Monday, January 19, 2009

Raspberry Time in January

Moved the raspberries out of an old bed and into a new one.  It is time to refurbish the old bed and then use it for something else for a while.  Raspberries can use up the soil in one spot if it is not composted or fertilized regularly.  It doesn't hurt to change the crop every couple of years to give the soil a rest from mono cropping.  For that reason we move ours around the yard much like walking a very, very, old dog slowly and patiently.  If you had a movie of our yard over time the raspberries would be in constant motion.  If you want a metric to use for bed change try this:  when you notice the next years canes being smaller than last it is time to move on.  You can just move some chickens into it during the winter, if you don't want to move it around.  That works well.  Of course, there is always the mega-farm methodology but to do that you have to go buy something.

If this heat/dry spell doesn't change soon, the fruit trees are going to break bud and potentially cause all sorts of timing trouble which could culminate in a poor fruit set.  Hoping for a wet, cold February.  So are the California Tree Frogs which are making a very large noise for their diminutive size in various places around the yard.  The one inside the hollow, ceramic elephant sounds like a bull frog.  He must be pleased.

Put some more potatoes into the bed last weekend because I found some at the market I liked for making mashed potatoes.  First leaves are coming up from the prior planting.  Had a fantastic dinner of smoked Alpers trout caught at Saddlebag Lake last September and grill seared (60 seconds per side) Tombo tuna with the potatoes and a salad of baby greens. 

Garlic is about six inches tall.  

Found a peanut trying to grow that a scrub jay had planted.  Never have grown one of those before but, apparently, the birds think I should.

First Owari Satsuma Mandarin Orange harvest was January 18.  The trees will yield fruit for the next two months.  Harvested from the sunny side of the tree first.  They are the ripest.  Prepped four batches of marmalade and put it in the freezer for canning on a cold, rainy day.  Too hot to do that now.  Juiced the rest of the days harvest.  Yield is slightly more than 50% by volume of the peeled fegs.  Champion juicer makes that part of the process easy.  We have two Mandarin trees.  Same variety for both but the trees produce different fruit.  One trees fruit has a tight skin, is difficult to peel and is noticeably sweeter.  It is much like the difference between Valencia and Navel oranges.  One is better for juicing and the other easier to eat out of hand.  

Last persimmons were dried, bagged and frozen last week.  This last batch was the sweetest and most colorful of them all with the consistency and sweetness of Medjool dates.

Kiwi fruit is ripe enough to begin eating.  It has been in the crisper since harvest at about 38F.

Beneficial insects flower seed varieties were put into the old raspberry bed and a little something for the hummingbirds.  This will help with the pollination and pest control in the spring.  

Trapped two gophers out of the yard last week.  Found their tunnels while moving raspberries.  The varmints don't push up dirt hills in our yard because the soil is so soft they can just push it aside instead of mining out tailings into a gopher mound.  This makes the gopher game a little trickier in that I usually do not know where they are until a plant goes awol or declines unexpectedly.  They are little trouble to established trees and bushes but are hell on garlic, clover and potatoes.  It never hurts to patrol the grounds daily to enjoy, stay in touch with, and keep the peace.