I just don't know what's gotten into me, but I just wanted to wish Happy Holidays (and a prosperous New Year!) to those of you still hanging in and contributing to the HOS Forum. You all provide so much in terms of your cumulative, observational knowledge, and I'm always impressed by the sometimes abstruse questions that are posed regarding fruit growing, yet someone on the Forum has helpful information to offer!
I've always found the year-end holidays profoundly depressing, especially because of all the crass commercialism, yet -- somehow -- right now I'm feeling good, and just wanted to thank you all!
May the year 2022, with all its unknowns and curveballs, be a good year for each and everyone of you. You're a great group of people!
Back at you. There's a song I sing to my family this time of the year. "It's the least wonderful time........ of the year!" Can't get out in the garden or do hardly any other recreation this time of year. Short, cold, wet days. But hey, the days are getting longer. Have you noticed?
Have a great day and a wonderful year ahead!
One good thing about winter - time to get all of those chores done that there was no time for in summer.
In Jan, I start onion seeds and hot pepper seeds. They grow under LEDs in the sunroom, because the natural light intensity is low and the days are short. Most other things wait 2 or 3 or more months, but it's a nice way to start the garden year.
This time of year I focus on making smoothies from fruit I froze this year (or the year before that...). I have a freezer in the basement that gets packed to the gills every harvest season.
If you don't already have one, a blender is a great way to use up a lot of your harvest. With astringent fruits (e.g. aronia) I mix in some sweet yogurt and/or fruit juice. One of my favorite yogurts to use in smoothies: https://www.zoigreekyogurt.com.....mon-cream/
I freeze berries as-is. With freestone fruits (e.g. Italian plum), I cut them in half and remove the pit, then freeze. With apples and grapes I press them, then can or freeze the juice, and also dry them. I dry most of my figs. Cornelian cherries are still a bit of a puzzle to use, due to the pit that is is difficult to remove. It is fun to try mixing different things in smoothies.
Most of my smoothies are quite thick, I like them that way. Getting the glass clean afterwards can be a bit of a pain though. Usually have to scrape with a spoon. If I'm not careful with that I get complaints from my wife about leaving "sludge" on the glasses 🙂
I want to try making fruit/nut bars, I'm gathering some ideas here: https://pin.it/3AqCAQG If you have a recipe you like, I'd love to see it.
One of my ideas for 2022 is to compare dried plums and see if my hybrid Nadia (patented elsewhere deep red cherry to plum cross) can come anywhere close to Satsuma (firm and deep red) dried plum that I had in 2021. They were super. They were sliced thin then dried. The Satsuma idea started by attending volunteer events and just listening and staying in touch.
I collect seeds of wild and hand pollinated fruit trees. They get placed in a raised flat of soil with air exposed underneath the flat. I need to monitor them more often for freezing and last night they got covered with enough blanket to keep above freezing. It worked. I think they germinate better with more extreme fluctuations during a day but I think this under 32 degrees F might be too much. So by next year I am going to heat trace underneath the flats during Dec - Jan cold snaps. I could probably aim for higher than average Feb - March day high temperatures and possibly get high germination. Native North American fire cherry species seeds are fussy that way.
Thankfully I aced my electronics exam in apprenticeship school and specialized in wired control systems afterwards. One on-off photocell, an analog temperature sensor, and a digital based appliance server such as raspberry/linux is all that's needed for sensing and control (less complicated than it sounds).
For me with all my travels to and from places all these cooler months are keeping me too busy until after fruit tree flowers are done with.
Wonderful to see this diversity of responses! You're a great assemblage of self-selecting people with a common interest in orcharding!
To each and every one of you, may the new year bring a better, more predictable future. In the midst of this Covid-19 amorphous mayhem that we've been "enjoying" for the last couple of years, we can still appreciate who we are, where we are, what we have, and what we value and enjoy. I spent a few hours today -- after scattering out birdseed -- sitting out in the snow "talking" to my local resident birds and calling them in for their seeds. Song sparrows, Spotted Tow-hees, Oregon juncoes, Black-capped and Chestnut-backed chickadees, and some of my "shyer" birds like Ruby-crowned kinglets, and Bewick's and Pacific Wrens [who are not seed-eaters, but come to my higher-pitched whistles]. I don't like the cold, but I love the natural world, and this part of the year is all part of the fascinating circle of the seasons.
John: I'm going to have to remember: "It's the least... wonderful time of the year." That sounds like a song variant that I would have come up with. That being said, I just love (bitter-ass cold as it is) the beautiful "winter wonderland" after a snowfall. The natural world is truly wonderful!
Our fruit trees are getting their winter dormant period. Let us appreciate that. They need the rest. Next year they will do what they were meant to do.
All best wishes to each of you.