Welcome to this week’s homestead update.
I mentioned last week that I had forgotten about the other trees that I ordered. This past weekend we planted them. Actually, my wife and daughter did most of the work. I found that I have a hernia so I have to take it easy. So I got started on planting the trees and they came out to keep me from doing it all. We planted the Lodi in a row with the other apple trees. But the Brae Star is a full sized tree, so we planted that a little farther away to allow plenty of room to grow. The other trees were peach trees. We planted a July Elberta and a Starking Delicious peach. The July Elberta ripens in early August and the Delicious ripens in mid-July. Continue reading
Welcome to this week’s homestead update.
I picked the first of my asparagus this week. We planted about 25 crowns 3 years ago. This is the first year that we get to make a harvest. I noticed the shoots coming up on Sunday, but they were just tiny. Then on Tuesday I cut these shoots. It isn’t enough for a meal, but it is a start. I snapped that long one, there was only about 5″ of tender shoot on it. The bottom portion is woody. I did find one spear that was about 6″, but it was cut in half. I know this was a usable spear Sunday, but Tuesday it looked like something just cut it in half. I wonder if cut worms attack asparagus. Continue reading
Posted in 13 Skills, fruit orchard, weekly
Tagged apples, asparagus, equipment, food, fruit, garden, harvest, onions, repairs, tools, vegetables
I received some trees that I ordered this week. Over the weekend, I planted them. This batch of trees consisted of 3 types of pears, an apple tree and a crabapple tree. The pears that I got this time were Beurre Bosc pear, Bartlett pear and Moonglow. When I ordered, Stark Brothers had some sort of special going on. I bought the Moonglow pear tree and got the other 2 for half price. The Moonglow is supposed to be resistant to blight and ripens in mid-August. The Beurre Bosc ripens in late September. The Bartlett ripens in late August. Since our goal is to have the orchard produce most of our fruit, spreading these out like this will help produce for quite some time. I did make a mistake by ordering the Moonglow in dwarf variety. I have enough room where I don’t need to stick with dwarf, but that’s not a big deal. I just made sure it was planted so it isn’t shaded by the other trees.
The apple tree is a KinderKrisp apple. This produces a small apple that is great for in a lunch box. It ripens in late August. We already have my favorite apple in the orchard, the Honeycrisp. This produces a crisp apple that has an outstanding taste. It ripens in early September. The other apple that I have already is a Red Rome. This is a baking apple, but is also tasty off the tree. It ripen in mid-October. Since my apples all ripen in the Fall, I’m on the lookout for some early ripening apples.
The other tree is a Chestnut crabapple. After doing a lot of research, I decided that I should add a crabapple to my orchard. This one blooms for most of May. But there are flowering crabapple trees that bloom for long periods of time. They are able to pollinate most other varieties of apples, so if I mess up with my choices, the crabapple will make sure that the apples are still pollinated. I went with the Chestnut crabapple because it produces 2″ fruit that are good to eat straight off the tree. I will likely add a flowering crabapple tree to the orchard to do this job.
It just occurred to me that I’m missing a critical part of my orchard, the cider apples. As you know, I brew beer. I plan on brewing apple cider and making peary, which is just cider made from pears. The problem is most eating and baking apples don’t produce the best cider. They produce a cider that is almost watery tasting. What I need to get is actual cider apples. Luckily, a lot of the “antique” varieties were developed to make good cider.
I also need to add additional small fruit. I have the raspberries and grapes already. I have some honey berries coming soon. These are a member of the honeysuckle family but produce an edible berry that looks a lot like a long skinny blueberry. I plan on planting these in a long row like I have the raspberries. I intend on planting some blackberries, and I will likely get more raspberries since they are my favorite berry.
That’s what I’m doing with the orchard. As I expand, I’ll post more about what I’m doing.
Welcome to this week’s update.
I don’t have all that much to report this week. My wife has kept me busy with decorating for Christmas. She is also taking a floral design course, so that means I’m taking the kids to all their afternoon activities.
I did bottle my oatmeal stout today. I used the same technique that I used last time. I sanitized everything and used a storage container to trap any beer drips. It certainly makes clean up easy. I ended up bottling 51 bottles of beer. The ingredients cost $44.09, so my stout costs about $0.86 per bottle.
I ordered a couple more trees to plant in the orchard. I’ve been asked about planting in the Fall instead of planting in the Spring. I listen to You Bet Your Garden and the host often recommends planting in the Fall. The important thing to remember is to plant dormant trees. The idea is to get the trees in the ground in time for the nice Spring weather.
I thought about what I wanted out of my orchard and decided that this time around I’d order some protein as well as fruit. I ordered 2 almond trees. One is a Hal’s Hardy almond, the other is an All-In-One almond. Both are supposed to be hardy down to zone 5, so I should be good. They are also both self fertile, but even with self-fertile trees, they are supposed to produce better with 2 different varieties. I haven’t eaten either of these almonds, but the reviews that I’ve read about them say they are very tasty. The Hal’s Hardy isn’t a true almond, it is actually a cross between a peach and an almond. The All-In-One is a true almond and is self fertile.
Along with the almond trees, I also ordered 2 apple trees. I ordered a Honeycrisp apple tree. This is my favorite fresh eating apple. It is very sweet. I meant to order one of these last year, but they sold out before I got around to ordering. The other apple is a Red Rome variety. This is a baking apple. I decided on this one because it is a good pollinator for the Honeycrisp. It also has a lot of good reviews online about holding its shape when baked.
Since I’m building the orchard, I have been thinking about how to identify the trees. They all ship with a plastic tag and the variety written on it. But I find that the sun will cause the ink to fade to the point where I can’t read the tag. I looked around and some people engrave the name on a metal plate. That sounded like a good idea. Then it occurred to me that a military dog tag would work great. Most places only sell them in pairs. But I found a company that sells them as key chains. So I ordered 8 of them printed with the information about my trees. They are stainless steel and come with a 4″ stainless steel chain. I put the year planted, size tree, type of fruit, variety and where I bought it from. I haven’t received them yet, but I’ll post a picture of them when they come in.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully things will settle down a bit so I have time to do more than 1 post a week.
Roma Food Strainer and Sauce Maker
This year I really stepped up my tomato production and processing. I made a bunch of tomato paste using the old-fashioned food mill that my mother gave me. That was a lot of work. I had to pre-cook the tomatoes to soften them. Then it was a lot of elbow grease to press the tomatoes through the sieve. I decided right then that I wanted to get a new sauce maker. I bought a Roma Food Strainer & Sauce Maker. So here’s a brief review of this tool. Continue reading
I’m still learning about how to use my dutch oven. Instead of bringing a regular homestead recipe, today I’m going to talk about another dutch oven recipe. This is the easiest dessert that I’ve ever made. This is also the dish that I remember from Boy Scouts. We always called it cobbler, but others call it dump cake. It’s called dump cake because that’s what you do, dump in the ingredients. There’s no stirring or mixing. Continue reading
Welcome to part 4 of my Lehman’s wish list. As I stated in part 3, I’ll keep putting one of these posts out every month or so. As long as you guys want to see them, I’ll keep writing them. At the time of this writing, the Lehman’s posts have been the most read of any of my posts.
Hand-Cranked Radio/Alarm Clock/Flashlight
The must have for today is this Hand-Cranked Radio, Alarm Clock & Flashlight. I have a hand cranked flashlight in the car, but this could be very useful in the house during power outages or while camping. I plan on getting this one to use as my daily alarm clock. I won’t be able to blame a power outage for missing work if I get this. Hmm, maybe that’s a reason to not get it.
My nice to have item is this 8 1/4 Quart Steam Juicer. We plan on starting our orchard this spring. I doubt that I get any fruit at all next year, but the following year I’ll likely get some. I know that some of it would not be good enough to eat out of hand. Since I don’t use chemicals, I know there will be insect damage. With this juicer, I will cut off the damaged portion and juice the rest of the fruit.
Finally, my “money is no object” selection is this Stainless Steel Cider Press with Apple Grinder. At $1300, this is just out of my reach. I do plan on making something that will grind the apples and press the pulp. But I’m sure that it will not look anything like this. This item is likely built to last a lifetime. Grind the apples right into the basket, then just crank the wheel to press out the juice.