Archive for the ‘Peaches’ Category

Peach thinning

Dave wanted to make a video of peach thinning to clarify exactly what he’s doing this time of year.  (I hope our four year old terrorizing our one year old in the background isn’t too much of a distraction.  We were considering doing another take, but he probably wouldn’t have behaved the second time either.)


Cherry time!

cherry close-upAs you can see, we are witnesses to the growth of some gorgeous tart cherries around these parts.  Tart cherries are different from sweet cherries in a number of ways, but the most obvious way is that most folks don’t relish the idea of popping tart cherries into their mouths one after another.  These guys, as their name suggests, are tart.  You can see that their color is a much brighter red than sweet cherries, and their flesh is much softer.  The seed pops right out.  In fact, when picking these cherries, it’s not uncommon for the seed to remain stuck to the stem when you pull the cherry itself off of the tree.  These are the cherries that delicious pies and dried cherries are made from.  They are extremely perishable; you won’t see these guys in a grocery store.  If you happen to stop by our stand in the next week or two, make sure to pick up a box to experiment with.

vermin in the cherriesYou won’t find a sweet cherry on our property — the birds love them and a rain shower at the wrong time will split sweet cherries promoting rot and leading to the loss of a previously good crop of cherries.

Dave picking cherriesDave is trying to pick all of the cherries with the stem on so that they keep a little better.  All the other cherry trees are covered with leaves.  We’re not sure why this tree is so abnormal, but you can see that the leaves are sparse and small and the cherries are very visible.  Dave said he’ll be interested to see if the tree starts pushing out leaves now that he’s picked all the fruit.

peachTwo rows over from our tart cherries are the first variety of peaches called Rich May.  They have beautiful color, but are still small and are definitely not ready.  In another week or two, these guys will be ready to pick.  It always surprises us how fast peaches get ready in the orchard at this time of year.
immature peachI took this picture at a peach tree right across the row from the Rich May.  These peaches will be ready in about a month.

brotherly loveAnd finally…we’ve all been a little distracted these days…mainly because of this new little man in our lives.  Elliot James was born about a month ago, and both Caleb and Benny are enthralled.  Life is busy for me, doing all the things I usually do while taking care of Elliot and keeping his brothers from pulling him from his bouncy seat, laying on top of him, or picking him up and maiming poor Elliot for life.





What a little rain will do

Since my last post (a good while ago) we have gotten rain, and lots of it.

This puddle forms in front of our house every time there is a heavy rain. We haven’t seen this puddle too often this year, but we’re are glad that it’s back.

While we do have irrigation on our peaches, the recent rains have caused the peaches to swell.  Dave has been picking some gorgeous peaches this week.  Peach-picking has really ckicked into high gear.  This is the time of year when Dave is short on sleep and rich in peach fuzz coating his arms and neck.

I wish you could see this peach tree in real life. A photograph doesn’t do it justice. There’s something a little Christmas-like about these red orbs hanging on a dark green tree.

When Dave got done picking this tray and had to stop to admire it. Again, pictures just don’t do justice.

To give an idea of the size of these peaches, I picked one up to try to give a little perspective.  That peach right there is a meal.

Here is a full stack of peaches ready to be taken to the cooler and replaced with a stack of empty trays to be filled again.

The white nectarine trees are an eye-catching color explosion. I wasn’t planning on taking a picture, but as I was walking by, I just couldn’t resist.

Our apples are loving the rain, too. The honeycrisp are starting to get that before-picking blush.

Rain envy

I meant to write this post last Friday when things were looking quite parched around here.  Since Friday, we had a very welcome and celebrated two inches of rain.  My dad is a dairy farmer, and was talking about how painful it is for a farmer to drive around and look at corn fields.  As farmers, we hate to see any kind of crop suffering.

Corn, when dry, curls up to conserve water. This is a sad sight for farmers.

We irrigate peaches with drip irrigation.  Dave has it on a timer that waters the orchard in three different zones, one zone every other hour.  There is one emitter at each tree giving enough water to keep the tree and fruit healthy, but not enough to feed the weeds around it.

Drought may be terrible for field corn, but in a dry year, the peaches, though small, will be incredibly sweet and tasty.

Our first variety of white nectarines is over, but the second variety should be ready in a week or two.  If you haven’t had a white nectarine yet…you should.  Dave, the fruit farmer who gets weary of fruit from being around it so often, sneaks into the cooler often to snatch a white nectarine or three to eat over the sink while the juice drips down his elbows.

We are just getting into the heart of peach season, but some peach trees are already picked clean.  This will become a more common sight as peach season progresses.

Looking at the apples, it’s amazing how large they are already.  This is a Honeycrisp that will be picked in about a month.

The Farmer’s Dreaded “H Word”

For a farmer there’s nothing worse than laying in bed late at night, listening to a storm raging outside and to suddenly hear the dreaded “ping”, “ping” of hail against the bedroom window.  The year that Dave and I were married, we had a ten minute hail storm that damaged almost every peach and apple that we owned.  Before I married a fruit farmer, the National weather service’s radio interruption were more of an inconvenience while I waited for my favorite song to resume.  Now, that sound, during the time that peaches and apples are vulnerable on the trees, causes my stomach to lurch.  Farming is just that way.  We are at God’s mercy to bring rain, sun, and a hail-less year.

Last Friday at 4:30 in the morning we were awoken by a storm that contained hail.  We are very thankful that we had virtually no damage.  Other areas had it worse.  My brother-in-law’s fruit farm had very large hail stones, though they were few.  We brought some of their fruit over to our farm and I Dave found some hail-damaged fruit for me to take pictures of.

This shows the different degrees of hail damage at my brother-in-law’s orchard. The upper left peach barely has any hail damage at all, while the lower right peach shows evidence of a large and rather forceful hailstone.

Dave continues to pick peaches this week.  Next up, Sentry and Desiree.  So far it’s been a dry year, so the peaches are scrumdiliumtious.

Birds are a pest in the orchard.  We try to keep them out with our bird alarm.  This alarm consists of four or five speakers throughout the orchard that do a loop of sounds of various birds in distress and the calls of birds of prey.  Basically we are trying to say “it may look delicious, but listen, do you really want to risk it?”  The alarm works well for a couple weeks, but the birds get somewhat immune to it.

Birds love peaches too.

Benny is a double threat in the orchard. He often carries a bat and he thinks he can just waltz in there and pick any old peach of the tree. Nope. Benny’s not ready for the big time peach picking job yet.

This week Dave and his dad are also working on thinning apples and fastening them to the trellis.

Dave has this machine called a Brownie that he procured from a going-out-of-business orchard sale.  He bought it sight unseen.  It may not look like the prettiest thing, but it works.  And it was cheap.  Win!  This Brownie has foot pedals and hand levers that allow Dave to raise and lower himself and also make the Brownie go forward or backward, all from the comfort of his bucket.  It looks a little dangerous, and honestly I think it is a little dangerous if one is not careful and overextends the bucket.

This is the clip Dave uses to fasten the tree trunk to the trellis.

Our first apple variety of the season!  Dave picked about five bushel of Early Gold today, so you should be seeing them at market very soon.

Peach season…so close we can almost smell it

The peaches…they are a-coming.  Dave was excited to show me the Rich May peaches which are looking like they are almost ready to be plucked from the trees.

We went for a leisurely walk through the orchard on Sunday to see the progress. It’s amazing how this orchard changes from day to day. The dogs, of course, were delighted that we decided to take a walk.

This is one the Rich May peaches. Dave was originally predicting that we would be picking them this week, but the weather is predicted to be fairly cool. That will slow their ripening.

A Rich May tree

Of course, not all the peaches look like the Rich May.  I went to a tree directly across the row from the Rich May and took a picture of a green fuzzy orb patiently waiting for the dead of summer .  Its time will come.  Just not yet.

Here is a little glimpse at the Honeycrisp.

This is a cluster of Honeycrisp.  You can see their little pink cheeks.

Earlier this week, Dave ordered a whole truckload of bark mulch for the blueberry bushes.  He considered putting down plastic like at our other farm, but he was concerned that the voles would find the warm plastic a little too homey and would destroy the blueberry bushes by chewing off all their bark.  This mulch is great for acid-loving plants like blueberries and we hope isn’t as inviting for voles.

Caleb and Benny had a great time playing in the mulch. They dug in it, slid down it, and got terrifically dirty.

Dave commanded the boys to temporarily stand against the greenhouse so they wouldn’t be traipsing through the mulch making a mess while he finished.

There are a few precious blueberries on these young plants. They won’t be coming to market, though. The farthest distance they’ll travel is from the bush directly into our watering mouths.

One last thing…Dave wanted to post a picture of a tomato plant in the greenhouse for those of you confused by the last post.  Each plant is supported by a string.  It is clipped onto that string at approximately 12 inch intervals the whole way up.  This is the string that is lowered and moved, taking the plant with it.

Bloomin’ Apples and BLTs

April 19, 2012

Things are moving along here in Lancaster.  The peaches are totally out of  bloom and are starting to grow.  Soon we will start thinning the peaches.  We’ll leave one peach about every three or four inches.  If we didn’t do this the tree would grow a whole bunch of tiny, tasteless peaches.

This is what our peaches look like right now. If you look to the left of my fingers, that particular peach and most of the peaches in the orchard still have what remains of the blossom called the shuck. And can't eat it yet. Micro-herbs are totally different from micro-peaches.

The apples are just finishing up their bloom.  I was a bit lazy and didn’t get out to the orchard to take pictures until today.

Did you know that bees can be rented? Yup. It's true. We rent bees for the period of time that the apples are in bloom so that they will be sufficiently pollinated. Peaches are self-pollinating, but apples need a little help. The beekeeper will come pick them up in a week or so.

The other exciting news is that we are coming to Rittenhouse Square this week with tomatoes.  These babies are red, juicy and delicious.  I just had my first BLT of the season for lunch.  It was summer on a plate…and it’s only April.

These guys are making the trek to Rittenhouse Square this Saturday. They are very excited.