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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Very Last of the Hachiya Persimmons

For this year, these are the last of the Hachiya persimmons on our tree.  I really like the look of the persimmons after all of the leaves have fallen off the tree. The birds enjoy the fruits, but there are some of our neighbors who feel all fruit growers should harvest the fruit all at once.  I bumped into the neighbor who volunteered to come over and take down the remaining persimmons.  I offered to pick them myself and brought them another bag full...but I left a few still on the tree for the birds. The following day six crows tried to eat the remaining fruits and I feared for my tree branches, so I harvested the rest of the fruits to make into persimmon bars and cookies.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Busy with Christmas and planting Garlic

Between the rainstorms, I have been trying to get my garlic crop in for the winter. I noticed that the garlic cloves I planted two weeks ago have now sprouted well. I also am trying to get my fava beans in. Some of the favas have germinated on their own: fava beans that had fallen last spring and not been picked up have now grown to be about a foot tall. Most of the fava beans were harvested last year, however, so I need to also get those into the ground so we can have another good crop next spring.

I'm still harvesting my Hachiya persimmons. The tree was overloaded with them. We leave some of them on the tree for the birds, but use the rest (or give them away). I've been slicing the hard persimmons, which are too astringent to eat that way, and drying them in my dehydrator. They sweeten up as they dry and make a great dried fruit snack. I also have been making pan after pan of persimmon bars, frosted with a lemon glaze. Yum.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wisteria Pods are Bursting!

This Sunday was a gorgeous day in northern California.  I worked outside in the garden for a bit.  We have a lovely wisteria that has grown up into a privet tree.  I kept hearing a cracking sound coming from the wisteria and I thought that a squirrel was cracking something up there, perhaps branches or nuts.

Later on, I watched the wisteria from our deck. At the same instance when the cracking sound happened I saw a wisteria pod falling through the air and to the ground. I realized that the temperature outside and condition of the pod had made it the perfect time for the pods to burst and send seeds flying--the hopes for more wisteria in the future.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chicken in Napa

Chickensinthegarden blogger Kris went to Napa for her birthday yesterday and found a giant chicken. This photo was snapped outside Wilson's Feed & Supply in Napa.  We celebrated by buying some laying feed and cracked corn and then onto a lovely lunch at Ubuntu, the fine vegetarian restaurant in downtown Napa.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Persimmons, Again!

A tray full of Hachiya persimmons...
Our tree is bountiful again this year. I picked these persimmons a bit early. They will get a richer color orange and then soft ("like a water balloon") so that I can use them to make cookies and persimmon bread. I also have been slicing them while they are still hard and drying them in my dehydrator. They make wonderful dried fruit.

I wish I had planted a Fuyu because I like to use those persimmons in fresh salads (you can eat Fuyus while they are still hard but Hachiyas are far too stringent to eat when hard).  But there is room in our yard for an additional fruit tree, isn't there?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Insalata Caprese

Heirloom tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil from the garden.  Salad in the style of Capri "Insalata Caprese."  Yum.

Some of Our Harvest This Year

My husband took a wonderful photo of some of this year's harvest.  We had three Cinderella pumpkins (before the gophers got them).  We covered the pumpkin stems with a bit of wax to keep them from rotting. Pictured above are some persimmons, calamondin, beans, tomatoes, honey, dried tomatoes, canned tomatoes, dried zucchini, and some preserved limes.  We had much more than this from the summer garden, but this makes a great display.  Some of our neighbors seem to really enjoy the honeycomb in the honey, and some wonder why we added it to the container.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Rose Hips

We have one Rosa rugosa rose bush that produces some lovely rose hips each year. Last year I made a Rose Hip Syrup, for pancakes or ice cream, and it was delicate and quite nice. This year I decided to dry the rose hips in our dehydrator for tea. I could also remove all the seeds once the hips are dry and grind up the dried rose hip for use in smoothies or other sorts of concoctions. Rose hips are very high in Vitamin C. 

I went out into the garden and picked a harvest basket full of rose hips. I rinsed them off, removed the bud or flower end, and placed them in my dehydrator at 115 degrees. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First Rain

Our first heavy rain of the season started today in northern California.  Everything is battened down outside, for the most part. We are trying out one of our new Smith and Hawken rain chains.  Not sure if it will be something we keep on the front downspout, for that one gets lots of water and the pretty copper cups are busily overfilling and splashing onto the front porch.  Our leak in the roof onto the porch seems worse this rain; we should have attended to that before now.

This is quite a heavy rain. Our street is quite covered with water. The winds have started to pick up a bit too. Hope we don't lose any of our trees, but I don't think it will be that damaging a storm. We shall see.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Last Look at the Summer Garden

Here's a last look at the summer garden. This photo was taken at the end of August, but between then and now the only changes have been that the tomatoes kept on producing like crazy and the sunflowers grew quite tall and bloomed well.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

They Just Keep Coming!

This has been THE year for tomatoes. I didn't even have that many plants, but the plants I had were so productive. The deep watering from the new drip system is probably the reason. I've been drying, canning, and freezing the extras, as well as giving them away to those in need of some. They have been tasty. The plants are finally slowing down, but the weather here in northern California is still warm during the day (it has been in the 70s), and not too cold at night yet. I pulled out a few tomato plants this weekend so I could get more winter vegetable seeds planted ('tis a bit late for that).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Late Summer Harvest

So many tomatoes this year! I have been giving them away to friends and freezing them, and now I have started dehydrating them. We have Early Girls, Carmellos, Black Prince, Thai Pink, Health Kick, Pruden's Purple, and Currant this year. We also are harvesting banana peppers, many zucchinis, cucumbers, and three kinds of pole beans. The new drip system seems to have helped quite a bit, as hand watering would get pretty tiring by this time of the year.

I am planning to start planting the fall/winter garden soon, and at least plant some lettuce, kale, more arugula, and perhaps broccoli.

Sunday, August 09, 2009


Missed it! It was August 1st. Wow! Three years. Must post more...must post more.

The garden is very productive right now. The biggest problem is that gophers have been doing their best to destroy plants. Well, I guess really they are sitting under the plants in their tunnels munching away. One ate four swiss chard plants before we trapped the fat little gopher. Yesterday I discovered that another gopher had destroyed my Cinderella pumpkin plant. I'm trying to keep the plant alive by putting the chewed root ball into a planter and watering a lot, but it probably won't survive.

We have several kinds of tomatoes producing very well this year: Early Girl, Carmello, Stupice, Pruden's Purple, Health Kick, I think it is called, and Thai Pink. There is also a Currant tomato plant that has lots of tiny tomatoes. We have just one eggplant, but it has four fruits on it. It is a light lavender colored eggplant. We also have beans, zucchinis and cucumbers that are producing very well.

Today I froze some tomatoes to save for the winter. First I washed them, peeled them, and now they are sitting on a cookie sheet in the freezer. When they are frozen I will place them in a freezer bag and seal them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

California Concord Grapes

We have planted 5 grape plants in front of the chicken coop. Four are California Concord grapes. (We planted 5 but one failed.) We planted a Concord-like grape to replace it. That fifth one is called Niabell.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Our Australorp

Our black Australorp is a very friendly, easy-going hen. She has developed the habit of squatting down when I say "Hi!" At first, I thought this was just a fright response, but now we have a routine where she squats down, I pet her quite a bit, then she ruffles her feathers and struts off. It seems to be something she expects every day now. This photo is of her walking past some Mikado California poppies.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Garlic Plants

Last year the gophers ate at least 5 whole heads of garlic, just before I was going to harvest them. To combat them, this year we planted several of our garlic plants into 5-gallon plastic pots. Here's a view of how they look right now:

Garlic is so easy to grow. Just plant bulbs around November about an inch below the surface of the ground. The winter rains take care of much of the watering until they stop, then just keep watering every several days. In early summer, knock down the plants, stop watering and then dig up the new heads. Several years ago we braided our garlic harvest and had 8 or 9 huge garlic braids...but that was before the gophers moved back in. Our cat, Lola, does hunt gophers, but there are a few that seem faster than she is.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Fava Beans!

The Fava beans I planted last December are ready for harvest. We have been trying different recipes for our fava beans. Above is a photo of the plant in our garden. Next, here's a photo of a colander of picked beans, with five eggs that were laid on the same day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

California Concord Grapes

We have planted some new grapevines right in front of the chicken coop. I think that they will provide some shade during hot summer days, but also they may prove rather tempting to the ladies. Here's a photo of some of the grape buds. Looks like we will be able to try out some of these grapes later this summer (if the hens don't get them first).

Another Peek

Above is another peek at that same head of cauliflower. It is amazing that it grew so well. We had some for dinner and it was so very tender: I haven't had such fresh cauliflower before.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Hidden inside these huge leaves is the first Cauliflower I've ever grown! I bought Snow Queen cauliflower seedlings, and as they grew and grew with such large leaves I started to think the young plants were mislabeled and that they were really cabbages. Then all of a sudden last Friday, cauliflower heads peeked out!

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Glimpse Inside A Beehive

Above is a glimpse into one of our two beehives in November 2008. It is best not to open the hive except when the weather is warm.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


In January, we spent a few days at Asilomar--that "refuge by the sea" designed by Julia Morgan. We celebrated our wedding anniversary. Here are a few photos from the trip, first from the beach itself:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Some Winter Harvest

Pictured above are some fruits and vegetables from a winter harvesting: "Moro" blood oranges, "Bacon" avocados, arugula, "Eureka" lemons, some baby bok choy, some red mustard, and a few eggs from our chickens.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Chicken Talk--Any additions?

My husband has created a list of "Chicken Talk"--expressions that use the word chickens, or are related to chickens in some way. Here's his list:

Chicken talk

Here are some expressions involving chickens that we have gained new meaning since we have come to live in proximity with them.

It ain't chicken feed (meaning it is expensive)
Chicken feed ain't chicken feed these days. A 50 pound bag of laying feed is about $14 at our local store.
Bantam weight
Broody (meaning withdrawn and preoccupied)
Our lace winged Wyandotte is prone to broodiness. Her maternal instincts kick in. She needs to hatch some eggs, to sit on some brood. It is her singular obsession. She finds no pleasure in her normal occupations: dirt baths, kicking back leaves, and pecking at dirt have no meaning for her. There is nothing to be done but wait it out.
Chick sexist name for a girl
Chicken (meaning afraid)
Of course, our birds are a bit skittish. They always have a wary eye to out and will run for cover if a hawk darkens the sky. But, they are also curious and enormously preoccupied with thoughts of food and will come investigate if we are working in the garden or compost pile.
To Cluck
Our chickens make many vocalizations. They will crow, coo, squawk, and whoop, but they will cluck when they are especially pleased with something. One of our arucanas will begin clucking with single minded satisfaction whenever she finds something good to eat. This will summon the others who will finish eating the treat while she is still busy clucking about it.
Cock sure, Cocky
We do not have roosters, but have been around them to recognize the preening self confidence of these expressions.
Both roosters and chickens have a way of turning one eye at you to get a better look. It is quite disconcerting at first because of the odd angle and the intensity of the unblinking single eye. This must have been the origin of the expression.
Cooped Up
Our chickens get visibly nervous and irritable with they are confined to quarters.
Mad as a wet hen
I am not sure we have seen this one. Our chickens don't seem to mind a light rain. We have had occasion to bathe them without inspiring especial ire.
Mother hen
When our chickens are hungry they will wander around pecking at things, even if the things are clearly not food.
Ruffled feathers
Chickens, like most birds, are only comfortable when every feather is in place. Interestingly, the way they fix a messed up quaff is to ruffle up their entire back, then let the feathers settle back in place.
Your chickens will come home to roost
As the sun goes down chickens will return to the chicken house, but what's the problem with that?

Does anyone have any additions? Feel free to add your suggestions as comments below.

Welcome 2009!

Happy New Year to all of my loyal blog readers, and for those of you who may have just happened onto this blog. Here is to a productive new year! This is a photo snapped about 15 minutes before the clock struck midnight. Best wishes to all!!