Homegrown Pineapple

A little over two years ago, my daughter, B, started an after dinner gardening project. She plopped a discarded cut off pineapple crown of leaves into a pot. She treated it like many of her succulent plants: no prep, no rooting hormone, just potting soil and occasionally a bit of leftover water from her school lunch. It still lives in a pot on the front porch, getting about half day sun. Last winter she did remember to cover it a half dozen times when we had pretty cold temps expected to drop below the mid 30’s, but a few times it was left unprotected on chilly nights. It hung on okay.

For the last 27 months, the pineapple has been slowly growing in its same pot. It started flowering in mid August, 2014, right around the two year old mark. It had pretty purple flowers that emerged from an egg sized and shaped bud in the center. The flowers slowly bloomed a row at a time from the bottom of the bud to the top. Here are pics of the progress so far:

The little pineapple plant a few months after planting, taken sometime in October, 2012..

C0C72D2D 6B50 4F2A B316 F1CACCF434DF 10814 0000180EE9F6ECEC Homegrown Pineapple

The pineapple about a year after planting, 2013…

537661E8 D631 41A4 BD2E BE8972C19745 zpso8w0zem2 Homegrown Pineapple

Two years after planting, Summer 2014 (maybe around Mid August)…

429DC9A1 7E4E 4F38 BC9C 20F90C056692 zpsn1hleu22 Homegrown Pineapple

End of August…
A696018D 47C6 45B1 88DE 0D22A4318B69 zpsodobpaln Homegrown Pineapple

55DB4518 4841 4C94 8412 F70774623216 zpscitvtfi6 Homegrown Pineapple

At this point the fruit is still green and growing. It is currently about 6 inches tall, plus another 5 inches of crown above that. Since this is our first homegrown pineapple, we aren’t 100% sure at what point to harvest it. B seems to have done fine with caring for it so far, so she’ll be the one to decide when it’s time to lop it off the mother plant and sample. I am guessing it has at least another month or more before it ripens, but honestly, I really have no clue. Anyone else reading this have luck growing pineapple or have any tips for us?

September 2014…

5D912995 4891 44F0 B1DE D93D3C854BCA zpsd6uzjp87 Homegrown Pineapple

And this is what the pineapple looks like today…

1C3B1E3B 3752 443E AC7B ADC6F5450697 zpsvq9tse2s Homegrown Pineapple

I’ll update again if and when B picks the fruit.

© 2014, .

Darn Bumper Crop of Berries

40884D3A F19E 4838 A74C 69BB304ECA50 zpss406jpdk Darn Bumper Crop of Berries

Most of my flowers and perennials these days are generally low water users, at least once they became established, however the same is not true of all my edible plants. When the state officials announced the need for even deeper cuts to our water use early this year, I decided what my most prized plants were, mainly the fruit trees and camellias, and then I diverted the limited grey water from our front load washer machine to those trees and shrubs. Our samsung washing machine only uses about 13 gallons per load so there really isn’t that much gray water to go around. Any of the plants I felt would be easy to replace later on down the road, if necessary, were generally left to fend for themselves.

C40DE492 73C3 4C11 85ED 4FC0E73AAF1E zpskrhbedfm Darn Bumper Crop of Berries

I didn’t realize it until I stopped watering the majority of back garden that the Goji Berries should be on every drought tolerant friut list, at least for USDA zone 9 and 10. The Gojis look better than ever this year, as you can see by the above photo. The Gojiberries were the only plants that I could have cared less if they died. No, scratch that, they were the one plant I kind of HOPED would die in the drought and then I could plant something else there I liked much better, like one of my many strawberry verte fig trees. No such luck.

9D22C94F 7BB7 4957 B02B 13F56D647754 zpswajmxcud Darn Bumper Crop of Berries

Normally the goji plants are plagued by powdery mildew as the season wears on, and look terrible by the end of summer, similar to what sometimes shows up on pumpkin or melon plants. (One of them many reasons I am not a fan of them.) No mildew this fall. There are thousands of healthy plump Goji berries ready to harvest. If I am not careful and diligent, they will self sow every where. (Reason number two to hate them.) I picked as much as I could last weekend and dried/dehydrated most of them. It did improve the taste a little, but I am still not a fan of Gojiberries, even though they are a “superfood.”

B2029C8B 50D0 4526 84D1 2C7643935020 zpshjguxxrq Darn Bumper Crop of Berries

When I think of berries, I think of the flavors of things like blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries. I don’t think Goji should be referred to as a berry since berry or sweet aren’t the first flavors that come to mind when eating them, especially fresh off the plant. And definitely do not pick them under ripe! If they are not fully ripe when harvested, they are bitter and nasty. Ripe, they taste nothing like any of the other berries I grow, more like a veggie. The closest flavored fruit I can think of is a Surinam cherry, but most folks haven’t tasted those either, so that doesn’t really help in describing the flavor. They do taste slightly sweeter after drying, more like a sweet red bell pepper. In my opinion, anyone telling you gojis are sweet and delicious is probably trying to sell you them. On the other hand, the chickens do think they are absolutely wonderful. They gobble the little fruits up whenever I let them into the area where they grow. My blackberries canes adjacent to the Gojiberries died by the end of the summer due to the lack of winter rains and the lack of any supplemental fresh water, so if nothing else, Gojis are a great fruit for drought tolerant gardens. However, as I mentioned in an earlier post, Gojiberry plants are very invasive and thorny (which is my third and main reason I hate them.)

© 2014, .

Image

Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

FD0FA66C 8989 4B31 9DCF 0D872F383AEB 8316 00000F8FD3E9E819 zps6d9c0f26 Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

A fairy garden for sale at one the many plant sales I went to last Spring. My daughter loves fairy gardens and I take pictures of them when she isn’t with me to appreciate them herself. I especially liked the tree in this pot.  I think this was a booth that specialized in fairy gardens at the Fullerton arboretum Green Scene.

I look forward to this time of year all winter long, the Spring Garden Tour season and annual plant sales sponsored by some of the local non profit horticulture groups.

For many years now, my favorite plant sale has been the Long Beach City College Horticulture Department’s annual spring plant sale and fundraiser.  This is their 42nd year and the sale falls on April 16th -18th, 2014, the week before LBCC has their Spring Break.   If you are a local gardener and plan to attend, come early and don’t forget to bring a wagon.  Its open from 9 to 6.  I always manage to buy more than I planned on at this one sale.  In past years, I have bought some great plants here I might not have tried or found otherwise like a dwarf variety of ‘lion’s tail’ Leonotis menthifolia, Psidium cattleianum ‘strawberry guava,’ Lobelia laxiflora ‘mexican bush lobelia’, ‘garden mister’ fuchsia, correa ‘dusky bells’ australian fuchsia, and gallaridia. Here is another post I did about it last year that describes what to expect.  1779787 591651014236315 237226202 n 225x300 Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

E139D83B 1B52 4E7F BC4F B760CD923C1D 8316 00000F8F552ED18C zps34c516e2 Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

miniature egg terrariums for sale last year in the green house at LBCC plant sale

318d9201 ad90 46e4 a4bd e94dbae01330 zpsca1b9bb7 Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

the tables in the succulent area at LBCC horticulture dept plant sale last year

545b63a4 56da 4299 b40b b5e123dad6ff zps58e34dea Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

The shade house at LBCC plant sale

 

There are many other sales and tours I don’t want to miss out on including the following:

  • The Fullerton City College Horticulture Department is holding their annual spring plant fundraiser on Sat. May 4, Sunday May 5, and Sat. May 11. When I was at their tomato sale I noticed they already had a nice selection of perennials in the growing areas.  I was delighted to find my favorite red cherry tomato for sale at the tomato sale.  It is called Sugar Snack.  It used to be availble from Burbee, but in recent years I have not been able to find the seed from any reputable garden retailers.
80451422 4752 4F98 9434 6E6BD2BEA6A8 8316 00000F910817006D zpsc89333f3 Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

Tomato Sale at the Fullerton City College Horticulture Department

  • Fullerton Arboretum Green Scene is a regional garden fair with hundreds of small local nurseries and garden vendors setting up booths for the weekend of April 12th and 13th, 2014. Before going to the LBCC plant sale, this was always my favorite garden event. I marked it on my calendar almost a year in advance to not have any conflicts. If you go, don’t forget to bring your wagon to this one! In my opinion, the best booth is always the California Rare Fruit Growers fundraising booth. They always have it well staffed with volunteers and members to help with questions. Some of my most loved rare fruiting plants have been propagated by their members, including Bababerry, Strawberry Verte Fig, Big Jim Loquat, Triple Crown Blackberry, Jupiter Grape, Neptune Grape, and Niabell grape. I also bought other berries ( Josphine, Caroline, Rosanna, Anne, and Kiwi Gold raspberries) from the CRFG booth, but none of them thrived more than a few years in my Southern California garden, unlike the Baba raspberries and the Triple Crown blackberry.  My neighbor across the street bought most of her exotic tropical cherries from them as well, including Cherry of the Rio Grande, Red Surinam Cherry, Black Surinam Cherry, and Capulin Cherry.  Every year the CRFG booth has a few new and different plants, depending on what the members donate.  This year I am hoping to find a new grafted loquat.  I am specifically looking for Vista White or Strawberry, but they haven’t had either one the last few years when I looked. There is a arboretum members only pre-sale the hour before it opens, and some of the best stuff gets sold during that time. I also used to always attend the Fullerton Arboretum’s Monster Tomato sale, but after last year’s disappointing, not so great looking, but pretty expensive tiny tomato plants, I am no longer acquiring my tomatoes from their sale. Plus the crowds just got worse every year. Hmmm. Instead this year, my mom and I grow some of the hard to find tomatoes, like Super Marzano, First Prize, Sun Sugar, and Big Zac, and we bought the rest, including sugar snack and Matt’s Wild Cherry from the Fullerton City College Horticulture department’s tomato sale this past weekend.
  • Theodore Payne Foundation Native Plant Garden Tour is April 5th and 6th.  It is a big tour of drought tolerant gardens throughout Southern California.  The Westside and Southbay gardens are on Saturday and the inland gardens are open on Sunday.
  • Fullerton Beautiful Tour is an excellent tour of 10 different private gardens each year, but I am bummed because once again I have a conflict and can’t attend.  It is on April 27th, 2014.
  • Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour was not held in Spring 2013, but this year it is scheduled for Saturday, May 3rd and Sunday, May 4th from 10 am to 5 pm. It is a diverse tour of private gardens opened for the public to tour with the proceeds going to local charities. This one features urban homesteads, fancy formal gardens, Japanese inspired gardens, formal gardens, cottage gardens, and more.  It has something for everyone’s taste.  Some years I only visit one or two gardens, but in other years I stop in at all the gardens within my local area. The gardens go as far South as the Southern end of coastal Orange County and as far North as Long Beach.  Most of the independent Southern California coastal nurseries will be getting a tour newsletter with times and addresses sometime in April.
  • Long Beach 3rd Annual Lawn to Garden Tour is also on May 3rd, 2014 from 10-2:PM so I will hopefully be stopping in at some of these gardens on the same day as the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Tour.  This is a tour that highlights local front yards that have recently transitioned over to more waterwise and drought tolerant designs and that have eliminated or greatly reduced their lawns. 

    I have been wanting to take out our front lawn for more than a decade, but between my kids, the dog, and the other neighborhood kids, my lawn is still actively used and does serve its purpose. However, it is not a beautiful show piece. It only gets enough water to not die and often has brown patches and bare spots. Other houses on my block have participated in the lawn to garden program, and now their kids play on my lawn instead.  Have I ever mentioned, on this little culdusac of 19 houses, there are 26 kids!?  That is one reason we stay here on our little postage stamp sized urban lot. Once most of these kids have outgrown the need for a big lawn with a shady play area my maple creates, that lawn will be history.  I have dreams of expanding my iris, alstromeria, and salvia collections and putting in either pomegranates, loquats, persimmons, figs, and/ or pineapple guavas out there, all of of which are drought tolerant fruit choices.

  • I also like to stop by the Cal Poly Pomona University Farm Store and Nursery in the springtime. They always have interesting varieties of tomato plants in the Spring and fruit trees and vines year round. That is where I got my Super Marzano last year and Sun Sugar tomatoes, as well as some pretty No Id bearded irises for $1 each. Their tomatoes go on sale on March 15th.
  • 70AAF605 26F7 4560 ACF6 09F744563D29 8316 00000F93402EF5DC zps1e184e05 Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

    The Farm Store at Cal Poly Pomona. They sell lots of specialty items and locally grown produce. They also have a nursery attached to the store

    6FE33EB5 FACB 4040 B7AF B901DF71994B 8316 00000F931CB7DA99 zpsd1847282 1 Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

    The plant nursery section at the Cal Poly Pomona Farm Store

    Image

    Winter Propagation Projects: Pomegranates

     

    When the weather is too cold to do much work outside, I get a little over zealous and try propagating all sorts of plants, just to see if I can. Since I got a couple of new heat mats for Christmas, I am in the process of propagating a variety of plants including ‘Parfianka’ Pomegranate, ‘Sweet’ Pomegranate, ‘Strawberry Verte’ Fig, ‘Bababerry’ plants, Thornless Raspberry plants, and tomato seeds.  Because I spend so much time doting on the cuttings, my hubby says I am going to turn into Jordy Verrill from Creepshow who ends up covered in Alien Weeds if I am not careful. I hope not. Well, if I find a mysterious meteorite in the backyard, I promise I won’t put water on it!

    67a255a9 2400 466c adaa ebf5167b5c84 zps359a4e05 Winter Propagation Projects: Pomegranates

    The pomegranate cuttings are in the peat pellets on the heat mat. These are a semi dwarf variety good for cooler coastal areas named “Sweet.” I originally bought my tree from Armstrong Garden center in Long Beach in January 2010 as a little one gallon tree.

    Although I don’t have room for anymore Pomegranate trees, I had read they are one of the easiest fruits to propagate, so I just had to try.  And it’s true! I took a half dozen of cuttings from each of my two trees on January 14th, and I already had to transplant some of the little trees yesterday into 4 inch pots because the roots were growing out of the peat pellets and out onto the heat mat.  If I had know it would be this easy and quick to start pomegranates, I would have taken more cuttings. With the continuing drought in California, pomegranates are a good choice for a drought tolerant backyard fruit tree so I shouldn’t have a hard time finding new homes for the little pomegranate trees, once they are bigger and acclimated to the outdoors, especially since they are less common varieties.

    9a07a082 058d 4200 90c6 2ee3134893ed zps8e84e6de Winter Propagation Projects: Pomegranates

    A new little pomegranate tree ready to be transplanted to a 4 inch pot. This one is Parfianka, rated by many folks as one of the best tasting pomegranates. My tree was originally grown by Duarte Nursery.

    Propagating Pomegranates:

    1. Prep rooting medium like perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss.  I used Peat Moss pellets this time and soaked them ahead of time.  I have them on a tray over a heat mat.
    2. Take cuttings about the width of pencil and about 3 to 6 inches in length with sterile clippers.
    3. Score or injure the cuttings near the bottom end.
    4. Dip in rooting hormone (optional.) I like Dip and Grow liquid hormone for this, but be careful and follow the directions carefully.
    5. Place cutting in rooting medium.
    6. Mist a few times a day and water as needed.
    7. Watch for leaf growth.
    8. Transplant when they have sufficient leaf growth or like in my case, the roots outgrow the peat pellets.
    9. Slowly acclimate them to the outdoors.
    10. Over the first season of growth, pinch to make them bushy.
    417c152a 9c32 4475 bc86 418eb98108c2 zpsd703ad59 Winter Propagation Projects: Pomegranates

    Little new roots poking out of peat pellet on Pomegranate cutting

     

     

    © 2014, .

    Image

    Going Back to Greywatering

     

    beec7761 e923 43f8 99de 92a463eb786e zpsa24f1c61 Going Back to Greywatering

    My citrus trees are a little stressed and need more water. This leave curling or rolling is sometimes referred to as “Cigar Leaf Curling” on citrus.

    Normally in the winter months, the rainy season in SoCal, I have the gray water diverer on the washer machine in the off position so it will empty to the sewer, not the garden.  Southern California usually gets plenty of rain to take care of the landscape until late March or April.  This year is the earliest we have had to switch back to using grey water, since first using it back in 2007.

    We have had next to nothing in the way of winter rainfall this year, and the citrus trees are starting to show signs of needing additional water.  The leaves have rolled up a little, like taco shells because they are water stressed. The Improved Meyer lemon and Bearss lime look fine, but the Cara Cara and Mandarin both have some curled up leaves on the sunny side.  I have read sweet oranges are less drought tolerant.  Odds are, it will reduce the flowering and fruit crop on both this year.  If the citrus trees look thirsty, that means the apples and stone fruits are probably needing water too, eventhough they don’t have much in the way of leaves yet to show it.  Therefore, it is time to start moving my greywatering hose around from one mulch basin to another.  I also put in a request to the city today for a mulch delivery so I can top off with a thicker layer.  The chickens will have a field day with it!

    I normally try to be conscientious about not wasting too much fresh water on the landscape, but this year the governor has announced that Californians need to use at least 20% less water.  That means we will have to use even less than we normally do.  I will probably let both the front and back lawns die.  Sorry about that chickens; they love the grass! Maybe the fluffier mulched ground will make up for it?  Sadly, I also plan to remove some of my less waterwise edibles, like my low chill Sunshine Blue Blueberries. I can always easily replant those if water is plentiful again in the future.  I am worried about my raspberries.  I have yet to try grey water on them; this year will be first.  If they can’t take it, they will also have to go temporarily.  I am glad we have our grey water divertor valve for the washer machine so at least my mature fruit trees won’t die.

    2946faad 95a6 4a0a a25c dd1f1c338a5d zps5de33eb6 Going Back to Greywatering

    My post it note warning on the washer machine to make sure no other family members accidentally hurt the fruit trees by adding something toxic to the grey water going out to the yard.

     

    I have tried a lot of different brands of  biodegradable laundry detergent to use with the grey water system, and I am certainly not loyal to just one. This week, I bought one I haven’t tried before from Trader Joes that my hubby suggested we try.  Trader Joes used to sell one called Ecos, but I don’t know if this is the same one just with a TJs label.  Have any of you used this detergent?  And does it clean well? Or do you have a favorite Biodegradable or Bio-compatible detergent?

    397677AF 3216 4866 A2B5 7D0C8C55A665 708 00000231D21D38DC zps83794795 Going Back to Greywatering

    Biodegradable laundry detergent is necessary when watering with grey water. Biocompatible detergent is even better, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on shipping laundry detergent. So far, we have had no adverse effects on the landscape using just biodegradable detergents, but some don’t clean as well as others.

    © 2014, .

    Urban Wildlife Sighting…Osprey in the backyard?!

    P1290879 zpsfe1f0eca Urban Wildlife Sighting...Osprey in the backyard?!

    This is one the pics I took on Monday, here in Long Beach.  Osprey is an unusual hawk to see locally, let alone in my backyard!

    Yup. On Monday, I was in the back yard doing some pruning, when I heard an angry crow.  Looking up to the power in the next door neighbors’ yard, I noticed a huge hawk trying to enjoy its lunch in peace with a crow incessantly harassing it.  In addition to bugs, chickens, and plants, I am also a nerd about birds.  I ran inside and grabbed my old camera.  When I uploaded the photo on the computer to see it larger, I was shocked to discover, it wasn’t any of the regular hawks we often see like Red Tail or the most frequent visitor, Coopers Hawk.  It was an actual Osprey.  The only time other time I have seen an Osprey in the wild was this past summer outside of Grand Teton National Park on the Snake River in Wyoming.  They like to live near rivers and waterways where they can fish so I would not normally expect to see an Osprey around here in Los Angeles County. I told K this morning about my sighting, and she said both she and some other neighbors have seen it over the last few weeks, as well.  This fellow on the power pole must have decided since the weather was so pleasant here in Southern California right now and the pond in the park looked like a good fishing hole it might as well stay for a winter vacation.  Hopefully Osprey don’t like chicken.

    More pictures and details on Osprey can be found at Cornell Lab of Ornithology.  They are the folks that use the information every year from the Great Backyard Bird Count on February 14th to February 17th this year.  To participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count or find out more about it click here.

    P1290875 zps4d7a4706 Urban Wildlife Sighting...Osprey in the backyard?!

    The Osprey was just trying to eat a fish but the crow, see over on the right side of the photo, kept bugging them.

    P1290878 zps576750a0 Urban Wildlife Sighting...Osprey in the backyard?!

    The Osprey finally gave the crow a dirty look and it flew away.

     

    © 2014, .

    Image

    Choosing a New Bare Root Fruit Tree – Spice Zee NectaPlum

     

    523d8885 d3b3 4672 87af 3d1796055453 zps007f7598 Choosing a New Bare Root Fruit Tree   Spice Zee NectaPlum

    Pretty blossoms on NectaPlum hybrid Spice Zee

    I know, I know, I shouldn’t be thinking about buying and adding more bare root fruit trees, since my yard is already crammed full, but it is hard to not collect one of everything, and even more so, after K shared some of her Spice Zee nectaplums last summer. Back in early July, K generously gave me a half dozen Spice Zee fruits, even though she didn’t have much of a crop yet since the tree is only 3 years old. I cut the first few up, and they were gone in seconds. My normally easy going kids, got into a shoving match over who got the few slices of the remaining fruits. I have never seen them act that way over fruit! I have tried a lot of different stone fruits at the local farmers markets over the years, and honestly, the Spice Zee was probably the best tasting stone fruit I ever tried. Usually the best tasting stone fruits need more chill than we have around here in coastal Southern California, but this nectaplum only needs about 300 chill hours, making it a good choice for a low chill fruit tree. The fruit looks like a white nectarine and the taste is sweet and rich. On top of the amazing taste, the tree is really pretty. It has purple red leaves in the Spring, resembling a Flowering Plum a little bit, and turns green as the summer approaches. Spice Zee would make a good tree for guerrilla gardening and planting in a median strip because of its similar looks to flowering plum. It could probably go unnoticed until it was heavy with fruit. After very little consideration, I decided I am going to have pull something out and plant one; it is just a matter of deciding who goes. Hmmmm….Sorry Red Baron.

    f5294b17 8494 43d0 b571 b0a7b5322071 zpsc74fd7cf Choosing a New Bare Root Fruit Tree   Spice Zee NectaPlum

    Spice Zee fruit on the cutting board, before the kids tried it and seconds before it all disappear.

    Note: If you are looking for where to buy a Spice Zee NectaPlum, K’s tree was purchased locally at H & H Nursery in Lakewood, CA.

    79280aaa eb9e 46b8 bd76 7b3603be7fce zps60b829fb Choosing a New Bare Root Fruit Tree   Spice Zee NectaPlum

    © 2014, .

    Tons and Tons of Vincent Kiwis!

    fc4c891a 8794 4d5b bf9e 49db6d7bb7b5 zps4572b1ac Tons and Tons of Vincent Kiwis!

    Vincent Kiwis heavy on the the trellis and ready to harvest. This is the biggest crop we have had in the 11 years we have had the vines.

    Okay, maybe not tons, but at least 50 or 60 lbs. of Kiwis, is my guess at this point.

    Although in past years, I have grumbled and griped a lot about the lack of pollination on my Kiwi vines, this year we have a bumper crop, and now that we have had a few cold snaps, it is time to begin harvesting. If I had to guess, I would say there are at least 500 kiwis on the female plant this year. Don’t get me wrong, despite the hundreds of kiwi fruits, I still think the Tomuri, the male fuzzy Kiwi vine, is a poor pollinator for Vincent, my female plant. The blossom timing for Tomuri is a few weeks later than the majority of Vincent flowers, plus, Tomuri only set a few flowers sporadically. Luckily, this year about ten male flowers managed to bloom when all the female flowers opened. After the female was done, another 15 to 20 male flowers bloomed. As you can probably tell by the fruit set, I still got out the paint brush! I can only imagine how much fruit I would have if there were more male blossoms. Since Tomuri flowers so lightly, I still hope to locate a local source for Matua, an earlier male fuzzy kiwi and graft it on the Tomuri plant.

    7c9d7a53 7049 4a60 b7f0 2af2ba2a7ba7 zps03296e50 Tons and Tons of Vincent Kiwis!

    The vines of the kiwi loaded with ripe fruit.

    We started picked the kiwi fruits a week or so ago. They only need to sit on the counter for about two days to be just right for eating, with a taste similar to what most people are used to in a kiwi. If left more than a few days longer than that, the taste is almost too sweet and rich. I plan to use the majority of fruit to make my homemade Strawberry Kiwi Jam.

    f129e4a9 765e 4c58 bb98 a142aae24f16 zpsa2cbfee1 Tons and Tons of Vincent Kiwis!

    Upclose view of kiwis on the vincent kiwi

    9566367f 81dc 4aa6 a655 ff9385c5aec5 zps8f46a2f9 Tons and Tons of Vincent Kiwis!

    Ripe Kiwi fruit cut open to show interior seeds. The sizes of the fruit vary from the about 1 oz to about 3 oz each, with most of them in the 2 oz. range.

    Update February 1st, 2014.  We picked many dozens of fruit after I posted this.  Yesterday my hubby and I picked what was left on the vines and weighed yesterday’s bounty.  It totaled up to 74 lbs.  Wow, I have a lot more than I thought.  There is no way I can canned all of this in one day; that is a lot of peeling and I don’t have that much room in the crisper in the fridge. Its too much for keeping it all for our selves.  Some was shared with neighbors and more will be shared with friends.  I might also be making a trip to the food bank tomorrow.  This year’s crop is definitely a year I need to give thanks for.  For those of reading this that are friends, family, and teachers… I sure hope you like Kiwi Jam!

    © 2014, .

    Easy Homemade Cinnamon Orange Air Freshener

     

    09aca228 0e1c 47c9 ac50 36e4822d3e3e zpsb88e9e74 Easy Homemade Cinnamon Orange Air Freshener

    Only two ingredients, other than water are needed, cinnamon and orange

    With the house being closed up so much in the winter months, it can smell stale or sometimes even worse, like our big dog has been in the house all day.  However, I refuse to use chemical aerosol air fresheners. I know too many people that are sensitive to fragrance chemicals, and it may aggravate asthma or migraines. Twenty years ago, my husband showed me a really easy way to freshen the indoor air in the winter and fall.  The secret ingredient is cinnamon. Honestly, I don’t know where he got it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was something his mom used to do when he was a kid. All that is needed is a stove, a small pot, cinnamon, an orange or orange peels, and water.  I fill the pot about half full with water and then put in a couple of orange slices or peels and a teaspoon or so of cinnamon.  It is a great way to make use of oranges that have gotten a little shriveled.  Then I turn it on the lowest setting on my stove so it doesn’t quite simmer.  If I want it to last a little longer, I top it off with more water after an hour or so.  Eventually, it releases steam and warm cinnamon fragrance permeates the house.  Do you do this in your house or know of any good frugal variations?

    07236516 ebd3 4ab1 827f 7774929d702a zps5c034a53 Easy Homemade Cinnamon Orange Air Freshener

    After a half hour or so of steaming…And please excuse the ugly burners that need to be re chromed on my old 1940s stove

    © 2014, .

    Image

    How to Prune Bababerries and other Everbearing Raspberry Plants

     

    100 0069 How to Prune Bababerries and other Everbearing Raspberry Plants

    Bababerry plants along the driveway loaded with unripe raspberries. This photo is from a few summers ago, but I added it to show what the little raspberry patch looks like.

    The past couple of years I have been received lots of questions via email regarding how to prune Bababerry plants, a variety of everbearing raspberry that grows well in Southern California and other low chill – warm climates.  Managing Baba raspberries is much the same as any other everbearing or fall bearing raspberry variety.  Most folks are able to pick fruit the first year they buy and plant an everbearing raspberry, including Baba. That is not the case on summer bearing raspberry varieties, which only produce on second year or two year old canes.  Since I am in the middle of my winter pruning chores, including pruning out the old wood on the berries, I figured it was a good time to take a short break and post something about it.

    A new or first year cane on a raspberry plant is called a primocane.  A second year cane is referred to as a floricane or floracane.  Summer bearing raspberries only produce one harvest each summer and only on their floracanes.  Those two year old canes are then pruned out in late fall or winter, after bearing fruit. Everbearing varieties produce on the top half of primocanes the first fall, and then on the lower half the following Spring.

    With all everbearing raspberries, the gardener can choose to have either one or two crops each year, depending on the pruning or management technique the gardener prefers to use.  Here at Hanbury House I often to prune to get two crops a year.  To do this, I prune out all the two year old canes to the ground each winter and just prune the top half of the primo canes from the previous season.  Although it is ideal to prune when they are dormant, if you are unsure what to prune at first, the chore can wait until the first new leaf buds begin break dormancy in early spring.

    Usually I can tell which canes are two years old on my Babas just based on how the “skin” of the cane looks. The canes that are grey and/or really flaky looking are usually the old ones that need to be cut to the ground and completely removed. New canes usually emerge nearby. Any canes that are primocanes and produced fruit on the top 1/2 of the cane in the fall, usually look healthy and a medium shade of brown, with the top part being dried looking and sometimes has a few tiny barren side stems where the berries hung last fall.  They will also have new buds along the stem. I prune those canes down only about half way, to the point just below where the last berries grew or above where it looks like there is a live bud still.  Those pruned canes will bare fruit along the rest of the portion of the cane, usually in by mid to late Spring or early Summer.  Then, next winter, I prune the rest of that cane out as mentioned above.

    5A2E77A8 B7F4 4FF1 9BAD BF42E24AFB05 11891 0000182513C1FDBA zpsd374e4ce How to Prune Bababerries and other Everbearing Raspberry Plants

    Bababerry Everbearing Raspberry Primocane needing to be pruned. I will prune right above the bud in the middle of the picture for fruit in the Spring or Summer.

    The other method to manage everbearing raspberries is pruning all canes to the ground when the canes are pretty much dormant, typically sometime between the new year to early February, basically in the middle of winter. With this pruning method the gardener only gets one crop later in the summer or early fall, instead of two. This is the easiest method, and many folks prefer it, including my friend across the street that also grows lots of Baba berries. It is much less work, and a bit tidier looking. Either method, new canes usually emerge each spring around the base of the plant.

    57ADA2EB CB77 440B BC69 86CB64CA080D 11891 000018251BE85B78 zps1c1127d4 How to Prune Bababerries and other Everbearing Raspberry Plants

    Floracane at the end of the growning season on Bababerry. Notice how the cane is greyish and a little flaky. Some canes get even flakier. This is about to be pruned to the ground to make room for new primocanes on the raspberry plant.

    Once a raspberry patch has been established for many years, the canes will have spread out and multiplied a lot.  Any canes that are outside the designated garden bed can be dug up and and used to start a new raspberry patch or shared with friends. The best time to divide and dig out canes, if you want the canes to survive the transplant, is in the dormant season.  If you are just trying to tidy things up, dig out the stray canes at any time of year. If you are still wondering if your raspberry plants are summer bearing or everbearing, here is short list of commonly grown varieties of each. I put an * next to varieties I have grown or my close friend across the street has grown at some point over the last two decades.

    Everbearing raspberry varieties:

    • Anne *
    • Amity
    • Autumn Bliss
    • Autumn Britten *
    • Bababerry *
    • Caroline *
    • Dunkum
    • Heritage
    • Fall Gold
    • Indian Summer *
    • Kiwi Gold *
    • Josephine *
    • Polana
    • Rosanna *
    • Summit

    Summer Bearing

    • Boyne
    • Canby
    • Latham
    • Meeker
    • Willamette

    Bababerries are my favorite, and in my opinion, the best raspberry, out of the all the red raspberries varieties I have grown in our low chill Mediterranean climate.  I hope this helps those of you searching for tips on how to prune your raspberry plants.   If you still have raspberry questions, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

    © 2014, .