We are pruning trees in our stone fruit orchards to prepare them for winter. Pruning allows us to shape the trees in order to prepare for next year’s new growth and harvest. Pictured above, the left side of this high density stone fruit block is pruned and the right side hasn’t been pruned yet.
Block prep is happening on our farms. Before new plantings, we perform multiple steps to prepare the land. Pictured above, a large machine called a ripper is digging 5+ feet into the ground with a long shank to break up any hard or compacted streaks in the soil, which provides a better environment for roots to grow.
This is the time of year for reflection and giving thanks. Despite many challenges this year, we still have much to be thankful for. Those challenges gave us the opportunity to adapt and grow, and we successfully made it through an unprecedented summer. While Thanksgiving may look different this year for many of us, we hope that you can spend some quality time with your loved ones – whether in person or virtually.
Grapes are a go-to choice when making a fruit salad or charcuterie board, but they are so much more versatile than that! One of the most surprising things about grapes is how great they are when roasted. This super easy recipe using HMC Farms grapes is a great way to elevate your appetizers and small plate offerings from home gatherings to catered events.
What you’ll need for about 16 pieces of crostini:
- 1 bunch of HMC Farms red seedless table grapes
- Fresh ricotta cheese
- 1 medium-sized loaf of rustic bread
- Fresh thyme or rosemary
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Optional: honey, balsamic glaze, or walnuts
Steps to roasted grape crostini bliss:
- While the grapes are in the oven, slice the bread to desired thickness (we prefer about ½”), brush one side with olive oil, and grill in a pan or on a griddle. Brush the other side with olive oil and flip. Remove from the pan when both sides look lightly toated.
- Remove grapes from the oven and set the pan out to cool.
- Spread fresh ricotta on one side of each piece of toasted bread. Add 4-5 grapes to the top of each piece, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme or rosemary.
Tip: These are great just the way they are, but there are also lots of options for additions to top off the appetizer. Try drizzling a little honey, olive oil, or balsamic glaze over the top, or even adding a few chopped walnuts!
What is STEM?
STEM stands for an idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. It is an applied, blended and cohesive approach that encourages a hands-on experience while allowing students a chance to gain and apply relevant “real world” knowledge in the classroom.
STEM has become a critical component to nation-wide Academic Standards. Together with The Produce Moms and a middle school science teacher, we developed two STEM projects for middle school students using grapes. Because why not combine a science experiment with one of the most popular fruits?
The best part about our two grape STEM experiments…you can download them and print them off for FREE.
Grapes for STEM Projects
Grape Smash. Our Grape Smash STEM Project is designed for students to practice classification along with learning about the Law of Conservation of Mass.
Download the free HMC Farms Grape Smash STEM Activity Sheet
Dancing Grapes. Our Dancing Grapes STEM project focuses on using the POE (Predict-Observe-Explain) strategy. Predicting, Observing and Explaining incorporates the fundamental processes associated with all discovery learning. This project allows students to use all 5 senses and allows them to communicate and demonstrate their understandings through written and visual explanations.
Download the free HMC Farms Dancing Grapes STEM Activity Sheet
To learn more about The Produce Moms, visit their website.
Flame red seedless grapes are now in harvest at HMC Farms. Flames are the first of our California table grape varieties to harvest. As you can see in the photo, our trellis system and ongoing maintenance—including pruning and tying vines—have come together to create clean and organized vineyard rows. The trellis raises the height of the grape bunches, further contributing to ease of harvest and also providing shaded protection from the sun.
Harvest continues for HMC Farms peaches, plums, and nectarines. Our red table grapes began harvest this week, as mentioned above, and our Ivory green seedless table grapes will begin harvest in about 10-14 days. The forecast shows a slight drop in heat, with peak temperatures ranging from the mid 90s to low 100s and overnight lows in the 60s.
Last week, we grafted vines in one of our table grape vineyards. Grape vine grafting involves placing the shoot of one grape variety into the root stock of another variety. It is useful because it allows us to change out an under-performing variety without the time it takes to grow new root mass. With grafting, we only miss one season of grape production, compared with two to three seasons if we replant from scratch.
Our table grape vineyards are showing off more bright green leaves as the days progress. Tree fruit thinning has begun in our orchards. Precipitation has followed us into April, with a couple of rainy days showing up in this week’s forecast.