Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Spring is almost here

The Equinox cannot be far behind when the Mandarins are all ready to harvest and the Blueberries are flowering. 

Top pics: Juicing in process.  Mandarin/bronze fennel ahi marinade, left, with finished juice.  Fegs ready to yield 2.5 qts juice.

Over the past week:
Raspberry shoots have come out of the ground in profusion and leaves are coming out on old canes.
Sangiovese (main component of chianti) grape vines pushed leaves.
Blueberry varieties are moving.  Earlyblue and Blueray are pushing leaf past the bud.  Bluecrop is beginning to leaf out but no flowers.  Oneal and the Yard Sale Unknown have foliage and are in full flower.  Southmoon has foliage and is now beginning its flowering.  Only the Herbert is sitting silent and bare.  
Fourth pic:  chickens fenced with mandarin tree (click on pic to enlarge it)

Stripped one mandarin tree and juiced the crop.  Yield is at least 40 pounds (conservative estimate) of fruit for the tree this year.  100 pieces pulled form the tree without calyx equaled 7.5 pounds.  Tree size is six by six by six feet and is pruned about 1.5 feet off the ground at the drip line and looks like a miniature maple tree.  Twenty pounds of fruit was juiced to yield 5 quarts.  After peeling, fegs were put through a Champion juicer.  

The mandarin/bronze fennel leaf marinade for the ahi was spectacular.  Marinated the ahi for a few hours, turning it occasionally because the juice tends to separate, then cooked it in a stove top smoker with hickory chips for 15 minutes.  A few minutes on high and the rest on low flame.  Highly recommended.

Snails make fungal infection of the fruit common.  Keeping the snails out of the tree usually just involves triple banding the trunk with thin copper strips about 1/4 inch wide for each band.  I had tree leaf/oxalis leaf(ground "weeds") connections at the drip line of the tree this year, a mistake.  Also had oxalis touching the trunk above the copper banding.  If snails can climb above the bands using the ground cover, the copper banding cannot work.  I now have to spray the tree with high pressure water to knock off the snails then the chickens are in a tractor (a movable enclosure) under the tree to finish the job until the ground cover is gone.  Should take about a week with only two chickens.  Should have done this before the snails got into the tree, of course, but I got lazy and rationalized it looked so picturesque with the yellow flowers beneath it.  Not so much, now.  Tossing some scratch (cracked corn) in with the chickens keeps them digging up the greens otherwise they just stand there looking at you and thinking about escape.

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