Unique Fruity Shapes and Colors

"I promise I won't buy any more fruit trees."  I said 2 weeks ago.  After which I heard, "Don't make promises you can't keep."

“I promise I won’t buy any more fruit trees.” I said 2 weeks ago after my husband planted this for me. After which I heard, “Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”  And he was right.  I couldn’t argue his point.

After taking out a lack luster vine from this spot, I knew what addition I wanted to try in it’s place.  I’d read a post from Hanbury House about her new Spice Zee NectaPlum that she’d gone so far as to sacrifice a Red Baron Peach to make room for after a neighbor gave her some amazingly sweet fruit from her tree.  She described it as “the best tasting stone fruit I ever tried”.  It’s a white-fleshed, nectarine-peach-plum hybrid.

In a sea of green leaves while I overlooked the fruit tree section of my local Green Thumb nursery, I could see the Spice Zee NectaPlum all the way in the back.  The dark purple leaves are extremely unique and turn green after they mature.

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In a way it’s an ornamental and a fruit tree all packaged in one.

This season I’m also growing a unique tomato with a strawberry type shape, aptly named German Orange Strawberry.

DSCN2030It’s shape also resembles the ripening Red Baron peaches that it sits next to:

Love that color!

Love that color!

 

Spring Garden Update

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The ONE tomato seed that germinated was this, the trusty Stupice (pronounced Stu-peach-ka) tomato.  Most of my seeds have entered their 3rd year in my kitchen cabinet and so I can conveniently blame their age for lack of successful seed sprouting this spring, having nothing to do with my 30 hour work week which I’ve never had since beginning my edible quest some 4 years ago.  And it’s no big deal that this tomato plant is about a month behind the tomato curve because Stupice is one tomato that is a lover of the fall, a welcomer of the sudden cool days that can sneak up in early autumn when we’re still passing them off as summer.  In 2012 I was still harvesting these medium sized red Czechoslovakian heirlooms in January.  Yes, that’s right.

Refreshed soil in the raised bed is now home to a white Armenian cuke, butternut squash, yellow crookneck squash, pattypan squash, basil and rosemary.  To my surprise the basil is getting DEVOURED by some rodent, perhaps with an Italian parentage.

Refreshed soil in the raised bed is now home to a white heirloom cuke, butternut squash, yellow crookneck squash, pattypan squash, basil and rosemary. To my surprise the basil is getting DEVOURED by some rodent, perhaps with an Italian parentage.

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My daughter and I had a “decorate grow bags” afternoon using felt shapes and water-proof fabric glue. They grow my best tomatoes ever.

My daughter's design, now home to a cherry tomato.

My daughter’s design, now home to a cherry tomato.

For such a small thing, Eva's Pride has an impressive crop.  Supportive stakes in my future?

For such a small thing, Eva’s Pride peach has an impressive crop. Supportive stakes in my future?

Honestly, I'm unsure what the deal is with my Snow Queen Nectarine.  the bottom half is growing some healthy, strong new branches but the top half is only now meekly blooming with no leaves.  I'm hoping the two ends can meet somewhere in the middle and soon.

Honestly, I’m unsure what the deal is with my Snow Queen Nectarine. The bottom half is growing some healthy, strong new branches but the top half is only now meekly blooming with no leaves. I’m hoping the two ends can meet somewhere in the middle and soon.

Pole beans making their presence known.

Pole beans making their presence known.  These WERE grown from seed (one of the easiest veggies to do so in my opinion).  I just save a few over-ripe pods each year and let them dry out on the kitchen window sill.

And last but not least, the red seedless Thompson grape.  This may be one of the most exciting things happening this season for me.  It's a first and I'm enjoying seeing the tiny flowers give way to this...

And last but not least, the red seedless Thompson grape. This may be one of the most exciting things happening this season for me. This vine fruiting is a first and I’m enjoying seeing the flowers give way to tiny grapes…

Indigo Rose

It seemed as though the famed “Indigo Rose” tomato that I purchased as a grafted tomato a few months back took abnormally long to ripen.  Today they felt slightly soft to the touch so I picked a handful.  These were developed by Oregon State University recently and are supposed to have extra high levels of antioxidants.

They're almost bite-size with a reddish underside.  Very mild and sweet.

They’re almost bite-size with a reddish underside. Very mild and sweet.

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A neighbor of mine plants tomato starts in September for a fall harvest, which really struck me.  She said that she has great luck since the California heat keeps going strong through October.  I’m taking a stab at it this year!  One of my Spring/Summer heirloom tomatoes was spent, so I used it’s grow pot for my new tomato plant I grew from seed in early July.

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Snack time!

Snack time!

A neighbor across the street just brought home 3 or 4 silkies of different colors and three other neighbors asked me about keeping chickens at our latest block party.  Word’s gotten around that we’ve got our own flock and I’m hoping that my love of our hens will encourage others to consider taking the feathery plunge.

Sunday Family Dinner Harvest

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On the menu tonight is a summery salade nicoise for some family coming over for dinner.  Growing up my grandmother loved making this salad in the summer.  She always added capers to the typical ingredients of green beans, boiled potatoes and eggs, tuna, tomatoes olives and artichoke hearts.  Tonight I’ll also be adding basil and a side of grilled peaches with a honey butter glaze.

New Orchard Addition

I like to think of my small collection of fruit trees as my “mini orchard”.  I bought a struggling peach tree for dirt cheap (pun intended) from where I work.  It had been in a pot for a few years and needed to get in the ground and stretch it’s legs.  She is an Eva’s Pride, which harvests a full month before my Red Baron peach.  AND it requires even less chilling hours…only 100-200, great for areas like mine in coastal southern CA.

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Here's the Red Baron beginning to change from greenish/yellow to pink.

Here’s the Red Baron beginning to change from greenish/yellow to pink.

A fun lemon cucumber ready for picking.

A fun lemon cucumber ready for picking.

Indigo Rose is beginning to fruit and I swear I can already see that purple color.

Indigo Rose is beginning to fruit and I swear I can already see that purple color.

The Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato that I seem to grow every year is shaping up some nice fruit.

The Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato that I seem to grow every year is shaping up some nice fruit.

This evening's harvest!  Check out the Silkie trying to get a hand-out.

This evening’s harvest! Check out the Silkies trying to get a hand-out. HA!

Mighty ‘Mato

The other day I was watching a new show on PBS here in San Diego called, “A Growing Passion”, which talks about native plants, growing vegetables, etc.  Right down my alley!  The host visited a farmer’s market and talked with a new company called “Mighty ‘Mato“.  They do something that has been around for centuries…a little thing called grafting.  They take a disease/pest resistant root stock and hand-graft it to tomatoes and eggplants.  Not only does this allow once delicate heirlooms to be grown resistant to disease, but they also grow about twice the size of their original counterpart.  Armstrong Nursery carries Mighty ‘Matos and I went to check them out yesterday.  When I saw what variety they had, I about fell on my bum.

Indigo Rose is not only an amazing hippie name, but it’s also the name of a truly purple tomato variety out of Oregon State University, bred for it’s high anti-oxidant level.  It’s so new to home gardeners, that this year’s season is the first to be able to grow them.

So, you guess it, Mighty ‘Mato has grafted Indigo Rose to grow twice as big and resist disease, including the root knot nematodes living happily in my garden (grrrrrr).  Boy I snatched one up faster than you can say “purple caprese salad”.

Here's Indigo Rose.  Even the leaves have a purple tinge to them.

Here’s Indigo Rose. Even the leaves have a purple tinge to them.

The pot is hard to miss!

The pot is hard to miss!

DSCN0019New things for the garden help keep things fun and fresh.  I’ll let you know how Indigo Rose does!

Tomato Baby

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IMG_9628I just noticed this afternoon that the Celebrity tomato in the grow pot is the first to set fruit for the season!  It’s an exciting time when the promise of juicy, red tomatoes starts dancing in my mind.  Last year many of the early tomato flowers were just dropping off due to lack of heat and/or pollination.  This Celebrity won’t let anything get in her way.  Perhaps she thinks she’s in Hollywood?

Snappy Spring

When Spring comes, she doesn’t mess around!

The Red Baron Peach already has little peaches!

The Red Baron Peach already has little peaches!

The Gold Kist Apricot seems to be happy, with cute, heart-shaped leaves filling in.

The Gold Kist Apricot seems to be happy, with cute, heart-shaped leaves filling in.

Apricot close-up.

Apricot close-up.

Even the red Thompson seedless grape is leafing out.  I seriously had my doubts whether it was even still alive up until a few weeks ago.  "Patience, my dear," whispers the garden.

Even the red Thompson seedless grape is leafing out. I seriously had my doubts whether it was even still alive up until a few weeks ago. “Patience, my dear,” whispers the garden.

Loose leaf lettuce seedlings in a pot.  The mice and snails haven't seen them (yet!).

Loose leaf lettuce seedlings in a pot. The mice and snails haven’t seen them (yet!).

I transplanted all of my Rattlesnake and Alabama #1 green bean seedlings yesterday.

I transplanted all of my Rattlesnake and Alabama #1 green bean seedlings yesterday.  I have 18 green bean plants in all.  I’m seeing green bean casseroles in my future.

The following is an interesting comparison:

About a month ago I bought a few nematode resistant tomato starts at my local big box store (these are harder to find at real nurseries.  Weird, I know).  I bought them at the same size and planted them out on the same day.  The first photo is Park’s Whopper and the second is Celebrity.

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Quite a bit different, right?  Park’s Whopper has BARELY grown, while Celebrity has taken off like a weed.  The overall health, color, size and vigor of Celebrity surpasses Park’s Whopper by a long shot.  The difference?  Celebrity is in a grow pot.

Now, I know all the nay sayers will think, “The ground soil is not as good as the potting soil in the grow pot.”  And while that may be true, my ground soil is nothing to scoff at.  I have amended it for over 2 years with homemade and store-bought composts.  I believe that it is the grow pot’s excellent drainage, extra-heated soil from the black fabric, and air-pruned roots that make the difference…all things that ground soils could never truly duplicate.  The proof is in the pudding!

Is It Spring Yet?

I’m so excited for Spring, I’m posting a day early because I just couldn’t wait.  Who’s to say that it doesn’t already feel like Spring, what with the warmer weather and blooming trees and flowers around Southern CA.  My garden is ready, too!

IMG_9469What better first photo than a Rattlesnake Pole Bean seedling?  Due to my root-knot nematode situation, I’ve decided to stop fighting (it’s been almost a year) and go with the flow.  Many, many tomatoes have been developed to be root knot nematode resistant (the ‘N’ in VFN on seed packets and seedling tags), but not so many of the other veggies.  Almost none, in fact.  I found one pole bean from Hawaii, but of course it’s scarce and can’t be shipped to the mainland.  Thus, I decided to go with the advice of seasoned edible gardeners.  Within gardening discussions, I found talk of some pole beans that are not resistant varieties, but more so varieties that TOLERATE the nematodes and can still thrive.  Rattlesnake, Alabama #1 and Blue Marbut are all such pole beans.  Rattlesnake is fairly common and I was able to find the other two both through Sand Hill Preservation.

Diana Fig is coming to life.

Diana Fig is coming to life.

The Red Baron peach is nearly at full bloom.

The Red Baron peach is nearly at full bloom.

The Snow Queen white Nectarine is leafing out and has decided that she likes where she is.

The Snow Queen white Nectarine is leafing out and has decided that she likes where she is. (The netting in back is ready for pole beans!)

Welcome, Spring!  You are my favorite season…

March Tour

Every so often I enjoy a little garden tour for the blog, sharing the essence of the moment in my little corner of the earth.

I’ll start with my personally most anticipated moment of early spring-my Red Baron peach tree in bloom.  It seems like when everyone else’s trees are already blooming, my peach is taking her sweet time.  The garden always has a way of reminding me of patience.  The first flower is about to open.

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I have sown some seeds in toilet paper rolls as I did last year but out of sometimes laziness and sometimes forgetfulness, every few nights they get left out over night.  It’s still in the high forties at night, so we will see how well they germinate.  Here’s the first seedling I spotted, which happens to be the heirloom tomato named Cherokee Purple.

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The new Minnie Royal cherry tree planted in January is off to a nice start!

The new Minnie Royal cherry tree planted in January is off to a nice start!

My tried and true sugar snap peas lend a delicate touch to these winter months.

My tried and true sugar snap peas lend a delicate touch to these winter months.

The arugula is almost 6' high!  I have thoroughly enjoyed their display.

The arugula is almost 6′ high! I have thoroughly enjoyed their display.

The arugula flowers up close.  I made a sweet bouquet using these for the dining table.

The arugula flowers up close. I made a sweet bouquet using these for the dining table.

My broccoli is a bit small, but the intensity of flavor will make up for any lack in size.

My broccoli is a bit small, but the intensity of flavor will make up for any lack in size.

Today's last photo is of a succulent in a hanging basket.  Although you can't eat it, I couldn't resist including it since the evening light hit it just so.

Today’s last photo is of a succulent in a hanging basket. Although you can’t eat it, I couldn’t resist including it since the evening light hit it just so.