Tag Archives: apples

Spring flowers and summing up the harvest so far this year

Spring has sprung with a vengeance in our yard. Flowers are popping out everywhere it seems. I’m going to show you some of my pretty flowers before getting to the food harvest.

Ida Red is a new color of bearded iris, the reddest of the irises. I got this one from http://www.greenwoodgarden.com. I just love it. When it's ready to divide in the fall, I plan to interplant it with some nice white irises.

Dutch iris are non-native, but this Douglas Iris is native to California. I just love these. I'm thinking that I should get some more to plant around the pond.

This is the purple Pacific or Douglas iris. I also have a white one, but it isn't in bloom at the moment. They are good plants for riparian habitats, areas that are watered to get 32 inches of rain a year. I cluster my riparian plants to conserve water.

My paperwhites stopped blooming long ago. The Tahiti Narcissus just finished. Now it's the turn of these lovelies.

Another view. The first photo showed these narcissus a bit more yellow than they really are.

The whole back yard that isn't in raised beds is covered in nasturtiums. I feed the leaves to the chickens. They don't seem to care much for the flowers. I tried making nasturtium vinegar one year by soaking the flowers in white vinegar for several days, but I didn't really care much for the flavor. Tasted like nasturtiums!

The first rose of summer is about to open. Summer? It's APRIL!

I bought two new cymbidium orchids, the yellow and the rust-colored ones, to add to my existing white and pink one. They look nice in a set of three.

Pink cobbity daisies in the front yard. I want more, but haven't found them at the nursery when I've looked.

My two early season camellias have finished blooming. Now it is the turn of this late season one.

This is the largest bud on my orchid cactus. When they open, they're spectacular, as large as my fully opened and wide-stretched hand. I have two color varieties, a pinky peach and a salmon.

OK, none of those were edible, except for the nasturtiums. I put them in for beauty alone. Here are some flowers which promise fruit in the future.

My Granny Smith dwarf apple tree is in full bloom. It normally sets about 30 full-size apples. The Gala and Fuji apples are still dormant, as are my two Asian pear trees. However, we had a warm winter, and they might not have received enough chilling to set fruit. Darn global warming!

Our Santa Rosa plum is blooming poorly, as usual. We'll be lucky to get a dozen plums. However, that is more than we usually get since the night critters usually get all the fruit. This year I'm live-trapping them relentlessly. We've relocated seven possums already this year.

These are lime blossoms from my Bearrs lime tree. Note the tiny limes on the right. That's what they look like after the petals fall off. Most of the flowers don't result in fruit, but we get plenty of limes from the tree anyway. The navel orange and Meyer lemon trees are also in exuberant bloom.

These itsy, bitsy little green flower buds are the ones that are exciting me the most. They are the first ever flowers on my Red Flame Seedless grape vines. I planted the vines four years ago (or was it three, can't remember) and they are now showing signs of producing fruit. We have eight clusters of flowers so far, and more may open as the grape vines are just now getting going for the summer. I hope we get actual grapes but a lot of things can happen between now and harvest. Mold, mites, birds, night critters, etc. I have my fingers crossed.

My Mammoth snow peas are up. They sure aren't mammoth at this stage. This is the second planting of 2012.

My red cabbages are coming along. In general, my cole crops did poorly this winter. I think it was too warm for them. But I have three remaining red cabbages and all have made heads. They're too small to harvest yet though. I hope they make it to harvest time.

We've harvested and eaten three artichokes so far, with more coming along. I had four artichoke plants that came back from the roots this year. They are a short-lived perennial. I may have to replant this fall. Or maybe I'll get another year out of the existing plants. Time will tell.

Our Florida Prince Peach tree is loaded with fruit, about 250 peaches. Last year, they were very small peaches. I hope that they're bigger this year and worth canning. I thinned out the peaches a bit, hoping that the remaining ones would get large, but I probably didn't thin enough. I just can't bear to pick them off as tiny babies. I want them ALL to grow big.

This is another view of the Florida Prince Peach. The Babcock Improved Peach is nearly finished blooming, and it looks like it might set 100 fruit this year. The August Pride Peach, which is probably a mis-labeled May Pride, has only three peaches on it. Our Panamint nectarine has set about 30-40 nectarines. The Snow Queen nectarine is just now blooming, but fruit set isn't likely to exceed a dozen. Our poor little Katy Apricot set only three apricots this year. The critters usually get all of the apricots anyway. I keep hoping to get some for myself.

It isn't a plant, but I wanted to show you that I'm still using my new solar oven. I've baked 6 loaves of bread in it so far, plus lamb and lentil curry, beef stew, pot roast, chicken, etc. Amazing thing, it cooks with just the heat of the sun. I'm fighting global warming every way I can.

I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping up with the Excel spreadsheet of my harvests this year, if not getting around to blogging as often as I’d like.

Here is a summary of what my garden has produced so far this year. Note that this is the production for my first quarter, not for the week.  The harvest for this week was 1 oz green onions, 12 oz artichokes, and 8.5 oz of yams.

EGGS, 144 (Yeah, hens! Way to go.)

FRUIT, 43 lbs

Avocados, 111 ounces

Lemons, 110 ounces

Limes, 10.5 ounces

Oranges, 453 ounces


Artichokes, 22 oz

Beets, 160 oz = 10 lbs

Broccoli, 46 oz

Cabbage, 85 oz

Carrots, 50 oz

Cauliflower, 15 oz

Chard, 28 oz

Eggplant, 2.5 oz

Herbs, 2.5 oz

Kale, 4.5 oz

Komatsuna, 6 oz

Lettuce, 4 oz

Mizuna, 5 oz

Onions, green, 2.5 oz

Peas, Snow, 72 oz

Spinach, 1 oz

Tomatoes, 8 oz

Yams, 8.5 oz


To see what others are harvesting, visit Daphne’s Dandelions.

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.