Perennial fruit vignette tour

 

Here is a vignette of a short tour of perennial fruit in my garden and what varieties work here for me in Santa Fe, NM. I forgot to show I also have a rhubarb variety called Victoria which does well here. I found it in a nursery here in Santa Fe.

More information on this vignette tour:

You’ll see I keep a 30% sunscreen on many of my plants in the video as I find some plants here in our high altitude like a little shade from our intense UV light here in Santa Fe. I’m hoping it will give the plants some hail protection as well from our summer monsoon storms. I got it at Johnnyseeds listed under shade cloth.

My raspberry variety is Polana. It is a fall bearing variety that I cut down to 3 inches high every March and it gets about 40 inches tall each year and doesn’t need trellising but does like a fence to grow next to. I got it 3 years ago from Nourse Nursery online. Another friend, Mike, turned me on to them. I’ve had some different varieties of raspberries but this one is the only one that kicks ass in fruit production here in my garden.

My blackberry is a thornless variety called Triple Crown.  I got it from Newmans Nursery here in Santa Fe but discovered it in one of our Santa Fe Extension Master Gardener gardens. I love it doesn’t have any thorns and it is also 3 years old. This year is the first year that it is very productive. It is a semi-erect variety and does need a trellis to grow on to keep it from spreading too much with runners.

My strawberries are a June-bearing variety that I got some starts from a friend some years ago and I don’t know exactly which variety it is. I like the fact it bears all it’s fruit in June so I only have to keep birds away during the month of June vs everbearing varieties that bear smaller fruit all season. There are many different varieties of June-bearing strawberries to choose from online.

My grape vine variety is called Himrod. It is a green, seedless table grape for fresh eating not winemaking. It has incredible flavor that can’t be found in the grocery store. I have one plant that is about 40′ long along a fence and is very productive. I’ve also tried other varieties of grapes that didn’t do as well here in our climate but this one is a winner.

2019 Garden Gratitude

In this topsy-turvey time in the world where everything is chaotic and polarized, I feel the need to reflect on the garden and what I was grateful for in the garden in 2019.

First and foremost is that I’m blessed with a big 3000 square ft garden that is almost finished-is anything really finished in one’s garden or is a garden something always in transition?

This last year I had a wonderful helper, named Janine (I always said I wanted a clone!) who I was blessed by meeting her at a class I taught.  Janine came out and weeded ALL the gardens while she was here for 2.5 weeks. Then I put landscape fabric down on the paths and wood mulch over the them to keep the weeds out. Works great. Now I’m not spending all my time battling weeds.

I finished up the last of my raised beds by framing them with wood. Now the soil and amendments don’t run off like my raked raised beds use to do, but instead stay contained inside the bed. Much better.

I bought hail netting which I’m sure will be great but we didn’t get hail here last season!  Go figure! Made me more relaxed though when a storm came rolling in and it kept the deer off of my crops which decided to come into the garden in the fall to nibble.

I am grateful for the abundant fruit crops my friends and I had this past season in 2019. And although we got no apples this year here at the mini farm from the apple trees, (they must be taking off a year after producing hundreds of lbs the previous year,) there was still so much fruit to harvest and share this year. Biggest year ever for me!

We got:

Cherries-10 lbs (from a friend)

Apricots-(last harvest was 7 years ago from our trees) canned lots of apricot jam

Peaches-30 lbs (from a friend’s peach trees)

Pears-20 lbs (from a friends pear trees)

Grapes, strawberries, rhubarb, blackberries and raspberries-all from my own garden. Abundant harvests.

I said when I planted raspberries 2 seasons ago that I wanted so many raspberries that I would get sick of them. Well, I didn’t get sick of them but was so overwhelmed by the number of raspberries that I opened up that patch to some friends to harvest some as our freezer filled up fast. Actually you can never get too many raspberries (or blackberries for that matter).

So what the veggie garden lacked in 2019, the fruit harvest was incredible.

Looking forward to a new gardening season!

Peaches galore!

This was the a great year for peach harvests. A friend called me and told me they picked over 200 lbs of peaches off of their two peach trees! The tree variety is called Contender, and she bought them from Tooley’s Trees up in Truchas. She invited me to come and get some and I took about 15 lbs of peaches.

I made two wonderful galettes with peaches and raspberries. I used Deborah Madison’s recipe for the galette crust from her Seasonal Fruit Desserts book. Really simple to do and the best crust ever-light and flaky!

I also made 24 jars of peach-raspberry jam with honey–Delicious!

The rest of the fresh peaches were eaten within the week! What a treat!

2019 Garden pics!

Here are some pics of my garden this year. Now that we are in September, I wanted to capture it in all it’s glory before it’s gone. I’ve worked hard tweaking out the infrastructure with new framed beds and weed barriers and wood chips in the paths this year. Having retired from the Santa Fe Farmers Market two seasons ago has allowed me to do more in the garden. I also added some perennial fruit like raspberries and blackberries since I don’t need space for 125 tomato plants anymore! By mid-October or sooner, it will be toast with the first frost so might as well enjoy it while I have it. I have an abundance of flowers this year that I grew for my edible flower class and besides being beautiful and edible, they attract many beneficial insects and pollinators. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Salmonberries

If you live in the Northwest, you probably heard of Salmonberries but I have not heard of them here in Santa Fe. My neighbor has a Salmonberry bush that produced heavily this year and I got some.

At first I thought it was a gold raspberry but it is not.  It’s a beautiful berry similar to a raspberry but more delicate in flavor and is gold-salmon-pinkish color.

The salmonberry, Rubus spectabilis is native to the US Northwest moist coastal regions and some parts of Europe. I wouldn’t think they would thrive in our drier conditions and yet here is one and it is not in a wet area. Traditionally, the berries were eaten by Native Americans with salmon or salmon roe, hence the name. It is sometimes called the Joffelberry as well. What a wonderful treat! They don’t freeze well so we just gobbled them all up!

Apricots galore!

It’s apricot season and I’ve been picking lots! It’s unusual to get apricots here in Santa Fe (about every 7 years for me) as usually a late freeze comes in spring and freezes all the blossoms, but not this year!

I have a wonderful apricot jam recipe that has St. Germain’s liquor in it. St Germain’s is a liquor made out of elderberries and is delicious by itself but when added to apricot jam while cooking, it gives a wonderful floral nuance to the jam that is delicious. So I am excited to make more this year as I’m down to my last jar of apricot jam. The recipe can be found here.

Wow, what a fruit season it’s been so far-first mega strawberries, then thousands of cherries, now apricots and my neighbor has salmonberries now and coming up right behind will be raspberries and blackberries in another month and then apples in the fall.

AND we haven’t even gotten to the veggies being produced right now but that’s for another post!

 

Abundant year for Cherries too! Check out this cherry pitter

My friend, Bob Z has an abundance of Bing cherries on his tree this year. I went by yesterday and helped pick some. Anybody who knows Bob, call him if you want to go pick cherries-pick some for yourself.

I took home 6 lbs of cherries. I use to use a cherry pitter that you did one at a time but a few years ago I got a new NORPRO Deluxe Cherry Pitter that makes it much easier and faster to pit cherries. It took less than 10 minutes to do 3 lbs! Above is a video of it in action.

STRAWBERRIES-a bumper crop this year!

My strawberries are going nuts this year. This is the biggest crop I’ve ever had in 25 years! I think we’ve harvested about 6 GALLONS of them so far and still more to go. I think it’s because of all the moisture we had this winter and spring AND the Azomite mineral supplement I gave them last year. I’ve taken them to parties, given them to friends who froze some, and I’m am going to make some galettes and strawberry-balsamic jam with some of them and trading Bob’s cherries for some as well (I hope-are you listening Bob?)

Perennial fruit care in spring

Strawberries grew unbelievably with the addition of Azomite last year

As far as perennial fruit goes, I already cut back the new raspberry plants a few days ago. They are a fall variety called Polana from Norse nursery online. They were fantastic last year with us harvesting lots of raspberries in their first year. So this is their first trimming. I trimmed them back within an inch or two of the ground and they are all still alive. I wasn’t sure as I forgot to water them last fall for a few months but with all the precipitation we got this winter, they are fine.

I also cut back the new blackberry plants called Triple Crown, and saw lots of new start-ups that rooted that I will move. Now I won’t have to buy some to finish up the blackberry row. Hopefully I will get blackberries in their second year.

Today I pulled away all the dead leaves around the rhubarb (Victoria) and they are starting to come up too. A very hardy perennial plant.

I checked the strawberries and pulled all the dead borage plants that grow up in the strawberry patch each year from dropped seeds. Borage is a good companion plant for strawberries and the bees love them. The strawberries need a haircut too-but not too short. The strawberries did fantastic last year.

The verdict is out on the artichoke. It came back last year in its second year but I don’t see any signs of life yet this year. They actually are not supposed to be grown here as a perennial because we are in a colder zone than they like, so we will see if it makes it or not.

Next up is to prune back the grapes and the apple trees and other fruit trees. I’m late on the apple trees but they need to be desperately thinned and pruned now before they come back to life. Last year I put Azomite, a mineral supplement, in my veggie garden which really helped the crops and I have some leftover which I will sprinkle around the fruit trees this year.

Perennial fruits in the garden

Still trying to finish up the veggie garden. I better hurry or the season will be over! Still need to transplant some cabbages and amaranth that Alessandra and Chris gave me and some chard.  Going to Italy for 2 weeks when I should have been planting put me behind but it was worth itL’Italia è così bella!

Today I planted 4 Blackberry plants on the garden fence nearest the greenhouse for those of you who know my garden. Triple Crown is the variety and I got them at Newman’s Nursery. Triple Crown is a thornless variety that I first saw in the Master Gardeners Herb Garden that does very well here in Santa Fe. The ones I bought were in 2 gallon containers and cost $15 each which is a bargain and they are in great shape.

Part of the main veggie garden is being devoted  more and more to perennial fruit as I have the room. Years ago I planted Himrod grapes, Victoria rhubarb and June-bearing strawberries and added more strawberries this year. All are doing well. In addition, this spring I planted a 30 foot row of Polana raspberries and now these Triple Crown blackberries.

I planted the blackberries this morning before the heat hit. I added some soil amendments and polymer crystals to help keep the water in the the root zone, made a well, put in the drip system with extra emitters as they like water and gave them seaweed and Vitamin-B mix to help with transplant and heat stress. Then I put straw around them to help keep water from evaporating and row cover over them to cut back the sun and heat on the new plants. I’m super excited to be putting in so many berries and can’t wait till next year when I hope I get some to EAT!

 

Growing Season for 2016/Fall Harvest

fall-harvest-crop_nov-2

Fall harvest in 2016-tomatoes, beets, carrots and kale are just a few of the vegetables still being harvested here on my micro-farm

This has been a most remarkable growing season this year. In fact, I can’t remember in all my 21 years here of weather like this. After two months of unseasonably hot summer weather at the beginning (when the tomato blossoms dropped because it was too hot) and then two months of very cool summer weather (when the tomatoes didn’t want to ripen because they need heat to ripen once they are set) we now have been in an unbelievably wonderful fall. Nice and warm in the 70’s in the day and cool but not freezing nights.

But all this is going to change very quickly now that we are in November. Weather prediction is for it to change to colder weather. Like duh, it’s NOVEMBER dude! Of course it will get colder! My fruit is done-apples (we made hard cider!), apricots, grapes, strawberries and raspberries are done here. Most of my warm season crops are gone (cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplants, pumpkins, corn, etc. except the tomatoes, my favorite crop!)

Meanwhile the fall harvest continues with tomatoes still ripening (at least this week) and all the cool season crops are kicking it and should be for quite some time if I cover them with winter weight row cover. The kale is going gangbusters, cabbage is ready, onions and potatoes are ready to harvest, carrots and beets are ready to be dug out too and chard is busting out all over.  My broccoli and escarole I planted in August at my fall garden class are almost ready too. Then pantry is bursting and the refrigerators and freezers are overflowing too! Enjoy what we still have left of this season!

What’s up in the garden!

I’ve been busy in the garden. Which is why I haven’t written lately. Hard to write when so many things need to get done. Here’s the latest update.

WEATHER: How about this crazy weather? Hot, cold, hot. Go figure! That’s how it is this time of year. It actually hailed 6 inches last Saturday between Harry’s Roadhouse restaurant and Seton Village Drive on Old Las Vegas Highway-a very small section of land. Drove through it right after it happened-would not have want to been in that one. Luckily we didn’t get much hail at the farm-thank you universe! Just missed us. One friend of mine was not so lucky and all her veggies got wiped out. Now it is getting warm again.

HARVESTING: Still harvesting lettuces and spinach. In fact I picked almost all the spinach as it will bolt soon with the warmer weather and the lettuce will also bolt soon, so much of that is picked too. The old kale is done now. The new kale ready to go in. The rhubarb is fantastic with many stalks ready to pick. I feel a strawberry-rhubarb gallette coming soon!

PLANTING: The main garden is about half weeded-Ugh! But the beds are all cleaned up and ready for all the tomatoes that will be planted next Wednesday. Now I just have to finish weeding the pathways.

DRIP SYSTEMS: The drip systems are now up and running. I hate it when they act up. Sometimes it takes 2-3 days to get everything going and not leaking. Feels great when it’s done. I can’t believe it went as smoothly as it did this year.

GIANT PUMPKINS: My first giant pumpkin was planted today at my friend, Deborah’s house. Hope it does well out there! Still have 3 more to plant next week here in my garden plus I have some giant long gourds and 2 giant zucchini (marrows) to put in. I’ve had trouble the last 3 years with getting any of my giant pumpkins successfully grown. Hopefully one of the pumpkins will do well this year. I have a plan!

DEER!: We had some deer come and eat all the Orach (which is ok) and half of one of my grape plants (which is NOT ok). Ate the leaves and the flowers of what woulda been future grapes. I covered the rest up with row cover. Hopefully they will not explore and find the plants. There is not much in the main garden to eat so hopefully they will move on. Luckily they did not eat the garlic plants!

MORE PLANTING: The peppers and eggplants starts will be planted the first week of June and the seeds of other warm season crops will go in next week too.

Busy time of year! Phew!

 

Apple blossoms update

bee on apple blossom3_blog

After last week’s super cold spring weather of 20°F at night and then the snow (hey it least it was warmer) I’m happy to say that not all the apple blossoms died. This morning I noticed a lot more blossoms have opened and the bees are all over them which means I might get a reduced crop but won’t be wiped out completely unless we get another bitter cold night. Looks like we are back to warm days again as well. Yea!

Fall harvest season is full blast right now!

Harvest season is full blast right now. Started out with our Home Grown New Mexico ‘Jam On’ class where we made a Strawberry-balsamic jam and a terrific Blueberry jam.

Himrod grapes-yum!

Then the grapes ripened-ate lots and dried some into raisins for later.

bread n butter pickles

The cucumbers ripened so fast I was making lots of pickles. First I made bread and butter pickles, then cornichon pickles and then dill pickles-crock, refrigerator and canned. Must have about 30 jars+ and now the 5 gallon crock is full where I am fermenting some with salt brine. After I was bored with pickles,  I made some sweet pickle relish which I haven’t tasted yet. Will probably make more of that with the giant cucumbers I miss when looking for little ones. So far I’ve made pickles with Jody, Nick and Elodie.

peach jam and raisins

Then I bought 20 lbs of peaches from the Farmer’s Market and Mernie and I made 3 different peach jams.

9tomato sauce-finished in bags

Now the tomatoes are coming in and I’m starting to make the raw tomato sauce that I freeze in gallon plastic freezer bags. Later in November after I recover from harvesting, I will take them out of the freezer and make different pasta sauces like puttenesca, marinara, penne alla vodka and good ole spaghetti sauce.

 

Potatoes dug out just in the nick of time!

Potatoes dug out just in the nick of time!

Soon I will harvest potatoes too.

2013-part of the fall honey harvest

and we will harvest honey from the bee hive.

Of course then there is all I take to the Farmer’s Market that I harvest every week-tomatoes, eggplants, shishito peppers, beans, tomatillos and sometimes rhubarb, kale and chard when I have the room on the tables. Phew! Busy time of year!

The best part of it all is I haven’t bought any vegetables in the store since early July and I’ll have a full pantry for winter when harvest season is done.

Himrod grapes productive this year

This year my grape vines are doing fantastic and I only have 3 plants. The variety I planted 4 years ago is called Himrod which is a cross between Ontario and Thompson Seedless Grapes and is an American seedless table grape. It is a great eating variety to grow for our Zone 5-6 areas.  It produces bunches of green seedless grapes with honeylike flavor and are juicy. The taste is divine!

Last year we had many hail storms that destroyed the grape leaves and bruised the grapes so badly that there was no harvest and that would have been our first year of harvesting. This year I covered them every time I thought a hail storm was going to hit or if I left the house and it paid off. We have so many grapes we are now drying some of them. It’s interesting that the beautiful green grapes turn brown when they dry. The raisins taste great – can’t wait to cook with them.