Winter is the time of Citrus!

Reading about the huge blizzard on the East Coast today made me think this mild rainy weather isn’t too bad (even if the dogs do hate it!). While everything is dormant back there and the growing season far away we in California still have things to harvest. Winter is the typical season for citrus to come ripe, although you can have it any season if you find the right varieties.

Check out our orange tree; loaded!

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Meyer Lemons, Navel Orange, Bears Lime, and the tiny guys are limequat

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If you have one area that is overrun with squirrels planting tart citrus there is a good fruiting option as they usually leave it alone; lemons, limes, kumquats, calamondin, maybe a tart grapefruit? They love the sweet stuff though, just like any other sweet fruit.

 

Pomegranates!

What’s so good about them? From a grower’s point of view there is lots. They don’t really get diseases, they are drought tolerant, and don’t suffer die back or damage in our climate. They also fruit in the fall, when there isn’t a lot of fresh fruits.

Here is a harvest I took in early November. It’s three varieties, Eversweet, Wonderful, and Sharp Velvet

Eversweet is pink with light colored arils. The arils are mild, sweet, and very soft.

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You can’t really tell Sharp Velvet apart from Wonderful by looks but definitely by taste. Sharp Velvet has a very complex almost wine like flavor. Wonderful is the kind usually sold at the supermarket. It has an okay taste, but is lacking compared to other varieties.

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The jewels of the fruit world! If you live in Nor Cal you should plant some pomegranates. They are also very ornamental, with showy flowers.

Avocados

My neighbor has a large avocado tree that is full of fruits now. They taste very good. I took photos of the fruit and posted on a fruit forum. It looks like it is Fuerte variety. The only problem with this tree it is in my southern exposure, blocking a lot of light from the yard. Still, at least the tree gives something back for that 🙂

Avocados oh my!

The Mighty Fuerte?

Tomato Report 2014

So this year I grew 6 tomato plants, six different types of tomatoes…. my wife doesn’t eat raw tomatoes (sick!) so that leaves me with a lot to eat 🙂

These three are Caspian Pink, Brandymaster Pink, and Navajo Moon. The first two are very good beefsteak type heirlooms, nice and meaty. Navajo Moon has a brighter taste along with its very cool orange color. It’s tasty as well, in a different way.

Bigger the better!

Bigger the better!

These three are Flamme, Blush, and a yellow cherry I’m forgetting the name of. Flamme have a very bright taste to me. I like to snack on them out of hand like an Peach. Blush (oval shape) is definitely my favorite of the six and I will look to grow this one again next year. The taste is floral and tropical at the same time. They look great too! This heirloom supposedly originated in Hawaii. The cherry is very prolific and tasty as well.

Tomatoes

Still getting plenty of tomatoes (the best ones come late August/September I find around here)

Snack food....

Snack food….

Sub-Tropical Fruits in San Jose

Yes we have it pretty easy in San Jose. The weather is nice most of the year, and although we can’t grow truly tropical fruits (like Mango, Papaya, etc.) we can grow a lot of sub-tropicals. Sub-tropicals can take temperatures below freezing for varying amounts of time and varying degrees below freezing.

Citrus are some of the most common sub-tropicals around here, and some of the most cold hardy. But what about some other kinds? Fuzzy Kiwi, Loquats, Cherimoyas, White Sapote, Guavas, Feijoa and passionfruit are a few really tasty kinds. Bananas can fruit here if you get the right type and have a nice warm stretch. Some of these plants will get burned when we have those rare years where it gets to 26 or 25 degrees for a couple of hours. You can protect you sub-tropicals by giving them a microclimate. I have my guavas planted along the south facing stucco wall of my house. The stucco radiates heat back at night, protecting them from the cooler weather. Keeping them out of windy areas helps too. The best part about these fruits is they taste unique and usually you can’t get them at the store. Check out some of my plants that are fruiting right now:

Lemon Guava - Related to Guavas, small tasty fruit.

Lemon Guava – Related to Guavas, small tasty fruit.

Feijoa - AKA "Pineapple Guava" although not related to Guavas.

Feijoa – AKA “Pineapple Guava” although not related to Guavas.

Ture Guava - This one is "Mexican Cream" a sweet dessert type.

Ture Guava – This one is “Mexican Cream” a sweet dessert type.

Passionfruit - Yowsah! These guys are sweet AND tart.

Passionfruit – Yowsah! These guys are sweet AND tart.

I like to eat these fruits every morning with breakfast.

I like to eat these fruits every morning with breakfast.

Perennial Peppers for the lazy gardener

Peter Piper blah blah blah. This post is about peppers. The first summer at our house I planted peppers in various places. I had put a few up against our west facing stucco wall. As winter came all my peppers died from the cold except for the ones against this wall. After some light internet based research I found out the peppers (and tomatoes) are perennial plants. They live for multiple years! The thing is they are tropical plants. The cold kills them for most of us in the USA, which is why we consider them annuals. However as I learned by accident in San Jose (Zone 9b) with protection your peppers can be perennial. The stucco wall absorbs heat during the day and radiates it back at night, making a microclimate for the peppers. So if you are a lazy gardener like me, plant some peppers around your south or southwest facing walls. You will get peppers almost year round, and save yourself some planting every year. I have one plant (Hawaiian Sweet Hot) that is in it’s third growing season, check it out…

Hawaiian Sweet Hot - This guy has loads of peppers on him.

Hawaiian Sweet Hot – This guy has loads of peppers on him.

Red Cherry - Funky shape...same great tatse!

Red Cherry – Funky shape…same great tatse!

Jalapeno - Against a south brick wall

Jalapeno – Against a south brick wall

Rockin’ Rhubarb (twiddley dee)

I hate that song by the way. This post is about Rhubarb, a perennial vegetable. You know what “perennial” means by now don’t you? Its a plant that keeps growing/coming back year after year. I know someone who has a Rhubarb patch that is 35 years old. Yikes! You divide it every once in a while to keep it vigorous (give the divisions to your friends).

Rhubarb looks cool, with really big leaves.

Don’t eat my leaves, they are toxic to you humans!

This is the part you eat, them stems.

Rhubarb is tart yo!

I made a Rhubarb cobbler type thing. I ate it in two days all by myself. Sick but true.

Butter, Sugar & Fruit mixed together taste good...who knew?

Butter, Sugar & Fruit mixed together taste good…who knew?

I cut up and froze a lot of rhubarb, it goes well with strawberries, which aren’t ready yet. Plant some Rhubarb today!

Attack of the Clones

Cloning Bobba Fett’s dad might be cool, but that’s just fantasy man. I’ll show you how to do some actual cloning in the video below. Check it out…..

 

 

Changing of the Beds

It’s kind of like the “Changing of the Guard” ceremony except it does not involve the military, ceremony, dead people, and tourists. It’s changing the summer vegetables out and replacing with vegetables that like the cooler weather and the shorter days of fall.

What likes the fall weather?

Broccoli, Cabbage, and Cilantro

Lettuces, Spinach, Swiss Chard

And lots of other things like; cauliflower, brussel sprouts, collard greens, arugula, root vegetables (carrots, radish, beets, etc), and peas to name a few. It’s too late to plant from seed but there are plenty of vegetable starts to be found at the local nurseries and big box stores. Ok, get to it, chip chop.