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!

 

Fancy Fencing for Feathered Friends

The 18″ high fencing we’d been using to keep our 4 chickens in their designated 300 square foot area had been falling short for quite some time.  The Silkies had figured out how to squeeze through and Henrietta could just give a little hop and just roam free all through the yard, which is not a good thing.  I decided I’d had enough of chasing chickens around the yard when I came home from the store, so I did a little research and found this blog post from Sunny Simple Life and knew it was just what I had in mind.  Something nice looking, blends well with the garden and is functional.

Before (morning dirt bath under the Double Delight Nectarine):

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After:

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I purchased it at Lowe’s and it took about 2 hours to install with metal posts that hammer into the ground.  The fencing slides onto the posts and then links together to the panel next to it.  In order to still have access into their space, we left one panel un-linked, sawed off the metal post at the bottom of the panel to prevent drag and then turned around the next panel and continued along.

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I love the leaf design.  Now I know the chickens aren’t causing mischief in the rest of the yard, which makes me an even happier chicken owner.

And a couple fun veggies:

White heirloom cuke

White heirloom cuke

My first butternut squash!

My first butternut squash!

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…

Spring Garden Firsts

I took my normal walk around the backyard taking photos, as is my M.O., and realized only after looking at them on my computer this morning that each photo represented a first in my garden.  This is the first time I’ve seen my Eva’s Pride peach tree produce fruit:

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And the first time I’ve seen the Double Delight nectarine I bought in January leaf out and bloom:

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And seen the flower up-close:

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And the first time I’ve seen the Thompson Red Seedless grape do this:

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Last year it had just started to produce fruit clusters but before they had a chance to fully form something happened and they either fell off or were eaten by something.

And the first time I’ve seen my favorite specimen (Red Baron peach) blooming against the backdrop of my favorite backyard retreat after being completed last summer:

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Thankful for firsts.

Unlikely Friends

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DSCN0528I’ve known for a while now that we have a new (ah-hem) resident in and out of our yard but today was a first.  Our hens and the squirrel seemed to be getting along and were munching alongside each other on the grass for a few minutes.  They were almost hanging out like old friends, neither one too concerned about the other.

And while there are a few holes under our fence now and a couple cherry tomatoes missing, I really haven’t had too much of a problem with the fuzzy guy (or gal).  My large red tomatoes and peaches have been left untouched.  I’m hoping that we may be able to peaceably co-exist ( you can always hope, right?) without having to take drastic measures.

Firewood Enclosure

The new outdoor fireplace and pergola area has utilized the back of our yard so well.  It feels like we have added more square footage to our home with a new entertaining/dining/gathering spot.  Although we don’t get much rain, I wanted to have a place for the firewood that could hold enough wood for a few fires, and was covered from the elements.  We had some left over block from the fireplace construction, which my husband used to creatively build a 32″ x 32″ spot for the wood just to the right of the fireplace.  After seeing it’s size, I thought about how nice it would be to have it serve a dual purpose in the space: firewood enclosure and stylish table.  I was able to find a granite remnant at a local marble and tile fabricator to serve as the top of my new table.  Most of the remnants were unfinished on the sides and of course all different sizes, which meant that I’d have to pay for the granite and the labor to cut and finished the sides.  I did happen to find a 3′ x 3′ (the perfect size!) completely finished piece of granite called “Santa Cecilia”.  Is was just $100, which I think is quite the deal for my new table to hold cold drinks in the summer, hot chocolate in the fall and winter and the occasional s’more spread.  Oh, and keep the firewood covered and dry, too.

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I bought a half inch thick piece of plywood for underneath the granite to provide it with support.  It will be adhered to the granite with epoxy.

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Lady-Like Carrot

My kiddo has been itching to pull a carrot.  Although I explained that they’re not quite ready, we picked one anyhow.  After seeing it’s size, I was told emphatically, “They’re not ready yet!”.  This little carrot may have been small, but it was as lady-like as they come.

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The pink mandevilla next to the chicken coop is in full swing.  What a show-stopper this one is.  I particularly appreciate it in it’s current location because it’s adds a softness and brightness to the coop area and surrounding dirty digs.

DSCN0386The Red Baron peach tree has moved into it’s hunched over look with the swelling weight of the many peaches.  A week or so more and I’ll be having peaches in my oatmeal, peach crisp, grilled peaches, peaches on my ice cream and peaches for a snack.  Lucky me.

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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!

Outdoor Fireplace

The next big step of my family’s big backyard project is finished!  Our DIY fireplace kit was bought locally from RCP Block and Brick.  It came with great instructions and took my husband about 7 hours to assemble.  Not too bad!

Mixing the cement for the fireplace footing.

Mixing the cement for the fireplace footing.

Wet cement before it gets leveled.

Wet cement before it gets leveled.

The first stages of building.  It's like a puzzle, in the sense that there are 6 different size.  Just followed the diagram and things went smoothly.  Each level has masonry adhesive as well.

The first stages of building. It’s like a puzzle, in the sense that there are 6 different sizes of block. Just followed the diagram and things went smoothly. Each level has masonry adhesive as well.

Getting there...

Getting there…

Another view!

Another view!

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We are very happy with our finished Semplice fireplace!  Now there's just pavers to lay and an outdoor structure left!

We are very happy with our finished Semplice fireplace! Now there’s just pavers to lay and an outdoor structure left!

A great spot for future s’more making, evening talks and family get-togethers.  Success!

Yellow Iris

It’s funny because I can’t ever remember this iris blooming.  It surprised me a few mornings ago when it’s color caught me eye and made me smile.  Iris’ are special in my family and seeing these blooming in the yard makes me want to plant more.

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Bulbs really are a cherished thing.  They sleep in the ground just long enough for them to slip our mind come spring.  Then they bloom in a furry and fade away just as fast as they came.  (Thank you to my daughter for taking the first photo above, which proved to be better than most of mine.)