Tag Archives: apples

Running harvest totals–will I harvest 300 lbs this year?

I’ve just added a sidebar with harvest poundage, divided into fruits and vegetables. I also put in the totals from 2010, which is when I began weighing my harvests. Learned that from the rest of you garden bloggers. But keeping up with the spreadsheet on Excel is tedious. I seem to run out of time and/or steam. At least for now, I’m up to date for this year.

Navel orange--I ate this one for breakfast this morning and it was incredibly sweet

We have dwarf fruit trees and small raised beds in a tiny southern California yard, plus a rabbit-infested community garden plot that is on a former gravel parking lot. My harvests can’t compare with the huge hauls that I see on other gardening blogs, but it’s enough for us.

My dwarf avocado tree has a good fruit set this year for the first time ever, about 21 avocados.

I harvested 224 lbs last year from my yard. I had hoped for 500 lbs this year with the addition of my new community garden plot. But that little plot hasn’t been as productive as I had hoped, and rats and possums ate almost all of the fruit harvest in our yard this year. As a result, I’ve downgraded my harvest goal to 300 lbs. At this point, I doubt that I’ll even reach that figure given that it’s already August and I have harvested only 130 lbs. Will I be harvesting another 170 lbs in the next five months? I seriously doubt it. Not with all of our night critters.

I trapped yet another possum last night, the fourth one in four weeks. We managed to kill one rat, but I suspect that’s just a drop in the proverbial bucket. I’m typing this at night and I can hear the dang rats running around on our neighbor’s peach trees. Hey, at least I don’t have to contend with deer.

Granny Smith apple

I’ve managed to make and freeze only two quarts of spaghetti sauce so far this summer. I don’t see a heck of a lot of new tomatoes coming along, so that may be it. But my larder is certainly not bare. I still have tomato soup and spaghetti sauce that I canned last year, plus a large assortment of jams and preserves. I made a gallon jar of dill pickles last year and we’re still working on that.

Amish pie pumpkin

Mostly what I grow in my garden is hope. I dream of future harvests. And that’s what these photos are of: future harvests. For example, the Amish pie pumpkins like the one above are supposed to grow up to 90 lbs. Well, I got several beautiful pumpkins this year, but they were mostly between 1 and 2 lbs. Each one will make one pie. And that’s fine. I don’t need a hundred pumpkin pies.

This is pretty much it for my blackberry harvest. I get a few each week, but don't even bother to weigh them. I just pop them right into my mouth.

And that’s how my garden grows.

Beautiful spring day in the garden

It was so pretty outside today that I documented my home garden, mainly “The Farm” in back. Here are some pics of what’s in bloom today plus things that I’ll be harvesting in the future if the critters don’t get them first.

I love it when the orchid cactus are in bloom. This salmon one is larger than my palm.

The red orchid cactus are beautiful too.

This "Thornbird" bearded iris is the second of my new iris to bloom. The colors are a bit muddy, but I like the tan and lavender. This one is a more prolific bloomer than "Clarence", which was a real beauty.

My dwarf Fuji apple tree has more blossoms on it than in the past three years, so I'm hoping for my first real crop of Fuji apples.

My venerable dwarf Granny Smith apple tree has more blooms than it has ever had before, so I'm hoping for a good crop of apples this year. I may even get my first Gala apple since it is blooming too.

I'm racing the birds and night critters to get the Florida Prince peaches before they do. I have lots of peaches but they're really small this year. I should have thinned them I guess.

By the back path behind the house I have my Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smith apple trees, plus a Santa Rosa plum, Florida Prince peach, and Red Flame grapes (which haven't made any grapes yet). This is also where I have my irises and roses, plus a Cleveland Sage (California native for the humminbirds).

The chicken coop is under the plum tree. The hens are enjoying some chard stalks that went to seed. They get a LOT of greens.

My little water garden in back is all filled in with plants. The irises are in bloom now. Maybe the water hyacinths will bloom later.

I don't know the name of the irises that grow in my water garden. They look like Japanese irises, but maybe they're called something else.

My three raised beds of vegetables have an herb garden in the foreground, and are surrounded by nasturtiums and fruit trees.

The red cabbage seems to be heading up nicely. I am hoping for a cabbage harvest in a few weeks.

The blueberries are nearing ripeness. We have orioles in the neighborhood, so it will be a race to see who gets to the berries first.

Construction of the new block wall on the north has given my lime tree more sunlight. The old wooden fence was falling over onto the lime tree and the poor thing has never given me any limes. This year will be different.

This is just one of the little limes that have set fruit and the tree is still blooming.

I bought two nice bean towers from Gardener's Supply Company. Blue Lake pole beans (seen here) are growing up one and Kentucky Blue pole beans (a new variety for me) are growing up the other. I like these space-saving towers so much that I may get another.

This is the season for teeny tiny avocados, most of which usually fall off the tree. Every year I say that I'm going to cut down that worthless avocado and every year I don't because I hope that it will set some fruit. Maybe the new block wall will result in it getting more sunshine and setting more fruit. I keep hoping.

The Katy apricot tree has set more fruit than usual, which makes up for the peach, nectarine and plum trees, which are pretty bare this year.

I don't think I have even six plums on the Santa Rosa plum tree, but they're getting to be good size.

I have only two Snow Queen nectarines (one shown here), and maybe a half dozen Panamint nectarines.

The August Pride peach tree has only a couple of peaches on it and a few more on the Babcock Improved peach. Not a good year for the late peaches.

One of the advantages of an all organic yard is that it's safe for birds, bees and butterflies. I was surprised to find this swallowtail butterfly that had just emerged from its cocoon (or chrysalis?) in the plum tree today.

This Sweet 100 cherry tomato is producing ripe tomatoes already. And boy are they sweet.

Our semi-dwarf navel orange bloomed twice last year. This is one of the later oranges that is ripening now.

I have three dwarf Eureka lemons. This tree is producing, but the other two aren't doing much. They seem to take turns, so it's good to have three trees plus the Meyer lemon.

I sowed green bunching onions a bit too thickly earlier in the year. I kept them all, spreading them out in various pots. I ended up with 110 green onions, many of which have been eaten by now.

The lone Fuyu persimmon on my new tree may actually be fertilized. It's looking promising.

The Garden of Infinite Neglect is looking neglected as usual, with kale, collards and chard going to seed.

I have a dozen strawberry plants in the Garden of Infinite Neglect that may or may not give us some berries. They're sending out runners, so at least we'll get new plants.

The only strawberries I'm harvesting are from my strawberry pot.

I had strawberries and peaches from the garden on my cereal this morning.

The artichokes are coming as fast as we can eat them. I had two for dinner tonight.

Snow peas are growing up a pea fence by the water meter. I make use of every square inch of ground.

These are the best flowers yet on the thornless blackberries, at least on one of the plants. The other plant is looking pretty miserable.

I'm growing these Summertop Japanese burpless cucumbers in pots. I have some Tendergreen Japanese burpless cucumbers growing up a new cucumber trellis in back.

Most of the front yard is planted in flowers. Pink Mexican poppies are in bloom now.

Hope you enjoyed this tour of our yard and garden in early May.

The best homemade apple pie ever

I finally got around to baking an apple pie with the last of my homegrown Granny Smith apples. If you try this recipe, you’ll probably never want to eat an apple pie from the store again. There is no comparison.

There is nothing like a homemade apple pie fresh from the oven.


1 C white whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 T sugar

1/3 C + 1T shortening (I use Crisco plus a little butter)

2-3 T cold water

Mix dry ingredients. Using a pastry blender, cut in the shortening until thoroughly blended. Add water with stirring until dough forms a ball and sticks to fork. Roll out dough on a floured pastry board. Fold in quarters and transfer to a 9″ pie pan. Unfold the crust and flute/crimp the edges.


6 apples (Granny Smith, Northern Spy, Wealthy, or other tart baking apple)

1 T lemon juice

1/2 C sugar

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp mace

Peel and core the apples, and cut into eighths. Squeeze lemon juice over apples to prevent browning. Mix sugar and spices and sprinkle over apples. Put sweetened apple slices into pie crust.

Crumb Topping

3/4 C white flour

1/3 C brown sugar

6 T butter

Blend topping ingredients together until crumbly and spread over the top of the apples. Bake pie at 400 degrees F for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or Vermont cheddar cheese.

Be sure to check out my newspaper column that’s coming out in the Huntington Beach Independent this Thursday. It’s on heirloom apples. See it at www.hbindependent.com/opinion.

Gary Paul Nabhan, one of the founders of Renewing America’s Food Traditions (RAFT) has declared 2010 as the Year of the Heirloom Apple to publicize the decline in our national heritage of apple varieties.

Sadly, out of America’s 15,000 historic apple varieties, only about 3,500 are still commercially available. Like most endangered foods, we can save them by eating them. Create demand for heirloom apples by seeking them out and buying them. If you can find Wealthy or Northern Spy apples, they make fantastic pies. I speak from experience about the Northern Spies, but I have yet to find any Wealthy apples to try.

If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend “Renewing America’s Food Traditions: Saving and savoring the continent’s most endangered foods.” The book lists 108 hard-to-find apple varieties that are worthy of searching out.

Look for heirloom apples at your farmer’s market or local U-pick orchards. They’re still out there. Go find them!

Harvest Monday, Sept. 20, 2010

Night critters seem to be raiding my garden. The ripe tomatoes are disappearing, or remaining on the vines half eaten. And I could have sworn I had more apples than what remain on the tree. Time to set the trap again. With such a small garden, I count every fruit and vegetable and battle the wild things for them.

This day's harvest of Granny Smith apples went into an apple brown betty.

The tomato harvest is an odd mix of Mortgage Lifters and the occasional yellow pear, Better Boy, Roma, and Early Girl.

The Mortgage Lifters are nice, meaty, deep pink tomatoes, but the flavor is nothing special.

I harvested the first of my homegrown gingerroot this week to put into guava jam. I’m really pleased that my attempt to grow ginger worked. I just put a grocery store gingerroot into a pot of dirt and seven months later I’m getting enough gingerroot to harvest. My plan is to keep the pot growing all year long. It should be able to supply all of my modest needs for fresh gingerroot.

I made a second batch of pineapple guava jam, using fresh gingerroot and a Granny Smith apple from my garden. The citrus and spices shown here are store-bought, as I'm between crops on my citrus trees.

Here’s my harvest for the week ending Sept. 19, 2010. This was the last of my lemons and oranges until the next crop ripens.


2 lbs 15 oz. Apples, Granny Smith

6 oz. Lemon, Meyer

3 oz. Orange, Valencia

1.5 Strawberries

Subtotal fruit 3 lbs 9.5 oz.


1.5 oz. Gingerroot

12 oz. Green beans, Blue Lake

2 lbs 12 oz. Tomatoes

Subtotal vegetables 3 lbs 9.5 oz.

TOTAL PRODUCE 7 lbs 3 oz. plus 8 eggs

If you had a harvest this week, visit Daphne’s Dandelions and post your results.

Harvest Monday, Sept. 13 2010

Another week has rolled around, and it’s been a productive one in the garden, despite the cooling weather.

It's early September in the garden. The green beans are getting powdery mildew and I've picked a LOT of dead and dying lower leaves off the tomatoes.

This is the entire harvest from our Fuji apple tree. It's still a baby tree and not productive yet, but the apples are great.

This is the first basket of apples from the dwarf Granny Smith. Nothing dwarf about these apples though. There are still a couple dozen left on the tree.

Granny Smiths are my husband's favorite eating apple, but they're too tart for me. They make perfect pies, and that's what I do with most of them. I wish you could smell our kitchen.

This harvest of komatsuna (Japanese mustard greens) and bell peppers went into a stirfry.

I’m giving my vote of favorite new vegetable this year to Green Boy hybrid komatsuna from Kitazawa Seed Company. They’re very productive and really make a great addition to a stirfry. They’re better than bok choy in productivity, with a slightly stronger mustard green bite than bok choy. Delicious!

This is the entire harvest of Russett potatoes. One potato sprouted in my bag, so I just planted it. This was what I got, about double or triple the volume of what I put into the raised bed.

Our pumpkins and squash are producing nothing but male blossoms, so that's what I'm harvesting.

The squash blossoms and green onion went into scrambled eggs. The potatoes and more onion became homefries. And a Fuji apple and a couple of strawberries were our fruit for breakfast. All home grown, even the eggs!

This golf ball in the nest box needs a bit of explanation.

Our three silly hens all use the same nest box, ignoring the other two that are adjacent. When I peeped in and saw Henny Penny sitting on TOP of Chicken Little in the same nest box, I decided that they needed a box that was a bit separated from the others. I put a cardboard box in the corner of the coop opposite the preferred nest box and added some straw. They ignored it. So I put in a golf ball to give them the idea that they could use this box when the preferred nest box is occupied. Now they all want to use this one. Chickens! Not the brightest bulbs on the back porch.

Everyone is probably getting tired of seeing tomatoes, so I put this day's harvest at the end. I'm glad I have the Mortgage Lifters, because they're producing the bulk of the tomato harvest now. They're really productive, with each tomato weighing about half a pound.

And now, on to the week’s harvest.


11 oz. Apples, Fuji

3 lbs Apples, Granny Smith

0.5 oz. Strawberries

Subtotal Fruit 3 lbs 11.5 oz


4 oz. Bell Peppers

5 oz. Chard

6 oz. Komatsuna

2.5 oz. Onion, Green

2 oz. Onion, Red

6 oz. Potatoes, Russett

1 oz. Squash blossoms

6 lbs 3.5 oz. Tomatoes (mostly Mortgage Lifters)

Subtotal veggies 8 lbs 1.5 oz.

TOTAL HARVEST 11 lbs 13 oz produce plus 10 eggs

If you had a harvest, visit Daphne’s Dandelions and post your results.

BTW, I was up until nearly 3 am working on a database for my yearly harvest. So far, I’ve harvested 164 lbs of produce and 404 eggs this year. Not bad for such a tiny urban homestead.

Sweaty Sunday May 30 2010

Phew, I worked in my garden until it got dark today. My last post on how much is undone in the garden embarrassed me enough that I toiled from sunup to sundown today. Got a LOT done, including resting in front of the telly during the heat of the afternoon. It got up into the low 80s out there today.

First of all, I planted my new Haas avocado tree. Although it didn’t take very long, I consider that my major accomplishment of the day given how long the tree is likely to last. I have great hopes for this little dear as it has already set seven avocados. That’s two more than my mature Littlecado, which has five on it this year. I’m hoping that Littlecado, which isn’t supposed to need another tree for pollination, will enjoy having the Haas nearby and will set more fruit in the future. So far it has been a pathetic producer.

After that, I raked up fallen leaves from the Littlecado avocado and composted them. Trimmed the ferns and composted them too. Watered both compost bins. It’s time to take some compost out of the bottom trap door, but I didn’t get around to that today.

I fertilized all of the fruit trees in the back yard except the avocados, which don’t need it. Hmmm. Well, that’s not exactly right. I always plant with E.B. Stone Organic Sure Start fertilizer because it contains beneficial soil microbes and nutrients to get the plants off to a healthy start. So the Haas avocado tree got Sure Start to get it going. Then I watered all of my trees and the flower border. I admired my dwarf Granny Smith apple in particular. It has nearly 3 dozen apples on it this year. Don’t know if they’ll all make it to harvest time in September or not, but so far they look good. The Fuji seems to have set only one apple and the Gala none. Nothing from the Red Flame grapes either. I’m hoping for both grapes and Gala apples next year as it will be their third year in the ground.

I took down the string and wooden trellises from the spent sugar snap peas (I pulled the pea vines, which were covered in powdery mildew, and put them in the trash two days ago) and put up a new string trellis for my pole beans. Planted 60 Blue Lake Pole Beans and 10 Scarlet Runner Beans.

I harvested the last two Candid Charm cauliflower heads to make room in the raised beds for some poor stunted seedlings that I started from seed back in February. They should have gone into the ground before this, but space is just now opening up in the raised beds. Planted 2 Black Beauty Eggplants, 2 Green Savoy Cabbages, 1 Black Krim Tomato, 1 Mortgage Lifter Tomato, and 4 Brandywine Tomatoes.

We ate the last of our Florida Prince peaches for breakfast today in pancakes, along with the first tiny harvest of blueberries and the day’s harvest of strawberries.

Over the past three years I’ve reworked my garden so that it will produce more fruits and vegetables. This is the summer that it is really starting to pay off. The amounts of my harvests aren’t large, but I love the variety of produce that I’m getting from our small yard. It’s so much fun playing with growing new varieties, and seeing what will produce in pots and planters as well as in the ground. Happy gardening to you all.

Harvest Monday in southern California, Nov. 30

December is when our citrus begin to ripen. Here is a navel orange.

OK, technically, this is Wednesday Dec. 2, but I’m really running behind because of the Thanksgiving holiday and a particularly difficult column I was writing for the newspaper. My husband began the column (we co-write it), leaving it to me to do the research and interviews. That particular column took about three times longer than our normal columns. It will be out Dec. 3, and you can see it by clicking on the link at the bottom of this post.

The last Granny Smith apples from my tree for this year

On to Harvest Monday. Daphne at Daphne’s Dandelions has a Harvest Monday on her blog. If you harvested anything from your garden in the past week, go to her blog on Monday and post it through Mr. Linky. It can help bring others to your site as well. Daphne keeps careful records, weighing everything and noting the monetary value of her harvest. Her record-keeping skills are awesome.

The apples went into a pie crust with sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, mace and the juice of Meyer lemon

I’m doing good to even note that I picked something. I have a Kew Five-Year Garden Diary, and this is the first year that I’ve continued making entries beyond April. This year, I’m still keeping records–such as they are–in December. And thanks to this blog, I’m doing better at recording my harvests in photos as well.

Topped with a crumb topping, this was an awesome pie.

I could have harvested more from my garden last week, but there was a complication. In order to write about the topic in our newspaper columns, I signed up for a CSA box (community supported agriculture). I got my first box of produce last week, and it has filled my refrigerator. This means that I picked less from my own garden. Look at all that food! Turnips, beets, a butternut squash, sweet potatoes, two head of lettuce, green beans, carrots, apples and Fuji persimmons, all local and all organic.

All of this produce was in my CSA box. It filled my refrigerator!

 Here is my harvest from last week from my own garden, which included what I picked for Thanksgiving.

1 navel orange, the first of the crop

2 Meyer lemons, the first of the crop

6 Granny Smith apples, the last from the tree

3 bell peppers

3 green onions



Only one out of three of my raised beds is in full production. The one on the left just got planted two weeks ago, and the one on the right still has bell peppers in it from summer.

Now that I’ve seen Daphne’s good records, I’m going to try even harder in 2010 to keep track of my harvest and expenses.

(To read more of Lou Murray’s environmental writing, see her weekly column, Natural Perspectives, in the Huntington Beach Independent at www.hbindependent.com/blogs_and_columns/)