Sunday, May 20, 2018

Piles and Piles of Peaches....

I'm remembering the old saying, "be careful what you wish for!" Well, I've always wished for fresh peaches right off my own trees.  And I'm getting my wish -- to the max!  

There are trays and bowls of peaches all ripening in various stages on our kitchen table.  So far we have 96.2 pounds! Oh my!

I've been cutting them up and freezing most of them, along with making a couple of peach cobblers, and a peach tea one weekend. I'll be doing that again -- it was delicious!!  

 Pickin' the peaches...

I decided to try making peach wine again -- this time with a new recipe.  This one doesn't have orange juice in it, which is what I think gave it that odd taste that I didn't like.  This recipe uses tannin as an additive to give the wine body. I started this in the wine bucket on Saturday, and then mashed the peaches and added the yeast today.  As usual, this will be stirred daily for 5 days.  
 Starting the peach wine "must."

Next I tried my hand at jam again.  I swear, I can't seem to get this right. If this batch doesn't jell, I'm done with jam! I follow the recipe to the letter, but still have so much trouble with this skill.  

 Boiling the peaches with the pectin.
 Pouring into the 8 oz. jars.
Sealing and water bath.

Next I'll be juicing a big batch of these to use in peach tea, peach Bellini's, and slushies. Sigh...

Starting Mulberry Wine and Bottling the Cranberry Wine

Unbelievably we've already harvested about 14 pounds of mulberries from our two Dwarf Everbearing Mulberry trees that we planted back in 2014.  They really are very delicious.  I've been freezing most of them, and have made a few cobblers, but there's just way more then we need.  Thankfully the trees are starting to slow down now! Whew!

I took 6 pounds and started a batch of mulberry wine
 The "must"is started in a bucket.
 The next day the wine yeast is added, along with a yeast nutrient.
For the next five day the must is stirred once a day.
 On day 6 the solids from the bucket are strained out, and the wine is 
transferred to the carboys.
Isn't that a pretty color?!

Now it will sit in the corner for about three months.  Monthly I'll check it, strain off the sediment, and add sugar if needed, then return to the carboys. 

Meanwhile, the cranberry wine that I started back in December was ready to bottle (rack.) The two carboys made a total of 8 bottles - and it's pretty darn good fresh, but it will take several months to mature.  I'm planning to break it out for the holidays, giving it 6 months in the bottles.

Mother's Day 2018

I had a lovely day! First I got some flowers and a ribbon on Thursday from my daughter and her family, because they were going to be in Houston that weekend.  Such pretty pink roses and lilies.  The ribbon (Plant Lady!) she said she saw and just had to get for me, and I love it!
Then on Sunday we had a wonderful visit from Max and his parents - some swimming, and a delicious dinner that they brought and then BBQ'd for us.  I also got some more pink roses and some scented soaps.  I'm one lucky Mom!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Garden Log --- May 10, 2018

It's been a while since I posted, but it's been so busy around here, I'm just now finding a minute.  
I spent a couple of days processing about 12 pounds of spinach - the first cutting from all of the varieties I'm growing this year.  Spinach takes a bit of work, it takes three washes to be sure it's clean, and then I cut all of the stems off before freezing it in 1/2 pound containers.  I use a lot of it in egg casseroles and some Italian dishes during the year.
 This is the Viroflay spinach - one of the plants has variegated leaves. Very pretty!
 Bloomsdale spinach
 I think this is the Black Magic spinach
One of the batches ready for the freezer!

The mulberry trees have been keeping us pretty busy too. It seems like we'll pick the two trees thoroughly one day, and by the next morning they're full of ripe berries again! Like magic...ha! Over 10 pounds so far, and I used 5-1/2 pounds of those to make wine (post  about the wine soon!) 

We pulled up all of the snow peas and snap peas since its getting hot and they were starting to fade.  
Pea plants starting to show stress from the bottom up.

I ended up with a little over 4 pounds of peas - which I froze in 5 oz. portions to be used in stir fry recipes. We ate a good portion of those fresh in salads and with Ranch dip, too!  
 The turkeys and chickens enjoyed the pea plant treats!
A few of the pepper plants have started flowering.  This one is the Sweet Red Cheese pepper.  They have some growing to do, but do much better once it starts really heating up here.

Here's a bean on the Cranberry Fielder Bean plants.  The plants seem stressed, and I think it's the manure we used in the garden this year.  I'm still learning, it seems. Sigh...
 All of the tomato plants have shown some stress, also, but they're slowing growing out of it.  I'm happy with their progress so far.  This is a new one for me called Brad's Atomic Grape.  Purple stripes, ya'll!! 

This is the last picture of the squash that I took, but I've already brought in about 1-1/2 pounds of this Zephyr squash.  It's unique, yellow with green neck and bottom.  Very pretty. 
We're keeping our eyes on the green beans in the orchard field, too. They're doing fine, although we had quite the gully-washer rain the other day and I was afraid they might get washed out.  We're starting to see some blossoms!
I took a photo of each of the main garden beds at the end of April.  Everything is looking pretty good! 
 Bed A
 Bed B
Bed C

The peach's are starting to ripen and we've been bringing them in to finish ripening at the house, since the birds and squirrels like to beat us to them.  We've had a few strawberries already, too. And the berries are coming along.  Here are the Chester blackberries....

and the Black Raspberries...

We picked all of the nectarines for this year from the two trees that we have in the orchard.  They look like hammered hell, so we're going to have to do some research in to how we'll need to treat these trees next year to have more success.  Birds and bees seemed to have really enjoyed these! 
 John found this little apple at the base of the Pink Lady apple tree.  I'm just happy one seemed to have developed, since we've never gotten this far in the 6 years we've had these Pink Lady and Gala apple trees.  In fact, this is the first year that they both blossomed at the same time.  Progress!  We can't find any more on either tree, so I guess this was it.

I've been eyeing these agarita bushes around our property - they are loaded this year.  If I get the energy (and some heavy duty gloves), I'll try to harvest some of these for wine, but I'm not committing to anything.  It seems I always have plenty to keep me busy. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

Garden Log --- April 27, 2018

And welcome back to another edition of How Does Your Garden Grow! ha! That's about all I'm doing right now, watching the garden grow....

First let me bore you with all my tomato pictures. I'm happy to report that just about every plant in the main garden has little tomatoes on it! Yea!  
 Tomate Silbertanne. These small plants (I think they might be dwarfs) are loaded. 
One has 12 tomatoes and the other has 11. 
 Rumi Banjan. A ruffled yellow tomato from Afghanistan.
 Large Barred Boar. A striped regular sized tomato (red with green stripes.)
Arkansas Traveler. A nice medium little red tomato.

I spent several days this week doing the first pruning of all the tomatoes.  I got most of them done before the nice rain we had this week, and finished up yesterday.  
 Tiny blue bird feather stuck on a tomato flower....pretty!

Most of the okra is starting to poke out of the soil.  They'll grow fast once it gets hot around here.
 Gold Coast okra

The corn is a little slower to germinate. 

I've finally planted the two varieties of vegetables from India that I'm growing for one of my garden groups on FB.  These tiny things are a tiny okra - I think I had 11 seeds and 8 have germinated.  There may be others soon.  I have to send everything that I get from these plants to the group when they are harvested. 
 Today I pulled up all three of the Chirimen Hakusai cabbages - they were starting to bolt.  The chickens and turkeys got much of the outer leaves but I kept the pretty middles and put about 2-1/2 pounds in the freezer for future soups and stir fry dishes.
 Tried to get a close up of the weird flower - there's some longer 
little feelers around it. Very alien looking!

This morning I harvested about 2 pounds of snow peas and snap peas, too.  These all went into the freezer since John and I can't eat all of these fresh. Whew!

 This Amish Snap Pea plant has reached all the way to the top of the 8 ft. squash 
house and embedded itself into the mesh shade cover!
 The Spring Blush Tendril Pea is all that - lots of wiry tendrils! I've 
enjoyed watching this plant make its way.

We've been watching the fruit (and harvesting mulberries already.) The vineyard looks nice right now, but we've had such a hard time with the grapes, I'm not sure what will happen.

Peaches everywhere.  I noticed one of the Rio Grande out in the orchard has peaches that are already turning yellow.  I'm keeping my eye on these! 

Pomegranate Blooms

I found milkweed out in the back of the vineyard on my morning walk - I think this is Antelope Horn milkweed.  I looked for caterpillars on them but didn't find any.  Now I have to go back and look for eggs (I'm watching Angie's posts to find out what to look for!) I'll report on what I find.