Saturday, October 12, 2013

It must be fall - pressing apples for apple juice

One of my favorite garden times of year is in the fall when we use the apples we have grown for a myriad of purposes (pies, apple butter, applesauce, apple quick breads) but most especially when we press the apples for juice with our 30 year old apple press.  We purchased it when we lived in Santa Cruz in the early 1980's.  We are still using it and it functions well.  Here are some pictures of the process featuring my wife, Illijana.
We are using apples from our ten planted varieties which were picked between two and three weeks ago then left to ripen and mellow in and under our house.  We also used two varieties picked at our neighbor's house.  Usually we try to freeze the juice, but we ran out of room this year in our freezers so we are doing a "lower temperature" pasteurization for the 24 quarts of juice we pressed.
Illijana, press, apples
Washing tub, cutting out the "bad parts"
Turning the hand crank to press the apples

Flowing juice
Spreading pulp in garden bed for organic matter

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Planting a "legacy" tree - Olea europaea or Arbequina olive tree

Olives have been part of my life since the beginning.  My mother had a story about rubbing olive oil on me as an infant, and olive oil was part of our daily diet, no doubt influenced by my family's Sicilian heritage.  I decided to plant an olive tree here at home to leave as a legacy tree for those who live here in the far off future.  Because temperatures are increasing here (and I think they will continue to do so due to human caused global warming) I think olives may well be able to fruit here on the far northern California coast.
I found a beautiful large pot in which to plant the tree.  I want to limit its height to its lower range of 8-10 feet tall.  Here are pictures of the planting.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Making sauerkraut

     We have been harvesting lots of produce lately, freezing some for our winter use, giving some to the food bank, and today we made sauerkraut which will ferment for 4 - 6 weeks in a crock, and will then be hot water bath canned.
Kaitlin cabbages
     This particular batch was made with green cabbage ( Kaitlin variety from Johnny's Seeds), carrots, pickling salt, dill, and caraway seed.  Here are some photos of the selected cabbages, the process, and our lovely crock.
Cut in half
Illijana cut up the cabbage into strips and added the cabbage, the seasonings, and the carrots to the crock pot.                                                                    

Jim grated up the carrots.
Here is a good picture of the crock and the grated carrots.

Illijana loaded the crock with the cut cabbage, layered in the carrots, salt, dill, and caraway seed, and then packed it all down with a wooden mallet.  We added a bit of boiled then cooled salted water to cover the top, and set it away to become sauerkraut in 4 - 6 weeks.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The garden at sunset

It was a lovely sunset tonight on the northern coast of California.  My wife Illijana took some photos of our gardens in the golden light of the sunset and here are a few of them.
Back flower bed

Orange reflection on the ocean

Monday, July 22, 2013

100 day peas

     Here on the cool and foggy north coast of California one of my favorite vegetables to grow is fresh shell peas.  The peas usually take twice as long to come to full size as the packages suggest, but this year they took only about 1 1/2 times as long due to our warmer than normal spring and early summer.
My favorite variety is Knight and I planted the first planting of the year on April 12th of this year.
     I soak the peas overnight to start, coat them with inoculant to help them fix nitrogen onto their roots, then put them into the soil about an inch deep.  I cover them with remay or other cloth to discourage birds from attacking the seedlings, stake them with branches or bamboo stakes, and wait.
     The first shell peas took 100 days this year, and here are pictures of the first picking.
Knight shell peas

I then spent time shelling the peas.  My dog happens to love peas so between the two of us what makes it into the bowl is reduced 10%.  Here is a picture of the shelled peas (part of tonight's dinner.)
 Bon appetit!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The July garden

The garden is in full flowering mode.  We have been busy collecting lots of raspberries (see previous Scarecrow pictures), picking loads of broccoli and zucchini, and enjoying the flowers.
Here are two views of the back garden flower bed.

This is a picture of the center bed out back which features lots of dahlias, double Shasta daisies, a Lavatera plant, and the tall spires of echium (tower of jewels).

Here is a pic of the lavatera:

Finally, not to ignore the veggies, here is a picture of the newly emerged final pea planting of the year.  These are shell peas.  Pumpkins are growing in the background surrounding the artichoke plants.  The large leaved plant in the foreground is rhubarb.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The garden this week

Here are a few pictures of the garden this week.
Illijana and the scarecrow (protecting raspberries!)

Aromatic rose arch

David Austin rose (transplanted this year and doing better)

Dortmund Kordesii climber rose

alstromeria in full bloom

Dortmund and front garden bed

Moss Terrace daylilies beginning to bloom (with echium)

broccoli, beets, parsnips, summer squash

peas, squash, jerusalem artichokes, celery

roses, valerian, going toward upper beds


Leontine Gervais rose over dog run, echium, ocean