Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tangerine (singular)

You may recall that I have a tangerine tree that is planted in my yard, and lives, unprotected from my coastal North Carolina elements. A few years ago it produced it's first crop, over 100 perfect, up to 1/2 lb each, tangerines. Then we had a bitter cold winter, and all the branch ends were killed. That was followed by two summers of extreme drought. Needless to say, that did not help the poor tree recover. Stress led to scale and aphid infestations, which I have dealt with using horticulture oil or horticulture soaps. The tree finally has started to grow a few branches back, and this year had 1 perfect tangerine. Here it is! It was the sweetest citrus I have tasted, much sweeter than the first crop. Lets hope it is a sign of good things to come.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Winter zest

This is my favorite winter drink, and it comes from my garden! Fresh orangequat tea with honey. The juice tastes like lemon, the rind gives a little tiny bite, and the honey mellows it perfectly. I eat the sweet/bitter rind when the drink is gone. The orangequat bush is loaded with fruit. I need to harvest them before they go beyond mature, freeze the juice and either dry or make marmalade from the rinds.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A little late

I didn't notice this before the holidays, but look at this astounding mistletoe in the red bay in my front yard. I never have seen so many berries! Now this parasitic plant is just another sign that this poor tree is severely stressed. It's roots on one side were covered by a neighbor adding fill soil to their yard, and the tree has been struggling ever since. Last year it had the worst scale insect infestation I have seen. Now the mistletoe. Well, maybe now I will at least be kissed under the tree before it goes!

Winter has finally come to the coastal NC garden.  The lettuce up top was picked last weekend, when it was over 70 degrees.  The lettuce below was in the garden earlier this week, frozen truly solid after a night dipping down to 23 degrees.  There was no time for the garden to prepare itself for this first freeze, even though the freeze was a good 3 weeks late this year.  Despite this, the lettuce, carrots, and cilantro have perked back up, so I still have some time for salads and herbs.  I could extend the season even further with row covers, but to date have not taken that step.  Unlike the garden, I am having trouble adapting to the bitter temperatures, and am glad to have warm break again this weekend.