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Fruit trees at the Farmers Market

January 22, 2015
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We will be at the Eastside market Saturday Jan. 24, Feb 7, 14, 21, 28 from 8:00 until 12:00 noon. We have the following selection of fruit trees available.

Persimmons on d virginian a $38

Fuyu
Hachiya

Pear on calleryana $30

Tennhousi
Southern Bartlett
Acres Homes

Peach $30

May Pride
Tropic Snow

Fig 3 gallon $28

Celeste
LSU purple

Arbequina olive $40

Avocado Brazos Belle $50

Blueberries. Rabbiteye $25 =
Climax 3 Gallon
Tiftblue 3 gallon

Blueberries Southern Highbush 3 gallons $25 very low chill requirements
Misty
Sunshine Blue

Blackberries $20

Natchez
Kiowa

Muscadines $28 female vines must be planted within 50 feet of a self-fertile vine

Jumbo black female
Carlos bronze self fertilecarlos
Cowart black self fertile
Supreme – black female (requires a del

Saint Arnold and the Lamb

January 16, 2015

IMG_2724Not only does Saint Arnold make a great beer, but you can fit a nipple on the screw top. Kenan chose to use a “stout” bottle because this lamb needed a little extra vim and vigor. For those of you panicking, we filled it with milk and supplements, no alcohol. Only two times have we had to take a newborn lamb in, warm it up and feed it. Gulf Coast Native Sheep are very good at birthing and tend to be very good mothers. However, yesterday at 37˚ and raining I found a 3 day old ram lamb, born small to a first time mother, alone 25 feet from any other member in the flock. It was lying on its side, which is not normal. When I felt in his mouth it was cold. Quickly I wrapped him in my coat, took him to the house and put a lamp on him. It took about 12 hours for him to start standing again. With help from the foster grandkids we got him back on his feet. I took him back to the flock at 7:00 this morning and his mother, Loretta Lynne, met me at the gate. Loretta was too young to be bred (rams jump fences) and has a severed nerve in her foot. But all day today we have seen the mother and child reunion. They are together every time I go out. Hopefully she will become the mother all her aunts are.

Blueberry cultivation in the Gulf Coast and Brazos Valley area of Texas

January 12, 2015

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To produce optimum fruit yield and quality, most deciduous fruit cultivars require exposure to temperatures between 45ºF and 32˚F during the winter. This is known as chill hours. With insufficient chilling, plants do not flower and leaf out satisfactorily during the spring. Growth can be weak and erratic. Low-chill cultivars of blueberries are necessary for southern growers.
Two types of blueberries grow well in Texas, rabbiteye (Vaccinium virgatum) and southern highbush (interspecific hybrids of V. darrowii, V. virgatum, and V. corymbosum). The rabbit eye varieties need between 350 to 650 chill hours and the southern high bush need between 150 to 400 hours. A very low chill variety like sunshine blue will flower in Hempstead or College Station too early and a late freeze will damage the blossoms it not produce fruit that year.
Both rabbiteye and southern highbush thrive in acidic soils, which contain more organic matter than is usually found in our soils. If mulched, rabbiteye blueberries will usually grow satisfactorily on soils with 1% organic matter, but they perform better with soils that have 2–3% organic matter. Southern highbush cultivars are not recommended for soils with less than 3% organic matter. Consequently, most gardeners will have to supply soil amendments and mulches. Peat moss is commonly used to increase soil organic matter in blueberry plantings.
If you are installing a commercial plot you should get a soil report from Texas Plant and Soil and follow their recommendations. A commercial operation should only be set up in areas with naturally acidic soils. The home gardener might find a soil test too expensive for two or three plants. Dig your hole about 2 foot in diameter and as deep as the potted blueberries soil line. If your soil is low in organic matter (which most yards and pastures are) incorporate about 1 cubic foot of peat moss with the soil that came out of the hole. Mix two cups of rock phosphate in the soil. If your ph is 7.0 (not unusual for the black gumbo soils) mix one cup of sulfur in the soil, cutting that in half for soils of 6.0 ph. The soil ph will not change quickly and we are wanting to get to a ph of 4.5 to 5.5. It would be best to apply the organic matter and sulfur a year before planting but most of us are not that patient. Make the amendments now and wait one month or more to plant the blueberry. Soil temperature needs to be over 55˚ when for the biological activity to happen. Plant the blueberry at the same height or 1” higher than it was in the pot–never let it sink lower. Make sure the area drains well. Blueberries need good drainage. If you do not have good drainage build a 6” high raised bed.
Set them in a site where they will get at least 5 hours of sun per day. Rabbiteye berries should be planted six to seven feet apart and 8 feet from buildings or fences, so you have room to get behind them and pick berries. Southern highbush can be planted 4 feet apart. Of course, you can plant closer for a hedgerow effect, but it will be difficult to reach all the berries. A mature rabbiteye blueberry plant (7 or 8 years old) can reach heights of 15 feet and be 10 feet wide. Most southern highbush will get about 7 feet tall.
Mulch the berries with 3 inches of mulch out 2 feet from the trunk but not touching the trunk. Maintain mulch past the drip line as the plant grows. This is for maintaining moisture, moderating soil temperature, adding organic matter and weed control. Weed control is extremely important for young plant establishment because blueberries are shallow-rooted plants that compete poorly with weeds for water and nutrients. Hand weed only. Do not use a hoe. Use of pine bark mulch and pine needle mulch will also provide additional acidity.
Due to their shallow roots they must be watered often, but should never stand in water. Blueberry plants do not produce root hairs necessary for the uptake of water and nutrients. Instead, the plants are entirely dependent on symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi. The plant provides nourishment for the fungi and the fungi act as root hairs for the plant. For this reason they cannot be watered with chlorinated water. If you have chlorine in your water source and cannot collect rainwater, you should let the water sit in a bucket for 24 hours before watering the plants. The chlorine will evaporate. Blueberries do no like irrigation water that has lots of calcium in it.
Blueberries do not require pruning, but remove weak growth and dead branches. During the first growing season, remove all flowers before fruit set occurs. This will prevent fruiting during the first year and promote strong vegetative and root growth and good plant establishment. This is especially important with some southern highbush cultivars that flower heavily as young plants.
Do not fertilize the first year. Most soils have sufficient nutrients with the exception of nitrogen. Two cups of coffee grounds sprinkled around each plant in March, June and September will probably be all the fertilization you need. Add to that a spray of compost tea in March, May, July, and September.
Blueberries, especially the smaller southern highbush blueberries, grow well in containers. Sunshine blue is an especially small variety. Ground UP and Natures Way make acidic soils appropriate for blueberries. Azalea soil would also work if you can find an organic one. Plant in a wide pot, at least 10 gallons and 18” in diameter. Increase to a half barrel size in two years.
Different varieties fruit at different times with harvest season extending May through June. Fruit forms on the top of one year old branches
Rabbiteye blueberries require two varieties to pollinate and southern highbush berries produce better with cross pollination.
We will be at the Eastside Farmers Market, 3000 Richmond Ave., Houston, Texas 77098 on Saturday mornings 8:00 until noon on Jan. 24 and Feb 7, 14, 21, and 28. I will have blueberry, blackberry, fig, persimmon, and muscadine plans.

Leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic

January 9, 2015

This recipe is from Whole Foods.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon roughly chopped rosemary
2 cloves garlic
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 pound leg of lamb
2 cups baby carrots
4 medium white potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup red wine
Be sure the meat is at room temperature before you begin.
Place oil, rosemary, and 1 clove of the garlic into a blender and puree until almost smooth. Add salt and pepper. Pour garlic mixture over the lamb, rubbing it into the surface of the meat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange carrots, potatoes, and onions in the bottom of a roasting pan. Pour or spoon marinade that has dripped off the lamb onto the vegetables and toss well to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Cut small slits into the top, sides, and bottom of the lamb. Thinly slice the remaining clove of garlic and place a slice into each slit. Set the lamb in the pan with the vegetables and pour wine over the top.

Roast lamb and vegetables for 45 minutes, covered, and an additional 45 minutes, uncovered, or until lamb is done to your liking. Transfer lamb to a cutting board and let it sit for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, check the vegetables. If they are not yet tender, cover and return to oven while lamb is resting to continue roasting until tender. Transfer lamb and vegetables to a serving platter and drizzle with pan juices.

Slow roasted lamb shoulder

January 9, 2015

One 3 to 4 pound lamb shoulder

1 tsp salt 1 tsp black pepper

4 sprigs of rosemary about 4 inches long

Fresh oregano

1 lemon cut in half

Make sure the lamb is at room temperature before you begin.  Rub lamb all over with 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Put about 3 leeks, cut in half, or one large onion, sliced, in the bottom of a roasting pan and set lamb on top. Scatter garlic, rosemary and oregano over the lamb and leeks, and then squeeze lemon juice over lamb and toss lemon halves into the pan. Cover the pan snugly with foil and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue to roast, covered, for 1 1/2 hours.  At this point add vegetables like quartered potatoes, florence fennel, turnips, cauliflower, etc and roast for two more hours.  Let the lamb rest for twenty minutes before serving.

Bone broth

January 9, 2015

This is just about the same recipe that was in a New York Times article about bone broth.

5 pounds of bones with some meat attached
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
3 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
2 onions, halved and peeled
2 cups tomatoes – fresh or boxed
1 head garlic cut in half crosswise
2 bay leaves
1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ bunch fresh thyme
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place meat and bones in a pan. Coat in olive oil and brush with tomato paste. Roast until browned, 30 to 35 minutes.
Put roasted meat and bones in a 12-quart stockpot and add vinegar and enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer, uncovered, for 2 to 3 hours. While simmering, occasionally skim fat and foam from the top using a ladle.
Add all the remaining ingredients. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for a minimum of 3 hours. I simmer mine at least 24 hours. Strain broth. Once broth has cooled, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Saint Arnold and the lamb

December 29, 2014

IMG_2724Not only does Saint Arnold make a great beer, but you can fit a nipple on the screw top. Kenan chose to use a “stout” bottle because this lamb needed a little extra vim and vigor. For those of you panicking, we filled it with milk and supplements, no alcohol. Only two times have we had to take a newborn lamb in, warm it up and feed it. Gulf Coast Native Sheep are very good at birthing and tend to be very good mothers. However, yesterday at 37˚ and raining I found a 3 day old ram lamb, born small to a first time mother, alone 25 feet from any other member in the flock. It was lying on its side, which is not normal. When I felt in his mouth it was cold. Quickly I wrapped him in my coat, took him to the house and put a lamp on him. It took about 12 hours for him to start standing again. With help from the foster grandkids we got him back on his feet. I took him back to the flock at 7:00 this morning and his mother, Loretta Lynne, met me at the gate. Loretta was too young to be bred (rams jump fences) and has a severed nerve in her foot. But all day today we have seen the mother and child reunion. They are together every time I go out. Hopefully she will become the mother all her aunts are.

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