Tuesday, February 16, 2021

January sky

 Since it never (or rarely) rains in California, we mostly have to trudge along with blue skies.  Sometimes, though, we get treated to a beautiful sunset.    

Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Last Mandarin Orange

Today I picked the season's last piece of fruit from our Satsuma Mandarin Orange tree.  The tree starts bearing in late November and has given us a steady supply of sweet and juicy mandarins all the way through to today.  The great thing about these is that they are easy to peel.  The even greater thing is that they are home grown, we can walk out and pick one anytime from about November - February and they taste far better than anything you can buy at the store.   

The Satsuma Mandarin has been called the "perfect" fruit tree.  For citrus, the trees are hearty and are said to tolerate below freezing temperatures.  They are self pollinating.  And, best of all, the fruit is delicious, super easy to peel and has no seeds.  In our garden, they are also the first of the citrus to bear, which means come Fall the Satsuma Mandarin gives us the welcome first taste of sweet and juicy citrus for the season. The only downside is that the tree tends to be alternate bearing with a heavy crop one year and light one the next.  We had a heavy crop this year, so I'm thinking next year is going to be light.   

Below you can see the loose orange peel that just breaks away clean from the fruit.  


Saturday, February 13, 2021

Garden Update

Our cara cara tree was prolific this year -- about 80 oranges.  We picked a lot of the bounty today, but have been eating them for some time. These oranges are, I think, better than the regular Washington navels.  They are just as sweet but with a light tanginess.  Less than a tangarine, but more than regular navel.    Plus the color of the flesh is this deep orangy/red.  

The cara cara has an interesting history.   They are thought to be a cross between a Washington navel and a Bahia navel orange that grows in Brazil.  The orange was discovered in 1976 naturally growing at Hacienda Cara Cara in Venezuela.  So, the cara cara was an unplanned naturally growing hybrid.  It has been grown in the US since the 1980's but is still a speciality item in stores and restaurants.

Here is the Kona Sharwill avocado I picked a couple weeks back.  It seemed ripe enough, so we cut into it today and had it for lunch. This was my first avocado from our 3-4 year old tree.  The seed is a little smaller than other varieties and I thought the taste was excellent, just a bit different from our Fuerte avocados.  Also, this was much easier to peel since the peel on the Sharwill is thicker than the Fuertes.  We have been eating the Fuertes since late December and it is fun to have a slightly different avocado to try. There are a few more fruit on the Sharwill and I am going to leave them for couple more weeks before picking to see if the taste changes at all.   

I am watching the stone fruit trees for flowers and our Eva's Pride Peach is first up.  This tree really produced last year and we had jam, ice cream and froze some peaches.  Hopefully around late June we will have some peaches off this tree.  

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Hawaiian Avocado

Pictured above are five smooth skinned Fuerte avocados and one smaller deep green Sharwil avocado -- all from our yard.  Our Fuerte tree is mature and we've been eating Fuertes now for more than a month.  Our Kona Sharwil tree, though, was only planted a few years old and the fruit above is the first I've picked from the tree. That makes today a big day.

I am calling the Sharwil my Hawaiian avocado because the Sharwil avocado is what is primarily grown in Hawaii as a commercial avocado crop.  It is reported to be high in oil content and is "considered by some to be the worlds best" avocado.  One site says that USDA restrictions prevent shipping the avocado to the mainland for sale.   But, a Big Island grower says restrictions lifted in 2018 and they do ship Sharwils to mainland US.  Either way, I'm growing one here.

The Kona part of the name I get.  But "Sharwil?"  Apparently the avocado variety was first developed in Australia by Mssrs. Sharp and Williams -- hence the avocado name of "Sharwil."  Kind of disappointing to me.  I was hoping maybe it was a reference to Hawaiian royalty.

I haven't actually tasted a Sharwil yet.  The fruit pictured above is the first I've picked from our tree. Can't wait for it to ripen. 

Our Kona Sharwil tree has had some challenges.  Our Reed and Fuerte trees have done OK with days where we have unusually hot (116 a couple years ago) or cold (in the 30's for us).  However, the Sharwil is bit more delicate than those trees and two years ago it got badly burned.   It seems healthy now and I hope we get a bit more growth this year.  I planted the Sharwil and Reed at the same time and the Sharwil is now maybe a third the size of the Reed.  


Monday, January 25, 2021

New Years Eve - 2021

Like everything else, New Years was different this year.  On a typical New Years Eve, the day includes a visit to the Rose Bowl, to watch float decorating and enjoy all the preparations for the game and parade.  This year there was no parade and no game. New Years Eve could have been any other day of the year.  I saw a few tourists that were noticeable for their out of state school gear.  Otherwise, all I saw were the  normal joggers, walkers, bikers, and skateboarders. It was a beautiful sunny day.

So, instead of negotiating the crowds to watch floats getting their final touches, I walked around the stadium with just a few others around.  Turns out the Rose Bowl is a great place for pubic art.  Now good public art is fantastic.  But, in my opinion, too often public art just is not very good.  The Keith Jackson statue at the Bowl entrance is very good especially for those of us who remember Jackson's announcing career and even, like me, hear his voice in our head.  But, the Jackie Robinson statue is extraordinary.  It is the unusual statue and display that is itself worth the trip to see.  The statue depicts Robinson in the uniform and gear he would have worn when he played football for PCC in1937-38.  Of course, he was a four sport star at both PCC and UCLA.     

Saturday, November 28, 2020

November Sunset from Cobb Estate

Looking for a late afternoon walk in the hills, and Eaton Canyon being closed unless you have a reservation to enter, I went up to the top of N. Lake and walked into the old Cobb Estate.  There is an interesting Atlas Obscura page on the Cobb Estate and the Marx Brothers' brief ownership of the estate prior to the home being torn down.  

Monday, September 14, 2020

Bobcat Fire 9-13

 Yesterday morning the smoke was so thick it permeated our house and was much worse outside.  This is yesterday's morning sun framed by eucalyptus branches.  Thankfully, the air cleared by late afternoon and we actually saw blue sky! The sky was clear enough to see the huge tanker jets making their east over the fire area and then circle back.  The fire has been burning since September 6 and has burned over to Chantry Flat.  The fire is only 6% contained and is going to be with us for a while.  Thankfully, we have had a break in the super hot weather and the highs this week are supposed to be near 90 or a little above.  That's a bit higher than the historic average September highs for Pasadena, which is 89.