Jun 252013
 

by Avis Licht

It’s two days after the Summer Solstice and the garden is coming into fruition. I am feeling so grateful to have a garden, to spend time in it, and to have so much wonderful food come out of it.  We also have  flowers everywhere, to bring color and joy. And to invite our friends the birds, butterflies and bees. It’s a regular gathering place for the multitudes. This unusual June rain is a gift beyond compare. Those of you in other parts may get summer rains. Maybe even too many.  But here in California a summer rain is what we call a gift from heaven. Thank you to the Powers that Be.

Here are some photos I took this morning in the rain.

We will have a bumper crop of apples this year.

We will have a bumper crop of apples this year.

 

Daylily

Daylily buds are edible and highly prized in Chinese cooking

 

Grapes

Thin the grapes early to make room for them to grow full size


Cherry Belle Radish

Radishes – Harvest early and often

Harvesting raspberries

In an unusual June rain, we adore picking raspberries.

Basil

Growing basil in pots is easy. In the ground sometimes basil gets eaten by earwigs and slugs. In the pots not so much.

Delicata squash

My seedlings of the squash have germinated beautifully and will start growing rapidly after this rain. The white flower is nicotiana, a fragrant night blooming flower.

Miniature rose

These roses have been blooming for months. After cutting them back a few weeks ago, they are starting all over again. I put these small roses all over the garden for beauty and delight. Rose petals are used in many culinary ways.

IMGP0058Variegated thyme

Variegated thyme provides a wonderful leaf contrast and I use it in cooking. I grow it near the strawberries as a companion plant.

Kale

Even though my kale has a few munching holes in it, it’s still great to eat. I don’t worry about a few pecks here and there.

Raspberries

Raspberries are easy to grow and I feel rich when we eat them. They’re expensive to buy, and cheap to grow! Watch out though, they like to spread themselves around the garden. Read about them in this post:

Squash blossom

Your plants will have many blossoms, and we often get way too many zuchinnis. So why not eat the blossoms? They’re delicious. Here are some ways to cook them: Squash blossom with ricotta.

Cucumber blossom

Once they start blossoming you can expect to get cucumbers soon and often. I plant 4 or 5 varieties, including lemon, Persian, Armenian,Thai and pickling. We love our cucumbers.

Blueberries starting to ripen

Given plenty of water, the blueberries are growing large and plump and we will harvest them over a long period of time. One of the best shrubs for the edible landscape. Read more on blueberries in this post.




Sep 212012
 
4 varieties from one tree
Lots of apples

We love our apples, but they come in all at once. Here are some ways to preserve those apples.

by Avis Licht

Fruit trees are one of the easiest ways to incorporate edible plants into an ornamental landscape.  They flower, they fruit, they’re relatively easy to take care of, they provide shade and beauty BUT they give all their fruit at one time.  One of the biggest complaints I have from my clients is that they don’t want to deal with all the fruit that falls.  Here are a few really easy ways to preserve your harvest.  It’s so worth it.

 

4 varieties from one tree

Choose apples carefully for storage: no cuts, bruises or bites.

1. The easiest: Cull your fruit for perfect apples that have no worms, cuts, bruises or bites.  These fruits will last for months in a cool, dark place. It’s important to make sure they are perfect or else they will start to rot and cause other apples to go bad.

2. Cut your apples and make applesauce: This is a good way to use “imperfect” fruit.  Cut your apples into slices and remove any bad parts.  I leave on the skins. I add a little fresh lemon juice which adds flavor and keeps the apples from turning brown.  In this batch I used a little Rose water for flavor.  Add a couple of tablespoons water and cook on simmer until the apples are chunky.  Store in the refrigerator up to a week. It is divine.

Cut apples for cooking

Use only a few tablespoons of water and put on simmer until cooked into a chunky sauce. Put in the refrigerator and it will last a week.

 

rose water

You can find this in Mediterranean food markets.

 

3. Freeze your fruit:  Put a little lemon juice into your bowl of cut fruit and stir it around.  Put fruit into ziploc bags and throw them into the freezer.  They’ll be ready for pie, sauce or smoothies any time. I wrote a post last Fall on freezing. You can read about it here.

4. Dehydrating fruit: This takes a little more time, but can offer some really tasty treats for later on. This dehydrator is not expensive and is small enough to store when not in use.

Dehydrator

A small scale dehydrator can be used for many fruits and vegetables.

I use fresh lemon juice and mix it with water.  Using a sharp knife I cut the apple in half and remove the core. Slice in 1/4″ layers. Laying the fruit in a shallow dish I put the fruit and lemon juice mixture together.  This keeps the fruit from turning dark and gives it a great flavor.

Juicing lemons

Juice some lemons and mix with a little water.

apples in lemon juice

Cut in 1/4 inch slices and dip in lemon juice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lay out in trays and let the machine do its thing. Mine took overnight to get most of the moisture out.

Apples in dehydrating tray

Lay out sliced apples.

When done they should be flexible and leathery, but not watery.  Let them cool and put them in ziploc bags in the fridge for storage.  They are really sweet and make a delicious snack for kids.

dried apples

Check your dehydrator periodically to make sure the apples are drying evenly.

5. Share, share and share some more.  Bring your extra fruit and veggies to your local food bank.  They’ll love you and love the food.

 

 

Jun 012012
 

Save 15% off on $50 or more at Gardener’s Supply Company! Valid thru 6/28/12
[really-simple-share]

Thinning clumps of apples

This is a cluster of fruit from one node.

by Avis Licht- It’s always hard to throw away fruit, whether it’s on the tree or in the kitchen. But for best flavor, health and size of apples, be sure to thin them early in the season. You should do this for pears, peaches and plums also. Here’s how to do it.

1.Fruit is usually born in clusters of 2 – 6 fruit.  When they are small, around the size of a dime, cut out the smallest, damaged, misshapen, or wrinkled fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Carefully prune out the fruit at the base of the stem. Use a sharp clipper or scissors.

Thinning the little apples

Clip carefully.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.Be sure to leave one good apple.

Thin to one apple

Leave one apple per cluster.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all there is to it.  Now you have to be patient until it’s time to harvest.

Here’s an easy, delicious recipe for apple crisp.

Going out into the garden to pick fruit is a really sweet thing to do.  You can be sure the fruit is fresh, organic, and ripe.  I needed something really quick to bring to a family gathering.  So I stepped out into the garden and picked a bowl of strawberries, a bowl of blackberries and some wonderfully tart apples.

Apples, blackberries and strawberries from the edible gardenBeautiful fruit right from the garden (click to enlarge)

All I had to do was rinse them off, slice the apples and put them in the pan.  If you want you can squeeze a little lemon juice over the apples.  I didn’t have any, and no harm was done. I confess to sprinkling a tiny bit of sugar over the top of the fruit.

The next step is the crumble for the top.  You can use a variety of ingredients.  I use 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup  flour, both whole wheat and white, 1/4 cup  sugar mixed in with 1/4 cup butter and a pinch of salt. A little cinnamon and nutmeg goes well with this. Mix these ingredients over the top and voila, you’re ready to go.  Thirty minutes in 350 deg oven and you will have the best crisp you’ve ever tasted.

Special ingredients for the best apple crisp

Dec 012011
 
A very large harvest of squash
A very large harvest of squash

What would you do with all this food?

Well, I have to confess, I didn’t grow all these squash.  But it is quite an impressive pile. My own harvest was much more modest.

I  am not interested in spending time in a hot kitchen boiling and canning massive amounts of food. I definitely lean towards the quick and easy solutions. For preserving some of the  Fall harvest, freezing the food is a great solution. Freshly picked and quickly frozen food keeps most of its nutritive qualities.

My biggest harvests were butternut squash and apples, which both lend themselves to freezing which is so easy, and very safe for preserving.

Here’s how I do it:

butternut squash

Modest harvest still needs a place to live in the winter

Butternut Squash:

  • Wash the outside of the squash
  • Bake whole or cut in half, in 350 deg oven until you can put a knife easily into the squash- approximately 1 hour for large and 1/2 hour for small ones
  • Let the squash cool and peel off outer skin
  • Place into 1 quart Ziploc freezer bags
  • Label with name of food and date of freezing. (You probably want to use these in the next 6 – 8 months, not years)
  • Voila! Pull out and use as needed, for soup, baking or just heat up.
cut and frozen apples

Cut and packed in 1 quart bags with a little lemon juice

 

Apples:

  • Wash and cut into slices, removing the core as you cut
  • Drizzle lemon juice over slices so that they won’t get brown
  • Fill up Ziploc Freezer bags full, and try to get most of the air out when you close them
  • Take out bags as needed and use them in smoothies, apple pies, applesauce or just eat them frozen
  • Don’t forget to label and date them.

This really couldn’t be simpler. The food is easy to store and keeps its nutritive value. Check out these recipes in my blog for the best applesauce and apple crisp.

Nov 222011
 
Make applesauce with your extra apples from the garden

An abundance of apples allows us applesauce

To paraphrase the saying, When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, I say, When apples are falling all around your head, Make Applesauce! But not just any applesauce.  This recipe has a magic ingredient.

A way to spend a rainy afternoon

Cut your apples, put them straight in the pot with a few magic ingredients

It’s late Fall, cold and raining.  You could be sitting by the fire listening to music. Cutting apples.  It’s not a chore, but a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

If you’ve got an apple tree and don’t know what to do with those extra apples,make applesauce with this easy recipe:

To make this easy wash the apples, but don’t peel them.

  • Take out the core
  • Cut off any bad spots
  • Put them in the pot
  • Add cinnamon, nutmeg, a little salt
  • NO Sugar necessary!
  • No water needed, the apples have plenty
  • ADD the magic ingredient: 1 Teaspoon  Rose Water per pot
  • Simmer on low heat about half an hour or until the apples are soft.
  • Eat warm with vanilla yogurt,
  • Or put in the fridge and it will last a couple of weeks.
Apples with Rose Water

Fill your pot, add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and rose water

Applesauce Made Easy

A full pot of apples makes half a pot of applesauce

Super Simple, Super Delicious

Rose Water

Rose Water used sparingly gives an unusual and fine flavor to your cooking

Sep 072011
 
Apples on the Tree

A bumper crop of apples in the Fall

In California, the Fall is synonymous with apples. For Edible Landscaping we have many varieties that will grow, from the coast up to the Sierra Foothills.  My own trees have four varieties of apples on one tree.  With two trees, that gives me a grand total of eight varieties, in one small area.  They ripen at slightly different times, to extend the season.  Check your nurseries for types that work in your climate. If you go to Smart Gardener you can type in your zip code and they’ll tell you what your growing season is.

Sun Gold cherry tomatoes

Sun Gold cherry tomatoes

Of all the vegetable crops, tomatoes are one of the few that almost everyone wants to grow at home, because they ALWAYS (almost) taste better than store bought. If you live in a cool climate, as in the California northern coast, or a short season climate, as in higher elevations, then you want to grow Cherry tomatoes, which ripen earlier, faster and longer than larger tomatoes.  Check out the varieties of heirloom tomatoes that give wonderful taste, great yields and all kinds of colors. Organic gardening is more than a buzz word, it’s way to enjoy life.

One of my favorite Edible Landscape plants is the delicious Strawberry. Strawberries can be early, middle and late producing.  Some varieties give two crops, such as the one pictured below. Some are everbearing and some are Wild Strawberries. You will get a lot of information from this site, Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, and you can order plants from them as well.

Strawberries

It's Fall and the Strawberries keep on coming

More on Fall Plants Tomorrow!

Sep 062011
 
Special ingredients for the best apple crisp
Special ingredients for the best apple crisp

Blackberry, strawberry and apples for the crisp

Going out into the garden to pick fruit is a really sweet thing to do.  You can be sure the fruit is fresh, organic, and ripe.  I needed something really quick to bring to a family gathering.  So I stepped out into the garden and picked a bowl of strawberries, a bowl of blackberries and some wonderfully tart apples.

Apples, blackberries and strawberries from the edible garden

Beautiful fruit right from the garden (click to enlarge)

All I had to do was rinse them off, slice the apples and put them in the pan.  If you want you can squeeze a little lemon juice over the apples.  I didn’t have any, and no harm was done. I confess to sprinkling a tiny bit of sugar over the top of the fruit.

The next step is the crumble for the top.  You can use a variety of ingredients.  I use 1/4 cup rolled oats, 1/4 cup  flour, both whole wheat and white, 1/4 cup  sugar mixed in with 1/4 cup butter and a pinch of salt. A little cinnamon and nutmeg goes well with this. Mix these ingredients over the top and voila, you’re ready to go.  Thirty minutes in 350 deg oven and you will have the best crisp you’ve ever tasted.

Fresh and organic makes a huge difference in the taste of fruit.

The final crisp - ready to eat

This was still steaming from the oven when I took the picture.

People ask me if you can really eat flowers. The answer is a definite yes.  Take a look at this salad.

Edible Flowers in the salad

Nasturtiums and borage flowers in the salad

Flowers in a salad make the salad look beautiful and in this case give it a tangy flavor.  The Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and Persian cucumbers are also incredibly flavorful.  See what I have to say about edible flowers in another post.

Don’t be shy, give it a try. You might really like it.

 

 

 

 

 

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