Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fruit? Yes, please!

Despite all the crazy weather, 80 degrees one day and freezing temps the next, it appears we may actually get some fruit this year on the homestead.

Our neighbor has two apricot trees and one pear along our shared fence line. He has repeatedly told us to take all the fruit we want. These are mature, dare I say, 'old' trees - but they still produce like crazy, and we're happy to have the bounty.

A Ladybeetle visits one of the apricot trees.

Cherries are a personal favorite of mine. We purchased two fairly large cherry trees (probably at least 2 years old) from Marcums Nursery in Goldsby. These are growing up against the house. The idea is to espalier them to the brick, but we have yet to actually affix them somehow. They seem happy anyway. We planted two different varieties of cherries, and I don't remember what either of them were - bad homesteader!


Buffalo currant, clove currant...whatever you want to call them we're delighted to see tiny fruits on these plants. They have beautiful yellow flowers in very early spring that some say smell like cloves. I think they smell like spring, almost like hyacinth flowers.

Buffalo currants (Ribes odoratum)

Baby nectarines! Nectarines are another personal favorite of mine. This tree actually produced some very small fruits last year, but, unfortunately, a case of brown rot took root and they all started falling off before maturing. Luckily Gabe was diligent about picking up all the leaf litter in the fall and has been preemptively spraying the tree with Serenade this spring to try to stave off the brown rot. Our fingers are crossed we get to taste some homegrown nectarines this year.


Not pictured we also have four varieties of apple trees (loaded with flowers - hoping for some fruit this year), blackberries, strawberries, sand plums, paw paws (Asimina triloba), grapes, all-in-one almond and Chickasaw plum. The paw paws are relatively young and we won't see fruit from them this year. The sand plums were transplanted late last year and we're hoping they catch up. They have yet to leaf out, but the wood is still green so there is hope for them yet. The all-in-one almond is also a new addition and has just started to bud out.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring in Oklahoma

Things are always interesting in the spring here in Oklahoma. Yesterday was unseasonably warm and humid, today it is freezing with tons of rain. Here's a fun map showing wind chill and heat index at the same time as the cold front made its way through the state.

So what's an urban farmer to do when the weather forecast calls for 2" hail, lots of wind, freezing temps when the weekend before you hedged your bets and planted 9 tomatoes, 7 peppers and 2 basil plants? Scramble like crazy to protect them! Yes, that is our newest addition to the homestead (baby O) looking on as I stand on the conduit bender while Gabe bends the EMT needed to protect our newest double dug bed. We ran a little short of tufflite (thick plastic), and the snap clamps used to hold everything down so we had to improvise.

Prior to all the scrambling to protect tender plants I harvested some lovely lacinato kale that's been growing in our strawbale bed under row cover all winter. I noticed quite a lot of aphids on the kale I harvested. Feeling rather defeated (aphids are the bane of our garden) I pulled the badly infested leaves off and fed them to the chickens and took the rest of the kale inside to clean it for dinner. Then I spotted bright yellow eggs on the stem of some of the kale. Ladybug eggs! Carefully, I returned the bunch of leaves and stem that had the eggs to the strawbale bed, and sure enough, there was a mature ladybug on some of the remaining kale. Nature is so awesome. A couple of days earlier the boy and I spotted several ladybug larvae on the garlic growing in our remaining raised bed. Go beneficial insects! We are hoping to attract some other beneficials to the garden this year by planting a bunch of flowers and installing some mason bee blocks.

Baby O looks on while we bend conduit

Improvised cover for tomatoes and peppers

Ladybug eggs on kale