Saturday, December 26, 2009

Happy New Year!


The fruit stand will be closed for New Year's on January 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th.  We'll open again on Tuesday, January 5th, with regular hours.  We remain open through out the winter and spring, from 9-6 Tuesday through Saturday, and 10-5 on Sunday.  Mondays we are closed. 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kiwi Blossoms & Fruit



We picked the first kiwi fruit at the orchard this past week.  At left you can see photos of kiwi blossoms on the vines this spring and a box of kiwi fruit at the fruit stand.  If you click on the photos to look closely, you can see how the outer petals of the kiwi blossoms are brownish and fuzzy like the kiwi fruit.

We're taking names for a hoshigaki waiting list in case we have any hoshigaki left after filling all the orders we already have. Unfortunately, it's looking doubtful that we'll be able to get to the names on the waiting list, though. 

Here's what we have for sale now at the fruit stand:

  • Persimmons--hachiya (soft), fuyu (softening), vodka-treated hyakume, maru
  • Mandarins--owari satsuma
  • Asian Pear--okusankichi
  • Kiwi
  • Apples--fuji, pippin, mutsu
  • Winter Squash
  • Pecans--in the shell
  • Eggs
  • Honey--raw, untreated honey from bees at our orchard
  • Firewood--seasoned firewood (peach, plum, pear, persimmon)
  • Gourds--for decorating

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Hoshigaki Orders Stopped



We are sorry to say that we can no longer accept any more orders for hoshigaki (massage-dried persimmons).

Because we need to be sure that we have enough for the orders that have already been placed, we have stopped taking new orders.  The hoshigaki that's currently finishing the drying process is all that we'll be able to produce for this season.

If you like firm fuyu persimmons, try to come get them at the fruit stand soon before they become soft. 

Here's what's at the Fruit Stand now: 
  • Persimmons--fuyu, maru, hachiya, hyakume (vodka-treated)
  • Mandarins--owari satsuma variety (various sizes) 
  • Lemons--Meyer
  • Apples--Fuji, Mutsu, pippin
  • Asian pear--Okusankichi (large brown variety)
  • Pecans--in the shell
  • Winter Squash--buttercup, red kuri, Hopi orange
  • Honey--raw, untreated and un-heated honey made by bees at our orchard
Above is a recent photo of a sunset at the orchard with the shapes of persimmon trees and the wind machine.  

Monday, December 7, 2009

Snow at the Orchard


There was snow at the orchard this morning, which is a very rare event.  I went out to take photos because I've never seen it snow here in the five years we've lived here.

The photo at left is from early this morning.  Besides a thin layer of slushy snow, the orchard was full of all kinds of chattering, screeching birds.  Flocks of various kinds of birds were happily visiting the softening persimmons at the tops of the trees.  During the day today the snow mostly melted, except in a few areas with no direct sun at all.  To see more photos, click here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Persimmon Cookies


A lot of people are familiar with persimmons as an ingredient in holiday cookies and breads.  For these recipes you use the pulp of persimmons that have become very soft, like the hachiya persimmons in the photo aboveHachiya is  a type of persimmon that is astringent with tannic acid when hard, but is very sweet when the fruit becomes soft like gelatin.    

Any type of soft persimmon can be used in recipes for baking, but hachiya is most commonly used because it's large, flavorful and has smooth pulp.  Gyombo is a similar variety of persimmon also good for baking.  Gyombo tends to be sweeter than hachiya and has more water content, so if you use gyombo in a recipe you might need a little more flour.  We also use both hachiya and gyombo to dry for hoshigaki.

Here is a recipe for persimmon cookies based on a recipe from The California Persimmon, a persimmon cookbook published by the University of California Cooperative Extension, Placer and Nevada Counties.  To see a nice photo of persimmon cookies that someone posted on Flickr, click here.

Persimmon Cookies Recipe

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup persimmon puree
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp each of cinnamon, cloves & nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg.  Dissolve the teaspoon of baking soda into the cup of persimmon puree and stir together. 

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, spices and salt.  Add raisins and nuts, then mix this together with the first mixture.  Drop spoonfuls of the batter onto a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Peeling Has Ended


We stopped peeling more persimmons to dry for hoshigaki just before Thanksgiving this week.  The persimmons have gotten too soft to peel and to dry well at this point.  This means that what we started drying already will be all that can be made for the season.  We're still taking orders for hoshigaki though, and we still have some for sale in the fruit stand. 

In the photo above you can see buckets of persimmon peelings next to Toshio's worm bin at the orchard.  Toshio had been feeding some of the peelings to the worms along with other compost from the orchard. The worm castings make very rich fertilizer that we hope to use for the gardens next spring.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mandarins and Hoshigaki


We continue to be very busy at the orchard lately, with lots of people who want to see the hoshigaki drying process and try different types of persimmons coming to visit.  This past week's publicity about the orchard has definitely brought a lot of people out. The PBS television show California Gold featuring the orchard was shown multiple times, and the Sacramento News and Review had an article about persimmons that mentioned us.  The Sacramento News and Review article was accurate and very informative about the different types of persimmons.  To see the article, click here

Drying persimmons for hoshigaki was a bit trickier this past week, because of a few episodes of rain.  They dry more slowly when it rains because of dampness in the air and less sun exposure for the persimmons after first being peeled.  Also the weather is getting colder and we are hurrying to peel as many persimmons as possible before the cold softens them too much for peeling.   Once the persimmons are too soft to peel, the persimmons that have started drying are all the hoshigaki we'll be able to make for the the season. 

Other news is that we now have mandarins for sale at the orchard.  Here's a list of what at the fruit stand now:

  • Persimmons--fuyu, maru, hachiya, hyakume (vodka-treated)
  • Hoshigaki  (dried persimmon)--in small quantities, please call ahead for larger amounts
  • Mandarins--owari satsuma variety (various sizes) 
  • Apples--Fuji, Golden Delicious, Mutsu, pippin
  • Asian pear--Okusankichi (large brown variety)
  • Pomegranate--white & red varieties
  • Winter Squash--buttercup, red kuri, kabocha, Hokkaido, pumpkins
  • Gourds--for decorating
  • Honey--raw, untreated and un-heated honey made by bees at our orchard
Above is a photo of a mandarin tree at our orchard.

    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Mail Order for Hoshigaki, Mandarins & Other Fresh Fruit



    We are still taking mail orders for hoshigaki (massage-dried persimmons) and mandarins, but have now stopped taking orders for both Asian pear and fresh persimmons.  Soon the fresh persimmons will get too soft to ship out, and we need to finish getting out the orders people have already put in.

    To order hoshigaki (massage-dried persimmons), get to the order form.  We don't take orders online, so you have to print out the form and mail it to us with a check.  We can only accept checks, no credit cards or Pay Pal.  Another way to get to the order form is to go our home page and click on "2009 Mail Order Form for persimmons now available".

    Edit: We're now sold out for 2009

    Above is a photo of the hoshigaki gift box.  We mail it out with a small hand-made tag with an origami persimmon on the front.  The regular one pound size of hoshigaki is sent in a clear bag with a paper label inside.

    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Persimmon Pumpkin Pie


    Here's a recipe for making a persimmon pumpkin pie, or pumpkin pie with persimmon added, if you'd like to think of it that way.  I made this by taking a  persimmon pie recipe and substituting half the amount of persimmon called for with pumpkin.  It tastes like a pumpkin pie with added persimmon flavor, and with a slightly smoother texture.  I've also made this using winter squash instead of pumpkin, since winter squash is usually sweeter and we still have them from the gardens.

    The original recipe was called "Persimmon Cream Pie", and comes from The California Persimmon, a persimmon cookbook published by the University of California Cooperative Extension, Placer and Nevada Counties

    Persimmon Pumpkin Pie

    2 eggs, beaten
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. nutmeg
    3/4 cup persimmon pulp
    3/4 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
    1 2/3 cup evaporated milk or light cream
    1 8 in. uncooked pie crust

    Combine beaten eggs, sugar, spices and salt.  Mix well.  Add pumpkin and persimmon pulp, evaporated milk or cream  and stir again.  Pour mixture into unbaked pie shell.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 40 minutes.

    Sunday, November 8, 2009

    Now's the time for Fuyu Persimmons


     Fuyu persimmons are a variety of persimmon that is sweet and ready to eat when they're hard, in the same way an apple is.  It's okay to wait until fuyus get softer to eat them also, but people usually prefer them firm.  The colder weather lately is starting to help soften some of the fuyus, so if you like them to be firm, try and come to the fruit stand soon.  We have lots of fuyu persimmons picked now, and are selling them by the pound and at a discount for a flat or box

    At the Fruit Stand now you'll find:  

    • Persimmons--fuyu, maru, hachiya, hyakume (vodka-treated)
    • Hoshigaki  (dried persimmon)--in small quantities, please call ahead for larger amounts
    • Apples--Fuji, Golden Delicious, Mutsu, pippin
    • Asian pear--Okusankichi (large brown variety)
    • Pomegranate--white & red varieties
    • Winter Squash--butternut, buttercup, red kuri, kabocha, Hokkaido, pumpkins
    • Vegetables--peppers (sweet and hot)
    • Gourds--for decorating
    • Honey-raw, untreated  and unheated honey from bees at our orchard
    Above is a close up of a fuyu persimmon. 

    California Gold & Open House


    The PBS television show California Gold featuring Otow Orchard drying persimmons will air again this Fall. Here are the times we know of so far:
    • Thurs., Nov. 12th, 7:30 PM on KCET Los Angeles
    • Thurs., Nov. 19th, 9:00 PM on KVIE Sacramento

    Huell Howser of California Gold came to interview people at the orchard and show the process of making hoshigaki (dried persimmons) in the Fall of 2007. The episode has aired quite a few times since then, in California and also in Huell Howser's home state of Tennessee. Click here for more about the show.

    Also, we hope lots of people come out to this coming Saturday's open house at the orchard.  The orchard is very pretty right now, with the foliage of some of the trees turning turning red, orange and yellow. The open house is sponsored and organized by Placer Land Trust , and will take place at Otow Orchard  on Saturday, Nov. 14th from 1:00-3:00 PM.  There will be free food, tours of the orchard,  hoshigaki demonstrations and hay bales and tractors to play on.  The orchard and fruit stand will be open from 9-6 as usual that day.  Click here for a link to their site with information about the event.  The open house is free and open to the public.  


    The photo above shows a maru persimmon tree at the edge of the old packing shed at the orchard


    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Persimmon Tasting & Open House


    On Saturday, Nov. 8th, we will do a hoshigaki demonstration at Twin Peaks Orchard in Newcastle, as part of the Persimmon Tasting event taking place there.  We'll bring drying persimmons in various stages to demonstrate and talk about the drying process.  Twin Peaks orchard is a nearby orchard that is also multi-generational and family-owned.  Twin Peaks started almost 100 years ago, around the same time as Otow Orchard, and our families have known each other since then.  Some of Twin Peak specialties are amagaki persimmons and peaches.

    On Saturday, Nov. 14th from 1:00-3:00 PM Placer Land Trust is sponsoring an open house at our orchard.  There will be food, tours and hoshigaki demonstrations.  Click here for a link to their site with information about the event.  Both events are free and open to everyone. 

    At left is a photo of a branch of sunburned hachiya persimmons

    Busy at the Orchard




    The orchard has been very busy with all aspects of making hoshigaki (dried persimmons) lately. We've been peeling and hanging as many persimmons as possible while the weather is good and while the persimmons are still hard enough to peel. There are now hoshigaki drying all stages. Freshly peeled persimmons are hanging on the racks and wall outside, the glass hot house has already-massaged persimmons, and the other indoor drying rooms have racks of drier persimmons. We spend time going through the racks massaging the hoshigaki and moving the sticks to a new location if they are ready. Some hoshigaki are nearly finished and "sugaring up", meaning that they are starting to show a powdery dusting of fructose on the surface. We expect to have some of the first hoshigaki of the season finished within the next two weeks.

    Aside from working with hoshigaki and keeping track of mail orders, we are also sending out orders of fresh persimmons and Asian pears. Quite a few community groups have been coming for scheduled tours of the orchard, too.

    In the fruit stand we now have lots of fuyu persimmons of various sizes. In general, summer vegetables such as tomatoes are now almost finished. Our pumpkin patch is open if you're looking for pumpkins for Halloween.

    Here's what you'll find for sale at the fruit stand now:

    • Persimmons--Maru, hachiya, hyakume (vodka-treated), fuyu
    • Apples--Fuji, Golden Delicious, Mutsu
    • Asian pear--Okusankichi (large brown variety)
    • Grapes--Ribier
    • Jujube
    • Pomegranate--white variety
    • Quince
    • Winter Squash--butternut, delicata, red kuri, kabocha, Hokkaido
    • Vegetables--tomatillos, eggplant, bitter melon, peppers (sweet and hot), basil
    • Honey-from bees at our orchard
    • PUMPKINS (to choose at the fruit stand or pick your own in the pumpkin patch)--Jack-o-lantern (small and large), specialty types, pie pumpkins

    Above you can see photos of Viviano practicing peeling next to a tub of peeled hachiya persimmons ready for stringing and hanging on the racks, and a photo of Helen peeling more persimmons while Toshio strings some for hanging.

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    What's New at the Orchard


    This week it has rained for a few days, so we held off peeling more persimmons to dry for hoshigaki until the weather cleared.   If the freshly peeled persimmons have to stay covered under the tarp because of rain for too long, there's a danger that they'll remain damp for too long and mildew.  The first hachiya persimmons were peeled at the end of September, but they are not yet finished drying to become hoshigaki in its final form.  We are still taking orders for hoshigaki and fresh persimmons.  For a link to the order form, click here.

    Summer vegetables are slowing down now in the gardens, so we have less to offer in the fruit stand.  If you want to order organic winter vegetable seedlings to plant in your garden, please contact Julie and Allison at Peas and Harmony.

    Here's what you'll find at the fruit stand now:

    • Persimmons-Maru, hachiya, hyakume (vodka-treated), fuyu
    • Jujube
    • Pomegranate--white variety
    • Quince
    • Plums--Casselman
    • Apples--Northern Spy, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Mutsu
    • Asian pear--2oth Century, New Century, Shinko, Yoi, Yali
    • European pear--D'Anjou
    • Grapes--Ribier, Thompson seedless 
    • Winter Squash--butternut, delicata, Fordhook acorn, red kuri, kabocha, Hokkaido, buttercup, pie pumpkins
    • Tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, green beans, bitter melon, okra, peppers (sweet and hot), basil, garlic
    • Honey-from bees at our orchard  
    •  PUMPKINS (to choose at the fruit stand or pick your own in the pumpkin patch)--Jack-o-lantern (small and large), specialty types,  pie pumpkins
     The photo above shows some of our chickens looking out of their chicken dome.  Above them you can see the bamboo roost we made suspended from the top.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Hyakume & Maru Persimmons


    One of the varieties of persimmons we have at the orchard is called hyakume. It's a large yellowish persimmon that becomes brown inside if it has been pollinated. If hyakume is pollinated it can be eaten when it's hard, but if it is not pollinated, you must wait to eat it until it becomes soft like jello. A hard unpollinated hyakume will make your mouth pucker up and dry out worse than the greenest banana you could ever taste.

    Maru persimmons are the same way, they must be pollinated and brown inside to be edible when they're hard. Hyakume is also called "cinnamon" persimmon, and maru is called "chocolate" since they are both shades of brown inside when pollinated. Both hyakume and maru are very sweet if you choose them carefully. They also each have a slightly different flavor than fuyu (another variety of persimmon that is always edible when hard).

    Because it is difficult to tell if the hyakume are pollinated, we treat some of the fruit with vodka to sweeten them and take away the astringency. We sell these as "vodka-treated hyakume", although they are also called amagaki persimmons. Amagaki is Japanese for a non-astringent type of persimmon. The process of treating persimmons with alcohol (vodka or any other type) is called awasu, and is a process brought here from Japan by Japanese American farmers.

    After treating each hyakume persimmon with a few drops of vodka and letting them rest for a number of days, all of the fruits are sweet and ready to eat, even though they are firm. We no longer have to worry about whether or not it was pollinated, and all of the treated hyakume can then be eaten firm or in any stage of softness. The first hyakume of the season has now been treated and is at the fruit stand for sale.

    At left is a photo of a hyakume growing on a tree in our orchard.

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009

    Pumpkin Patch is Open


    The pumpkin patch at the orchard is now open for people to go out and choose a pumpkin. We also have jack-o-lantern and specialty pumpkins for sale at the fruit stand.

    The photo at the left shows the edge of the pumpkin patch, with Queasy, the horse, in the background.

    Friday, October 2, 2009

    Pleasure of Placer Persimmons: Lunch in the Orchard


    Slow Food will be hosting a persimmon-themed lunch at our orchard on Saturday, Oct. 17th from 11:00-1:30. Here's a quote from the press info:

    Join us at the lovely Otow Orchard to learn about Hoshigaki, the art of hand-dried persimmons. A local lunch with each course featuring "something persimmon." Ticket price includes presentation, lunch and a donation in support of agricultural education in Placer County schools. In the event of rain, the event will be rescheduled to Saturday, October 24, same time. Call Joanne Neft at 916-663-9126 to confirm your attendance.


    There are also a few places you can order tickets online for the lunch. Click here to go to the Brown Paper Tickets site.

    Fuji Apples


    At left is a photo of a fuji apple tree taken this past weekend. Those apples have been picked, so we have fuji apples for sale at the fruit stand now.

    Here's a list of other new fruits and vegetables this week at the fruit stand:

    • Golden Delicious apples
    • Ribier grapes--very large round sweet purple grapes with seeds
    • Hyakume persimmon--not treated with vodka
    • Red Kuri, kabocha, Hokkaido and buttercup winter squash

      Saturday, September 26, 2009

      Yomogi


      Yomogi is a plant that grows as weed around the orchard, especially in watered areas under trees and around the edge of gardens. It was first intentionally planted because the leaves are used for coloring mochi. That was decades ago, and the plant now grows almost invasively in the area of the orchard around the house.

      I haven't minded it growing at the edge of my garden though, because usually it grows and spreads so thickly that it chokes out grass. In the loose soil of the garden, its roots are easily pulled out, if it gets in too far.

      During the past week I noticed another benefit of having yomogi around; its flowers are very attractive to bees. The yomogi plants that were never cut back at the edge of my garden have blossomed. When I've gone to turn water on in the mornings, I see and hear bees buzzing the the flowers. With fewer flowers from vegetables and fruit trees in the orchard during the fall, it must be helpful for the bees to have it growing, too.

      Above is a honey bee gathering nectar from yomogi flowers. Click on the photo to enlarge it and see the bee.

      Friday, September 25, 2009

      What's at the Fruitstand


      Here's what we have at the fruit stand now:

      • Persimmons-Maru
      • Jujube
      • Pomegranate--white variety
      • Quince
      • Plums--Casselman
      • Peaches--Levi (clings)
      • Apples--Koyama's Northern Spy
      • Asian pear--2oth Century, New Century, Shinko, Yoi
      • European pear--Comice, D'Anjou
      • Figs--kadota and black mission
      • Winter Squash--butternut, delicata, Fordhook acorn
      • Tomatoes (regular and cherry), tomatillos, eggplant, green beans, cucumber, zucchini, summer squash, bitter melon, peppers (sweet and hot), basil, garlic, onions
      • Honey-from bees at our orchard
      Above is a photo of jujube fruit ripening on a tree.

      Thursday, September 24, 2009

      2009 Mail Order Form


      The 2009 mail order form is now up on our web site. The mail order form shows the hoshigaki (dried persimmons) and fresh fruit we have available through mail order. This year, along with five types of persimmons, we also have Asian pear and mandarins for mail order.

      Of course, fresh fruit is only available when it is in season. Asian pear is in season now and mandarins are usually ready around Thanksgiving time. We expect that the different types of fresh persimmons will be in season and available for mail order during October and November. We don't accept credit cards, so to make an order you will need to print out the form and send it with a check. Click here to go to the mail order form.

      Sunday, September 20, 2009

      Moving into Fall




      Although the hot days still feel like summer, evenings are colder and feel like fall. We had our first rain in months on Sept. 12th. The last summer fruits have all been picked, and fall fruits and vegetables are ripening. In the fruit stand we are down to the last variety of both peaches and plums.

      Winter squashes have mostly been harvested, leaving only the latest growing ones in the gardens. Zucchini, summer squash and cucumber plants are growing much more slowly now, and most are starting to die off. The eggplants though, are still putting out an amazing amount of eggplants during this second and last harvest time for them. Maybe the hot weather during the day has helped them out.

      Some of the earliest type of persimmon, the maru, have just gotten orange enough to pick. Jujube, quince and the first white pomegranates are ripe now, too.

      Above is a photo of Christy with a Hokkaido winter squash, and a wheelbarrow of Waltham butternut, red kuri and delicata squash from the garden.

      Sunday, August 30, 2009

      Giant Tomato


      We still have tomatoes growing, but none as big as the one in the picture to the left. This was one of the biggest of this year, and it weighed quite a bit over a pound. Right now we have a lot of eggplant and bitter melon coming in, too.


      Here's what we have for sale now at the fruit stand:

      • Plums--Cassleman, Late Duarte
      • Asian pear--2oth Century, New Century, Hosui, Shinko
      • Apples--Red Delicious
      • Bartlett pears
      • Melons--Ambosia
      • Figs--white and black
      • Tomatoes (regular and cherry), tomatillos, eggplant, green beans, cucumber, zucchini, summer squash, bitter melon, peppers (sweet and hot), basil (Genovase and lettuce leaf), garlic, onions
      • Honey-from bees at our orchard
      • Organically grown seedlings from Peas and Harmony

      Wednesday, August 19, 2009

      At the Fruit Stand


      Here's what we have for sale now at the fruit stand:

      • Peaches--Faye Elberta, Rio Oso Gem, O'Henry
      • Plums--Elephant Heart, , Laroda, Eldorado, Kelsey, Cassleman, Late Duarte
      • Asian pear--2oth Century, New Century, Hosui
      • Bartlett pears
      • Melons--Ogen, Ambosia, Break Fast
      • Figs--white and black
      • Tomatoes (regular and cherry), tomatillos, eggplant, green beans, cucumber, zucchini, summer squash, bitter melon, peppers (sweet and hot), Swiss chard, basil (Genovase and lettuce leaf), garlic, onions
      • Honey-from bees at our orchard
      • Organically grown seedlings from Peas and Harmony
      In the photo above is a dragon fly that landed on the top of a tomato cage in my garden. For a few weeks this summer there were a lot of this type of golden spotted dragon fly around the orchard. They seem to like to land on the tomato cages and on tall stakes in the gardens.

      Sunday, August 16, 2009

      Elephant Heart Plums & the Ark of Taste


      In the box above are elephant heart plums. They're large, heart-shaped, sweet-sour and juicy with mottled red and green skin and pink to dark red flesh. Elephant heart is an heirloom variety of plum that is part of Slow Food's USA's "Ark of Taste". Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste "aims to rediscover and catalogue forgotten flavors by documenting excellent food products that are in danger of disappearing".

      Our orchard happens to grow quite a few fruits and vegetables that are included in the Ark of Taste. Besides elephant heart plums, we currently have Laroda plums, Rio Oso Gem peaches, and Faye Elberta peaches. To see all of what we grow from the Ark of Taste, click here to go to our Local Harvest listing, and scroll down to the Ark of Taste list at the bottom of the page.

      Thursday, July 30, 2009

      First Asian Pears


      We now have the first Asian pears of the season at the fruit stand. Hosui and kosui are the first two varieties that are ripe. They are both medium, round types of Asian pear. Throughout the rest of the summer and fall, we'll pick other varieties such as 20th century, shinseiki, shinko, ya li, Olympic and okusankichi. Asian pears range from green to yellow to brown. They are eaten crisp and are lightly sweet and refreshing. We expect to have Bartlett pears for sale soon, but we since we only have a few trees of European pears, their season will be short.

      At left are hosui and kosui Asian pears in front of a row of Asian pear trees in the orchard. Kosui is yellow-green, hosui is light brown.

      Wednesday, July 29, 2009

      Not So Many Peaches This Year


      We are "between varieties" of our yellow peaches right now, so we have a very limited supply at the fruit stand. We hope to have Gene Elbertas and Faye Elbertas by the weekend, but it looks like even these usually plentiful varieties will be in limited supply. Our trees didn't produce as many peaches as usual this year, probably because of the unusual weather when they were setting fruit in the spring. We still have some white peaches for sale from our orchard, but also not as many as usual.

      At the fruit stand we do have peaches from our neighbors, the Koyama family. We're thankful that this year they've been able to bring peaches over for us to help sell.

      It is probably about the peak of tomato season right now and we definitely have a lot of tomatoes. If you're planning on freezing or canning tomatoes, now is a good time to come get some.

      At the fruit stand you'll find:

      Fruit:

      • Peaches--a limited supply of yellow freestone varieties, cling, and white varieties (Sugar Lady, Nectar, Babcock)
      • Plums--Friar, Eldorado, Laroda, Kelsey
      • Nectarines--yellow
      • Apples--Gravenstein
      • Melons-new this week
      Vegetables:
      • Tomatoes (regular and cherry), Tomatillos
      • Eggplant--thin Japanese and larger types
      • Beans--long beans
      • Cucumber--Japanese
      • Zucchini--green and yellow
      • Peppers--sweet and hot
      • Swiss Chard
      • Herbs--Basil (Genovase and lettuce leaf), Oregano, Rosemary
      • Garlic, Onions
      • Honey-from bees at our orchard
      • organic seedlings from Peas and Harmony.

      Above is a photo taken last year around this time of Murphy, our neighbor's dog visiting the fruit stand. She died last August.

      Saturday, July 18, 2009

      Plums, Peaches & Vegetables


      If you are looking for white peaches, try and come to the fruit stand within the next 1-2 weeks, because we expect their season to be finished soon.

      Here's what we have at the Fruit stand now:

      Fruit:

      • Peaches--yellow freestone varieties (Suncrest, Flavorcrest, Gene Elberta, Faye Elberta) and white varieties (Sugar Lady, Nectar, Babcock)
      • Plums--Santa Rosa, Satsuma, Black Amber, Friar, Eldorado, Laroda, Kelsey
      • Apples--Gravenstein
      Vegetables:
      • Tomatoes (regular and cherry), Tomatillos
      • Eggplant--thin Japanese and larger types
      • Beans--green string beans, long beans
      • Cucumber--Japanese, Armenian and lemon
      • Zucchini--green and yellow
      • Swiss Chard
      • Herbs--Basil (Genovase and lettuce leaf), Oregano, Rosemary
      • Garlic, Onions
      We also have local honey (made by bees at our orchard) and organic seedlings from Peas and Harmony.

      Plums & Black Amber Plum Pie

      We have many kinds of plums right now, each of them slightly different. We just picked the first green Kelsey. Kelsey is a large, sweet and tart juicy green plum. Later in the season Kelsey's start to turn yellowish and pink inside near the skin, and they lose any tartness.

      At the fruit stand we have Black Amber, Friar, Kelsey, Eldorado and Laroda varieties, and still some Santa Rosa and Satsuma plums, too.

      Here's a recipe for Black Amber or Friar plum pie
      that's delicious and very easy to make. The filling has only four ingredients.

      Black Amber or Friar Plum Pie

      4 ½ cups Black Amber plums, unpeeled and sliced

      1 cup Sugar

      ¼ cup Tapioca

      ¼ tsp. Almond Extract

      Mix all ingredients and let stand 15 minutes. Pour into pie crust, top with 1 tablespoon diced butter, put on top pie crust, and sprinkle with a bit of sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 400 degrees until bubbly - 45 to 50 minutes.

      The photo above shows black amber plums.

      Tuesday, July 7, 2009

      Lots of Peaches


      We now have lots of peaches at the fruit stand, including a lot of "seconds". Seconds are second quality fruit, with blemishes or other problems, sold at a lower price. Seconds are a good deal if you plan to cut up the fruit anyway, like for baking or making jam. Many varieties of plums are at the fruit stand now, too. This weekend, we picked Gravensteins, the first apples of the year. Gravensteins are an early tart green apple with red streaks.

      Here's what we have at the fruit stand now:

      Fruit:

      • Peaches--yellow freestone varieties (Red Haven, Regina, Early Suncrest, Flavorcrest) and white varieties (Sugar Lady, Nectar, Koyama's donut peach)
      • Plums--Frontier, Santa Rosa, Satsuma, Black Amber
      • Apples--Gravenstein
      Vegetables:
      • Tomatoes (regular and cherry), Tomatillos
      • Eggplant--Japanese and Rosa Bianca
      • Beans--green string beans
      • Cucumber--Japanese, Armenian and lemon
      • Zucchini--Dark Green, Golden, Scallopini, yellow crookneck and yellow straightneck
      • Swiss Chard
      • Herbs--Basil (Genovase and lettuce leaf), Oregano, Rosemary
      • Garlic, Onions
      We also have honey (made by bees at our orchard) and organic seedlings from Peas and Harmony.

      Friday, July 3, 2009

      Bees in the Bee Balm

      Here is a short video clip of bee activity in a blooming stand of lavender bee balm in my garden. The bee balm has been really busy with bees and butterflies since it bloomed a week or so ago. Watch closely and you can see big bumblebees and smaller honey bees visiting the blossoms. At the end of the clip you can hear our rooster Ozzie crowing.

      Thursday, June 25, 2009

      June in the Garden


      During the first few weeks of June we harvested our garlic. This year's crop seems to have grown quite well, despite having planted it later this year, (in the beginning of November). Some of the varieties we grew were Spanish roja, Chinese Hardneck, Music, Chesnok Red, Germidor and Oregon Blue. I cleaned some of the first garlic that was pulled and dried, and some is for sale now in the fruit stand.

      Our garlic is grown in wire-lined raised beds in the garden to prevent gophers from getting in. After pulling out the garlic, I planted pumpkins in the beds. The pumpkins should be ready for harvest in September or October, and then the wire-lined beds can be planted again. We also planted winter squash and gourds in the gardens for the Fall.

      Some of the tomato plants have gotten as tall as us or taller, so it was time to help support their cages by connecting them together with rope and tying them to T-posts. Only a few tomatoes have gotten ripe so far, but the vines are full of green tomatoes on the edge of turning pink. Since the weather has become hot and the tomatoes are ripening, we have had to hang sheets or agribon on the side of the plants that faces the hot afternoon sun. This helps protect the tomatoes from sun scald. Hopefully during the first week of July we'll have enough ripe tomatoes to begin selling them at the fruit stand. The tomatoes are ready later than usual this year, maybe because of the cool weather and late rain that came in the beginning of the month.

      During June the zucchini and summer squash started producing (much more than we needed), and cucumbers have been producing well, too. Yellow string beans are probably going to be finished by the end of the month, but green string beans are just beginning. Right now blooming catnip, bee balm, lemon balm, lavander, borage and buckwheat are attracting many kinds of bees to the gardens. Bees are also visiting squash, tomato and cucumber and other vegetable flowers. Since this spring we've continued to have cotton tail rabbits around the orchard, too. When I walk out to the garden lately, sometimes I see one running out of the garden and into the black berry bushes. A rabbit has tried to make burrows in the cucumbers and squash, but as far as I can tell it hasn't eaten much yet. Maybe it just wants a cool place to be out of the sun.

      Above is a photo of a wheelbarrow full of garlic just pulled out from the garden.

      Sunday, June 21, 2009

      Santa Rosa Plums & Peaches


      Santa Rosa plums are now ready at the orchard. Santa Rosas are very fragrant, sweet and tart, with yellow flesh and dark red to purple skin. They are an old variety, and a lot of people's favorite. We now also have a good supply of peaches. Earlier we had to limit the number that could be bought, but the limit is off now. If you want apricots, try to get to the fruit stand soon, because we have now picked almost all of them.

      Here's what we have now at the fruit stand:

      • Plums--Santa Rosa, Frontier, Black Amber, Satsuma
      • Peaches--May Crest, June Crest, Bon Jour, Red Haven
      • Nectarines--Jade white nectarine
      • Apricots--almost finished
      • Cherries--Bing
      • Grapefruit--white variety
      • Vegetables--zucchini (green, yellow, striped cocozelle, crookneck, scallopini), string beans (yellow), cucumbers, eggplant (Japanese), herbs (basil, rosemary, oregano, onions (large red and white), garlic
      • Honey--bigger sizes now, (from bees living at our orchard)
      • Organic vegetable seedlings--from Peas and Harmony

      Tuesday, June 9, 2009

      First Peaches, Zucchini & Herbs


      The first peaches and vegetables are ready! We now have Spring Crest and May Crest peaches at the fruit stand. The first varieties of peaches are not usually as sweet as the later varieties, and not quite as large. We also have a lot of zucchini growing, both the striped cocozelle and dark green zucchini. Herbs are ready to pick, too. We have basil, rosemary, oregano, and other herbs like lemon balm and cat nip. If you come to the fruit stand, just ask and we can go pick a bunch of herbs from the gardens.

      The weather has been unusually cool in the past few weeks for this time of year. We even had rain a few times last week, and a thunder showers. This week so far has been cool and actually foggy in the mornings. It's nice weather to work in, but we're waiting to see how it will affect the fruits and the vegetables.

      In the fruit stand now we have:

      • Peaches--Spring Crest and May Crest
      • Apricots--seconds
      • Cherries--Bing, Royal Ann
      • Loquat--also called biwa
      • Grapefruit--white variety
      • Lemons--Eureka
      • Vegetables--zucchini (dark green, cocozelle), string beans (green and yellow), herbs (basil, rosemary, oregano)
      • Honey--bigger sizes now, (from bees living at our orchard)
      • Organic vegetable seedlings--from Peas and Harmony

      Wednesday, May 27, 2009

      Loquat & Cherries


      The first summer fruits have ripened! Along with the grapefruit and lemons we have had since winter, we now have loquat (or biwa) and cherries. We had a light crop of cherries this year though, so they probably won't last very long.

      At the fruit stand we now have:
      Cherries--Bing, Royal Ann, Black Tartarian
      Loquat--also called biwa, a juicy, sweet yellow-orange fruit (not related to kumquats) that grows in clusters. Inside in the middle are two large brown seeds.
      Grapefruit--white variety
      Lemons--Eureka
      Honey--from bees living at our orchard
      Organic vegetable seedlings--from Peas and Harmony

      Above is a photo of the biwa tree at the orchard.

      Tuesday, May 12, 2009

      How to Make Tomato Cages


      At the orchard we have really sturdy and strong tomato cages for our gardens that we make ourselves out of concrete reinforcing wire (or mesh). The cages last for many seasons and are tall enough to support even the bushiest indeterminate tomato plants. Last year Toshio made some new ones and we took photos so we could better share how to make them. Click here to go to a photos and detailed instructions on how to make your own tomato cages from a roll of concrete reinforcing wire.

      Above is a photo of one of the gardens this year, showing tomato cages we made.

      Saturday, May 9, 2009

      Persimmon Flowers and the Fruit Stand


      Persimmon trees are in bloom, and buzzing with bees. At left is a photo of a bee visiting persimmon flowers.

      For sale at the fruit stand now we have grapefruit, lemons, honey from our bees, eggs from our chickens and organic vegetable seedlings from Peas and Harmony. Right now is the time of year we have the least amount of produce in season. By the end of the month we expect to have the first fruits of Spring, such as cherries, apricots, loquat and the first plums.

      Wednesday, April 29, 2009

      At the Fruit Stand Now


      Lots of healthy organic vegetable seedlings from Peas and Harmony are available for sale at the orchard. As you can see in the photo above, Peas and Harmony has built a new display area for plants across from the fruit stand. They have many different varieties of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, squash and other seedlings. For a complete list, or to order ahead to pick up plants, see their web site at www.peasandharmony.net.

      Here's what we have for sale at the fruit stand now:

      • Grapefruit
      • Lemons--Eureka
      • Kiwi
      • Honey--From bees at our orchard
      • Organic Seedlings--From Peas and Harmony


      Sunday, April 19, 2009

      What's Going on at the Orchard

      In the past few weeks we have been busy getting the vegetable gardens planted. We transplanted tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings, and planted cucumber, zucchini, beans, okra and other vegetables by seed.

      At left is a photo of Helen watering plants in the orchard's "greenhouse", which also serves as a hoshigaki drying room in the Fall.

      Monday, March 30, 2009

      Fruit and Flowers


      At the orchard right now only the apple and pear trees are left flowering. Peaches and plums have leafed out and are beginning new fruits. There's not that much fruit in season, but Peas and Harmony has a lot of organic seedlings for sale at the fruit stand. Here's what we have:

      At the Fruit Stand:

      • Grapefruit--sweet white variety
      • Oranges--Valencia
      • Lemons--Eureka
      • Kiwi
      • Honey--from bees at our orchard
      • Eggs--from chickens at our orchard
      • Organic Seedlings--from Peas and Harmony-tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and more
      Above is a photo of a peach growing from a peach blossom.

      Monday, March 9, 2009

      Come Take a Walk


      Come take a walk in the orchard and see all the blossoming trees. The plum and peach trees are all in full bloom. The persimmon, Asian pear, apple, and cherry trees are budding and about to leaf out or bloom.

      We have been busy preparing garden beds for planting, planting new trees and pruning, and trying to finish putting in the new irrigation system.

      Above is Viviano standing in a peach tree.

      Thursday, March 5, 2009

      Gardening Classes


      Peas and Harmony is an all-organic nursery and design center that has a demonstration garden at the orchard. People are welcome to visit the garden, and they sell organic plants at the fruit stand.

      Peas and Harmony is having a series of gardening classes take place at the orchard. Here's what they're doing in March:

      "Jump Start the Growing Season"--Saturday, March 28th, 9:30-12 PM
      "The Dirt on Soil & Seeds"--Saturday, March 28th, 1PM-3:30 PM

      For more information, and to register, go to their website at www.peasandharmony.net .

      Tuesday, March 3, 2009

      Orchard in Bloom


      Most of the trees in the orchard are now in bloom. It's a nice time to come take a walk, if you can find a break in the rain. This coming weekend is supposed to be sunny.

      In the photo above you can see peach trees with pink blossoms and plum trees with white.

      Monday, March 2, 2009

      What's at the Fruit Stand Now?


      Here's what we have for sale at the fruit stand now:

      • Grapefruit
      • Oranges--Valencia, Nodahara's Navel variety (very large)
      • Lemons--Meyer, Eureka
      • Kiwi
      • Honey--From bees at our orchard
      • Gourds--for decorations and crafting
      Some organic plant seedlings are for sale at the fruit stand from Peas and Harmony, also. See their website for more details (www.peasandharmony.net).

      Here's a link to a recent story about Meyer Lemons from National Public Radio. It includes a bit of history about the fruit and some good recipes.

      Above is a photo of one of the grapefruit trees at the orchard.

      Tuesday, February 10, 2009

      What's Happening at the Orchard



      We've been doing a lot of winter time work at the orchard lately. We've been busy pruning trees, raking up the brush, cutting down old trees and planting new ones. We're also getting the vegetable gardens ready for spring planting by making new garden beds and figuring out garden designs and varieties to plant.

      Finishing the new irrigation system by putting in the pipes, hoses and sprinklers is another task we're trying to finish before we get busier with other work in the spring.

      A lot of the trees are budding and are nearly ready to blossom. At the end of February and beginning of March the orchard will be transformed by the flowering trees. It's a good time to come visit and take a walk, if you can.

      Search This Blog

      Followers