Saturday, August 22, 2009

Enjoying Summer Fruits

"God blessed us with a good harvest this year." Miriam
"Do we have to have peaches in our lunch everyday?" Brahms
"We don't have to have tomatoes in every meal." Tim
"Let us leave some grapes for the birds." Brahms
"Zucchini again?" Miriam
"Peach pie for breakfast... I don't mind." Shannon

Most Available Items in our Summer Menu
Grilled zucchini
Steamed zucchini
Peaches and cream
Peach Cobbler
Peach Pie
Little peach Pies
Stir-fried zucchini
Peach and tomato salsa
Sliced Pears
Spinach Salad with Peaches
Grape Jelly
Peach Preserves
Peach Marmalade
Fresh Tomatoes
Grilled Peppers
Eggplant ( in Pinakbet)

We had a good crop of fruits and vegetables this year. The mild temperatures allowed the plants to photosynthesize longer resulting in bigger and sweeter fruits. This could also have resulted in lower insect population. The pears (Green Anjou) showed some codling moth (Cydia pomonella) infestation but compared to last year this is significantly less. The apple tree (Fuji) which was heavily pruned (for shape) last winter did not produce this year. Probably the lack of another host (apple fruits) reduced the population of codling moth. Codling moth is the worm in wormy apples or pears.
The plum tree (Santa Rosa) did not produce fruits this year due to weather problems. The tree was at the peak of flowering when the area had strong rains and winds in early spring. It is still being trained to grow away from our neighbor's yard just like the peach tree next to it that grows vigorously every year no matter how severely it is pruned. I'm positive that this tree will give us a good crop next year.
The peach tree (Orange Cling) was laden with fruits that it broke one of the large branches. We enjoyed eating a lot of peaches and were able to share with friends and neighbors. Miriam and I also brought some to the church office for whoever wanted them. At this time there are still some fruits that need to be harvested but now we can't keep up and I'm now tired of canning. The the pears are all ripening. The problem with pears is that very few people I know like them. In our family, only Miriam and I eat them.
We had four varieties of tomatoes this year: Pink Brandy Wine, Golden Jubilee and Early Girl. The fourth one was planted late and it is the Husky Cherry. Now that the other three are finishing their productive stage, this one is just beginning to produce.
Next to the tomatoes are zucchini plants (yellow and green). During the early stage, these plants produced a lot of huge leaves which was detrimental to production. Most of the starch and sugars produced by the plants were being funneled to the leaves. To solve the problem, I had to remove a number of the leaves in order for the plant to resume flowering. Since then and until now the plants continue to produce at a consistent rate. Four hills of zucchini is too much for a family of five. We tend to miss a lot of the fruits that before we find then they are already too old for eating. My friend, Sue, tells me that I should try stuffing them but I think that it is too inconvenient. So we just suffer with grilled, steamed or stir-fried zucchini.
We also have three grape plants (Pinot Noir) which were originally planted for shade. Now they produce substantial amount of fruits that last year I started to make grape jelly and grape molasses. I am planning to replace them with table grapes but there is a lot of resistance from the rest of the family. They've been blessed by the shade that these vines provided that they are reluctant to accept any idea that involves removing them. We'll see what I will do next.
All our plants are free from pesticides. Fertilizer was applied once during the entire season for the tomatoes and zucchini. Composted chicken manure and redwood compost are applied yearly in the garden as mulch or soil amendment. Produce from our backyard make great food!

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