Blue spruce, picea pungens, is native to the Rocky Mountains, but can be found as ornamental trees throughout the United States. The young shoots can be used to make tea high in vitamin C. This bitter, resinous drink is surprisingly refreshing, although it is not uncommon for people to add a sweetener. Click on the image for a larger view.
Spring is such an amazing time of year. We have had months of a dry, brown landscape, and then, within a matter of weeks, the landscape transforms. After two days of rain, there was a break in the weather this evening. I went out to see our sweet crab apple tree. Not only do we enjoy its magnificent spring display, in the late summer, we can also harvest its fruit. Click on the image for a larger view.
Our daylilies are emerging. While the daylily (hemerocallis fulva) is known as a decorative plant, it is also edible. This time of year we eat the young shoots by stir frying them in soy sauce and serving them on tofu. We harvest the shoots when they are only a few inches long. The ones pictured here would be a little too old. Click on the image for a larger view.
We harvested the last of this year’s grapes yesterday—three large bowls of fruit. We had been enjoying our grapes for the last three weeks. But with evening temperatures dropping, it was time to finish. These are entirely organic, no pesticides are used to protect them. We lose a few fruit to insects, more to birds, but plenty are left for us. Click on the image for a larger view.
August always takes us by surprise. The glut of food is wonderful, but adds more time than we anticipate on top of our other tasks—we spend a couple of hours in the evening just keeping up with the ripening blackberries. It is not something we can exactly put off. Still, once outside, the act of gathering this fruit becomes its own meditation. That other hectic life at the office dissipates and is replaced by the cycles of the planet. This symbiosis, which is, at one level, indifferent and, at another, dependent, is a great performance we all part of. Click on the image for a larger view.
Our peaches are starting to ripen. Red Haven do not produce a large fruit, about 2″ or 5 cm in diameter, but it does produce a large crop. They have a smooth peach flavor with a hint of lemon. Except for Surround, a kaolin clay based spray, the white spots on the fruit, our peaches grow without protection. Click on the image for a larger view.
Walking around the garden in the evening is such a pleasure. Seeing the May blossoms change into fruit by July is amazing. It looks like we will have a good crop of peach this year. Click on the image for a larger view.
Our fruit plants are going through their annual flowering cycle. At the beginning of May, our wild plum was in bloom. The middle of may brought the blossoms out in our apple and peach trees. Now our blackberry canes are blossoming. These are in our field, but the blackberry under our forest canopy are also out. Click on the image for a larger view.
May is such a dynamic time of year. Flowers seems to be taking over the whole world. We planted two Red Haven peach tress. Those too are in bloom. They are young trees and we have harvested only a few fruit in the previous years. Perhaps this year we will get more. Click on the image for a larger view.
Our apple trees are in bloom. We have several varieties, but the blossoms are surprisingly similar—the foliage has greater variety. These particular blossoms are on a tree we call Midori-chan. Click on the image for a larger view.
This is a recipe for black bean fudge. It has a soft and smooth texture and a light flavor. It is gluten free and really healthy. The original recipe came from the BlendTec site, but Naomi modified it into something a little healthier and with a little more spice:
3 cups of cooked black beans
4 tsp vanilla extract
3 dried pitted dates
3 dried figs
2/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup of unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup of honey
1/4 to 1/5 tsp of chili powder
Nuts are an optional ingredient. Mixed all the ingredients in a blender. Pour the mixture into a 8 x 8 inch baking pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into one inch cubes. You can freeze what you can’t eat. Click on the image for a bigger bite.
Naomi and I don’t eat meat. For Thanksgivings we made a stuffed kabocha. Kabocha is a well known squash in Japan. You can eat the cooked flesh by itself or stuff the entire fruit. For the stuffing, we used ingredients from our garden: plantain, spiderwort, day lilies, goutweed, and bush beans. We added some vegetarian sausage, mushrooms, croutons, and cheese. (This would be good for other holidays, feasts, or an everyday meal.) Click on the image for a larger view.
Throughout Maine are lost varieties of apples growing in old fields. While our supermarkets limit our choice, usually red, yellow, and green, thousands of apple varieties have been cultivated. Some have been saved in seed banks and specialty orchards, but many have been lost to time and memory—it can be hard to identify an apple by appearance.
We have one lost variety on our land. It fruits biennially and produces large, round apples. The flesh is white and very light; despite the size, they do not weight that much. It is not a sweet apple, but neither does it have a sharpness of a Granny Smith. Lemony would be a good description. If you cook it, it takes on a pleasant sweetness, but it does not retain its shape. We eat this raw or make apple sauce for itself or as pie filler. Click on the image for a larger view.
It is turning out to be a great year for apples. And not just for us—apple trees, abandoned and cultivated, are full of fruit around Maine. We use no pesticides on our trees and so our apples are not as pretty as the fruit you find in the supermarket. The only thing we do to protect the crop is to spray it with a fine clay called Surround.
The green apples seem to be a Granny Smith variety, although it does not have the tartness of a Granny Smith. We usually only get a couple of fruit from this tree, but this year we may have harvested a half a bushel. The red apple is an unknown variety that is biennial. It is a little early to eat; most of the fruit is still on the tree ripening. Click on the image for a larger view.
We have a mystery growing in our garden. We did not plant this squash or pumpkin or whatever it is. Most likely it is from the seed of a hybrid squash we planted the year before, but is not growing to type. It is big and looks healthy. Not right to harvest, but when it ripens, we will certainly take a closer look. Click on the image for a larger view.
We had a great harvest of our Sweet Crab Apples this year. We have found this to be a great apple to have. While they are tart eaten fresh, once cooked, they have a wonderful sweetness to them. We dry some and turn some into sauce. Click on the image for a larger view.