Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy New Year

An old metal tag left in a persimmon tree.
The fruit stand will be closed for New Year's on January 1st and 2nd.   We'll open again on Tuesday, January 3rd, 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.

We're still have hoshigaki for sale at the fruit stand, as well as through mail order.  When we stop taking orders we'll post it here on the website.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Mandarins & Persimmons

Chris and her son Toshio check which persimmons
are ready for massaging.
We have owari satsuma mandarins now at the Fruit stand. Owari satsuma mandarins are sweet, juicy and usually seedless with a thin, easy to peel skin. The crop was ready later than usual, like most of the other types of fruit have been this year. 

We're still taking orders for hoshigaki through mail order and for pick up at the fruit standIf you'd like to pick up more than a pound of hoshigaki at the fruit stand, please call us ahead of time.  

We stopped peeling new persimmons late last week because most of the hachiya had gotten too soft to peel.  Since we're not able to peel and start any new persimmons for the hoshigaki drying process, the persimmons left drying now make up the end of this year's hoshigaki supply.  In the colder weather, the persimmons take longer to dry, so we expect to be drying these last persimmons at least into the middle of January.  Next year sometime in October we'll begin the process again. 

Around the fruit stand we've been very busy taking care of numerous customers and massaging and packaging hoshigaki.  Out in the orchard most of the fruit besides the citrus has been picked and winter pruning and irrigation repair work has started.  If you come and take a walk through the  orchard you'll see flocks of geese and other birds visiting the trees trying to find un-picked persimmons.  Wind and cold weather has made most of the leaves drop, so you can see through the bare trees down to the strawberry field. 

Here's what's at the fruit stand now:
  • Mandarins--owari satsuma
  • Persimmons--Fuyu, Maru & Nagamaru (chocolate), Vodka-treated Hyakume, Hachiya, Gyombo, Hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon)
  • Apples--Pippen, Granny Smith
  • Pomegranate--white variety
  • Winter Squash--butternut, kabocha, red kuri, buttercup, spaghetti squash, pie pumpkin 
  • Local Honey--from bees at our orchard & star thistle honey from Lincoln
  • Perfectly Persimmon Cookbook--1004 persimmon recipes by Jean Brine
  • Placer County Real Food Cookbook--by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny
  • 2012 Master Gardeners Calender
  • Eggs

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Hoshigaki, Local Trees & Meat


We can't guarantee Christmas delivery on any hoshigaki mail orders postmarked after December 1st.  We're still taking mail orders but we can't promise that we'll be able to ship out any new orders and have them arrive at the customer or gift recipient address by Dec. 25th.   If you want to give hoshigaki as a Christmas gift, an option would be to let the person know the order is in and request on the mail order form that we mail the order to the gift recipient directly.  We'll do everything  we can to get your order out as soon as possible.

Hoshigaki is still for sale at our fruit stand.  Please call ahead if you'd like to pick up more than a pound at one time so we can set it aside for you.  

The next delivery from the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club at our orchard will be Friday, Dec.  16th from 4:00-5:00. Orders must be sent in by 5:00 PM Friday, Dec. 9th.  Through the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club you can order local grass-fed, hormone free beef, lamb, pork and chicken, as well as eggs, honey, kiwi, mandarin products, and the Placer County Real Food Cookbook.  Orders are made online and then you choose one of four locations to pick up your order.  Locations are Otow Orchard (in Granite Bay), Sinclair Family Farm (in Penryn), Confluence Kitchen (in Auburn) and Community Ink (in Truckee).

The Koyama Tree Farm next door to the orchard is selling Christmas trees this coming weekend and the next only.  The dates are Dec. 3rd and 4th, and Dec. 10th and 11th.  Hours are from 9-4.  These are the only days they'll be open for the season.  You can choose and cut your own tree.  Info about their farm and other local Christmas tree farms is at the PlacerGrown website.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Busy with Hoshigaki

This past week the hoshigaki drying process slowed a bit because of a few days of rain and a string of foggy mornings.  As a result, the persimmons have filled up the drying rooms and we even ran out of sticks to hang the freshly peeled ones on.  Tosh has been making new drying racks and sticks to try to accomodate all the kaki. We converted the cool room that we use when it's  warmer for refrigeration into a drying room, so now we have all the possible inside rooms being used for drying.

The freshly peeled persimmons are first hung on sticks on the outside racks until they're  dry enough to massage.  Then the sticks are usually moved into the hot house, which is a small building used like a green house where we can open the doors and windows and and adjust the temperature and air circulation.  As the sticks of hoshigaki get dryer they're moved through two other drying rooms, then to the final drying and packing room.  In each room the hoshigaki are  massaged to help them dry evenly and remain soft. In the photo at the left you can see freshly peeled persimmons hung on sticks on the outside racks, the hot house is on the right.

Tosh making a new rack
We're still peeling persimmons to start new hoshigaki because the persimmons are still hard enough to peel.  Soon we'll need to stop peeling because the persimmons will either be mostly too ripe to dry well or the weather will be too cool or damp for them to dry well.  Right now we're still taking orders for pick up at the fruit stand or mail order. If you'd like to pick up more than a pound of hoshigaki at out fruit stand, it's a good idea to call ahead

When we need to stop taking orders we'll post it here on our web site. 


Monday, November 21, 2011

Fuyus & Hoshigaki


We've been very busy with persimmons lately.  We have boxes and boxes of fuyus and hachiyas that we have to find space for, and now the outside rack and inside drying rooms are filled with sticks of hoshigaki in various stages.  We're still peeling new hachiya and gyombo persimmons to dry, since there are some still hard enough to peel and the weather is still holding up for drying.   The trees are colorful with red, orange and yellow leaves, and it's a good time to visit and take a walk if you can.  It's probably the peak of fuyu persimmon season right now.  We have firm fuyus for sale by the bag at the fruit stand.  We're still taking mail orders for hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon) and accepting orders by phone for pick up at the fruit stand.  If you'd like to buy more than a pound of hoshigaki it's a good idea to call ahead. 
 
Here's what's at the fruit stand now:

  • Persimmons--Fuyu, Maru, vodka-treated Hyakume, Hachiya, Hoshigaki
  • Apples--Fuji, Pippen, Golden Delicious
  • Asian Pear--Okusankichi
  • Pomegranate--white and red varieties
  • Winter Squash--buttercup, kabocha, red kuri, spaghetti squash, pie pumpkin
  • Pumpkins & Gourds  
  • Vegetables--green tomatoes, herbs
  • Local Honey--from bees at our orchard & star thistle honey from Lincoln
  • Eggs
  • Perfectly Persimmon Cookbook--1004 persimmon recipes by Jean Brine
  • Placer County Real Food Cookbook--by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny
  • 2012 Master Gardeners Calender

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vodka Persimmons


We now have finished hyakume vodka-treated persimmons at the fruit stand.  These persimmons are large, yellow-orange and sweet with a mango-like texture.  Each hyakume persimmon has been treated with a few drops of vodka to cause a chemical reaction in the persimmon that changes the astringency (tannic acid) to sweetness (fructose).  Hyakume persimmons are a "pollination-variant non-astringent" type of persimmon that are naturally sweet when pollinated, though not all of the fruits get pollinated.  For more details on this, see the post "How to Eat a Persimmon".

If you'd like to order hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon), it's important to get your order in as soon as possible.  It looks like this year's supply will be smaller than last year's,  so at some point we'll have to stop taking new orders.  If you want to order hoshigaki through mail order, please mail in the order form soon.  If you'd like to order hoshigaki to pick up at the fruit stand, please call us as soon as you can.  

The Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers club will make a delivery at our orchard on Friday, Nov. 18th.  Through the Meat Buyers club you can order local and naturally produced beef, pork, lamb, chicken, eggs and honey online, then pick up your order at our orchard, at Community Ink in Truckee, or at Confluence Kitchen in Auburn.  Orders need to be received by Friday, Nov. 11th at 5:00 PM. 

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

  • Persimmons--Fuyu, Maru, Hyakume, Hachiya
  • Apples--Fuji, Mutsu, Golden Delicious
  • Asian Pear--Okusankichi
  • Pomegranate--white variety
  • Winter Squash--butternut, kabocha (various types), red kuri, buttercup, spaghetti squash, pie pumpkin
  • Pumpkins & Gourds (at the fruit stand and at the pumpkin patch)  
  • Vegetables--tomatoes, peppers, oregano, mint
  • Local Honey--from bees at our orchard & star thistle honey from Lincoln
  • Eggs
  • Placer County Real Food Cookbook--by Joanne Neft and Laura Kenny
  • 2012 Master Gardeners Calender

Friday, October 21, 2011

Community Events


This Sunday, Oct. 23rd, there's a  Farm-to-Table Dinner at the local Lone Buffalo Vineyards featuring local seasonal foods, including produce from our orchard.  There will be vineyard tours, and a six course dinner put on by Source Global Tapas restaurant.  Click here for more information and to register.

The weekend of Nov. 11th and 12th will be busy for us, because we'll be demonstrating hoshigaki (Japanese traditional hand-dried persimmon) at two different locations.  On Saturday, Nov. 11th from 10-2 we'll be talking about persimmons and how to make hoshigaki at Bushnell Garden supply in Granite Bay. This is a drop-in event with no need to register ahead.

On Sunday, Nov. 12th from 10-3 we'll be at Twin Peaks Orchard in New Castle for their Fall Harvest Open House.  Twin Peaks is an orchard that started about the same time as ours in 1911 and our families have known each other since then.  Twin Peaks grows grows a lot of the same fruits we do, including persimmons.  Their specialty is amagaki persimmons, which are hyakume persimmon treated so that they're sweet when still firm.  We'll be there to demonstrate hoshigaki.  For more information, see the Twin Peaks website.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkins & Persimmons

Topped hachiyas waiting to get peeled.
We have lots of pumpkins and gourds for decorating and carving outside the fruit stand.  You can go out to the pumpkin patch and pick your own pumpkin, too.

Peeling persimmons for hoshigaki (hand-dried persimmons) began this week.   Picking is still slow though, with having to go through a lot of trees to find enough hachiyas ripe enough for peeling to fill a few boxes.   We only have limited amounts of hoshigaki to sell at the fruit stand right now because we just started this year's season.  After peeling, each persimmon takes around six weeks to dry and become hoshigaki. If you want to order hoshigaki by mail order, check the Oct. 3rd post for more information.  To eat a fresh hachiya persimmon, it has to look like a water balloon and be the texture of jello.   There are a few hard hachiyas for sale in the fruit stand now, but not yet a very big supply.

We picked the first fuyu persimmons this week.  The first ones picked are yellow-orange and crisp, not dark orange and juicy like they will be a few weeks later.  Fuyu persimmon is also called "apple persimmon" because it's sweet to eat when firm like an apple.  We're continuing to pick maru persimmon, too.  Maru is the earliest type of persimmon we have.  Maru is also called "chocolate" persimmon because if it was pollinated the fruit will be brown inside and sweet to eat when firm.  As the weather gets colder, all of the persimmons should ripen more quickly.

People are welcome to visit the orchard and see the persimmons drying.  We're open Tues. through Sat.,  9-6 and Sun. from 10-5.  We're closed only on Mondays. If you want to visit the orchard for an organized group tour, please call ahead to schedule a time.  Other groups have already arranged times to come, and we want to be able to give everyone good attention.  Because we're a small farm with only a few workers, we need to know ahead of time to have enough staff available to help out.

Here's what's at the fruit stand now:
  • Pumpkins (at the fruit stand and at the pumpkin patch)
  • Persimmons--Maru, Fuyu, Hachiya
  • Apples--Fuji, Mutsu, Golden Delicious
  • Asian Pear--Shinko, Olympic
  • Pomegranate--white variety
  • Jujube
  • Vegetables--tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash,eggplant, peppers, basil, oregano, mint
  • Winter Squash--butternut, kabocha (various types), red kuri, buttercup, spaghetti squash, pie pumpkins
  • Organic Winter Vegetable Seedlings
  • Local Honey--star thistle honey from Lincoln
  • Eggs

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Persimmon Show on CA Gold Oct. 13th

Helen and her grandson, Toshio at the start of hoshigaki season in a previous year.   Helen is peeling and Toshio is stringing the fruits so they can hang on a stick to dry.
The show Huell Howser did about persimmons and making hoshigaki at Otow orchard for the PBS TV show California Gold will air this Thursday, Oct. 13th on PBS stations around California.  A few years ago, he and the show's crew came and spent part of a day interviewing and filming Helen, Chris and Tosh about drying persimmons.  Since then the show has aired a few times a year. Here are the stations and times:
  • KVIE/ Sacramento, Thurs., 10/13 @8:30 PM
  • KCET/ Los Angeles, Thurs., 10/13 @ 7:30 PM
  • KVPT / Fresno, Thurs., 10/13 @ 8:30 PM
  • KVCR / San Bernadino, Thurs., 10/13 @ 8:30 PM, Sun., 10/16 @ 8:30 PM
We have maru, the earliest variety of persimmon, picked and at the fruit stand now.   Maru is a pollination-variant type of persimmon that is sweet when firm if it's pollinated, but puckery if it's un-pollinated.  It's also called chocolate persimmon, because the pollinated fruits are brown inside.

We haven't yet started peeling the first hachiya persimmons for drying, because they're still a bit too green on the trees.  The outside and inside drying racks have been put up, kaki sticks and fans are cleaned and ready to be used, and we're waiting for the fruit to become orange enough to peel.  Once a persimmon is peeled, it takes around six weeks to finish drying and become hoshigaki.  We sell hoshigaki (dried persimmon) by mail order, or if you're in the area you can stop by the fruit stand and pick up an order.  To order to pick up at the fruit stand, please call or email us.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

2011 Mail Order Form


The new 2011 Hoshigaki Mail Order Form is now posted here on the website, under the "Hoshigaki/Persimmons" tab.  If you'd like to mail order hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon) this year, please print out the order form and mail it back to us.

Out in the orchard the hachiya persimmons are still slightly green, so we haven't started peeling any yet for hoshigaki.  The hachiyas need to be fully orange, but still hard to be able to peel in order to start the drying process.  After peeling, each fruit takes around six weeks to dry, depending on the weather.  The peeled fruits are hung by their stems in pairs and massaged every few days to help them to dry evenly.  By the end of the drying process, each persimmon has developed a dusting of natural powdered sugar on its surface, and is soft and sweet.

Please keep in mind that because of these natural processes and weather variables, orders may take 8 to 10 weeks to ship.  It's important to get your order in as soon as possible, because supplies are limited to what we can produce while the weather permits.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Apples & Pumpkins


We have lots of varieties of apples right now, including Fuji, Crispin, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Northern Spy.  We also picked lots of winter squash and pumpkins. There are some pumpkins already picked and at the fruit stand and a pumpkin patch where people can go out to and pick their own pumpkin. Peas and Harmony has some organic winter vegetable seedlings for sale at the orchard, too.  There are broccoli, beets, Swiss chard, lettuce, mizuna, mustard, onions, thyme and other seedlings ready to be planted now into winter gardens. 

Persimmons are not quite ready yet, only a few maru have been picked so far. People say that cold weather ripens persimmons, so maybe this week's cooler temperatures will speed up the ripening.  We're expecting the first rain since June during the week this week, too.  It's a bit early for rain but the weather's been unusual this year. 


The next delivery from the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club will be at our orchard from 3:30- 5:00 on Friday, Oct. 21st.  Orders need to be received online by Friday, Oct. 14th at 5:00.  Through the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club you can order local naturally grown pork and lamb, grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, eggs and honey.  The Placer County Real Food Cookbook can be ordered and delivered through the Meat Buyers Club, too.  Monthly deliveries are at our orchard in Granite Bay, at Community Ink in Truckee and at Confluence Kitchen in Auburn.

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

  • Pumpkins (at the fruit stand and at the pumpkin patch)
  • Apples--Fuji, Crispin (Mutsu), Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Northern Spy
  • Asian Pear--Shinko, New Century, 20th Century, Olympic
  • Plums--Angelina
  • European Pear--Comice
  • Figs--Black Mission
  • Quince
  • Jujube
  • Vegetables--tomatoes, zucchini, summer squash,eggplant, long beans, peppers, basil, oregano, mint
  • Winter Squash--butternut, kabocha (various types), red kuri, buttercup, spaghetti squash, pie pumpkins
  • Organic Winter Vegetable Seedlings
  • Local Honey--from bees at our orchard, star thistle honey from Lincoln
  • Eggs

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Beginning of Fall

Green hachiya persimmons
In the orchard some of the first persimmons are starting to develop an orange blush and begin to ripen.  The pomegranates are coloring up, too.  We started picking the winter squash in the gardens and although some of the pumpkins and gourds look ready to cut, the weather seems too hot still to try to harvest and store very many of them.

At the end of this month we'll post the 2011 hoshigaki (Japanese hand dried persimmon) mail order form so that we can begin taking orders for hoshigaki.  We'll post here on the blog when the official order form is finished and available on our website. 

New things we have at the fruit stand are jujube, quince, and olympic Asian pears.  We have limited quantities of jujube and quince though, since we only have a few of these trees and picking just started.

Here's what's at the fruit stand now: 
  • Asian Pear--Yoi, Shinko, New Century, 20th Century, Olympic
  •  Plums--Casselman, Angelina
  • European Pear--Comice, D'anjou
  • Apples--Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Northern Spy, Fuji
  • Figs--Black Mission, Brown Turkey
  • Quince
  • Jujube
  • Vegetables--tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, long beans, peppers, zucchini, summer squash,  basil, oregano, mint
  • Honey--from bees at our orchard, star thistle honey from Lincoln
  • Eggs
This summer, Girl Scouts from the local Granite Bay troop volunteered to  paint the fence around the horse pasture as part of a local sustainability project they were working on.  Earlier in the year they had visited the orchard for a tour and to talk with Tosh about local agriculture.  They were very enthusiastic and hard-working, and we're thankful that they could help us out.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Orchard News & Meat Buyers Club

After picking tomatoes.
We have a nice crop of black mission and kadota figs right now.  We go check the fig trees each day for ripe figs and try to find ways to keep the birds away.  This year some it seems that some of the birds have figured out how to get under the nets we put over the trees, so we're going to try adding hanging CD's and see if it deters some of them.  The CD's glint in the sun and maybe frighten away birds.

The nearly 100 degree temperatures this week have helped ripen tomatoes out in the gardens, so we have a lot to pick still.  Usually by this time of year the tomato harvest is winding down.  We've been spending  nights and days off canning and freezing extra tomatoes. Chris has been sun-drying tomatoes and figs on trays lately, too, since the weather has been warm.

Heirloom tomatoes--persimmon, Berti, manyel, Andrew Reinhart's Gold, Giant Belgium, Dagma's perfection and black prince (clockwise from upper right).  Figs are sun-drying in the background.

The next delivery date from the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club will be at our orchard on Friday, Sept. 23rd from 3:30-5:00. Orders must be sent in by 5:00 PM Friday, Sept. 16th.  Through the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club you can order local grass-fed, hormone free beef, lamb, and chicken, as well as eggs, honey and the Placer County Real Food Cookbook.  Orders are made online and then you choose one of three locations to pick up your order.  Locations are Otow Orchard (in Granite Bay), Confluence Kitchen (in Auburn) and Community Ink (in Truckee).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Nashi


We have many varieties of Asian pears (or nashi) ripe at the orchard now.  Asian pear varieties we have are hosui, (an early, juicy brown variety), yoi and shinko which are light brown, sweet, crisp and juicy.  We also have New Century and 20th Century Asian pears.  Both are larger round yellow varieties, with 20th Century being more green-yellow when ripe and very crisp.  Asian pears are supposed to be eaten when they're crisp like an apple, rather than soft like European pears.  They're very refreshing and juicy, especially if you eat them from the refrigerator on a hot day.  They can also be used fresh in salads or cooked like European pears and apples in pies and other desserts.

We still have lots of tomatoes coming in from the gardens, too.  This year heirloom tomatoes grew well in the unusual weather, so we have a lot more than usual.  If you need tomatoes for canning or freezing we still have a good supply.

Along with honey from bees at our orchard, we now have star thistle honey from Lincoln at the fruit stand, too.  

At the fruit stand we have:

  • Asian Pear--Hosui, Kosui, Yoi, Shinko, New Century, 20th Century
  • Plums--Casselman, Kelsey, Friar, Laroda
  • European Pear--Bartlett 
  • Apples--Red Delicious, Golden Delicious
  • Figs--Kadota, Black Mission
  • Grapes--Thompson
  • Vegetables--tomatoes, tomatillos, eggplant, long beans, peppers, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, basil, oregano, mint
  • Honey--from bees at our orchard, starthistle honey from Lincoln
  • Eggs

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Faye Elberta Peaches, Casselman Plums


New fruits at the orchard are Asian Pears, Faye Alberta peaches, Casselman plums, and fresh figs.   Casselman plums are purple-red on the outside and yellow-orange, juicy and tangy sweet on the inside.  They're the last major type of plum we pick at the orchard.  We're  getting towards the end of peach season with Faye Elbertas and moving on to more fall fruits with the first varieties of Asian pears (Hosui and Kikusui).  Bartlett pears have been picked, too.  We harvested a small supply of white Kadota figs and expect Black Mission figs a little later on.

In the gardens the tomatoes seem to be at their peak.  The tomatoes that hung hung green on the vines so long this summer are now ripening quickly.  The Fruit Stand is full of all types and sizes of tomatoes, including cherry, paste and heirloom varieties. 

Now is a good time to put in orders for tomatoes and peaches for canning or freezing.  We also have "seconds", which are damaged fruit and  tomatoes that sell for less, but don't look as nice and have spots that you may have to cut out.

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

  • Peaches--Faye Elberta, Alamar
  • Plums--Casselman, Kelsey, Friar, Laroda, Eldorado
  • Asian Pear--Hosui, Kikusui
  • European Pear--Bartlett 
  • Figs--Kadota
  • Vegetables--tomatoes, eggplant, green beans, long beans, sweet peppers, zucchini, summer squash,  tomatillos, Swiss chard, basil, oregano, mint
  • Eggs--from chickens at our orchard
  • Honey--from bees at our orchard

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Full in the Fruit Stand


We have so many varieties of plums right now that there's hardly space for them inside the fruit stand.  They all have  different flavor, texture, sweetness, and color.  Kelsey,  one of the varieties we've just started picking, is large, green and heart-shaped with a yellow inside.  Kelsey  plums are sweet and sour tasting while they're very green, then as they soften and start to turn yellow and then red they become sweeter and juicier.  Satsuma is a small sweet firm plum that's with red skin and flesh.  Black Amber and Friar are large, black-skinned and juicy with a yellow inside.  Santa Rosa is red-skinned, fragrant and tangy-sweet, while Laroda is purple-skinned and tangy-sweet.  Eldorado is small, and sweet even while firm, with a purple skin and dark yellow inside. 


Since the weather here has been cooler this year, blackberries are still in season.  Normally the berries have dried up by the middle to end of July, but this year the berries flowered and had fruit later.  


Eggplants, zucchini, summer squash, and cucumbers are growing well in the gardens and thankfully the tomatoes have finally started ripening fast enough so that we can harvest more than a few a day.  We still have a limited amount of tomatoes compared to what we'd expect to have at this time of the summer.  Last year I complained about how late the tomato season started, but this year it's been a month later than that, so I think I should stop complaining.  At least now we have enough tomatoes to be able to put them out in the fruit stand.  


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

  • Peaches--Suncrest, Gene Alberta, 49'er, Elegant Lady (all yellow freestone varieties); Sugar Lady,  Babcock, Silver Logan (all white freestone varieties)
  • Plums--Kelsey, Black Amber, Friar, Satsuma,  Eldorado, Laroda, Santa Rosa
  • Pluots--Dapple Dandy
  • Blackberrries
  • Vegetables--Cucumber (Japanese, lemon, Armenian)Eggplant (Ichiban, Listada de Gandia, Rosa Bianca), tomatoes, green beans (Kentucky Wonder),  long beans,  hot peppers, zucchini, summer squash, trombetta squash,  Swiss chard, basil, oregano, mint
  • Eggs--from chickens at our orchard
  • Honey--from bees at our orchard

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Suncrest Peaches & White Peaches

A Suncrest Peach.
We now have Suncrest peaches ripe at the orchard.  Suncrest peaches are a sweet, juicy yellow heirloom peach that are difficult to find.  Since they don't ship well or keep for an extended period of time, they aren't sold in major grocery stores.  We can sell soft and ripe Suncrest at the fruit stand because the peaches are picked into boxes and brought directly to the fruit stand, there's no need for packing and shipping. 

Saving Suncrest peaches and his family farm is the subject of the David Mas Masumoto's book,  Epitaph for a Peach--Four Seasons on My Family Farm.  David Masumoto has written a lot of other good books related to his farm and his family history that are worth reading, too.

We also have a lot of white peaches at the fruit stand right now, including Babcock, Nectar, White Lady, Arctic White and Donut peaches.  White peaches have less acid than yellow peaches, so they have less tangy-ness and more sweetness comes through in their flavor.  Ripe white peaches are also difficult to ship, because they're very delicate and show damage easily.  
A Suncrest peach on the left, an Arctic White peach on the right.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fruit Stand & Meat Buyers Club

The Massey Ferguson 135, parked in front of a Bartlett pear tree.  It still runs and gets used at the orchard.
Here's what's at the fruit stand now:

  • Peaches--Flavor Crest, Red Haven, (yellow free-stone varieties); Babcock, White Lady, "Donut" type (white free-stone varieties)
  • Plums--Santa Rosa, Frontier, Satsuma
  • Blackberries
  • Vegetables--zucchini, summer squash, green beans, eggplant, cucumbers (Japanese and Lemon), Swiss chard, herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, mint)
  • Eggs
  • Local Honey--from bees at our orchard
The next delivery from the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club will be at our orchard from 3:30- 5:00 on Friday, July 22nd.  Orders need to be received online by Friday, July 15th at 5:00.  Through the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club you can order local naturally grown pork and lamb, grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, eggs and honey.  The Placer County Real Food Cookbook can be ordered and delivered through the Meat Buyers Club, too.  Monthly deliveries are at our orchard in Granite Bay, at Community Ink in Truckee and at Confluence Kitchen in Auburn.

Orchard Update

A row of winter squash with buckwheat.
We have a lot of peaches and plums now.  The peaches tend to grow bigger and be more flavorful as we pass from the middle to later varieties of the summer. The peach varieties we're picking now are Red Haven and Flavor Crest.  We also picked the first blackberries this week, which illustrates how the unusually cool weather has affected our crops.  Usually blackberries have dried up and we're through picking them by this time. Out in the orchard the last of the pomegranate blossoms are flowering with red trumpet-like flowers,  the jujube have clusters of tiny yellow-green flowers and persimmon fruits are still small, green and hard on the trees.

In my garden this past week I cut down some of the buckwheat that was interplanted with the winter squash. I planted the buckwheat during the last few weeks of May, then planted the winter squash in the buckwheat seedlings at the beginning of June.  The buckwheat acts as both a cover crop and as a living mulch.  Every week or so I've been weeding the rows and  trimming any buckwheat that shades the squash seedlings too much.  The buckwheat stalks are laid down as mulch around the squash plants, and I leave some of the buckwheat growing if it's not going to interfere with the growth of the squash.  Throughout the season, the buckwheat resprouts and reseeds itself as the winter squash plants grow.  Now the squash plants are big enough that I shouldn't have to weed the rows anymore, because the squash will shade out weeds.

We're still waiting for a bigger tomato harvest.  So far each garden has produced only a few ripe tomatoes.  The first eggplants and cucumbers are ready from the gardens and with the cooler weather it looks like we'll be able to harvest beans for a while still.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Blenheim Apricots & Santa Rosa Plums

Black Beauty, Dark Green, Kusa, Success PM Straightneck & Goldy varieties of zucchini
We now have apricots and new varieties of plums and peaches ripe at the orchard, and zucchini is ready from the gardens. You can still pick up ume (Japanese plum), too.

Here's what's at the fruit stand now:
  • Plums--Santa Rosa, red beaut, Frontier
  • Peaches--Bon Jour, Flavor Crest (yellow free-stone varieties)
  • Apricots--Patterson, Blenheim
  • Oranges--Valencia (juice oranges)
  • Vegetables--zucchini, Swiss chard, red onions and herbs (basil, rosemary, oregano, mint)
  • Local Honey--(from bees living at our orchard)
  • Eggs

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ume

As the ume ripen, they have a pink blush, then turn yellow.
We have a supply of fresh ume at the fruit stand now.   Ume is a small sour type of Japanese plum that is preserved to make umeboshi and other types of Japanese pickles and condiments. Umeboshi (pickled ume) are sometimes put in the center of rice balls (onigiri).  Ume is very fragrant, sour, sweet and usually salty. Ume fruit is actually more closely related to an apricot than a plum, and the tree is the first of the year to blossom in January. 

Helen makes umeboshi most every year using a process that involves pressing the fruits and salt in a container with a heavy weight on top,  drying the preserved ume in the sun on a cloth for a few days and then putting them in liquid again with purple shiso (perilla).  Customers who have ordered ume in past years have brought us samples of what they've made, too.  We've gotten to taste ume pickled in different ways, ume flavored miso, ginger preserved in ume pickling juice (beni shoga), and ume flavored shoyu, all of which are very delicious.   Most years we sell out of ume so we don't write about it on the website, but this year our neighbors the Koyamas brought us a lot from their trees, so we have enough to mention.  If you want to order ume, you can call the orchard at (916) 791-1656 or stop by the fruit stand.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Red Beauts and Biwa


The first plums of the season are finally ready.  Red Beaut plums are the first plums of all the varieties in the orchard to ripen.  As you can see in photo of the Red Beaut at the left, they're red with slight mottling on the skin and yellow and juicy inside. 

The loquat (or biwa) are ready now, too.  Loquats are a sweet yellow-orange tropical fruits that grow in bunches on the tree.  In the center are two smooth dome-shaped brown seeds that split apart.  Loquats are hard to find fresh, but you can find them canned at Asian markets.

Viviano and a loquat

In the garden the first zucchinis are almost ready, so we should have enough to pick soon.  

At the fruit stand we have cherries, Red Beaut plums, loquats, pink and yellow grapefruit, Valencia oranges, Swiss chard, herbs (oregano, mint, rosemary), honey from bees at the orchard and eggs.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cherries


The first cherries are ready at the orchard.  These are the first new fruits of the summer season.  At the fruit stand you can find both red and yellow Royal Anne cherries in limited supplies.

We still have Valencia oranges, white grapefruit, Swiss chard, fresh herbs, honey and eggs, too.

Hail, Lacewings & Praying Mantises


We've been having strange weather lately with hail and rain last weekend and yesterday it rained heavily all afternoon.  At the left you can see the view looking out from the fruit stand during last weekend's hailstorm.  Hail almost the size of peas is collecting in the hay by the flowers.  Leaves of plants in the gardens were damaged, but not too badly.  We'll have to wait and see what the hail did to the fruit on the trees because the marks won't show until the fruit grows bigger.  

In the orchard we have been finishing thinning persimmon blossoms and checking and fixing the irrigation.  Chris and Michie have been continuing to sprinkle lacewing eggs on the trees.  The eggs are supposed to hatch into lacewing larvae that will prey upon caterpillers of various orchard pests.   

The gardens are all planted for summer vegetables now. We've been spending time weeding and mulching. Next to plant will be Winter squash and pumpkins. When I put tomato cages around the plants this year I noticed quite a few praying mantis egg cases attached to the wire.  This weekend I saw that one had opened and tiny praying mantises were climbing all around the cage.  Below is a photo I tried to take of them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Late Spring, almost Summer

Persimmon flowers being visited by bees.
Citrus trees have been blossoming and the wind has been carrying the perfume scent of the flowers around the orchard.  Persimmons trees started flowering and bees have been visiting the clusters of small yellowish flowers. When you stand by a citrus or persimmon tree you can hear the bees buzzing. In the orchard we're continuing to mow and to thin fruit from the apple and nashi (Asian pear) trees.  Chris has been putting out parasitic trichogramma wasp eggs and lacewing eggs in the trees because they are beneficial insects that prey upon larvae of orchard and garden pests.  We finally finished planting summer vegetables and seedlings in the gardens. Because of the late rains and cool weather this spring the gardens got put in later than usual.  

We have stopped mail orders for hoshigaki (hand-dried persimmon) until October.  The temperatures have now warmed enough that the coating of natural powdery sugar on the outside of the persimmons is at risk of melting during shipping. We have hoshigaki strips and small amounts of hoshigaki for sale by request to pick up at the fruit stand only.  

At the fruit stand we also have grapefruit, Valencia oranges, lemons, Swiss chard, fresh herbs (oregano, mint, dill, thyme, lemon balm, rosemary, catnip), local honey from bees at the orchard and eggs. Peas and Harmony has organic tomato, pepper, cucumber, zucchini and melon seedlings for sale at the plant stand. 

The next delivery for the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club will be at our orchard from 3:30- 5:00 on Friday, May, 20th. Orders need to be received by Mon., May 16th at 5:00.  Through the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club you can order local naturally grown pork and lamb, grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, eggs and honey.  The Placer County Real Food Cookbook can be ordered and delivered through the Meat Buyers Club, too.  Monthly deliveries are at our orchard in Granite Bay, at Community Ink in Truckee and at Confluence Kitchen in Auburn.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Spring Planting and Thinning


Organic vegetable seedlings from Peas and Harmony  are now for sale at the fruit stand.  There are healthy tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings, basil plants and other herbs in 4 inch pots.  We also have oranges, grapefruit, lemons, hoshigaki, eggs and honey at the fruit stand. 

At the orchard, wisteria is blooming and green persimmon flower buds are about to pop open.  Zucchini, summer squash, beans and cucumber are sprouting in the gardens.  We started planting tomato seedlings but are holding off on planting more until the night time temperatures warm up a little.  Cherries and ume Japanese plums are getting big, but the fruits are still green.  On the peach trees we've been pulling off pink lumpy leaves affected by peach leaf curl and hand-thinning the fruit.  Thinning the fruit by leaving only 1 or 2 fruit per small branch allows the tree to put energy into growing less fruits of a bigger size.

If you stop by the fruitstand you may notice a cherry tree by the house by the edge of the parking lot.  In the tree is a vinegar trap Chris made to attract and catch spotted wing drosophila (also called cherry vinegar fruit fly).  She also tied agribon around a few of the branches and fruit to see if it works to protect the fruit that was not yet affected by the fruit fly.  This type of fruit fly is a new pest in Placer County that affected a lot of people's cherry crops for the first time last year.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring at the Orchard

The path leading from the back of the fruit stand to Obaachan's garden.
It seems to have stopped raining for a while, so we've been able to get started thinning the fruit on the trees and planting the vegetable gardens.  Although most years it's safe to plant tomatoes by tax day (April 15th) here, this year it still seems too wet and cold.  Hopefully next week there will be warm sunny weather for the gardens.  

The next delivery date for the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club is Friday, April 22nd from 3:30-5:00.  Through the Meat Buyers Club you can order locally raised, hormone-free meat, eggs and honey online, then pick it up your order at the orchard.  There are other two other delivery sites in Placer County, too, if the orchard isn't convenient.  To order for the April 22nd delivery,  your order must be sent in before 5:00 PM on Monday, April 18th.

At the fruit stand we have oranges, grapefruit, lemons, kiwi, hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon), honey, and eggs. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Orchard in Bloom

Viviano pretends to eat a pink peach blossom.
The orchard is now blooming with white and pink blossoms from the peach and plum trees.  Come out and visit to take a walk soon, while the blossoms are still out.  Next to bloom should be cherry, Asian pear and apple trees, but since there are less of those in the orchard, the blossoming is not as dramatic.  Persimmon trees bloom after that with hard to see tiny yellowish-green flowers.

Tree planting and pruning are finished now, so we've been doing other work before the busy season begins.  We're starting to prepare the vegetable gardens for next month's planting.  Tosh and others have had time to work on remodeling the fruit stand building to finish up the hoshigaki drying room and to improve access to the public restroom. 

At the fruit stand we have navel and blood oranges, grapefruit, Eureka lemons, local honey, eggs and hoshigaki (hand-dried persimmon).  You can also still order hoshigaki through mail order if you follow the link to the order form here on our web page.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Local Meat, Eggs & Honey

"Blue", the Blue Orpington rooster.
The next delivery date for the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club is Friday, March  25th from 3:30-5:00.  Through the Meat Buyers Club you can order locally raised, hormone-free meat, eggs and honey online, then pick it up your order at the orchard.  There are other delivery sites in Placer County, too, if the orchard isn't convenient.  To order for the March 25th delivery,  your order must be sent in before 5:00 PM on Monday, March 21st.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Trees & the Meat Buyers Club


In the photo above you can see young trees heeled into the soil that are waiting to be planted in the orchard.  We have about 70 fruit trees of various kinds to plant, so we've been looking for spots for them and digging holes for them in the orchard.  Our orchard is very mixed, with different types and varieties of fruit trees all interplanted.  It's this way because over the years we've been replacing individual dying trees rather than pulling out large blocks of trees and starting with new ones of all the same type and size.

Out in the orchard right now, the pluot and apricot trees are in bloom and most of the peach and plum trees are full of blossoms about to pop.  This week we're supposed to wind and rainy weather, so after that orchard should be mostly in bloom and beautiful to visit. 
 
The next delivery date for the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club is Friday, Feb. 25th from 3:30-5:00.  Through the Meat Buyers Club you can order locally raised, hormone-free meat and eggs online, then pick it up your order at the orchard.  There are other delivery sites in Placer County, too, if the orchard isn't convenient.  To order for the Feb. 25th delivery,  your order must be sent in before 5:00 PM on Monday, February 21st.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hoshigaki & other fruit at Fruit Stand


This past weekend, Chris took down the very last two pair of hoshigaki that were drying and got them ready to pack.  We've been dealing with the process of drying persimmons since we started peeling the first ones for hoshigaki at the beginning of October, and only now just finished with the last few.  We still have hoshigaki available to order through mail order, and for sale at the fruit stand. 

The newest fruits in season and for sale at the fruit stand are blood oranges and grapefruit.  Other fruits we have are navel oranges, Eureka and Meyer Lemons, Satsuma mandarins and kiwi.  We expect that we'll be out of honey until at least April.  April is  the earliest time honey may be able to be harvested from the bees again, since they're not producing any extra right now in the cold weather.  The chickens have been laying eggs though, so we have eggs at the fruit stand.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Winter is Part of the Cycle

We've had a lot of fog and drizzle lately at the orchard, as you can see in the photo at the left. The birds have eaten the last persimmons left on the trees and the ume plum blossoms are just about to pop open.

At the fruit stand we have lots of juicy mandarins and now navel oranges, too.  The soft persimmons are still in supply, as well as kiwi and Meyer lemon.  Hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon) is still for sale at the fruit stand and through mail order.  The very last hoshigaki we started are almost finished drying. 

The next delivery date for the Sierra Foothills Meat Buyers Club is this coming Friday, Feb. 4th from 3:30-5:00.  Through the Meat Buyers Club you can order locally raised, hormone-free meat and eggs online, then pick it up at the orchard.  There are other delivery sites in Placer County, too, if the orchard isn't convenient.  The last day to order for the Feb. 4th delivery is Monday, Jan. 31st by 5:00.

In the orchard we've been pruning the trees, digging out dying trees, and getting spots ready to plant new trees.  All the tomato plants have finally been pulled out in the gardens, just as we're getting ready to start new ones by seed.  The mobile chicken dome is now in the area of the garden where the future tomato seedlings should go in April.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Late Season Surprises

Past the persimmon trees are geese out in the orchard.
We are re-opening the hoshigaki (dried persimmon) orders. After filling all the mail orders we found that we still have a small supply left.  Hoshigaki is for sale at our fruit stand and also through mail order. If you'd like to order some through mail order, click here for the order form or go to the hoshigaki/persimmons tab on the web page. If you come to the fruit stand soon, you can see the last of the hoshigaki that's still drying and get an idea of the process.

Soft Hachiya persimmons are in abundance at the fruit stand.  If you really like soft Hachiyas, now's the time to get them. They can be eaten fresh or you can freeze them whole and eat them like sorbet later on. The pulp can also be squeezed out and frozen to use for baking later, or to add to yogurt or smoothies.

We were surprised to find that we have some Fuyu persimmons that are still firm this late in the season.  Since mandarins were ready so late this year, we still have lots of mandarins at the fruit stand, too, along with the fruits we expect to have now, such as kiwi and Meyer lemon.   

Here's what's at the fruit stand now:
  • Persimmons--Hachiya (soft), Fuyu (firm), and hoshigaki (dried persimmon)
  • Mandarins-Owari Satsuma
  • Kiwi
  • Lemons-Meyer
The orchard fruit stand is open year round.  Hours are Tues.-Sat. from 9-5 and on Sundays from 10-5. We're closed Mondays.

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