Thursday, May 31, 2018

A Visit with Judah

Molly and Marshall are visiting San Antonio and we got to visit with them and their little Judah.  He's almost 9 months old now (where does the time go?!)  He's a real doll, sitting up now and able to pull himself up to stand.  It won't be long before he's taking off.  

 Marshall and Judah
 Molly and Kathy 
John and Judah
 Colleen took these close ups with her IPhone 8.  It has the best camera, and 
she's so good with using it to take some fantastic pics.

 Kathy and Judah
 Do you recognize the house? Yes, they're staying at the Barrera St. house. 
Had lunch with Mike & Kathy and Colleen afterwards at The Patio.  Great burgers and dogs!

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


The plums have all been harvested and we got a total of about 22 pounds of plums, mostly from our older Methley tree, and about 2 pounds of the total from the Santa Rosa trees in the orchard.

On Tuesday I made two quarts of plum cordial with some of them. 
 Wash and score or poke holes in the plums, then pack in a sterile quart jar.
 Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
 Pour to cover with white vodka (you can use rum, gin or even whiskey)
 Cover and put away for 30 to 60 days. 

Then I put 6 trays of plum halves in the dehydrator.  They are very delicious little prunes now, and I packed them into 1-1/2 ounce packets using the vacuum sealer.
 Halved plums on the dehydrator sheets.
 Divided into 1-1/2 ounce packages.
Vacuum sealed.

Today I cut up 4 more pounds and started a batch of plum wine. Tomorrow I'll add the yeast and stir daily for five days, then transfer to a carboy. 

Now I think I have just about enough to make some Plum BBQ sauce.  I need a few supplies from the grocery store to make that, so probably won't get to that until the weekend.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Piles and Piles of Peaches....

I'm remembering the old saying, "be careful what you wish for!" Well, I've always wished for fresh peaches right off my own trees.  And I'm getting my wish -- to the max!  

There are trays and bowls of peaches all ripening in various stages on our kitchen table.  So far we have 96.2 pounds! Oh my!

I've been cutting them up and freezing most of them, along with making a couple of peach cobblers, and a peach tea one weekend. I'll be doing that again -- it was delicious!!  

 Pickin' the peaches...

I decided to try making peach wine again -- this time with a new recipe.  This one doesn't have orange juice in it, which is what I think gave it that odd taste that I didn't like.  This recipe uses tannin as an additive to give the wine body. I started this in the wine bucket on Saturday, and then mashed the peaches and added the yeast today.  As usual, this will be stirred daily for 5 days.  
 Starting the peach wine "must."

Next I tried my hand at jam again.  I swear, I can't seem to get this right. If this batch doesn't jell, I'm done with jam! I follow the recipe to the letter, but still have so much trouble with this skill.  

 Boiling the peaches with the pectin.
 Pouring into the 8 oz. jars.
Sealing and water bath.

Next I'll be juicing a big batch of these to use in peach tea, peach Bellini's, and slushies. Sigh...

Starting Mulberry Wine and Bottling the Cranberry Wine

Unbelievably we've already harvested about 14 pounds of mulberries from our two Dwarf Everbearing Mulberry trees that we planted back in 2014.  They really are very delicious.  I've been freezing most of them, and have made a few cobblers, but there's just way more then we need.  Thankfully the trees are starting to slow down now! Whew!

I took 6 pounds and started a batch of mulberry wine
 The "must"is started in a bucket.
 The next day the wine yeast is added, along with a yeast nutrient.
For the next five day the must is stirred once a day.
 On day 6 the solids from the bucket are strained out, and the wine is 
transferred to the carboys.
Isn't that a pretty color?!

Now it will sit in the corner for about three months.  Monthly I'll check it, strain off the sediment, and add sugar if needed, then return to the carboys. 

Meanwhile, the cranberry wine that I started back in December was ready to bottle (rack.) The two carboys made a total of 8 bottles - and it's pretty darn good fresh, but it will take several months to mature.  I'm planning to break it out for the holidays, giving it 6 months in the bottles.

Mother's Day 2018

I had a lovely day! First I got some flowers and a ribbon on Thursday from my daughter and her family, because they were going to be in Houston that weekend.  Such pretty pink roses and lilies.  The ribbon (Plant Lady!) she said she saw and just had to get for me, and I love it!
Then on Sunday we had a wonderful visit from Max and his parents - some swimming, and a delicious dinner that they brought and then BBQ'd for us.  I also got some more pink roses and some scented soaps.  I'm one lucky Mom!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Garden Log --- May 10, 2018

It's been a while since I posted, but it's been so busy around here, I'm just now finding a minute.  
I spent a couple of days processing about 12 pounds of spinach - the first cutting from all of the varieties I'm growing this year.  Spinach takes a bit of work, it takes three washes to be sure it's clean, and then I cut all of the stems off before freezing it in 1/2 pound containers.  I use a lot of it in egg casseroles and some Italian dishes during the year.
 This is the Viroflay spinach - one of the plants has variegated leaves. Very pretty!
 Bloomsdale spinach
 I think this is the Black Magic spinach
One of the batches ready for the freezer!

The mulberry trees have been keeping us pretty busy too. It seems like we'll pick the two trees thoroughly one day, and by the next morning they're full of ripe berries again! Like magic...ha! Over 10 pounds so far, and I used 5-1/2 pounds of those to make wine (post  about the wine soon!) 

We pulled up all of the snow peas and snap peas since its getting hot and they were starting to fade.  
Pea plants starting to show stress from the bottom up.

I ended up with a little over 4 pounds of peas - which I froze in 5 oz. portions to be used in stir fry recipes. We ate a good portion of those fresh in salads and with Ranch dip, too!  
 The turkeys and chickens enjoyed the pea plant treats!
A few of the pepper plants have started flowering.  This one is the Sweet Red Cheese pepper.  They have some growing to do, but do much better once it starts really heating up here.

Here's a bean on the Cranberry Fielder Bean plants.  The plants seem stressed, and I think it's the manure we used in the garden this year.  I'm still learning, it seems. Sigh...
 All of the tomato plants have shown some stress, also, but they're slowing growing out of it.  I'm happy with their progress so far.  This is a new one for me called Brad's Atomic Grape.  Purple stripes, ya'll!! 

This is the last picture of the squash that I took, but I've already brought in about 1-1/2 pounds of this Zephyr squash.  It's unique, yellow with green neck and bottom.  Very pretty. 
We're keeping our eyes on the green beans in the orchard field, too. They're doing fine, although we had quite the gully-washer rain the other day and I was afraid they might get washed out.  We're starting to see some blossoms!
I took a photo of each of the main garden beds at the end of April.  Everything is looking pretty good! 
 Bed A
 Bed B
Bed C

The peach's are starting to ripen and we've been bringing them in to finish ripening at the house, since the birds and squirrels like to beat us to them.  We've had a few strawberries already, too. And the berries are coming along.  Here are the Chester blackberries....

and the Black Raspberries...

We picked all of the nectarines for this year from the two trees that we have in the orchard.  They look like hammered hell, so we're going to have to do some research in to how we'll need to treat these trees next year to have more success.  Birds and bees seemed to have really enjoyed these! 
 John found this little apple at the base of the Pink Lady apple tree.  I'm just happy one seemed to have developed, since we've never gotten this far in the 6 years we've had these Pink Lady and Gala apple trees.  In fact, this is the first year that they both blossomed at the same time.  Progress!  We can't find any more on either tree, so I guess this was it.

I've been eyeing these agarita bushes around our property - they are loaded this year.  If I get the energy (and some heavy duty gloves), I'll try to harvest some of these for wine, but I'm not committing to anything.  It seems I always have plenty to keep me busy.