We bought a steer!

I believe in the Locavore movement, which is eating locally sourced foods so that less fossil fuel is used on food transport. That is one of the reasons why I planted a mini-orchard, converted our backyard to vegetable production, and set up a chicken coop with hens.

Even though we live in the megalopolis of southern California, we have many opportunities for eating locally grown food. We have purchased heirloom turkeys from Rainbow Ranch, a lamb from a farmer in San Diego, and boxes of organic produce from Tanaka Farms in Orange County. We visit our local farmers’ markets, of which there are many. And we often buy wines produced in southern California, with Orfila Vineyards in San Diego being one of our favorites.

Now we have embarked on yet another local food adventure, a locally raised steer. We found out about this opportunity from our local chapter of Slow Food USA, and jumped on it. We bought a 1/8th share of a steer in a 4-H project.

Megan and Jenna with Beaux, an Angus-Simmental-Maine Anjou crossbred calf.

Megan and Jenna with Beaux, an Angus-Simmental-Maine Anjou crossbred calf.

Jenna and Megan are raising the steers, which will be shown at the Orange County Fair next summer. It will be a long process of feeding and training the steers. Beaux, shown above, was the first to arrive at the farm in Orange Acres from the Star Cattle Company in Stevinson, Merced County, California.

Here I am petting Beaux. He is trying to get as far away from people as possible, but was interested in sniffing my hand.

Here I am with Beaux. He was willing to sniff my hand.

This is my husband Vic petting Beaux with the safety of a fence between him and the 450 lb steer. Probably a wise move, since Beaux is a little on the wild side.

This is my husband Vic petting Beaux with the safety of a fence between him and the 450 lb steer. Probably a wise move, since Beaux is a little on the wild side.

Finally Bucket arrived to join Beaux. He is a purebred Angus. Jenna chose to raise him, so he is the one we will have a share of later next fall.

When we arrived for a visit, Bucket (in back) was lying down with Beaux (mostly hidden). They spend a lot of time lying down and chewing their cud.

When we arrived at the farm in Orange Acres for a visit, Bucket (in back) was lying down with Beaux (mostly hidden). They spend a lot of time lying down and chewing their cud.

Because they are in training, the calves wear their halters and rope leads all the time. They are learning to walk on command. Bucket is catching on faster than Beaux, who is still fairly wild.

Because they are in training, the calves wear their halters and rope leads all the time. They are learning to walk on command. Bucket is catching on faster than Beaux. But when someone says “walk,” Bucket still mostly pulls back on the lead. It takes him a while to do any actual walking.

I don't know why this photo came out dark and green. It looks fine in my Aperture program. Anyway, this is handsome Bucket.

I don’t know why this photo came out dark and green. It looks fine in my Aperture program. Anyway, this is handsome Bucket.

Jenna and Megan may decide to show their calves in a livestock show in Santa Barbara in February. If so, Vic and I plan to go to support them. The calves still have a lot of training ahead of them. They get weighed regularly, and their feed adjusted accordingly. They will learn to stand still while they get shampooed (with added conditioner to make their coats shine) and their fur will be trimmed for show time. Vic and I look forward to learning about what all is involved in getting a show steer ready for market.

These steers will be ethically raised with love and kindness. They are learning to enjoy being scratched and rubbed. After the fair next fall, they will be shipped to a private butcher in San Diego. They stay there for a week, getting fed and calming down from the transport process. Then they will be humanely slaughtered one at a time, never in a feedlot, never in an assembly line process.

We expect to receive about 75 lbs of cut, packaged, and frozen meat. We eat many vegetarian meals, and a lot of poultry and fish, so this may last us more than a year. Time will tell.

My southern California garden in August

My how time flies. Where has the summer gone? I know where mine went. Bye-bye.

My last post was in April. In May, I went to Yellowstone National Park, driving by myself. I was on assignment from Desert USA magazine, an online publication, to write about wolves. I stopped in Zzyyx near Baker California, and got an article out of that too. But have I written and submitted the articles. No, I have not. My computer crashed (OK, I did it, human error, I erased my entire photo library by accident) and I lost all of my photos. Fortunately, I have a Seagate backup drive, and with the help of the nice Apple genius guys, I was able to retrieve all of my photos. But it has left me afraid of my computer, especially in regard to photos. I haven’t uploaded any since. Until today.

Also upon my return from Yellowstone, I discovered that a good friend was seriously ill. Somehow that seems to have consumed my summer.

I have managed a tiny bit of gardening. I did a bit of work on improving my butterfly garden.

Bloodflower milkweed supports Monarch butterflies, and is pretty to boot.

Bloodflower milkweed supports Monarch butterflies, and is pretty to boot.

We raised more Monarch caterpillars this summer than ever before.

Butterfly garden with lantana in front

Butterfly garden with white lantana in front

Fiery Skipper on a zinnia

Fiery Skipper on a zinnia

But I didn’t get my summer vegetable garden planted until July. What with the drought and unseasonable heat in May and June, it has been a struggle keeping it going. I have yet to harvest a summer squash, tomato, or cucumber. But the garden is looking nice. Here is a brief tour.

We still have five hens. The Black Sex-linked hen went broody this summer, and is now molting. She is not in the picture.

We still have five hens. The Black Sex-linked hen went broody this summer, and is now molting. She is hiding in the coop, and is not in the picture. These are my three Barred Rock hens and one old Black Australorp, now six years old.

Here is half our backyard, looking north past the herb garden. This is where I grow most of my vegetables.

Here is half our backyard, looking north past the herb garden. This is where I grow most of my vegetables, in three 6 ft x 3 ft raised beds.

We have been harvesting a steady stream of bell peppers all summer.

We have been harvesting a steady stream of bell peppers all summer.

Not trusting our neighborhood bees, I hand fertilized this butter squash flower this morning.

Not trusting our neighborhood bees, I hand fertilized this butter squash flower this morning.

We have three butternuts already growing. This one may weigh in at 5-6 lbs once its harvested.

We have three butternuts already growing. This one may weigh in at 5-6 lbs once its harvested.

I am growing summer squash in a barrel this year, an experiment. there are three squash plants in here, plus a half dozen Scarlet Runner Beans.

I am growing summer squash in a barrel this year, an experiment. There are three squash plants in here, plus a half dozen Scarlet Runner Beans.

I expect to harvest our first Yellow Crookneck in a couple of days.

I expect to harvest our first Yellow Crookneck in a couple of days.

I am still waiting for cucumbers. It's going to be a long wait.

I am still waiting for cucumbers. It’s going to be a long wait.

We are getting a nice harvest of Asian pears this summer. They are hard and crisp like an apple, not soft like European pears such as Bosc and Bartlett.

We are getting a nice harvest of Asian pears this summer. They are hard and crisp like an apple, not soft like European pears such as Bosc and Bartlett.

We might get some apples if the squirrels and possums don't get them first. These are Gala apples.

We might get some apples if the squirrels and possums don’t get them first. They already ate all of the Fuji apples. These are Gala apples.

There are Granny Smiths. Right now, I have enough to make only one apple pie, but they aren't ready to harvest yet. Stay away, Critters!

There are Granny Smiths. Right now, I have enough to make only one apple pie, but they aren’t ready to harvest yet. Stay away, Critters!

Lemons are providing a steady harvest, but our navel orange tree set only ONE orange for our winter crop. Dang drought!

Lemons are providing a steady harvest, but our navel orange tree set only ONE orange for our winter crop. Dang drought!

There was a hiatus in limes, but the next crop is about ready to harvest.

There was a hiatus in limes, but the next crop is about ready to harvest.

We still have about a half dozen avocados left.

We still have about a half dozen avocados left.

So with a lack of much to harvest, I mostly sit on the deck and sip wine.

So with a lack of much to harvest, I mostly sit on the deck and sip wine.

From the deck, I can keep an eye on the chicken coop and veggie garden.

From the deck, I can keep an eye on the chicken coop and veggie garden (our of sight to the right).

And that is my garden update as of August 17. Sadly, I don’t seem to be able to make comments on Daphne’s Dandelion blog, and a number of others. I don’t know why not. And some of my favorite blogs (Henbogle, Diary of a Tomato) don’t seem to be active right now. “Annie’s Granny” passed away, so there goes another of my favorite blogs. I know I miss my favorite blogs when they aren’t posting. I wondered if people missed mine. So…. here is a post. Please leave a comment if you enjoyed the update.

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!