed egg is in the middle row on the left. The four in back were dyed with conventional dyes.

Eggs in front were dyed with natural dyes. The ones in the back row were dyed using standard Easter egg food coloring dyes.

Eggs in front were dyed with natural dyes. The ones in the back row were dyed using standard Easter egg food coloring dyes.

These were not eggs from my chickens. My chickens lay brown eggs, which are not suitable for dyeing. Nicole got a a dozen white eggs from the store, which we simmered for 15 minutes.

Onion Skin Dye (yellow-orange)

Take the dry outer skins from 4-5 yellow onions and boil for 15 minutes in 1.5 cups of water. Strain the liquid off and discard the skins. Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the liquid. Put a boiled egg into the hot liquid and let it sit for 15-30 minutes until desired intensity is achieved. This will give a nice yellow-orange dye, seen in the middle two eggs, front row.

Red Cabbage Dye (pale blue)

Chop up a half head small red cabbage and boil it in 1.5 cups of water for 15-30 minutes Drain, reserving the liquid. You can eat the cabbage if you want. Add a teaspoon of vinegar to the hot liquid and let a boiled egg sit in it for a half hour. The result will be a lovely pale blue. The eggs on the right side, front, above were dyed with red cabbage dye.

Beet Dye (pink)

Chop up a beet and boil in 1.5 cups water for 15-30 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid, and add a teaspoon of vinegar. Dye eggs in the hot liquid for 15-30 minutes. You should get a nice pink color, as in the center right egg above.

Tea Bag Dye (brown)

Boil 4 tea bags in 1.5 cups of water for about 15 minutes. Remove tea bags, add a teaspoon of vinegar, and dye boiled eggs for about 15-30 minutes. The two eggs on the front right row above were dyed with tea bags. You should get an interesting mottled brown pattern.

The eggs were fun to do, but spending Easter weekend with the little grandkids was even more fun. First we went to the library for Saturday morning “reading to the dogs.” The twins got practice reading to the two service dogs, while little Mike and Megan ran around and played.

Allison reads to Finley. Mostly the dogs went to sleep while they were being read to. LOL.

Allison reads to Finley. Mostly the dogs went to sleep while they were being read to. LOL.

Mike likes to play at the library.

Mike likes to play at the library.

Mike likes to play at home too. This is his new Black and Decker tool bench.

Mike likes to play at home too. This is his new Black and Decker tool bench.

The Easter bunny leaves footprints and poops out jelly beans when he comes to visit. The kids dye the eggs and put them in the refrigerator, but the tricky bunny then hides the eggs overnight. The kids have to go find them. Two-year-old Mike was mystified at this new ritual.

The Easter bunny leaves footprints and poops out jelly beans when he comes to visit. The kids dye the eggs and put them in the refrigerator, but the tricky bunny then hides the eggs overnight. The kids have to go find them. Two-year-old Mike was mystified at this new ritual.

But he sure saw the jelly beans on the floor.

But he sure saw the jelly beans on the floor.

He called the jelly beans "hop-hop poo-poo," and ate them.

He called the jelly beans “hop-hop poo-poo,” and ate them.

Too funny.

Too funny.

Then Mike settled down in Papa's lap to show him all the goodies in his Easter basket.

Then Mike settled down in Papa’s lap to show him all the goodies in his Easter basket.

The bunny brought new books for the girls to read.

The bunny brought new books for the girls to read.

What a great Easter.

Have you ever used natural dyes to dye Easter eggs?

Harvest Monday (on Wednesday, April 21, 2014

A belated HappyEarth Day to you all!I was busy fighting a computer issue all day yesterday. Don’t ask me what happened to Monday, because I don’t remember. i suspect more computer issues then too. And for that reason, I am posting Harvest Monday on Wednesday this week. I figure that is better than skipping it all together.

I have done a much better job of photographing harvests lately. Not that the photos are better. It’s just that I got out my camera and used it before gobbling up the food. So here goes.

Our chard is HUGE this year. I could do a fan dance with these leaves. But I won't.

Our chard is HUGE this year. I could do a fan dance with these leaves. But I won’t.

Limes keep falling from the tree, one or two or four at a time.

Limes keep falling from the tree, one or two or four at a time.

This is one morning's harvest (except for the eggs, which accumulate). Do you see breakfast here?

This is one morning’s harvest (except for the eggs, which accumulate). Do you see breakfast here?

Lou’s Omelette (for 2)

5 eggs (preferably from your own chickens)

1 red bell pepper

1 or 2 green onions, including the tops

2 – 3 T Ranch dressing (or sour cream)

1/3 C grated cheese (I use a Mexican taco blend)

1/2 tsp Trader Joes 21 Salute Seasonings (a blend of dried onion and herbs)

1 T butter (or bacon grease, or margarine)

Chop bell pepper and slice onion. Saute in butter until bell pepper is slightly browned. Set aside.

Beat eggs with ranch dressing and seasoning mix. Pour into a hot skillet, adding more butter if necessary. Cover and cook until top is nearly set. Add chopped vegetables and cheese. Add salt and pepper if you like it. Cover and cook until top is set. Flip over half the omelette, cut it in half, and serve with fruit and toast.

Saute the vegetables.

Saute the vegetables.

Cook the eggs until nearly done, then add vegetables and cheese.

Cook the eggs until nearly done, then add vegetables and cheese.

Flip to fold in half.

Flip to fold in half.

Voila, a beautiful breakfast fit for a king. This was all from our garden except for the bread.

Voila, a beautiful breakfast fit for a king. This was all from our garden except for the bread.

I must confess, the addition of the Ranch dressing to the omelette was a trick that I learned from my brother George. It gives a nice texture to the eggs and helps the omelette fluff up.

We harvested the first of our collard greens, but I forgot to photograph them!

We harvested the first of our collard greens, but I forgot to photograph them!

I cooked the collards with two ham hocks, then added carrots and onions. Very simple. The first night, we had big chunks of ham on top. But I didn’t get around to photographing the dish until the second night. Oh well. The greens were DELICIOUS! They are thick and meaty feeling, with a good flavor, thanks to the ham. The carrots were a nice touch, not typical of collard greens recipes.

Lunch one day was tuna salad sandwiches, with Freckles romaine lettuce from the garden and sweet pickles that I canned from last summer's garden.

Lunch one day was tuna salad sandwiches, with Freckles romaine lettuce from the garden and sweet pickles that I canned from last summer’s garden.

My pickle supply is running low. I had such a nice crop of cucumbers last year. I hope I can duplicate it this year. I also made sweet pickles out of yellow squash slices, and they were delicious.

I have so many topics with photos that I want to add: commercial harvesting of carrots and sugar beets, cattle ranching, Easter with the grandkids. But I hear a leek and mushroom frittata begging me to make it for breakfast. All for now.

Harvest ending Sunday April 20

FRUIT

5 oz Lemon, Meyer

14 oz Limes

1 lb 2 oz Oranges, Navel

Subtotal 2 lbs 5 oz FRUIT

VEGETABLES

3.5 oz Bell Pepper

14 oz Chard

14 oz Collard Greens

1 oz Green Onion

3 oz Lettuce

Subtotal 35.5 oz = 2 lbs 3.5 oz VEGETABLES

TOTAL 4 lbs 8.5 lbs PRODUCE and 14 eggs

 

 

 

Harvest Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring has most definitely sprung in my southern California garden. Everything is green, growing, lush, and colorful now. Just give it a few months. Our gardens wilt in the summer heat.

We will get no more rain here until October at the earliest. More likely our first rain will come in November. That means six months of no rain, sometimes seven. With a rainfall season of only four inches this year and and four inches last year, California is in a major drought. We have to water our vegetable gardens and fruit trees, or they would die. The rest of my landscaping is drought tolerant, and goes for 7-10 days between light waterings in the summer. And yet it blooms and blooms and blooms. The trick is to choose drought tolerant plantings. Take a look.

Pink cobbity daisies in the foreground, fortnight lilies and gazania in the background, bloom like crazy with very little water.

Pink cobbity daisies in the foreground, fortnight lilies and gazania in the background. They all bloom like crazy with very little water.

Camellias are in the shade all day, so there isn't much evaporation in their planting area.

Camellias require more water but they are in the shade all day, so there isn’t much evaporation.

I planted these perennials last year. They died back a bit in winter, but bloom from spring into fall. I think they are from South Africa, whatever they are. Was it Spermophylum?

I planted these perennials last year. They died back a bit in winter, but bloom from spring into fall. I can’t remember. what they’re called.

I have white ones as well as the deep purple.

I have white ones as well as the deep purple.

Gazanias make a great ground cover. They require very little water and bloom almost all year long.

Gazanias make a great ground cover. They require very little water and bloom almost all year long.

This lavender bush is getting huge. I made lavender sugar one year, putting the flowers into a Mason jar with sugar. The sugar picks up the scent, and can be used to make lavender cookies or lavender cake.

This lavender bush is getting huge. I made lavender sugar one year, putting the flowers into a Mason jar with sugar. The sugar picks up the scent, and can be used to make lavender cookies or lavender cake.

I have bloodflower milkweed growing here and there in the yard. It makes lovely flowers, and the Monarch butterflies love it. We have raised many butterflies in our organic garden.

Bloodflower milkweed makes lovely flowers, and the Monarch butterflies love it. We have raised many butterflies in our organic garden.

This beautiful sunflower sprang up on its own. I have no idea what kind it is, but it has a short, stocky stem and a huge flowerhead. I am definitely hoping to save some seeds from it if the birds don't get to them first.

This beautiful sunflower sprang up on its own. I have no idea what kind it is, but it has a short, stocky stem and a huge flowerhead. 

This is the first Mexican poppy of the season. They self sow and spread like wildfire. I love them.

This is the first Mexican poppy of the season. They self sow, spread like wildfire, and require very little water. I love them.

I think this is Autumn Sage. I have three of them, part of my hummingbird and butterfly garden.

I think this is Autumn Sage, a California native plant. I have three of them, part of my hummingbird and butterfly garden.

I have a few rose bushes along the back of the house. Our plum and apple trees are getting bigger and shading them, so they don't bloom as profusely as they used to.

I have a few rose bushes along the back of the house. They grow where I clean the watering cans for the chickens. The water does double duty, cleaning the cans and watering the roses and surrounding irises. 

These cheerful little sundrops need little water, self sow, and bloom year round. Wonderful little plants.

These cheerful little Sundrops need little water, self sow, and bloom year round. Wonderful little plants.

The Gala apple tree in back has some flowers on it this year. Maybe we will get apples from it even though it is still young.

The Gala apple tree in back has some flowers on it this year. Maybe we will get apples from it even though it is still young.

Our Granny Smith apple tree got attacked by birds. They ate the petals off the flowers. If they ate the stamens and pistols as well, then our Granny Smith crop will be a bust this year.

This doesn't look like much, a few leaves coming out of a stem. But I am thrilled because this is my new Gala apple in front. It is ALIVE! Which is more than I can say for my two Fuyu persimmon trees. I seem to have killed them off.

This doesn’t look like much, a few leaves coming out of a twig. But I am thrilled because this is my new Gala apple in front. It is ALIVE! Which is more than I can say for my two Fuyu persimmon trees. I seem to have killed them off.

We have two varieties of Asian pear trees in back. Here is a flower on one that hasn't produced any fruit yet. Maybe this will be the year? My fingers are crossed.

We have two varieties of Asian pear trees in back. Here is a flower on one that hasn’t produced any fruit yet. Maybe this will be the year? My fingers are crossed.

This teeny, tiny, baby Asian pear is one of three that are growing on my newest Asian pear tree in front. It is a grafted tree with four varieties on it. Only one variety set fruit, the one with the lowest chilling requirement.

This teeny, tiny, baby Asian pear is one of three pears that are growing on my newest Asian pear tree in front. It is a grafted tree with four different pear varieties on it. Only one variety set fruit, the one with the lowest chilling requirement.

Whoopee, look at all of the peaches on the Florida Prince peach tree. They are small, but there are a lot of them. I hope I can beat the birds to most of them.

Whoopee, look at all of the peaches on the Florida Prince peach tree. They are small, but there are a lot of them. I hope I can beat the birds to most of them.

The Katy apricot tree is loaded with fruit this year. I  must remember to get a net to put over the tree to keep the birds from getting the apricots before I do.

The Katy apricot tree is loaded with fruit this year. I must remember to get a net to put over the tree to keep the birds from getting the apricots before I do.

Some of our fruit trees are blooming, some have produce ready to pick. The avocado tree has both this time of year. There are still a few avocados left, and it is in full bloom. The neighbors cut down their avocado, but our is supposed to be a self pollinating variety. I won't know for some time yet if I am going to get avocados next winter.

Some of our fruit trees are blooming, some have produce ready to pick. The avocado tree has both fruit and flowers this time of year. 

This is our entire Valencia orange crop. These oranges are on a dwarf tree in a large pot, and are ready to pick.

This is our entire Valencia orange crop. These oranges are on a dwarf tree in a large pot, and are ready to pick.

We are down to our last few Navel oranges. There were about 50 on the tree at the start of the season. We have eaten most of them already.

We are down to our last few Navel oranges. There were about 50 on the tree at the start of the season. We have eaten most of them already.

Our dwarf Eureka lemon tree produces about half a dozen lemons a year.

Our dwarf Eureka lemon tree grows in a pot and produces about half a dozen lemons a year.

This is our lemon producer, a Meyer lemon planted in the ground. I can't count the huge number of lemons on it.

This is our major lemon producer, a dwarf Meyer lemon planted in the ground. 

Our lime tree has been producing a few limes each week, not an impressive harvest this year. It seems to alternate between light crops and heavy crops. We still have lime juice in the freezer from last year’s big crop.

I am always amazed when a crop thrives in my garden of benign neglect. The white onions are beginning to make bulbs.

I am always amazed when a crop thrives in my garden of benign neglect. The white onions are beginning to make bulbs. My garlic crop, however, was a bust.

The red onions are also bulbing up. Let's not talk about the yellow onions. Let's hope that they are a later variety.

The red onions are also bulbing up. This one is right next to the soaker hose and doing well. Let’s not talk about the yellow onions. Maybe they are a later variety. 

This may not look like much, but it is the chard that swallowed Los Angeles. It is HUGE. We had six monster leaves for dinner and I hardly made a dent in what is ready to harvest.

This may not look like much, but it is the chard that covered Los Angeles. It is HUGE. We had six monster leaves for dinner and it hardly made a dent in what is ready to harvest.

Eek, the Freckles Romaine lettuce is starting to bolt. I must do something with it. Like eat it!

Eek, the Freckles Romaine lettuce is bolting. I must do something with it, quickly. Like eat it!

Here are some kale and mustard plants that are going into a stir fry soon.

Here are some kale and mustard plants that are going into a stir fry soon.

More kale.

More kale.

Uh, oh. Only one artichoke is ready. I need to pick them in pairs so my husband can have one too. Guess who is going to get this one. :-)

Uh, oh. Only one artichoke is ready to pick. I need to pick them in pairs so my husband can have one too. Guess who is going to get this one. :-)

What? Ripe bell peppers in April? Global weirding.

What? Ripe bell peppers in April? Yep.

The collard greens are growing like weeds. Time to eat them too.

The collard greens are growing like weeds.

I sometimes marvel at all that we have crammed into our tiny yard. We have over 20 producing fruit trees and seven separate vegetable growing beds of various small sizes. Our entire “urban farm” sits on a tenth of an acre (4,500 sq feet) and shares space with our house, 3-car garage, driveway, sidewalks, and front yard landscaped area. We have water barrels to save water, two compost bins, and a chicken coop. Do we grow all of our own food? Of course not. But we harvest something every week of the year.

All of these photos of what is growing in the garden, and not one picture of a harvest? Oh well. What can I say? We have been out of town twice over the past two weeks. The harvest over the last two weeks was lemons, limes, artichokes, and lettuce. You know what they look like.

HARVEST FOR TWO WEEKS March 31-April 13

FRUIT

9 oz Lemon, Meyer

18 oz Limes

Subtotal 1 lb 11 oz fruit

VEGETABLES

10 oz Artichokes

1.5 oz Lettuce

Subtotal 11.5 oz vegetables

TOTAL 2 lbs 6.5 oz PRODUCE plus 26 EGGS

TOTAL

 

Harvest Monday, March 31, 2014

I haven’t managed to make very many Harvest Monday blog posts this year. Not that I haven’t had harvests. I just seem to have too many others things going on with gardening and photography and other things. I find that I am reasonably good about weighing and logging my harvests, but terrible about photographing them and putting the harvest weights into an Excel spreadsheet. I would rather take pictures of things growing in the garden, or dishes I made with the harvests, than photograph harvested things that I have put onto the kitchen counter.

Komatsuna (foreground) and Swiss chard

Komatsuna (foreground) and Swiss chard

That being said, this week’s harvest included artichokes, chard, Komatsuna (Asian mustard greens that are delicious in soup and stir-fry), and snow peas.

This may be the last of this early planting of snow peas. More are growing, and I may be able to get in one more planting before hot weather sets in.

This may be the last of this early planting of snow peas. More are growing, and I may be able to get in one more planting before hot weather sets in.

Here is an artichoke that we haven't eaten yet. It is still growing.

Here is an artichoke that we haven’t eaten yet. It is still growing.

DSCN2812

So what do you do with Komasuna and snow peas? You make soup with frozen Asian dumplings (gyoza), using a chicken stock base. I added the snow peas a couple of minutes before serving the soup. Then it was eat it NOW, no time for photographs. Same thing happened with the artichokes: cook them, eat them, oops no photo.

So what else is growing in my coastal Southern California garden at the end of March?

Red Onions

Red Onions

Kale. This is dwarf Scotch blue curled. I'm also growing Lacinato (aka Tuscan kale, aka dinosaur kale)

Kale. This is dwarf Scotch blue curled. I’m also growing Lacinato (aka Tuscan kale, aka dinosaur kale)

Chard, aka Swiss Chard, aka Silverbeet

Chard, aka Swiss Chard, aka Silverbeet, ready to harvest

Freckles lettuce ready to harvest

Freckles Lettuce ready to harvest

Collard Greens ready to harvest

Collard Greens ready to harvest

My FloridaPrince peach tree is loaded with peaches. It will be a few more weeks before they are ripe.

My FloridaPrince peach tree is loaded with peaches. It will be a few more weeks before they are ripe.

I have a mere four peaches on the my little August Pride peach tree. The Babcock Improved peach hasn’t really bloomed yet. Well, one branch bloomed. My fruit trees seem to stagger their blooms on the same tree these days. I attribute it to Global Weirding, the crazy temperature fluctuations and unseasonable heat waves that have become the new normal.

The Panamint Nectarine tree has nearly finished blooming. I pruned it last fall, so there aren't as many blossoms on it as usual. The Snow Queen Nectarine hasn't bloomed yet.

The Panamint Nectarine tree has nearly finished blooming. I pruned it last fall, so there aren’t as many blossoms on it as usual. The Snow Queen Nectarine hasn’t bloomed yet.

I have four Asian pears set on my newest grafted Asian Pear tree, but only on the 20th Century Pear branch. Another Asian Pear tree has just started to bloom. It is also a 20th Century Asian Pear. The third Asian Pear tree is still dormant. It requires too much chilling to set fruit now that our winters on the coast have become so warm. Global Weirding at work again.

My four apple trees are still dormant.  It was so warm this winter, with record-breaking heat waves in January, that they didn’t even lose their leaves this year. Global Weirding.

We still have a few oranges left on the trees, and a nice crop of Meyer lemons that I am going to need to do something with soon. I plan to make some Meyer Lemon and Orange Marmalade with Ginger. As soon as I get a Round Tuit. :-)

Keep in mind that we live on a tiny lot, about 45 ft x 100 ft, making it one tenth of an acre. The 1700 sq ft house, 3-car garage, deck, patio, driveway, and sidewalks occupy most of that space. And yet we harvest something all year long.

Harvests for the week ending March 31, 2014

VEGETABLES

1 lb 6 oz Artichokes (2 of them)

5 oz Chard

14 oz Komatsuna

7 oz Snow Peas

TOTAL 38 oz = 2 lbs 6 Ounces Produce plus 15 Eggs

 

You can visit Daphne’s Dandelions to see what others harvested this week. Check the sidebar for the link.

Arg, I STILL haven’t added up my produce for the year-to-date to put into the sidebar. And if you notice, I didn’t finish totaling up 2013 or 2012 either. Hey, I can’t do everything. But little bit by little bit, the most important things get done. The chickens are fed and the garden is watered. Time to open a bottle of wine. I have my priorities straight!

Our yard as seen through a fisheye lens – March 29, 2014

I bought a new Rokinon 8mm fisheye lens for my Nikon D7100. It arrived yesterday and I couldn’t wait to try it out. My favorite photographic subject is my yard and garden. Here is what I shot.

close-up of a cymbidium orchid on my back deck

Close-up of a cymbidium orchid on my back deck. I love being able to grow orchids outdoors here in sunny southern California.

My chickens in their run, coop to the right.

My chickens in their run under the plum tree, coop to the right. I am using pine shavings for bedding. I don’t see all of the five hens, so maybe one was inside the coop laying an egg.

Love what the fisheye does to the view out our patio door. Chicken coop to the left, veggie garden to the right.

I love what the fisheye lens does to the view out our patio door. It makes the yard look huge. It isn’t. Looking west, chicken coop to the back left, veggie garden to the right beyond the deck, fruit trees all along the yard perimeter. I can see that I need to replace the outdoor rug on the patio. I love sitting on the deck, sipping wine or drinking coffee and admiring my garden.

A view of my herb garden that shows the coop to the left and garden to the right, fruit trees along the back fence.

A view of my herb garden and bird bath that shows the chicken coop to the left and garden to the right, fruit trees along the back fence. Note the paving stones. They are a water-saving strategy.

I am standing with my back to the fruit trees along our north wall, looking south.

I am standing with my back to the fruit trees along our north wall, looking south with the veggie beds in front of me, deck to the left. Nasturtiums grow between the beds. I feed nasturtium leaves and stems to the chickens.

My 6-year-old granddaughter Megan planted these snow peas for me a couple of weeks ago. She loves to garden.

My 6-year-old granddaughter Megan planted these snow peas for me a couple of weeks ago. She loves to garden.

I have gone to the other side of our back yard with the fence behind me, looking north past the peach and apple trees, past the chicken coop to the herb garden and veggie beds beyond. This section of our back yard is only 10 ft from house (on the right) to the back fence (on the left). Grapes grow on a trellis to the right.

I have gone to the other side of our back yard and am standing with the fence behind me, looking north past the peach, apple and plum  trees, past the chicken coop, to the herb garden and veggie beds beyond. This section of our back yard is only 10 ft from house (on the right) to the back fence (on the left). Grapes grow on a trellis to the right.

This view of the front of house, taken from the street, is my favorite fisheye photo so far. We just had our liquid amber (sweet gum) and olive trees pruned. There are three veggie beds in front, essentially under the olive tree. The freesias are pretty much done blooming.

This view of the front of house, taken from the street, is my favorite fisheye photo so far. We just had our liquid amber (sweet gum) and olive trees pruned. There are three veggie beds in front, essentially under the olive tree, and another one out of site to the left on the other side of the driveway. The freesias are pretty much done blooming.

Our front yard, showing the pruned liquid amber trees.

Our front yard, showing the pruned liquid amber trees.

See the paving stone walkways? I have them front and back. They help conserve water because the rain washes off the pavers and into the soil, essentially increasing the amount of rain that the plantings receive. That is only one of our water-saving techniques. Rain barrels are another strategy for saving water, as well as planting drought-tolerant landscaping and using soaker hoses for the vegetable gardens rather than overhead watering. Our per-person water usage is about one third that of the average California household.

Another view of the front yard, looking east toward the street.

Another view of the front yard, looking east toward the street.

I want to add a technical note about these photos. I have just begun to shoot RAW files, which gives more detail and better color preservation than jpeg files. Let’s just say that I got tired of having the highlights of my photos blown out, so I finally made the switch to shooting RAW files.

I then processed these photos using Aperture, then additionally processed most of them with a Topaz photo editing software plug-in called Adjust to do HDR (High Dynamic Range) in post processing. That really snaps out the color and puts detail into the shadows. Ah, but using the Topaz program on RAW files gave me tiff files, which I couldn’t upload to WordPress. Bummer. The RAW files not processed with Topaz converted automatically to jpeg when I uploaded them to WordPress.

It took me a while to figure out that I had to Export (iMac command for Move) the tiff files to my desktop, converting them to jpeg in the process, THEN upload them to WordPress. What a pain in the patootie. No wonder I don’t make blog posts very often.

Well, did you enjoy this fisheye view of our yard, and seeing my urban mini-farmlet from a new perspective? Please leave a comment.

What’s in bloom in February 2014 in my southern California garden

I am experimenting. I got a new Nikon D7100 last summer and am still learning how to use it. I have been shooing in JPEG format until now. But I am getting tired of blown out highlights and would like to now experiment with getting a wider tone range with RAW files. This will be my first attempt at posting photos that I took in RAW format.

Ah, but it is never as easy as it sounds. Not only did I have to change two separate settings on my camera (Image Quality and Role for Card #2), I had to upgrade my operating system on my iMac to OS X Mavericks, and then upgrade my photo processing program to Aperture 3.5. VBS. Whatta nuisance. Then I had to figure out the new method of loading photos from the disc to hard drive.  Looks like the same as the old method, except it took FOREVER to load a mere 81 photos. This has taken me all week as I stumbled through one process after another.

I finally have processed a set of RAW images taken in my garden earlier this week. I really can see the superior quality compared to JPEG. No more blown out highlights! Now the question is: Do I have to convert them back to JPEG to post them on WordPress, or will the program do that automatically? Here goes nothing.

A view of my backyard vegetable garden in raised beds (behind the herb garden and bird bath)

A view of my backyard vegetable garden in raised beds (behind the herb garden and bird bath)

Ah ha, the WordPress program seems to automatically convert the RAW files to JPEG. Good!

My Super Sugarpod peas (snow peas) are chin height already and just now starting to bloom. I probably have too much chicken manure in my homemade compost, i.e., too much nitrogen. Oh well, it makes for lush growth. The nasturtiums outside the beds get runoff from the drip irrigation and are at crotch height, but with very few flowers.

My Super Sugarpod peas (snow peas) are chin height already and just now starting to bloom. I probably have too much chicken manure in my homemade compost, i.e., too much nitrogen. Oh well, it makes for lush growth. The nasturtiums outside the beds get runoff from the drip irrigation and are at crotch height, but with very few flowers.

Don't you just love pea flowers? I can hardly wait for our first snow peas. The birds ate my entire first planting, gobbled up the little seedlings as soon as they sprouted. They never had a chance. They are now attacking the tips of these huge plants. Naughty birds. I may need a net cover,

Don’t you just love pea flowers? I can hardly wait for our first snow peas. The birds ate my entire first planting, gobbled up the little seedlings as soon as they sprouted. The peas never had a chance. The birds are now attacking the tips of these huge pea plants. Naughty birds. I may need a net cover,

Salad making from my garden with the first harvest of radishes for the spring. There is also baby kale, Freckles lettuce, cilantro, and arugula.

Salad making from my garden with the first harvest of radishes for the spring. There is also baby kale, Freckles lettuce, cilantro, and arugula.

The chard is also growing like gangbusters.

The chard is also growing like gangbusters.

The lettuce etc went into a salad.

The lettuce etc went into a salad with pine nuts.

I sautéed the chard with garlic in olive oil, added a splash of basalmic vinegar and some Parmesan cheese, and topped each serving with a sliced boiled egg. Garlic toast and lasagna completed the lunch for company,.

I sautéed the chard with garlic in olive oil, added a splash of basalmic vinegar and some Parmesan cheese, and topped each serving with a sliced boiled egg. Garlic toast and lasagna completed the lunch for company.

That is what I should have posted for Harvest Monday earlier this week. But I was too busy fussing with camera-computer technical stuff.

Now for actual flowers! Pink jasmine is perfuming the air with honeyed sweetness.

Now for actual flowers! Pink jasmine is perfuming the air with honeyed sweetness.

Pink cymbidium orchids bloom on the back deck. They have been blooming for weeks. The white ones aren't open yet, so I get about 3-4 months of orchid bloom each spring.

Pink cymbidium orchids bloom on the back deck. They have been blooming for weeks. The white ones aren’t open yet, so I get about 3-4 months of orchid bloom each spring.

This is another type of orchid. These little beauties bloom year round.

This is another type of orchid. These little beauties bloom year round.

Tis the season for succulent blooms. These are Mother of Thousands, which have spread everywhere.

Tis the season for succulent blooms. These are Mother of Thousands, which have spread everywhere.

Freesias are in full bloom, front and back, adding their own delightful aroma to the spring garden.

Freesias are in full bloom, front and back, adding their own delightful aroma to the spring garden.

Most of my fressias are yellow.

Most of my fressias are yellow.

The flowers are fading on our apricot tree, but little tiny green fruits are forming below the dying petals.

The flowers are fading on our apricot tree, but little tiny green fruits are forming below the dying petals.

I moved my ultra dwarf Garden Gold peach tree into a sunnier location. This tiny tree grows in a pot. I am hoping to get actual peaches from it this year.

I moved my ultra dwarf Garden Gold peach tree into a sunnier location. This tiny tree grows in a pot. I am hoping to get actual peaches from it this year.

These are flowers on the August Pride peach tree in front. The Florida Prince has already finished blooming and is covered in little peaches. The Babcock Improved peach hasn't bloomed yet, nor has the plum tree nor the Panamint or Snow Queen nectarines.

These are flowers on the August Pride peach tree in front. The Florida Prince has already finished blooming and is covered in little peaches. The Babcock Improved peach hasn’t bloomed yet, nor has the plum tree nor the Panamint or Snow Queen nectarines.

The single paperwhite narcissus have finished blooming already, and the double paperwhites are almost done.

The single paperwhite narcissus have finished blooming already, and these double paperwhites are almost done.

I am trying out this new succulent, Kangaroo paws. At least I think it is a succulent. It is drought tolerant at least.

I am trying out this new succulent, Kangaroo paws, in my flower garden. At least I think it is a succulent. It is drought tolerant at least.

I grow green onions in pots. They are about to bloom. I save the seeds to grow more next year. I haven't had to buy green onions at the store or farmer's market in about five years now, as I grow them year round.

I grow green onions in pots. They are about to bloom. I save the seeds to grow more next year. I haven’t had to buy green onions at the store or farmer’s market in about five years now, as I grow them year round.

The background is white lantana, part of my butterfly garden. This succulent is blooming. No idea what it is.

The background is white lantana, part of my butterfly garden. This succulent is blooming. No idea what it is.

Another blooming succulent. The flowers are similar to Mother of Thousands, but that isn't what this is.

Another blooming succulent. The flowers are similar to Mother of Thousands, but that isn’t what this is.

It looks like a Kalanchoe (sp?) is blooming in this pot of succulents.

It looks like a Kalanchoe (sp?) is blooming in this pot of succulents.

These flower buds are the ones that I am the most excited about. They are on my new grafted Asian Pear that has four different varieties on it. This is a newly planted tree, so I'm happy to see it leaf out and bloom. This winter was most likely too warm and mild for my older Asian pears to set fruit as they need a certain number of hours of chilling. Time will tell.

These flower buds are the ones that I am the most excited about. They are on my new grafted Asian Pear that has four different varieties on it. This is a newly planted tree, so I’m happy to see it leaf out and bloom. This winter was most likely too warm and mild for my older Asian pears to set fruit as they need a certain number of hours of chilling. This new tree spent most of the winter in a nursery somewhere colder than our yard.

This little Valencia orange is doing fine in a pot in front. I looks like we will get some fruit from it this year. The navel orange, lime, Meyer lemon and Eureka lemon trees are doing fine with fruit ready to harvest.

This little Valencia orange is doing fine in a pot in front. It looks like we will get some fruit from it this year. The navel orange, lime, Meyer lemon and Eureka lemon trees are doing fine with fruit ready to harvest.

It also avocado harvest season.

It is also avocado harvest season.

These are the flower bud clusters for next year's avocado crop. Let's hope I get some fertilization. Come on, bees!

These are the flower bud clusters for next year’s avocado crop. Let’s hope I get some fertilization. Come on, bees!

We just had the olive tree pruned to give my garden more sunlight. Check out that nice row of blooming yellow freesias in front.

We just had the olive tree pruned to give my garden more sunlight. Check out that nice row of blooming yellow freesias in front.

This little bed in front has green onions, some garlic, a volunteer sunflower, a chard, and some Freckles lettuce that has been decimated by birds.

This little bed in front has green onions, some garlic, a volunteer sunflower, a chard, and some Freckles lettuce that has been decimated by birds.

I made a cage of hardware cloth to fit over this bed of mesclun, lettuce and Napa cabbage, but I built it too late to save the lettuce.

I made a cage of hardware cloth to fit over this bed of mesclun, lettuce and Napa cabbage, but I built it too late to save the lettuce.

Dwarf blue-curled kale

Dwarf blue-curled kale

Lacinato kale, aka Tuscany kale, aka dinosaur kale, aka black kale.

Lacinato kale, aka Tuscany kale, aka dinosaur kale, aka black kale.

This Komasuna (Japanese mustard greens) looks ready to go into a stir fry. I harvest only the outer leaves to extend the harvest in my tiny garden.

This Komatsuna (Japanese mustard greens) looks ready to go into a stir fry. I harvest only the outer leaves to extend the harvest in my tiny garden.

I have three camellia plants. One is still in bloom, but the others are finished already.

I have three camellia plants. One is still in bloom, but the others are finished already.

Rosebuds have appeared, but they are a long way from opening.

Rosebuds have appeared, but they are a long way from opening. Look at that, no aphids in February.

The row of jade plants has nearly finished blooming.

The row of jade plants has nearly finished blooming.

The Pink Lady bushes have just begun to bloom.

The Pink Lady bushes have just begun to bloom.

Snowdrops in bloom are a sure sign of spring in our front yard.

Snowdrops in bloom are a sure sign of spring in our front yard.

I just love this row of red and white cyclamen. But I still haven't planted them. They are in pots. So many plants, so little time.

I just love this row of red and white cyclamen. But I still haven’t planted them. They are still in pots. So many plants, so little time.

Nemesia (sun drops) bloom all year long in our yard, as does Allysum.

Nemesia (sun drops) bloom all year long in our yard, as does Allysum.

I didn't process this photo of Allysum and it is a bit dark.

I didn’t post-process this photo of Allysum and it is a bit dark. Sorry.

Lavender is another year round bloomer.

Lavender is another year round bloomer.

These Fortnight Lillies bloom every two weeks. Wonderful plants, and quite drought tolerant.

These Fortnight Lillies bloom every two weeks. Wonderful plants, and quite drought tolerant.

I have other things in bloom and more growing in the veggie gardens, but this is more than enough.

Keep in mind that although California is suffering from a major drought, and that the average household water consumption per person is 150 gallons/day, we use only 50-60 gallons/day per person. I (1) use soaker hoses for my vegetable garden, (2) use rain water collected in rain barrels, (3) group plantings by water requirements, (4) have low-flow toilets, and (5) don’t let the water run indoors or out. We have all of these fruits, vegetables and flowers, yet we use one third of the amount of water that the average person uses in California.

I hope these RAW files really did convert to JPEG and that you can view them. I can sure see the difference in quality of the photos on my computer. Hope you can see it too. –Lou