Thursday, March 26, 2009

New in the Garden this year: Yuzu

Having grown up in southern California, where lots of folks are lucky enough to have orange, lemon, or lime trees in their yards, I have been scheming to figure out how I can too, even though I live in the Pacific Northwest.

Well, yuzu might just be the answer. I hope so. I've never had a fresh yuzu fruit, but the descriptions sound entrancing; fragrant tart, complex, combining flavors of grapefruit and mandarin. Best of all it is relatively frost hardy and can be grown in regions where other citrus will not grow.

this photo generously shared by benketaro on flickr

The zest and the juice are used in Japanese and Korean cuisine. I have a feeling this may be one of those Next Big Thing, things. Bars will serve yuzu infused cocktails and candles will be scented with yuzu, any day now, if not already. You can buy bottled yuzu juice at Asian grocers. But I should like nothing better than to be able to pick my own tangy yuzu off a tree in my own yard.

I bought a small yuzu tree last week at Pistils Nursery.
It may be a few years before it bears fruit, but it will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another Thing I Should Have Done Last Fall...

I finally built one of the Hugelkultur beds that I posted about back in October 2008. Inspired by an article in our paper, The Oregonian, I decided to make one in the back yard.
Everything about it sounded great, kind of like sheet composting or lasagna gardening, but on a more rustic, brawny scale.

Benefits include:
Dry and warm the soil a little earlier than normal
Continuous feed of nutrients to the raised bed
A place to get rid of yard debris and old wood, (as long as it's not painted or treated)

I dug a pit, about 4 x 8 feet, and about 6-8" deep, filled it with bigger logs at the bottom and then sticks, leaves, and dirt on the top. Watered it in and left it alone for a couple of weeks.

A few weeks ago I added about 4-6 inches of compost and planted some peas, mustard greens, arugula, and rapini. Here's what it looks like as of a few days ago. I baited for slugs yesterday, since some of the tender leaves were looking a little nibbled. My make shift cloches are clear plastic champagne buckets.