Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Winter in/out of the garden
Harvest for December:
Absolutely the most beautiful apples to the eye and palate, our last Gala apples were harvested on the Solstice. Sweetest apples of the year they were with translucent centers and a rich, golden hue throughout.
On almost a daily basis, we continue to dehydrate Hachiya Persimmons harvested from Gordon's tree in Menlo Park earlier this month. Have it down to about a box from the five we harvested in the last week of November. They are an excellent dried fruit in every way and very difficult to find anywhere commercially. They are my favorite dried fruit and easily a native Amercan equivalent to dates for taste, texture, and sweetness. The word persimmon is from the Cree and Mohican "pessamin" meaning dried fruit. The Greeks called it the "fruit of the gods" meaning bundled home loans to be sold en masse to pension funds, hedge funds, school bond funds, and small towns worldwide. The Greeks may have been the anticedents of present day Banksters, Bernie Made-off-with-yer-money, and Goldman Sachs Fraudster/Fedsters. But I could be wrong in that translation. Time will tell.
Kiwis harvested two days after the last apples. Maybe one hundred of them, all told. We keep the vine small and easily pruned. It is more for philosophy as I have had my entertainment with pruning kiwis two or three times per year and having to bury the parts in one or two, two by three by six foot graves each time. That was too much work for the harvest, in my opinion. Besides, what does one do with 3,000 kiwis? It's hard to give them away but I suppose one could sell them to a local organic grocer. (We never did, back in the day, but times are changing with the coming Depression are they not?) Kiwis are like pineapple guavas in that there is not much one can do with them but eat them out of hand or in sorbet.
Last handful of raspberries harvested for the season and year was this past week. They always throw a small crop at the end of the year.
Next up are the two semi dwarf Satsuma Owari mandarin orange trees in January and February. These trees are beautiful, produce insanely, and are just the right size for a city lot, especially if they have chickens under them. There is nothing like a double sink full of mandarin oranges to make the heart feel that all is right with the world. Especially if you have a Champion juicer next to the sink and a spouse willing and able to make marmalade.
Have composted an area for potatoes and planted them into it this month. Same with an area for garlic.
Composted an area for raspberries to be planted in January.
Toppling two apple trees in late January, Granny Smith (with Pink Pearl appended to it in 2000) and the dwarf Golden Delicious. The dwarf is at the end of its useful life span of twenty years. Unless you like very short trees that do not grow well and produce abundantly for only a few years, never plant a dwarf. The Granny was never thrifty during its 12 years but did produce Pink Pearls well for a few years. Both of these trees pale in comparison to the Gala or Cox's Orange Pippin for vigorous growth, production, and excellent apple quality. I will take scions from each toppling to put onto the Cox's Orange Pippin (three years old, 8 feet high, vigorous) to save the varieties on them for decades to come. The C.O.Pippin will produce heavily next year and will make good fresh, sauce, cider, and wine apples. Assuming it does not get rained out, of course. March/April rains can be problematic. Having bees in the immediate area helps immensely. Have our "feelers" out for bees in many venues. Will be acquiring pheromone attractants in the spring, if those feelers don't produce adequately.
Not happening to our satisfaction. Slack time of the year is in December and usually into January/February. We find one, maybe two/three in all of Santa Cruz on a weekend. It rains out and people are thinking of other things to do. Last weekend we found one garage sale that was "antiques" which, to me, is overpriced shabby chic. The same stuff I can find at home for free, lol. This will change as the economy tanks with the coming Depression and people become desperate to produce money. On Craigslist search "need money for Christmas" to see the trend shaping up. I have found, anecdotal evidence only, that people are having success getting Comcast to reduce their monthly bill, if they threaten to cancel. I haven't tried it yet but January fast approaches.
So far about 2.5 inches total and raining off/on this week. We did get some ice in the bird bath when it got down to 33F on the max/min a few days ago. I think a copper bird bath is prone to icing. The chicken's water was fine but was under a partial roof and in plastic which may have made the difference. A friend of ours in Ben Lomond had solid ice in the chicken water at about 1,000 feet of altitude.
Racked the Cameo carboy once. Now it abides in stillness in the new carboy until I get around to bottling it in February. In addition, I now have a gallon jug of Cameo/Gala combo and one gallon Gala that have both tested out at 17% potential alcohol (after adding one cup of sugar to each) bubbling away. Looking forward to imbibing that at some point when I am needing a soporific.