I love Changshou kumquats. If I were only going to plant one citrus tree, the Changshou would probably be it. They're so delicious and productive, but how do you preserve them? I hate having to turn healthy organic fruit into sugar-laden marmalade in order to keep it from spoiling, so this year I tried an experiment. I removed the seeds, chopped up the fruit in the food processor, and cooked them down in their own juice with no added sugar or water. I then canned them just like you would any jam or marmalade.
The result was delicious! The consistency is like a relish or chutney, but sweet, tart, and flavorful. I popped a small jar open to 'taste test' yesterday, and wound up eating the whole thing! I'm very excited to have discovered this wonderful 1-ingredient recipe, and will definitely be making more in the future. I'm also going to try it with loquats later, although I'll probably have to add some acid to can it safely.
Training is going well, although I seem to have some issue with my rotator cuff. I don't know if it's a repetitive stress injury from work or what, but I decided not to swim today. It really hurt yesterday, and I don't want to make it worse. Ran 21 miles on Saturday morning, and legs feel really good. I may not qualify for Boston, but I think I'm going to have a great marathon in Janauary.
A lot has changed for me in the past year. New job, new house, my kids are getting older, and I've become much more active. I haven't blogged much in that time because I've been so busy, and because writing a fruit-based post every week was starting to become a chore.
I'm going to try to start putting up posts again, but not here. The Weebly platform is great, but their mobile app is terrible. Since the only opportunity I will really have to post anything is via my iPad, I've decided to move over to WordPress. All the old content will still be available at this site, but all new posts from this point forward can be found at www.jclaytonbell.wordpress.com.
When I moved from the old house, I told myself that I was done with apple trees. In five years of trying to grow apples, I had harvested perhaps eight or less. If a disease or insect didn't get them, some varmint did. I even tried bagging the fruit individually with panty hose and spraying with Spinosad, but to no avail.
All that changeed this fall when I ate what I could only describe as the best Honeycrisp apple I've ever eaten. In general, I think the Honeycrisp apple is one of the finest pieces of fruit there is, period. After that perfect apple, I immediately logged on to Ison's and ordered a tree, which arrived on Friday.
Boy #1 was so excited to get planting, he even picked out the trees' locations. I love that the boys have been so involved in establishhing our new orchard. After lunch we got out the shovels and got to work. We also planted an Anna apple tree, and a Navel orange tree that I picked up from Plants for All Seasons. I couldn't find a definitive answer as to whether the Honeycrisp is self-fertile or not (probably not), so I figured I needed to plant another apple as a pollinator. Anna might bloom too early to pollinate Honeycrisp, but it's my favorite of the apples that are reported to grow well in Houston. I might not have any better luck here than I did at the old house, but its worth taking the gamble for the chance to taste a homegrown Honeycrisp.
My grafts are growing! I came home from Calgary to find that almost all of my grafts had healed and were pushing new growth. Luckily they didn't get nipped during the recent cold snap. I lost 2 out of the 14-15 cleft grafts, which I think is a pretty good success rate (at least for me). Now all I have to do is keep them from freezing this winter. They're all in 3-gallon pots, so I can easily just move them into the garage if we get a hard freeze. So the results of my experiment seem to be pretty conclusive: You can dig up trifoliate and successfully cleft graft in the fall.
In running news, on Saturday I ran my last 20-miler before the marathon on December 8th. I ran it really fast, ticking off my last mile in under 8 minutes. I think I'm ready for the big race. I just have to keep from going nuts during the tapering phase over the next few weeks.
Nothing big to report from the orchard, other than almost all of my grafts are still green and looking like they'll make it. I had a great 21 mile long run Saturday morning, and was much faster than I expected to be. Today my calves are just a little sore, and I'm actually very surprised at how good I feel. I can't seem to cram enough calories in my stomach though. I signed up to run the BCS Marathon on December 8th, and I'm getting pretty excited about it. I'm getting shipped out of the country for the next wee and a half, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to keep up my training on the road. It sure is nice to have the automatic drip irrigation system set up for trips like this. No worrying about things drying out! Fat chance of that with all the rain we've had.
This weekend we rented a little pop up camper and took off for the lake for a Bell Family Camp Out. In spite of some pretty chilly temperatures and a good-sized rainstorm, a good time was had by all. My parents, my brother and his family, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc all came out for some good food and fun. The kids had a great time, and can't wait to do it again.
As soon as I got home and unloaded the truck, I checked on all my grafts. It looks as though all but one are going to make it! Sadly, the Valentine Pummelo hybrid scion was brown and dead, but I think I know where I can get some more. I'm very happy with my apparent success rate so far, and can't wait until I once again have a yard full of fruiting trees.