Jam Session

This spring the “May Gray” and the “June Gloom” dominated the weather.  There was not much time when the morning fog burned off and it started to roll back in again.  The veggies in the garden for the most part did not like that situation.  Germination was poor and what did sprout as well as most of the transplanted seedlings which had been started on the windowsill just sat there and sulked.  So it will be a late, and perhaps sparse harvest this year.

One of the exceptions is the berries.  The plants were moved from their original location a couple years ago and finally seem to have settled into the new spot.  While the berries are a bit on the small size, they are making up for it in quantity.  Ollalie berry, boysen berry, logan berry and a few other trailing varieties all became productive together.  And since blackberries have a short shelf life, it was time to turn the bounty into jam, jelly and pie.  The result was about three dozen jars of sweet stuff in the pantry and several pies in the freezer.

It remains to be seen if the upright varieties will be as productive.  In the past they seemed to be just about ripe at the same time we would get the one week of actual hot weather and the berries got cooked.  So far, the forecast is looking better for the berries than for the heat loving veggies.



Welcome Spring

Normally by the time of the vernal equinox, I have the garden beds prepped and ready to start planting.  Our climate is mild enough that frost is unlikely even in December or January, so late March is generally a good time to start the new growing season.  However, this year, the ongoing rains have made the soil too wet to work.  The first day of spring came bringing yet another wet storm.   Instead of being ready for seeds and seedlings, the raised beds are full of weeds that have enjoyed the protection of the soggy weather.

We have had several years of severe drought and this season’s rains have brought that to an end.  Our local reservoirs are just about full.  A couple of them will soon be spilling over for the first time in a quarter century.

The ten day forecast shows more rain this time next week so gardening will have to wait at  least another couple weeks.


Between the Storms

The latest series of storms finally cleared and so I was able to go out and pick some of the citrus that was on the trees lining our driveway.  The harvest included the remaining Moro Blood oranges, a basket of Valencia oranges and another of Dancy Tangerines, plus some Bearss limes and a lot of Meyer lemons. There is still a lot of fruit left on the trees.  In fact, it is hard to tell that I picked much at all.

The trees were put in the ground ten years ago and this is probably the most fruit they have produces in a season.  A couple of the tangerines which are smaller than the others fell victim to heavy “pruning” by our local deer a couple summers ago.  As it is, they still are able to munch on some of the lower branches of the larger trees, but there the impact is not as significant. Since we have had so much rain, they probably won’t be after the trees again until late summer.

The oranges, tangerines and lemons have been juiced.  A pitcher of the Moro Blood orange juice is in the fridge for my morning OJ over the coming days.  The other juice is in the freezer for the future days when the fresh citrus is out of season.


When the Orange Juice is not Orange

This morning I picked a basket of oranges from one of the trees lining our driveway. At this point, there are two orange trees as well as a lime, lemon and several mandarins which are big enough to be productive.  Hopefully, in another year or two the more recently planted citrus will catch up.

Once washed and sliced, it was time to put the Cusinart with its juicer attachment to work.

These oranges are the “Moro Blood” variety.  They do well in our mild coastal climate and ripen earlier than the Valencia orange we also have.  There were no seeds in this batch — just lots of juice.  Juice that was not orange, but red.

Hints of Spring

When I went out this morning to pick a few oranges to juice for breakfast, I could not help but notice that while I was away enjoying gem shows in Tucson the past two weeks, certain elements of the garden had decided that it must be spring. It is a couple days short of the middle of February, but one grape vine was already producing clusters of buds.

Several of the fruit trees were blossoming and others were covered with buds that would also be open soon.

And along the fence was a row of assorted daffodils.

While grape hyacinths that hag languished in a pot for years now lined the blueberry bed.