Crazy weather, Thanksgiving, catching up

Time for some “catchup” in garden reporting.

Our Meyer lemon tree is producing like gang busters right now.

Our Meyer lemon tree is producing like gang busters right now.

One of the Meyer lemons went into the marinade for this nice piece of steelhead that we had for dinner earlier this week, along with steamed broccoli and homemade leek and potato soup.

One of the Meyer lemons went into the marinade for this nice piece of steelhead that we had for dinner earlier this week, along with steamed broccoli and homemade leek and potato soup.

This marinade for fish was fabulous. I grated the peel from a small Meyer lemon using a microplane grater. I added the peel and juice to 1 T of olive oil, 1 tsp of Sunny Paris seasonings (mostly chives), and a heaping tsp of chopped garlic. I brushed this on one side of the fish and broiled it for 8 minutes. Simple and delicious.

The lemon was from our garden, as was the parsley in the leek and potato soup.

Winter is citrus season in our southern California garden. The navel orange tree is loaded with oranges that ripened a month early this year.

Winter is citrus season in our southern California garden. The dwarf navel orange tree is loaded with oranges that ripened a month early this year.

Our lime tree is also producing abundantly, more limes that we’ve ever had before. The little tree has become mature I think.

The double paperwhite narcissus are the first to bloom. And nasturtiums are everywhere in back. Too soon for blooms for them.

The double paperwhite narcissus are the first to bloom.They are our winter flowers. And nasturtiums are everywhere in back. Too soon for blooms from them, though.

As I mentioned in my last post, winter in coastal southern California is a mix of fall and spring. But this year, we had other things that were odd, like summer crops that extended into December, and fall-blooming fruit trees that had already bloomed in spring.

We had such a hot fall here that bell peppers continued to set fruit. Here is a December pepper nearing readiness for picking.

We had such a hot fall here that bell peppers continued to set fruit. Here is a December pepper nearing readiness for picking.

It looks like we're going to get a small Black Beauty eggplant soon as well.

It looks like we’re going to get a small Black Beauty eggplant soon as well.

This has been a crazy year, weather-wise. The year 2012 is going down as the hottest year EVER. Or at least since people have been keeping track. That explains the late fall fruit set on bell peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes in our garden. Normally, those summer veggies are gone by this time of year.

Part of this nutty weather has been odd behavior from our fruit trees. Our plum tree bloomed again in the fall and even set one plum. Our apple trees also set fruit twice this year. That ain't normal, folks.

Part of this nutty weather has been odd behavior from our fruit trees. Our plum tree bloomed again in the fall and even set one plum. Our apple trees also set fruit twice this year. That ain’t normal, folks.

Those out of focus white things are plum blossoms in DECEMBER. We had more blossoms in December than we did in the spring. But the tree is losing its leaves, as is normal for this time of year. I don’t know if that plum will ripen or not, or if the tree will have enough sense or energy to bloom again in spring when it is supposed to.

This is “global weirding” at work. We live in times that have changed, with weather that is drastically different from the weather that we all know and love. What if this seasonal disconnect of winter-blooming fruit trees happens on a commercial scale? I worry about the world’s food supply, which is part of the reason why I grow at least some of my own food. Speaking of which, our five chickens are fine.

The two chicks that we raised are almost old enough to lay eggs. They should start laying next month.

The two chicks that we raised are almost old enough to lay eggs. They should start laying next month.

Peep and Cheep still have small combs and wattles. When they are mature enough to lay, those will be much larger and redder.

Peep and Cheep still have small combs and wattles. When they are mature enough to lay, those will be much larger and redder.

Right now, Miss Hillary is our only hen that is laying, and she is only laying 2-3 eggs per week. I froze some eggs (raw, lightly scrambled, dash of salt, two to a Baggie) in the spring when we had excess eggs. I’m using those now for baking.

We are just barely scraping by in the egg category. Vic says that we could buy eggs at the store, but I refuse. If I can make it to mid-January, we should start getting eggs from the new girls. If Miss Hillary can keep producing until then and not go into winter molt, we’ll be OK in the egg category.

I think this fellow is possum #15 that we've live trapped this year. We relocate them away from our garden and chickens.

I think this fellow is possum #15 that we’ve live trapped this year. We relocate them away from our garden and chickens.

Combatting bug and varmints is all part of the job of being an urban “farmer.”

And now, to finish catching you up, here is a report on our Thanksgiving dinner.

Is there anything less appetizing than raw poultry: I wanted to show you that we used one of our homegrown lemons to fill the cavity, along with an onion and a few stalks of celery. The sage was from my garden.

Is there anything less appetizing than raw poultry? I wanted to show you that we used one of our homegrown lemons to fill the turkey cavity, along with an onion and a few stalks of celery. The sage was from my garden. I was too busy to take an “after” picture before the bird was carved.

Mashed potatoes and homemade cloverleaf yeast rolls with carmel pecan bottoms. The chickens contributed the eggs for the rolls.

Mashed potatoes and homemade cloverleaf yeast rolls with carmel pecan bottoms. The chickens contributed the eggs for the rolls.

 

Relish tray, steamed green beans with canned onion rings on top, homemade cranberry sauce, turkey, dressing, baked yams, and a cornbread casserole.

Relish tray, steamed green beans with canned onion rings on top, homemade cranberry sauce, turkey, dressing, baked yams, and a cornbread casserole.

I had some of my homemade watermelon rind pickles on the relish tray, but sadly that may be all that was from my garden on this table. Note the china. Those plates belonged to my grandmother.

All three pies were homemade: Crumb-top apple, pumpkin (from one of my homegrown pumpkins), and pecan. The pumpkin and pecan pies used eggs from our chickens.

All three pies were homemade: Crumb-top apple, pumpkin (from one of my homegrown pumpkins), and pecan. The pumpkin and pecan pies used eggs from our chickens.

It was quite a spread, an amazing feast that we enjoyed for days afterward. The best part was having our son Scott, his wife Nicole, her mother Maria, and the four little grandkids here to share the occasion.

Now I am pretty much caught up on garden reporting. If I get around to processing the rest of my 1200 photos, my next few posts will be on our November trip to Salvador.

Or maybe it will be on the current repairs to our home. We are in clean-up, fix-up mode, with deck repairs happening today and bathroom changes tomorrow.

Vic hired a cleaning couple, and I’ve been scrambling like crazy to get our pigsty of a home picked up enough for them to clean. So far, they’re deep cleaned the master bedroom and master bath ceiling to floor. I’m trying to stay a step ahead of them, with a week in between for me to pick up the clutter before they arrive. I am too embarrassed to show before photos, but I might show after pictures. Depends on how long it takes me to process the rest of the Salvador pics. What a fabulous trip that was.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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5 Responses to Crazy weather, Thanksgiving, catching up

  1. Daphne says:

    We have seen an opossum in the trees once here, but I’ve never seen them to be a pest. I keep waiting.

  2. Even up here our harvest season extended late into at least early November. It was so difficult tearing out the plants that looked like they still had a little left to give. Our peppers were still blooming and setting fruit. A stark contrast to the season a year ago!

    I’m with you, I don’t care how much winter egg-production slows down, I just can’t bring myself to buy eggs! It shouldn’t be much longer now before the girls start to turn around. The days should start getting longer soon!

    • Clare, I don’t have anywhere near as big a “farm” as you do. With only five hens, two of them elderly and two too young, I have only one poor girl struggling to keep us in eggs. It’s going to be a close race to see which comes first: the new girls starting to lay or me running out of frozen eggs.

  3. PJ Boothe says:

    I love seeing the led grow lights. They really do make a difference.

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