Going Fruity While Rusticated

Not Just Another Evergreen Azalea

Being rusticated has its perquisites. In my case, its twenty less hours travel time a week, to do what I will. I have been buying fruit trees, and turning a good part of our garden into a mini-orchard.

New Plants–

Apple “Honey Crisp.” I love these apples, so I bought two. They are about to break dormancy now, as they came from the frozen northland of Michigan.

Cherry “Dwarf Lapin.” We had a great cherry tree when I was a child, and there is nothing better than a fresh cherry–except for good cherry preserves. I bought two, and wish I had bought more. Bring out the biscuits!

Fig “Olympia.” Either a fig from Washington state, or a plant named after one of my favorite opera characters, Olympia, from Les Contes d’Hoffman, or The Tales of Hoffman. Olympia is an automata, or really a life sized wind up doll, but Hoffman falls in love with her anyway, as he is wearing rose colored glasses. The youtube video of the soprano Natalie Dessay singing this role is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I bought one, fig, that is, not a Natalie.

Fig “Violette de Bordeaux.” One of these also. Alleged to be the best tasting fig. It will have to fight it out with the cherries, as to which one makes the best preserves. Bring out more biscuits! Melanie Jane made me stop calling this violette de bordello.

Olive “Arbequina.” Crossing the border into Spain now, this cold hardy olive has become a hot item in this part of the South. A local nursery has a grove of them, and gives classes about their cultivation. These will stay in containers for at least a year. We have three.

The random evergreen azalea in the picture is not a hybrid, but a species plant from Taiwan. All our other azaleas are native species.

We also have three Hass avocado seedlings, and three Meyer lemon cuttings. Those will have to remain in containers for the rest of their natural lives.

Being fruity has its own benefits.

New Fruit Trees

Arbequina Olive

 

It’s 40 degrees F here, and spitting snow, but spring planting has already commenced. Seeds are slowly accumulating, and I have three new fruit trees which have me fired up, to go along with my accidental three avocado seedlings. These next few years could be fruity.

All these are new to me, two figs and an olive. That’s right, an olive. It will stay in a container for a few years, but I will probably plant it out eventually. This, and a couple of other varieties, are said to be fully hardy here in hardiness Zone 8a

Fig “Olympian” sounds like a winner. It was found by a retired botanist in Olympia, Washington–hence the name. It is said to have YUGE figs on it. Good, as fig preserves are my favorite.

Fig “Violette du Bordeaux” is tres French (very French.) This one has the claim of the best tasting fig in the world. As I have never had a bad tasting fig, this should be a good one. Also said to be very hardy, as my so-called black turkey figs regularly get frozen back to the ground.

Olive “Arbequina” is the last one. Having never grown olives before, this is an experiment. I am already contemplating buying more plants of these Spanish olives, as we love both olives and olive oil.

Taters, precious, go into the ground starting this week. Heirloom tomatoes go into the flats in the basement this week. I’m going to be busy. I may even have to make a list.

Fig Preserves

First Figs of the Year

Fig preserves are a staple of Southern breakfasts, and good figs are not easy to come by anymore. I get them whenever I can, and sure enough, a farmer at the Festhalle Farmer’s Market had some this weekend. It was time to make some preserves.

Ingredients

4 cups Figs, halved

1 cup Water

Organic Sugar to taste

1 tablespoon Lemon Juice

That’s it. Just be prepared to simmer these things for at least a couple of hours. The amount of sugar needed depends on how ripe the figs are. These were dead ripe, so I didn’t need that much sugar.

After about an hour and a half of cooking, I resorted to my wife’s medieval looking antique potato masher, to speed things up. It’s a mashing machine.

Three Eight Ounce Jars of Preserves, Brought to You by this Masher

After about two hours of total cooking, I added a package of Certo liquid pectin–not required, but it does speed things up. The three filled jars then went into a hot water bath for ten minutes, and sealed almost as soon as I took them out. Into the pantry now, and onto some English Muffins or Drop Biscuits, eventually.