Category Archives: fruit trees

Pomegranate explosions

They started to explode on the shrub/tree I planted years ago. My first good crop of Wonderful Pomegranates. I had thought: they’ll never ripen here.
pomagranates
I thought they needed heat. Dry heat. Which we don’t have much of here in Oakland. But ripen they did.

We ate them raw. Frannie is allowed to eat them outside only because they are so messy and juicy. They are one of her favorite snacks, partially because of the work they involve, digging the seeds out, pulling off the pith and membranes; partially because (I think) of that incredible crunch, the explosion of fresh juice in the mouth.
franpom

Until now, there’s nothing left.
peels

Besides snacking on them, I sometimes threw them into salads, like massaged kale salad, to add a bright sweetness. Some people recommend cooking with poms, like Ken Albala. I had never heard of Ken before, but I found myself in Idaho of all places, at the Bookpeople in Moscow, Idaho, and the owner highly highly recommended his book, The Lost Art of Real Cooking, and its companion, The Lost Arts of Hearth and Home. The books are instruction manuals for how to make all sorts of crazy stuff like a koji rice mold and rag rugs; and stuff that you wished you made but haven’t yet like corn tortillas (nixtamalizing your own corn, of course), olla podrida (look it up!), and marmalade.

I’ve never met Ken or his co-author, Rosanna Nafziger, but they are totally my people! Ken lives in Stockton where he teaches food history at the University of the Pacific. I think he must have some pomegranates growing in his garden because in the Hearth and Home book, there’s a recipe for pomegranate molasses that sounds out of this world. Basically you just cook the pomegranate seeds with some sugar and vanilla for a million hours on low. The result is that gummy blood-like sludge that tastes like heaven.

Sadly, Frannie and I ate all the poms fresh. Next year I’m hoping the pomegranate tree will have biggered itself and I’ll have enough to try the recipe…But if you find yourself with an overabundance, give it a shot. Any other good pom recipes out there?

Grapes

My sister, Riana, has been doing a fun thing all month on her flickr site. Every day in August, she has been preparing something for the Fall/Winter. We both have (and love) Nikki McClure calendars. If you haven’t seen them, they are really beautiful, paper-cut images along with one word that defines the month. The words are weird, almost prescient, because they always seem to sum up the core meaning of a month. Last month the theme was DELIGHT, and man, July was delightful. August’s word is PREPARE, and there is an illustration of some kids working on some projects.

Like my sis, I’m squirreling foodstuffs away like crazy. Confiting San Marzano tomatoes, freezing Early Girls, drying kale chips (BTW, the Gundruk made last post got really gnarly. I think I let it go in the jar for too long. Or maybe I got it right but it might be an acquired taste.). The latest is freezing grapes. A volunteer came from Queens, NY (Thanks Jac!), and we got to talking about grapes. Should I juice them? Make raisins? Jac said, busy cutting off mildewy pumpkin leaves: freeze them.

Frannie helped. It’s really messy. grapes

Freezing them actually intensifies their flavor. I have two gallon freezer bags full of them. They taste just like summer. Back to squirreling….

Rain day

Hello…Raindrops keep falling on my head…Today’s work day is canceled. Let’s try again next Thursday. The newly installed citrus trees are loving this precipitation…citrus

Frosty Limes

Brrrr, it’s cold here.
limeonice

This is one of my limes at a friend’s house in Maine.

But it’s feeling very cold here in Oakland even. Frost warnings at night. What’s a citrus farmer supposed to do? Wrap my trees, that’s what. Whenever I hear the temps will be in the low 30s, I drape the citrus trees with floating row cover aka Agribon aka Remay. This acts like a jacket for the tree–the spun poly fibers raise the temperature around the tree by almost 5 degrees.

Now, the other thing to do is to spray the plant with water. To us mammals, this sounds like an insane survival strategy. To understand how it works note that water has three phases: ice, water, and stream. To get ice to melt takes energy, just like it takes energy to make water boil. When water is going through a phase change, energy is given off. As water freezes into ice, heat is actually given off. A hydrated plant then, will be a warmer plant. If you love ’em, cover ’em.

Speaking of fruit, the Golden Gate chapter of the scion exchange is happening this weekend! Saturday, 12-3 at Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley by the Ashby BART. http://www.crfg.org/chapters/golden_gate/scionex.htm. If you’ve never been, get ready for a fruit-seeking thrill like no other.

Clearing It Out

A few months ago I finally got my permit from the City of Oakland. It came in the form of a letter. And with that, a chapter closed. A messy, annoying chapter.

Today I finally had the time to return the yellow placard that’s been up in front of the gate for the last year. One of the inspectors told me I’d get a $50 deposit back if I brought in the City of Oakland permit application sign. So this morning, I cut it down from the zip-ties that had been holding it, glad to finally be rid of the thing (it confused people–some who thought the lot was owned by the city; others who thought it was ok to call me on the phone number provided just to say “hi.”). I rode my bike to the City Hall’s planning Department with the sign balanced in one hand.

For those of you who don’t know the whole story of the permit, here’s the recap: May 2011 the City of Oakland came to me and said I needed a permit for crop and livestock raising activities on my commercial lot. The permit would cost almost $3000 (one time fee). People who read this blog sent me the money via paypal, the mail, and in the farmstand tip jar–which, BTW, is fucking amazing! thank you all who helped save Ghosttown Farm! If I didn’t send you a postcard thank you, know that I meant to but I got real busy. Upon submitting the fee, I had to jump through a lot of hoops, and figure out how to defend my right to farm. Luckily, I was aided by the genius legal council of Janelle Orsi and Philip Heiselmann. They cut through the legalese for me, and explained, step by step, what I should do. I’m eternally grateful to them. If you need a good lawyer, I’ll give you their contact info.

While waiting for the permit, I got pregnant and all the plants died, and I could barely remember to feed the rabbits (but I did, you nosy NOBS people, I still did). I shifted my priorities–having a child meant having a farmstand that makes $5 profit doesn’t really make sense to me anymore (as fun as it was). I realized I don’t have time for livestock (except for bees), and sold or gave all the critters away. I also discovered that I don’t think it’s cute when I see a man shooting up in the garden (which just happened last week). And so, I’m locking the gates to the farm, which have been open and free since 2003 on October 1, 2012.

What’s the plan? The farm is turning into an orchard. With the help of Molly Bolt, we will be planting all the trees that have been in containers, so that the land will have over 25 fruit trees growing there, adding oxygen and sweet smells to the air. Eventually, once Francis is older, the trees will start producing fruit–maybe enough to sell, maybe not. I’ve learned so much from that little parcel of land, and it’s not over yet. Though the gate will be locked, I’ll still be posting about various happenings…stay tuned for a post about making cheese with cardoon flowers…

At the permit office, I handed the lady at the desk the big yellow placard. A spider crawled out of the middle of the sign, wondering where the hell it was. She whisked it away and sent me to the cashiers desk. The woman there told me–oh, you don’t get a refund because you never paid it. I just shrugged and laughed to myself: it’s the perfect way to end that process.

If you’d like to take a class with Molly that is in conjunction with the orchard plant at GT Farm, please email me–my name at the big G–and I’ll give you details.

And!
Willow and I will be at the Dublin and Fremont Public Libraries Sept 22. Fremont 12-1:30; Dublin 3:30-5pm–come on by if you live round there…

The Giving Tree

I planted a Bearass, I mean Bearss (he he), lime when I first started squatting on 28th street. The lime went from a little stick to this towering green monster of fruit.

Some of my neighbors pick the branches and leaves to make a cold remedy, some kids like to use them to throw at each other, others like to hide behind the tree and piss. I like to pick the limes–and WASH them very well–and make lime sherbet (recipe at the end). The fruit is big and juicy, and ripe when it turns yellow (but it’s actually fine when green too).

Like everything on my farmlette, the tree is not pristine, it needs to be pruned way back, and a swarm of Argentinian ants have made it their favorite place to farm an insect called scale, so the branches are coated with hard-bodied parasites which suck from the lifeblood of the tree. Somehow, the tree keeps alive, and thriving. I must have harvested 50 pounds of fruit so far and it’s still flush with fruit.

Thanks to the power and stamina of this tree, it’s become a tradition for me to send the fruit to friends and family for the holidaze. This year some of the limes will be more special than others, because I ran across a new magazine called Lucky Peach. It’s a brainy food magazine with hipster appeal. The writing is hilarious and they often have fun things like this quarter’s Fruit Stickers.


The sticker on the lime reads, “The Fruit That Likes the Knife”.

The pomegranate, picked by moi, is headed to my mom. The sticker, if you can’t read it says, “Hand-picked by Poor People.” Other favorites include, “Actually Pretty Tasty” and “This Plum Is Not Gluten Free” (that one’ll have to wait til next summer.)

I guess what I’m trying to say is, thanks Lime Tree! Thanks Lucky Peach. Happy Holidaze to you all.

Lime Sherbet
It’s not sorbet, cuz it has milk. This is good to bring to follow a Hannakah brisket, Xmas Goose, or Solstice Nutria
(obviously, triple this)
1 1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 water
1 cup sugar
Rind finely sawed up from 1 lime
1 cup milk
1 TB vodka
Blend the lime juice, water and sugar together. Throw in the lime rind and vodka. Chill to 38 degrees. Mix chilled lime solution with milk and pour into your ice cream maker. You don’t have an ice cream maker? You’re screwed. No, no, you might be able to put it in the freezer and stir every few minutes and it might be ok. But I’ve never tried that. This is not a food blog.