Monday, August 25, 2008

Combining My Garden & Ceramics Blogs

Here's one of the first vases I made so I could display some of the lavender I grow. To uncomplicate my life a bit and to have more time to devote to things I love, I've decided to combine my gardening and ceramic blogs. From now on if you want to know what's happening in my gardens, you'll have to tune in to my ceramics blog at Blue Starr Gallery You'll probably see more about ceramics than gardening, but since a lot of my ceramics inspiration comes from nature and my gardens, you'll be able to hear about my gardening adventures too. Hope to see you at Blue Starr Gallery.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jelly Palm

jelly-palm-fruit-from-my-palm-tree-Butia-capitata-or-pindo-palmToday I harvested the first ripe fruits from my jelly palm, Butia capitata. The fruit should be harvested when it is completely soft and ripe. Picked too green and the fruit is astringent like the persimmon. The jelly palm is also known as the pindo palm. Although the fruit is small with a large seed, like the seeds of the loquat, the fruit is really delicious. I can only describe the fruit as a cross between pineapple, citrus and apricot with a touch of mango thrown in. As the name implies the fruit is used to make jelly but can also be eaten fresh. In Uruguay, the fruit is mashed and used to flavor a liquor. The seeds can also be ground as a substitute for coffee.

The jelly palm can grow to 20 feet, but usually only attains 12 feet or so. It has long curving palm leaves which are a silvery green color or blue green. I purchased my jelly palm four years ago as a 15 gallon sized plant at a local nursery. The palm produced fruit the second year. Now in its fourth year in the ground it is starting to show an actual trunk and is much larger. I'm looking forward to many visits to the palm in the next few weeks to harvest more of the delicious fruit.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Black Monukka Grapes & More Peaches

beautiful bunch of Black Monukka grapes growing on my vine at Springville Lavender Gardens
The Black Monukka Grapes are now ripe and boy are they good, so sweet, and seedless too. This year they aren't quite as big as last year. I was reading that if it is a dry winter, the grapes need to be irrigated even before they put on leaves and I think I was negligent with this, so I will have to remember that from now on. In fact, probably all plants need water in the winter if it doesn't rain. Sometimes when plants have dropped their leaves it's easy to forget they need water since their leaves don't show any signs of water stress.

By the way this grape photo is one of my very favorite photographs I have taken in my gardens. I just love the wonderful dusky color of the grapes, almost like a water color painting. All my photographs are copyrighted. If you wish to use any of my photos, please contact me through Springville Lavender Gardens.

Last year a gentleman to my gardens looked at the Black Monukka Grapes and said, "They are kind of small, aren't they?" I suggested he taste one. Then he said, "Those are unbelievably delicious, nothing like the ones in the grocery store!" We are so conditioned by the produce in the grocery store, big isn't always better when it comes to taste. Several visitors have told me about commercial growers girdling the trunk of the grape to get the grapes to grow bigger and wondered if I was going to do this. No, why should I? I have some wonderful grapes and they taste good, so why chance messing up a good thing.

huge Fay Elberta peach growing on my tree at Springville Lavender Gardens

More peaches are ripe too - Fay Elberta. Now these are really big this year - almost five inches long. This peach is a yellow freestone with fuzzy skin with a little red blush. The skin is thicker than the Red Haven peach skin. Last year I was talking to a commercial stone fruit farmer and he told me when the peaches get an inch in size to deep water them at least two times a week until you pick the fruit. This definitely has done the trick. When I got to thinking about it, it seems logical that all that fruit would need much more water than just a tree with leaves.

You might notice in the upper right hand corner of the peach photo, a metal hook attached to a stake. I prop my peach tree branches and other fruit branches when they get heavily laden with fruit. This prevents the branches from snapping off. If your tree has a lot of fruit, the branches can only support so much weight before they snap off. I'm speaking from experience here. This is really important and is especially true with peaches. Sometimes younger tree branches aren't strong enough yet or haven't obtained enough girth to support the amount of fruit they produce either. The stakes are about 8 feet in length and the metal hangers or hooks are movable up and down the stake depending upon the height of the branch you are trying to prop up. I got my stakes and hooks at the local Fruit Growers supply nearby.