Our Little Orchard

Ah, our little orchard.  I knew when I first set foot on this farm I wanted to have a "little" orchard.  On a small scale an orchard is also referred to as a fruit garden and sounds more appropriate for our farm.  I love to eat fruit in every form, fresh in the flesh , pies, preserves, cobblers, in my pancakes, muffins, on yogurt or ice cream, and fresh in the flesh some more. My mouth waters at the thought of it. I am often reminded of a moment in my childhood some suggest should be embarrassing.  My grandmother placed a bowl of blueberries on the breakfast table.  Yes, a bowl.  I pulled the bowl in front of me, sure it was meant just for me and proceeded to pour a bit of milk.  With haste the SERVING bowl was snatched from my place mat.  Embarrassed, really?  I knew what was in that bowl.
Gosh, trees in my own back yard!  I can eat the fruit right from the branch it hangs from. What a treat.  Blackberries, blueberries, cherry, apple, pear, plum, persimmon, fig and even pecan are all here now.  We haven't gotten a harvest from each and every one yet.  The harvests of fruit will improve with age, the trees are still fairly young.  Our blackberries and raspberries provided gifts the first year and now there is enough fruit for me to really be challenged with options.  More then you can swallow in one sitting usually means your going to have to prepare them so that they don't go by way of the fruit flies. Plenty of jams and cobblers have been made from our berries already. In fact, as I write I have fruit macerating ...my first step for jams and preserves. I have journeyed through the preserving process so that I'm just getting comfortable.  Now I'm even making my own flavor combos.  Today, blackberry lime!  I have already taken some pictures of the process so you can be assured I'll share the recipes in an upcoming post.  I love, love, love to preserve stuff.  It feels so thrifty and respectful of the food.  There is nothing quite like popping the lid from a jar of preserved fruit or vegi's  you toiled over the year (or more) before.

  As our trees are maturing  each year we have a few more fruits, that is if we get there before the deer, crows, or Japanese beetles.  You'd be surprised how much we loose.  Last year we lost about 50 pears to dining crows.  We wait for the fruit to ripen, they don't!

The fruit we planted that I haven't mentioned is the fruit needing the most attention....peaches.  Of course it is the very fruit we planted the most of.  I have been guided so often on this farm by an idea I've dreamed about in the past, never really understanding what's involved.  Me, really, jumping into something blind....no.  Yep!  That's me.

For those who know our farm you know we're all about the no chemicals or pesticides way of doing things.  We follow organic practices with everything on our farm.   Ever tried to grow a peach tree?  Oh my is it a challenge....  Peaches are very susceptible to all sorts of pests and diseases and AFTER they were planted I heard folks say, "you can't grow a peach without spraying".  I don't know if you were paying attention but I am trying to tell you I was probably told  before I planted them but I didn't HEAR it until after.  Yep, I must admit...I wasn't listening.  Or, was it selective hearing.  Oh well, it wasn't intentional.  I just wanted peach trees and I didn't want to be discouraged.

Well here you have it.  Picked today from one of our peach trees.  They are some kind of yummy and I am some kind of proud.  For anyone who gardens you understand "the fruits of your labor" well this is truly "the fruits".   I wonder if the sweetness is at all influenced by the fact that we grew them right here in our own back yard.  Or, maybe the fruit is so sweet cause we did it against the odds?

I do know we can't take all the credit.  It's been a good year for our peaches.  The long season of cool temps kept the bugs at bay long enough that all the luscious fruit formed and ripened before the bugs got to it.  The reason we had no bugs this year I have figured out.  The real mystery, how did the deer and crows miss these beauties?  We're not complaining, just wiping the peach juice from our chins.