August 21, 2013

Homestead Harvest: Fruits and Nuts

August has found me busy picking and preserving fruits.

Blueberries. I'm able to harvest these for about 4 or 5 weeks.

Figs all ripen over a couple of weeks.

Apples. Our first year to harvest!

The blueberry bushes and fig trees were well established by the time we bought the place. We planted the apple tree almost four years ago and this is the first year it's produced enough for even a small harvest.

Another first harvest is elderberries.

Elderberries beginning to ripen.

These bushes, too, were planted our first year here and, finally, I've gotten enough to pick. Well, I might have last year, but competition with birds is stiff, especially since they'll eat them green. I'm wanting to make elderberry jelly with this first harvest.

Peaches were ready earlier in the summer, but they produced only a pitiful few.


Last year I was able to freeze three quarts in addition to eating them fresh. This year, barely enough for a bowl or two of cereal. Not even enough for ....

Peach pie, made with last year's frozen peaches. I used my whitest rendered
goat fat for the crust, and it was the tastiest and flakiest crust I ever made!

I got about a dozen plums for the first time, but almonds were a complete no-show although there were loads of blossoms. Neither did I get any hazelnuts, but those trees are still pretty small. Pears have yet to produce and I think my few cherries were eaten by the birds.

The other thing I've been harvesting is rose hips.

Rugosa rose hips

Still to come, wild persimmons and pecans. Maybe even some wild muscadines too. Last year I didn't get any persimmons or muscadines, but it was my best pecan year ever.

In the garden, melons have been a bust I reckon because of all the rain and so little sun. No matter, I'm thankful for whatever we get.


Renee Nefe said...

Oh yum!

Tombstone Livestock said...

Looks like you are getting a good harvest.

Sue said...

I'm jealous of all you grow, but oh my, those figs! I could swoon!!

Tami said...

All in all a pretty good showing. I still can't get my blueberries up and running. Maybe next year!

Leigh said...

Renee, and it is!

TL, this is the best ever and I have all the rain to thank for that. The vegetable garden is having it's issues, but we've got fruit!

Sue, I'm fortunate that the fig tree and blueberry bush were already established. These things seem to be slow to get going.

Tami, I planted two blueberry bushes the same year I planted the elder bushes, but they are still small. I reckon some things are just slow.

Hannah said...

It's great you have established blueberries to pick, your other fruits will hopefully get better. I planted all the fruits and nuts except one pear and one walnut at my house, 15-19 years ago. I get practically no nuts from my trees since the squirrels get them all, but at least they leave my fruits alone while the nuts are there, but this year I've been picking up green ones off the ground, probably they are no good. I have maybe 3 months of small steady supply blueberries because I planted a wide variety of early, mid, and late, deciduous and evergreen. I have lots of apples but some don't produce well, others do- Liberty, Prince William, Sweet Sixteen. I've lost stone fruits to disease but had bumper crops of plums this year.(?) My peach tree that has been ailing finally fell over, maybe it will still ripen the peaches. My best fig was so loaded it split and collapsed. I'm thinking I should have cut it back severely. I will try to cut it back after the fruit is off and see if it lives. My Aronia bushes are very loaded this year also, and seem to also have some collapse, but I will get lots. If I could only grow one fruit they would probably be it healthwise, though maybe blueberries otherwise. What is your peach variety? Do you spray for Peach Leaf Curl? I tried PLC resistant varieties but lost them anyway. I give up. Your fruit looks great!

Dave Gibson said...

Nice, even if you didn't get to harvest everything. It's tough competing with birds and squirrels. If I could figure out how to eat rocks, I'd be all set.

Quinn said...

You've been busy! Are those guinea keets in your banner picture?

Sunnybrook Farm said...

I think I have elderberry coming up wild, I have been cutting them down. Oh well, you have some nice fruit, we are still trying to get figs to over winter.

Mama Pea said...

Isn't it curious that nature seems to give us an abundance of one thing if something else fails? Some years it's not the balance we want, so we've just gotta appreciate what we do get.

This year I doubt we will get a bushel full of apples from our 7 trees. (The blossoms -- just a smattering -- foretold the future on that harvest!) But our blueberries look to have the biggest harvest yet.

Our elderberries are still in the blossom stage. We planted many (what seemed like a gazillion) all around our place. Some died and some are struggling and some are doing well. (Hubby tends to use the shotgun approach!)

When I first saw the pic of the peach pie my first thought was, "Oh, look at that FLAKY crust!" Praise be to goat lard. (And your hard work!)

Izzy said...

Sounds wonderful, even if some didn't produce for you this year.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you are going to be a busy lady :)

Farmer Barb said...

How do you make your elderberry jelly? I never got enough tartness to set it up. I had to make it with black currant or gooseberry for their natural pectin.

My blueberries are so small. I can't imagine them being as big as yours! I have 22 of them to enjoy a long season. What variety of elderberry do you have? It's my favorite anti-flu and colorant for ugly food.

Woolly Bits said...

figs never grow fruit over here, even though the trees are doing ok. blueberries are slow in ripening, but at least there are plenty (if I don't forget to cover them!). all the common fruit like cherries, pears and apples are miserable - but the blackberries and elderberries will be plentiful I think. at least in the green they are:) enjoy your pickings!

Sandy Livesay said...


Beautiful fruit to harvest. How many fruit trees/bushes do you have there on your property?

I have melons growing like crazy this year to my surprise.

Leigh said...

Hannah, yes, we did spray our fruit trees last winter. We sprayed dormant oil (a fancy name for mineral oil) for fruit moths, and sulfur for fungal diseases. Unfortunately, because of all our rain, the sulfur was impossible to keep on the trees. It's water soluble so we finally gave up. I have had disease problems with my fruits, but I hope to do better next year.

Pam and Dave, LOL, yes, too bad those rocks aren't worth something.

Quinn, yes, those are some of my keets, but they have grown! I need to do a guinea update soon.

Sunnybrook Farm, yes, I don't think figs like extreme cold. We're fortunate that they tolerate our winters. And except for birds, they are relatively pest free!

Mama Pea, that is so true. I've been thinking about that too, that if we relied strictly on what we could grown, how varied and strange our diet would be every year!

Izzy, I'm just thankful for what did produce!

Stephanie, but a good busy. :)

Barb, I've never made elderberry jelly so I can't tell you, LOL. I still buy pectin though. I planted a crabapple both for jelly and to try and make my own pectin, but it's still pretty young so I can't tell you about that either. :)

Bettina, those common fruits certainly seem to be difficult to grow well. Makes me wonder how they became so common!

Sandy, let's see. For fruit trees we have figs, apples, pears, peaches, plums, also pecan trees, a crabapple, cherry, and almond tree. For bushes we have the blueberry, elderberry, sand cherries, and rugosa rose. I've been trying to grow red raspberries too, but they haven't done well. I also have wild muscadine vines, they they are pretty iffy.

I envy your melons. What do you do with the extra? We found they dehydrate nicely and also I freeze them for fruit smoothies. Yum!

Nadine said...

o i love elderberries!!! My peach tree gave me no peaches this year and my apple tree gave me a few apples enough for me and the rabbits to enjoy for about 2 weeks. Hopefully next year will be more successful then this year!

Anonymous said...

Oh Leigh, it is good to see your apples...I planted ours 3yrs ago so hopefully next year :) Enjoy your harvest. m.

Susan said...

It seems like a veritable Paradise there! What a nice variety of fruits and nuts you planted (and inherited)!

Cassandra said...

Everything looks fabulous! I've tried blueberries here with no luck. I think I've killed about 6 plants total, trying two years in a row. I've also killed an apple tree and my dwarf has yet to produce anything edible, despite having been planted 4 years ago. The blackberries are great though! And I've been meaning to find some wild elderberries and transplant them. Did you transplant yours from the wild or find them in a nursery? Any tips? Thanks! :)

DFW said...


That peach pie looks absolutely wonderful! I am going to research to see if Almonds will grow in my Country area.

And, my in-laws have a fig tree that they compete with the squirrels. All wait until they are perfectly ripe & the squirrels usually win.

Ngo Family Farm said...

"thankful for what we get" - I'm so with you on that! My fruit-loving girl would be in heaven over there ;)

Leslie Kimel said...

What a wonderful variety of fruit you have! How fun!

Unknown said...

Curuios- is that a dwarf apple tree? Ours is about 5/6 years old and is huge! Sometimes having a lot of grasses, etc. can suck out some of the nutrients. I made elderberry syrup this year, great flavor, and good for colds, etc. I wish I lived in your warmer climate. I've thought about moving farther south, but it's a no-go right now...

Sherri B. said...

It is surprising how some trees take so long to produce after planting. Our plum tree here at Little House went crazy this year for the first time after about 6 years. It got so loaded that many branches just broke after a big wind one day. One thing though, it got all sticky from some white bugs but they seemed to grow anyway and are almost ready to pick. xo

Leigh said...

Nadine, fruits and nuts certainly are unpredictable, aren't they. I'm always hoping for a better year, next year, LOL.

Maria, oh yes, next year!

Susan, yes it's a good variety, but I confess I have a lot to learn, especially about insect and disease problems.

Cassandra, thanks. Elderberries grow well around here in the wild, but I ordered mine from a nursery. They do spread on their own, so multiplying is inevitable. :)

DFW, squirrels and birds are always a problem. I reckon that's why it's good to plant way more than you think you'll need!

Jaime, if we aren't thankful, then we're frustrated. Nature is one thing we cannot control. :)

Leslie, thanks!

Nancy, yes it's a dwarf apple tree. Planting grasses, etc., is a matter of philosophy, I think. We planted nitrogen fixers, as recommended by several permaculturists. :)

I thought about making elderberry syrup as well because of elders medicinal qualities. If I get enough berries, I may do just that.

Sherri, it's interesting how production varies from year to year. In our 4 autumns here, only one produced good pecans! And insects are always a problem, along with birds and squirrels.

Bridget said...

So much produce. Spoilt for choice. Never had much success with Blueberries...and I do love them.

Bill said...

Wonderful! Y'all are blessed (and you've got a lot of work on your hands).

Katy said...

My grandpa was a fruit lover. He had apples pears plums cherries - every kind of fruit tree. He would lean out the second story window of the house and shoot at all the birds in his trees. (And he didn't live in a rural area. ahem. There was trouble with the neighbors over this I believe.)
Anyway I'm watching my dad do the same now. He's shooting all the squirrels who try to eat his tomatoes.
Did you know that if you collect the squirrel tails, you can sell them to a company that makes hats out of them??
randomness - sorry :)