Tag Archives: harvest

The Tyranny of the Harvest – Looking for Honeycrisp Lovers

August 29, 2020

You can watch summer squash grow. Just have a seat. The plant explodes with six at once. You are hurriedly trying to remember who likes squash, before the fruits look like footballs.

“Would you like to take a yellow squash?”, I asked a volunteer at the end of his shift.
“Oh no, I grow squash.” Then, he offers back, “Would you like some zucchini?”

Next, I look at a green bean, short and lean. I thought I had time before I had to pick. The very next day they ballooned. The gold rush is on. Now I must pick ever other day.

Then come the tomatillos, and then the elderberry – more goodies for volunteers.

The William’s Pride apples ripened a bit early this year, but the winter moth caterpillars thwarted most blooms. A small harvest but volunteers always appreciate apples.

 

This one’s for you. Let it sit four days.
For you these should chill in the refer, then two days on the table.
Iodine, thumb press, tacky peel … there are so many ways
I try to time perfect maturity, as much as I’m able.

The Honeycrisp apple tree was largely unaffected by the winter moth caterpillars. It is loaded. I thinned at least 190 apples from the tree. A few weeks later, I asked Dane, a young helper, to thin again in the classic way: one apple per 6 inches of space. I turned my head and handed him the pruners. Still, even with this final thinning, it will be a challenge to get them all distributed.

Volunteers are needed!
by appointment
please email
freewayestatescommunityorchard@gmail.com

Wednesday, I asked Sue if she had a Tyranny of the Harvest story. “Sure.” she said.
(Note: Sue is infatuated with growing tomatoes, in spite of our wimpy summers. Story is a bit edited.)

When I managed the Adult Learning Garden at Seattle Tilth (now Tilth Alliance), each year I would wait until October to take my summer vacation then drive to Colorado and New Mexico to visit family. I packed the trunk with boxes of green tomatoes. They sat in the back, baking in the sun, and they ripen at different speeds. Our aim way to share with everyone we visited along the way.

 

Last year, we left a cousin in Salt Lake City
And were near to our friend in Grand Junction
Bad timing; no additional ripe tomatoes. What a pity!
We had to skip that visit, with some compunction.
In the end, we met our goal: to use all of them, have none rot,
before we got to our last stop.

Go Sue!

Today, as I was leaving the orchard, I walked past the Honeycrisp. Dare I look? I glanced up and I saw an apple with those streaking red vertical lines – big, with good color. Oh my, nearly ripe.

Friends of FECO! We invite you to make a $20.00 donation for 5 pounds of organic Honeycrisp (average retail price in Washington State.)
You will need to let us know right away! You can order more than 5 pounds.
(We are out of money and we still have supplies to purchase this year.) Thank you.

freewayestatescommunityorchard@gmail.com

Ruth

New Watering System Is On Tap

October 1, 2017

It’s fascinating how one mulberry or one thornless blackberry can sustain me while I work in the sm-persimmon-wp_20171001_002orchard. Just that brief sweet juicy explosion can satisfy, nourish and make me smile. These two fruits are new to the orchard and they have proved their worth.

It will be several weeks before we know whether the new persimmons will mature or not but otherwise, we are nearly finished with the harvest.

We have donated an estimated 244 pounds to the food bank. Now, however, the sun weakens and plant production is slowing.

sm-reseeded-lettuce-wp_20170928_001The transition to fall plants such as radish, lettuce, cilantro, mustards, arugula and various cover crops has begun. Check out that germination rate of lettuce that Sue let go to seed! It looks like carpet. Thinning could be a challenge.

We ended up with tasty samples of all apple and pear varieties, even though the winter moth larvae took out many of the blossoms last spring. The good ole Liberty was the best performer and we have enough Liberty to reward the Cider Fest volunteers this coming Saturday.

The dry summer taxed every plant. Our aim is to water just enough to keep the fruit and nut trees in good health. I believe that they got enough water but next year’s crop will tell the tale. We do think the berries and grapes were under watered.

Sat, Oct 7, 2-5, Cider Fest!
Apple contributions are welcome! We have science exhibits for the kids. Cider and pie slices.
Sun, Oct 15, 2-4, Work Party

Sun, Nov 19, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Dec 17, 2-4, Work Party

In the interest of saving water, saving time watering, and allowing watering to be physically easy, we have applied for another Seattle Dept of Neighborhood matching grant. It’s a small grant, about $10,000, but should be enough to buy a manual pump, ollas, some vertical perforated pipe and low-pressure, gravity fed drip irrigation materials. We also are beneficiaries of a used 1,000-gallon cistern, which could be enough assistance to free us from using city water.

We are in need of a mechanical or civil engineer to help us with choice of pump to carry water from shows-hose-in-and-hose-out-treadle-pump-1the cisterns out to the beds. Choosing the right pump will be critical to the efficacy of the whole irrigation system to the food bank beds. Contact us if that engineer is you or your friend!

Please join us for our annual celebration next Saturday between 2-5pm, rain or shine.

Ruth

Harvest Highlights – Part II – Fruit

December 07, 2016

Now for the fruits of our labor. 2016 was our fifth season and we finally picked a substantial amount sm-east-pear-orcas-wp_20160803_002of apples, enough to test and to share. For the first time kiwi berries developed and both chestnuts produced fully pollinated nuts.

We still need to inspire one or two fruit lovers to take on more care of the fruit trees but, in the meantime, we are forwarding a written orchard management plan to CityFruit in hopes of enticing one of their orchard stewards to help with management next year.

To expand my own education, I continue with classes and workshops and I follow-up with summary articles for publication in the WCFS BeeLine.

Berries began in May with the Honeyberry and ended in November with Albion strawberries and a few everbearing Heritage raspberries. (There are ripe black nightshade berries but we didn’t allow enough to survive to make jam this year.)

The apple and pear varieties had a good fruit set except for the William’s Pride, recovering from its huge outburst in 2015, and the Northern Spy, which is still hiding behind the apron. We grow just a few European pears but we landed enough of the sweet Harrow Delight and the meaty Orcas to begin the complicated tasks of testing for ripeness and determining storage times.

bitter-pit-wp_20160821_002We thinned over 100 apples from the Honeycrisp and we still ended up with a mountain of them. There was some evidence of bitter pit (chemical imbalance involving calcium) but almost all of the apples were edible.

We applied nylon footies and netting to a sm-fuji-w-apples-wp_20160911_001percentage of the apples in order to determine whether these barriers would help prevent insect damage from either or both apple maggot or codling moth. The good news is that the only insect damage was from earwigs munching the tops of a few apples. As such, we can’t yet report as to whether the footies or netting are effective pest barriers.

The four-way pear is now a three-way pear. Pseudomonas (widespread bacterial group) set in sm-pear-pseudomonas-wp_20151018_003during the summer of 2105. Some, fearing spread of disease, urged us to take out the tree. Instead, we pruned out the black branches, including one entire grafted variety, in hopes that the tree would heal. The tree bounced back this season and bore fruit.

I stacked the deck by hand pollinating the chestnut trees and we got nuts from both trees. We are experimenting with the easiest way to remove that softer, bitter inner layer of skin from these protein packed gems.

The hardy kiwi plants are my spiritual practice. They don’t like our wet soil but I refuse to give up. We finally got one of the females to the fruiting stage this year and then she just up and died. No note or anything. We replaced her and hope for better luck. There is another female, still alive, who witnessed the whole thing. We hope she learned something from the fate of her sister.

Remember, you do us a favor just by walking through the orchard. You are all welcome to the regular third Sunday, 2-4 work parties, and you don’t have to stay for the whole time.

Ruth