Tag Archives: peaches

winter update 2015

it’s something of a wonder that anyone reads this blog or that i have had new subscribers in the last 6 months as i’ve been so neglectful in posting.  i’m not promising anything like i’ll post more often, but i did tell myself i’d get one more post in this year.

if you would like to stay up to date – you might want to follow on twitter or instagram – my handle on both of those services is @dirtysabot – and i post much more frequently.

thanks to those new readers, and now on to the post.

the main reason i’ve not been posting, is that i’m busy doing the stuff i could be posting about, instead of posting about it.  also my kid is really demanding of my attention these days, and i’ve been getting some freelance work.  all this is to say that i’ve not had a lot of free time.

so a few highlights of summer/fall.

out in the garden we install nine 4×8 raised beds.   while our soil is generally good quality and the lead levels not very high, because of the kid’s elevated blood lead levels we decided to take no chances and installed the raised beds. i didn’t take any shots that give a good perspective, but this gives you a little bit of an idea.  raisedbeds

we also installed rain water totes – which gets us off the grid for outdoor water use – at some point i’ll post about the pump we are using and irrigation systems.  raintotes

successes in the garden – strawberries planted last year (that was only last year?) gave us a great harvest – i ended up with 8 gallons of berries in the freezer plus lots of fresh eating.  the kid loves strawberries – so we only have one bag left.  i’m thinking we will need to put in more beds this coming year.  maybe next year, we have a lot going on. strawberriesour peach tree – which really shouldn’t be bearing yet, gave us a nice little crop of sweet fruit. peachesi successfully grew sweet corn for the first time in years – though by the last picking the squirrels had noticed – i’m not sure i will be as lucky next year.  still it was worth the effort and i enjoyed these ears of silver queen. cornwe had a huge harvest of cantaloupe, more than i could eat – so i ended up freezing it.  makes a pretty good base for smoothies, even the stuff that is not nearly so ripe.  melonsthe fig tree survived another  record breaking winter and even provide us with a bit of tasty fruit.  figsthis years break away winner for most exciting new variety to grow in the garden – pink princess – the most amazing cherry tomato i think i have had.  pinkprincesseven alice waters said it might be better than sun gold.  speaking of – alice waters and will allen came to visit – that’s pretty cool right?  willandaliceother big new variety highlight for me was stocky red roaster pepper- a frank morton selection – anytime i see his name associated with a variety i’m willing to give it go.  these are prolific, delicious peppers that kept going well into november in the hoop house.  i’d be ok with only growing this variety.

my folks came to visit and they were kind enough to help put in this flower bed. it’s right outside my dining room window – so i can stare at the flowers while i eat breakfast.  flowerson an east coast visit i collected paw paws from the banks of the tuckahoe river – i saved seeds from the best ones – and perhaps in another 15 years i can be saving seeds from michigan maryland paw paw crosses.  pawpawfinally the project that has been taking up most of my free time this fall has been enclosing my back porch and making it into a mudroom.  this has many major advantages  – storage for coats and muddy shoes – but also added security and warmth.  it also helps keep the house cleaner – and soil from being tracked in – we are still working to get the kids lead levels lower and soil from outside is a possible source for higher levels.

before porchbeforecurrent mudroominclosedi still need to finish the siding – but that may wait until spring – inside is insulated – but still need to be drywalled, and painted – but now that it is inclosed we can work on that even on cold days.  thanks to s for looking after the kid so much so we could work on this project and to my friend j for all the help framing and installing door and windows.

what have been yr big projects of the summer/fall?


5 star orchard

our last full day in maine we decided to go for a drive with no real destination, but my aunt had told us the drive toward brooklin was especially nice, so we headed in that direction.  driving along the road and seeing a sign that says organic peaches is enough to make me halt my car, and so we popped down the road leading to 5 star orchard.

they had a little stand in front of the house and we purchased a quart of peaches for a pretty pricey seven dollars.  quite a bit more than i think you could get in michigan, but who else is selling organic peaches in maine.  plus i know my mother would love the peaches, and i like supporting the local farmers.  we asked if we could see the orchards, and were instructed on how to get down to the trees.

i’m glad we did.  once we got down to the orchard we met one of the farmer tim. he was nice and friendly, but didn’t have time to sit and chat, but made it clear that he was open for any questions, but that he needed to pick peaches.

the standard trees were loaded with fruit, so heavy that sticks were used to prop up the branches and keep them from breaking.

peach tree

and they were surprisingly bug free


i consulted with tim about his pest control measures as well as his pruning methods.  while talking it became apparent that in all likelihood he was the one that supplied many of the trees for our orchard at work as he grows lots of the stock for fedco trees.  it was exciting to see where all the trees were from.  and i took a picture of some of his nursery stock, thinking how much fun it would be to come back and do some grafting and pruning with him and his parter.


i’m so glad that a random sign for organic peaches would lead me to the path of the origin of the trees in the community orchard.  in addition to the peaches, they have a variety of other fruits and a community cider house where they press their own apples as well as those of others in the community.

summer on the eastern shore

the first summer in long time that we have visited back to the motherland – the eastern shore of maryland.  i certainly don’t miss the oppression of the warm weather and humidity, but still it’s nice to enjoy home with plants growing instead of the cold dreary weather of december.  ma and i split up with i visiting my folks and she hers and meeting up again on the 4th.

few locations are as ingrained in my psyche as much as pemberton park, a small stand of woods that my family and i would go for walks at almost every week.  i don’t think i have completed a visit to my folks house without at least one walk there, and often multiple walks.  so we had to take a walk there.  always on the look out for food – we foraged on black berries.


warm from the sun, and complex flavored – not just sweet, but with some tartness, and a little bitter flavor of tannin.  i think i’m coming to realize that i like black berries much better than black raspberries, or perhaps it is just that the flavor of cultivated varieties lacks complexity – it’s flavor profile reduced to little more than sweet.

after pemberton and a lunch time meal of crab cakes (you have to gorge yourself on the crustaceans when i can), we headed out to visit greenbranch farms.  the owner/operator – ted also used to work for my farming mentor jay.  i wanted to check out his operation and see what other organic farmers were doing in the area.

i have to say i was impressed.  ted had a really nice farm stand, and a very diverse farm.


price list

in addition to produce he also offered beef, chicken, pork and eggs from his farm plus milk and cheese from a local dairy.  ted was kind enough to take a bit of time to talk about his operation and the lay of the maryland organic land – at least as he saw it.  Seems that there is still a huge amount of demand, and in talking i saw several gaps in the food system mostly in processing and in distribution.  the same gaps that you see in urban areas you seem to be seeing in rural areas.  part of the reason f0r this is that both communities are trying to create system that are based on local small scale processing.

my folks and i took a quick tour of his farm.

a view from the south end of the fields.

about half of the fields were in diverse vegetables and the other half was in pasture.  these get rotated every couple of years so that the area that was in pasture turns into vegetables.


out in the field he had about a dozen chicken tractors with broilers in them.  these are moveable coops that each day get dragged to a bit of pasture that has not yet been grazed on yet.


in addition to the broilers he also had this movable coop for laying hens.


the livestock operation seems to be somewhat modeled after joel salatin’s work at polyface farm.  in the wood lot were pigs but they were not interested in anything to do with me.

later that night my mama

and i put together a peach cobbler – easily among my favorite of treats – peaches just somehow lend themselves to being cooked with dough so well.  i mostly just listened and took pictures.  this is from my grandma’s recipe.

the filling for the cobbler

mama making cobbler

the finished cobbler

look at it glistening – looks like something that should be featured in magazine or something like that.  when ma was recommending that we take a quick trip home for the fourth of july weekend, i thought it was much to short of a trip to travel that far, but even just one day with my folks is worth the trip.  what fun.