Friday, May 23, 2014

Mornings in the peach orchard

It is cool and the light is soft and there is a morning breeze that rustles through the peach trees. When you are up in the branches of the trees you can smell the sweet odor of the ripe peaches and get a nice view of the garden below. This happens once a year, when the peaches are ready for picking, and it only lasts for a couple of weeks... so we savor this time.
 We know it's time because we can hear the birds gathering and quarreling over the sweet peaches. That means we need to be up with or before the birds! We grab our boxes, baskets, buckets, clippers and ladders. My husband and I have a method, it's a two man job. One of us is up in the tree filling a basket and the other is on the ground ready to empty the basket into a larger container.
We pick the peaches when they are still firm, but have a slight give. One of the most asked question is, " how do you keep the birds from getting your peaches?'  This is how we do it. We pick them and let them fully ripen inside on the kitchen table. The peaches ripen in waves... so we are up in the trees every morning to gather the next batch of ripe peaches.
We do taste tests as we pick. This is a Desert Gold. It's sweet and the flesh is pink and juicy.
From the top looking down.
Husband fills the basket and hands it down when full.

As we pick, we clean the tree of small, hard, green peaches that aren't worth the trouble. We pick bird pecked peaches, because they attract more birds. We do a little summer pruning while we are up there to thin out some of the dense growth and bring down branches that are way too long.
A mid pride peach. We are ready to share!
Now we're ready to set up the front porch peach stand. We let our neighbors know that it's peach season! One sign for the main road and one sign in front of the house.
We fill bags, all day long!
And then, our favorite part of the whole process... friends and neighbors! Lots of new friends and neighbors!
                   Thank you, for buying our peaches! We hope they bring a little sweetness to your life!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Sweetness of Life

Have I ever told you the story about how we came up with the name for our garden? It was on a day (several years ago) that things were not going particularly well. As a matter of fact, that whole year was not going very well. As I sat in my garden wondering what I could possibly do about any of it, a little voice in my head said,  "enjoy the sweetness of life". Of course, it was a reminder to "see" the important things in life, instead of the lousy. It was one of those moments when you realize life is about moments  - and I wanted mine to revolve around the beauty of the everyday. The time I spend in my garden is about living this life -. Come on, lets go see the garden!  
Spring came early this year. As it warms up we  harvest the last of our winter greens and make room for our tomatoes, peppers and other warm weather vegetables. The lettuce are starting to bolt, so the sooner we harvest the better!
Luckily, the nasturtium made it through the winter, it's always nice to add a little zest to a salad. 
I like to wash my lettuce outside, it's more fun than standing at the kitchen sink. After harvesting and sorting, I rinse the lettuce and let it sit in a bucket of water for a half hour or so. It takes some of the bitter taste away. (especially when you are harvesting older lettuce)
A little help is always appreciated! 
 In another corner of the garden, my daughter Nikki sorts through the long, slender branches from the fruit tree pruning and saves the best ones for plant supports and other creative endeavors.
This year we used them for tomato supports. Hopefully, they will be strong enough to hold up under the weight of the tomatoes!
I like the way it adds some texture to the garden!
In this bed are Black Krim, Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, Indigo Rose, and Snow White tomatoes. The Snow White tomato was planted from seed by a fellow gardener. We bartered for some tangerines. It was a good trade!
While I have you here in the garden, I wanted to let you know that the Arcadia Edible Garden Tour is scheduled for May 10th. The ticket site is NOT up yet, but I will be the first to let you know when it is! Until then,
                                                       wishing you a very sweet spring!          

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Valencia Orange Marmalade

It's time to make Marmalade!
Valencia Oranges are sweet oranges primarily grown for processing and juice production. The longer you leave the oranges on the trees the sweeter they become. We leave our oranges on the trees until it's time to juice or make marmalade, and now is the time!

My daughter, Aaryn and I are busy cooking up a glorious batch of Valencia Orange Marmalade right now! Our Marmalade, Orange Blossom Honey, Caitie's Natural Orange Granola and fresh orange juice will be available Sunday at the Anthropologie Pop-Up Market, from 11 to 2! Fashion Square Mall location.
We'd love to see you there!