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

 

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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9 Responses to Harvest Monday, April 14, 2014

  1. daphnegould says:

    I wish I could harvest something every week of the year. Though I would be happy to harvest something this week. Lovely harvests this week. I drool just looking at your little peaches. I hope my peach tree fruits every year and doesn’t have heavy and light years. Peaches are one of my favorite harvests since from the store they are almost always not worth eating.

    • Daphne, Some of the best peaches I ever ate were from somewhere in western Colorado. I stopped at a fruit stand on my way home and bought a CASE of peaches. Made jam and pies. They topped my homegrown peaches.

  2. Jessica says:

    Your garden is looking marvelous! I am jealous of all your amazing fruit trees and flowers, and the veggies look wonderful too! I’m renting at the moment so I’m limited in what I can plant, but I can’t wait to be able to plant fruit trees and lots of flowers as well as my veggies!

  3. I love that you have 20 fruit trees, 7 vegetable beds and a chicken coop on 1/10 acre.

  4. Such richness to behold, and here we are looking at another week of freezing temps!

  5. mac says:

    Wish I can grow citrus and garden year round here. It’s amazing how much you can “pack” into a backyard.

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