Time to look forward to spring. Finally, the first garden produce of the year!
The asparagus is particularly vigorous this year, outpacing the white pines!
The plums decided to bloom, even after last year’s prolific harvest.
The tart cherry is ready to go as well.
Posts have been a bit absent lately. I’ve been imprisoned by the abundance of the garden and fruit trees.
This is the last of three pendulous peach trees. Although officially sick of peaches for the moment, we’ve got canned peaches, peach pie filling, peach jam, dehydrated peaches, frozen peaches, grilled peaches, peach smoothies, and even some rotten peaches rotting in the sun.
In addition to the peaches, the plums are right behind, the green beans are being transformed into dilly beans and frozen beans, and blackberries and raspberries continue the march to ripeness and the next variety of apples is coming into season.
The best-ever peach, pear and apple season at high hopes continues with the first harvest of pears and peaches.
Taking the earliest-ripening peaches over to the house.
While we knew that pears ripened best off the tree, when the first few started falling, I thought it was time to figure out when to pick them. One source said if you lift a pear horizontal to the ground, if it breaks from the branch, it’s ready to take inside and put in the fridge for longer keeping, or in the house for a few days for immediate eating.
We’ve got three of these baskets of pears in the fridge, waiting…
With the abundance of apples, after freezing many bags, drying many trays, now we’ve moved onto making pie filling.
Here’s a jar that didn’t seal appropriately sitting in front of the apple tree. Sometimes the headspace is tricky since the filling is so sticky and air bubbles get caught. This one didn’t seal, so we’ll have to eat it soon -darn!
Let the apple season begin! Our apple tree that produces ripe fruit ridiculously early in the season is in full swing.
So far, we’ve got over 10 gallons of peeled and cut apple slices in the freezer, waiting for another variety to get ripe, as a mix of varieties is best for applesauce. Another benefit of freezing is they break down to sauce so much quicker than just off the tree.
After years of pretending it was not a fruit tree, our only remaining apricot tree decided to fruit this year. It isn’t a pretty tree, it is crooked in the main trunk - a badge of courage after surviving a windstorm that toppled many other trees.
The fruit is smaller than a southern apricot – but I’m still a bit amazed that they can grow this far north at all.
It’s shaping up to be a great fruit year.
Cherries are almost done.
Pears are looking fine.
Apples are looking pretty bug-free.
More apples, these are Williams Pride.
Blackberries fruiting and blossoming.
Plums on the way.
First year for apricots!
Love how these apricots grew into a bird nest!
While peach trees aren’t known to be particularly strong, this one decided to fall just into fruit set.
It’s loaded with peaches, and has the will to live by the tiny bit of bark still connected.
A sampling of some of the fruit at ground level. If they come to fruition, we’ll have the easiest peaches ever to pick!
To help insure its sister does not do the same thing, a little extra support is on the way.
Now with the snow gone and all, it’s time for a walk around the farm to see what’s up.
The plums are usually one of the first out of the gate.
This pear is just starting to bloom, while another variety has already finished.
This one’s just peachy!
Apples are a bit behind the rest of the gang.
This cherry tree was blown horizontal in a storm two years ago and I didn’t have the heart to take it out, and it looks like it’s making a case to stay, even though the trunk is horizontal – easy picking from the top of the tree!
A close-up of the cherry blossoms.
Mushroom logs are beginning to set fruit as well.
Garlic is looking on target as well.
Who says peaches don’t grow in Iowa?
Unfortunately, these peaches represent about 25% of the peach harvest, or any fruit tree harvest for that case. All the plums, cherries, and most the peaches were lost in the May frost. If we’re lucky we’ll get a half-dozen apples as well. So, this won’t be a big jam or canned fruit year.
Blackberries are one of the few success stories so far this season. The bushes erupted full of berries, so I’ve been trying to keep them watered, in order not to squander the harvest.
This bowl is destined for the freezer and is about 1/6 of what we’ll need for a fine batch of blackberry wine. Last year we gave 18 pounds of raspberries and were returned months later with 24 bottles of a nice, dry raspberry wine. I’m not a fan of the sweet fruit wines, but our vinter did a good job making a dry wine.
The peaches are in full bloom.
Flowering is about five weeks ahead of normal. The last two years the peaches were in full bloom on May 8 and May12. Linda’s walking into class, delivering her lecture and thinking that the class is way behind, because usually when things look like this, it is near the end of the school year.
From the “oh well, good thing I never got around to it department” this cherry tree that was flattened by last July’s storm (and I haven’t got around to cutting “down” yet) decided it feels good enough to boom profusely. It will be easy to pick cherries this year from this tree!
The first fruit tree blossoms decided to unfurl the last few days.
This plum is first out of the gate.
Just for a reminder – here’s a shot from exactly today four years ago today!
And this is a shot of our road from earlier in March 2008. All the 80 degree days this March have made snowy Marches a memory.
It was a good Sunday. I had been pretty much cooped up working indoors the last few weeks, so I was looking forward to a nice day outdoors. Today was double-duty farm work. It was time to boil down 15 gallons of maple sap and begin pruning the fruit trees.
Here’s the world famous mobile sugar shack. An old barrel stove on a metal wagon that can be moved around to account for the wind – and it was windy today – near wind advisory criteria. This photo pretty much shows it all. Cart with wood, buckets with sap, coffee cup, willing boy, stove and evaporator pan a bubbling, and maple tree with container in the background.
Today’s enterprise is uber-sustainable. The wood is from the storm last summer, the plastic cartons that use the sap will be converted to tomato shelters in a few months, and the leftover logs that hadn’t burned all the way were snuffed out for some biochar. To top it off, we produced more electricity than we used.
While we wait, it’s a good time to begin pruning the fruit trees. Martin starts on this one that needs some attention.
But eventually, the kids tuckers out and finds a makeshift resting place in the branches of an apple tree.