Orchard Chronicles

Macala Notes from Rich Macaluso 6/23/17

Hot Town ... Summer in the City .... and the country!

Preparing for our first Olive Oil Tasting Night today and tonight.

Villa Macala is a very peaceful place with buckwheat and guava and pom blooms.

Olives are hanging on trees and starting to have "pit hardening" on some varieties.

Zinfandel grapes are growing well and maybe we will have a harvest this year instead of feeding some animals like last year. They are getting a retaining wall and fencing around and over the vines soon this week and next.

The most rain this past winter we have had in many years and it has provided a heavy bloom. Fruit set has been average this year.

We did a heavy prune of all trees - so a bird can fly thru each tree like the Italian proverb suggests.

We have been cultivating and composting and clearing and cleaning orchards for insect control.

All in all it's a great year for Macala Orchards!

Olive Oil Tasting Night 6/24/17

Olive Oil Tasting Night 6/24/17

Episode 11: Harvest Season Has Arrived!

8/28/16

It seems our new found purpose is the proper feeding and care of the grey squirrel population of St. John’s creek area.  A steady diet of Pomegranates arils and old vine Zin has them feeling well… I’m sure.

We salvaged enough of our Zinfandel production this year to have a freezer full of grapes for Grape Jelly to be made by our very own Person in Charge – Nonna Gianina!  Watch for that while my wife's late uncle Big O watches out for our grapes from now on. (9/9/16 update - Macala Grape Jelly yield was 6 jars and we sold out in 3 days).

Pomegranates look beautiful and good size … at least those that are still on the trees.  We are working overtime to defeat the battle of the critters and the split.  Trees get stressed this time of year, especially in these dry times we live in in SW Riverside County.

Macala Olives are looking very good.  Every year at this time we find a few on the ground where some animal who has not found out prior tries to eat a few of them … and learns that they are NOT GOOD TO EAT right off the tree.  We see no evidence of the Olive Fruit Fly!  Our Olives are ripening later than normal as is everything at Villa Macala. 

This last weekend in August we harvested 1.5 gallons of Bella di Cerignola olives and are in the process of our annual lye cure of these the largest of the olive varietals.  They originate in Puglia, Italy around the city of Cerignola, which Genine and I visited on our last visit to THE BOOT.  These will end up a buttery large green table olive that everyone loves (not for sale-we just share with family and friends).

Our Guava crop is going to be the largest ever.  We are thankful to the Pope Family (I think) for this “gift” and surprised at how well these trees do in our climate here and the micro climate of the north east facing slope of Guava Canyon.  Happy trees for sure and we are keeping them pruned small and open for easier harvesting on the slope and among the boulders.  Beautiful fruit on the Hawaiin Guava’s.  We are hopeful to have a small crop of Brazilian Guava’s also and save them from the critters who have been the beneficiaries of these two small and slow growing trees every year so far.  Guava Leaf Tea will become a staple product of Macala and its health benefits are great while I love the taste better then any tea I drink.

Best fig crop yet and Nonna Gianina made the greatest fig jam ever!  Get it while it lasts.  We intend to expand our production of figs and Macala Fig Jam.  Thanks to the Big O, for the original cuttings.

We had successful initial development of 3 camp sites that we offered for campers through Hip Camp sites this year and we are continuing to develop them.  Elderberry Park site will be able to accommodate a large group when done of possibly 6 or 7 or more tents.  We also have two sites for smaller groups of 2 tents maximum and ready now, one in Olive Orchard #4.

All in all Villa Macala is a great retreat and a natural place to let time retreat to its rightful place in our lives!

 

Olives ready to be harvested at our 9/10/16 harvest!

Episode 10: Whole Lotta Bloomin' Going On

Flowers and fruit everywhere!  Olives and pomegranates forming now on the trees and that is a beautiful sight.  We are starting to spray for Olive Fruit Fly and other pests with all OMRI approved organic sprays.  We just added 9 new olive trees to our Orchard #4 with lots of terracing and stops and paths to make it possible on a steep slope.  Thank you Fred!  We also planted 4 new pomegranate trees at one of our pomegranate orchards as well!

We are looking towards packaging our fresh pressed olive oil this fall for sale as Olio Nuovo. Olio Nuovo or "New Oil" refers to the fresh, unfiltered oil which is released just after the milling of a new harvest of olives.  It is distinctly fresh and grassy with a bright green color.  Unlike wine, the newer the oil, the better it is and the more health benefits that can be gained from consuming it.  We have tasted and purchased it in Italy and it is worth it.  Short life but what a taste!

Guava flowering happening. Figs are beginning to form. Grape vines are in full swing and beautiful.  This year's producing vines has grown from 5 last year to around 30 now. Wine stomp and crush and wine-making will take place in late July or August possibly.  Get your Lucy bandannas ready and let us know if that is something you might enjoy helping with? We won't have wine for sale, but we will use our grapes to make some amazing grape jam!

Our oregeno, rosemary, lavender and sage herb gardens are growing and multiplying!

We will have Guava Jam products and our Guava Leaf Tea for our upcoming May 29th Orchard Market!  Come and taste. The guava leaf tea is not only very tasty but it has many health benefits!

Our friend Mary has been creating some amazing art with the Manzanita and Oak wood from Villa Macala.  She just showed it this weekend at her school Cal State San Bernardino!!!

Could bees and honey BEE in our future?  Could BEE!

We are hard at work keeping weeds down, cultivating, maintaining our irrigation system and improving our land!

We are looking forward to a great summer of growing and hoping for a great harvest this fall, which looks very promising right now!

Thank You to all who help and support!

Photos of current olive fruit set, wine grapes growing and fresh guava leaves used to make guava leaf tea!

Episode 9: PEOPLE

Buon Natale to all!

E Felice Anno Nuovo!

Thanks to my cousin Tom Macaluso I watched a short TED talk this morning that reviewed the results of a 70 year and ongoing study of what makes people happy?  The overwhelming conclusion is strong relationships family and social! 

I am very thankful for my Family - extended and large and diverse it is!  We have so many great friends as well!  Thru my work and career at OCT we have developed a large number of good friends!

Now thru Macala Orchards that is happening again.  Thanks to all of my family and friends who have helped us and supported us at Macala Orchards!

We are looking forward to 2016 at Macala.  This time of year we are doing the work that prepares our trees and land for the annual growing season that will come soon enough.

Pruning is happening.  Pomegranate trees and grape vines and guava trees are being worked on to provide for tree health and quality fruit production in the coming year.  Olive tree pruning will start soon too.   We only prune the trees that need it and not every year.  Opening up most trees in the middle and keeping them 6 ft tall or less to allow for hand harvesting without ladders are some important goals.

We are also working on terracing and steps as some of our orchards are on slopes and hillsides. 

Cultivation of soil and composting and removal of suckers is happening as well.

Grapes and figs and guavas are covered to protect against frost damage.

We have orchard Markets scheduled for January 16 and in February and March as well.   Details at www.macalacompanies.com.

Interested in working with us on a harvest next fall?  Let us know to get added to our harvest or list!

As we are giving thanks for the good things in 2015 and planning and preparing for 2016 ... We are ever mindful of the PEOPLE in our lives who make it good and happy!

Episode 7: Here comes the fruit...(do in doo doo)

Here comes the fruit!  Here comes the fruit!

We have a lot of fruit hanging on trees and growing nicely and starting to ripen.  The heat and drought are not as difficult on our crops as most.  Olives and Pomegranates and Guava are all dry weather trees and actually in some cases do better with dry hot conditions. 

Our Olive Crop is looking very healthy and happy.  We are planning our first harvest and also our VERY FIRST PRESS OF OIL with our new "OLIO MIO" Olive Press in late September.  That is very exciting!

We are putting together a list of those who want to harvest olives with us.  On a harvest day we will be starting at 6 am and harvesting until about 11 am.  Genine will then have a wonderful lunch prepared for us all to enjoy and we will be moving the olives to our Press facility about 5 minutes away and pressing oil the same day.  Anybody who wants to participate would need to commit the whole day.  These are work days and the reward is the fun in the orchards and the lunch and those who work the full day will receive a bottle of fresh cold pressed Olie Nuevo as a gift at the end of the day if you stay for the pressing or later if you have to leave before the pressing but did harvest.  The 6 am start time is a EARLY but that is required.  Let us know if that is of interest by emailing me richmac@macalacompanies.com!

Pomegranates and Guava's and Figs are all doing GREAT. Lots of beautiful fruit.  We have some Pomegranate Jelly and Spread still from last year and it is marked down now for the rest of the year.  Go online to buy some or find a close by vendor or you can watch for our Orchard Market on September 20th from 2 pm to 6 pm and another in October.   We also still have a few jars of our first production of Guava Jam and Guava-Pomegranate Jam available for sale at our online store.  It is great!  Genine will be making our first Fig Jam in the near future and hopefully before the September 20th Orchard Market.

We have great Oregano, Rosemary and Lavender growing and looking good. We do offer those for sale in our website as well as at Orchard Markets. Next one Sunday September 20th. Hope to see you then.

Big news - Rich and Genine harvested 2 bins of our estate grown "old vine Zinfandel" grapes in late July.  We crushed about half of them and fermented and made wine. It is ageing now in a glass carboy.  We think it tastes great and Genine has been slapping me away every time I want to take a glass with our dinner.  We are really please with our work and our learning and our result.  We are hopeful to continue to be able to make wine in future years and to be able to make enough to share with family and friends and harvesters.  The other half of the grapes we harvested will become Genine's first batch of Grape Jelly!!

To a good harvest and production season!  

Episode 6: Not All Flowers Become Fruit

Not all flowers become fruit!

Well we had a fantastic "Bud Break" but I am finding out that again this year "not all flowers become fruit"!  Olive flowers and very infant olives get blown off or washed off during rain or just don't set well for whatever reason.  This has been typical I think in the past although it is disappointing. I think it is normal to a degree.  I also think that drought has impact. Lastly windy and rainy days during fruit set can reduce crop size.

All that said we do have a lot of olives hanging on many of our trees and we are still hopeful for a decent harvest and oil press in October and November.

Pomegranates and Guava's and Figs are all doing GREAT. Lots of beautiful fruit and blossoms.  Gonna be a good year for all that.

Mustard Greens wild and all over the place. We are trying to pull them out before they go to seed. Darn Father Junipero Serra!

We have wired up our juicing and oil pressing room.  We are getting organized for September thru Thanksgiving harvest season.

If you want to know about harvest days and consider working with us on harvest let us know to put you on the email list for notices.  We plan to have 5 or so Friday's or Saturdays where we have a group of "volunteers" work with us and leave with a full belly and some juice or oil. In the past this has been fun and Genine's cooking alone is enough for most to give me 4 or 5 hours of harvesting. 

Email Rich if you want notices of the harvest dates.

We have great Oregano, Rosemary and Lavender growing and looking good. We do offer those for sale in our website as well as at Orchard Markets. Next one Saturday June 20th. Hope to see you then.

Our small first vineyard of "old vine Zinfandel" is taking shape and looking good. Clusters have formed and we will have some grapes and maybe a tiny bit of wine this year. IF I get them netted in time and that works?

Anyway, all is good in the Macala Orchards and Vineyards. We appreciate everybody's support and interest very much.

We love growing healthy things organically and sustainably without GMO seeds or plants.   **See our photo galary with current photos of our orchards below.  Click on the picture to see the next picture.


Episode 5 - Winter is Coming to an End....

Winter is coming to an end ... at least for those of us in Southern California.  Macala's trees and vines are leafing out and buds are starting to form.  Feels like more rain over this just ending winter, than we had during the prior winter.  Good news!

I am most excited about the early and large number of buds forming on our Olive Trees.   Quiet excitement here about that.  Long way to go thru "bud break" and "fruit set" and then spraying for the fly and harvest and pressing oil.  But quietly excited about potential this year!

Our Pomegranate trees look as healthy as ever.  We have completed all pruning and all the trees are leafing out nicely and a few bright red buds starting to form on some trees.  Our Pomegranate Jelly and Spread (no sugar added) from last years crops is on the shelves at 16 Southern California Markets and available online at http://www.macalacompanies.com/ .  We are planning an Orchard Market at our Pomegranate Orchard in Hemet (at Garnet Lane and E. Newport Rd) for May 2nd Saturday.  We hope you can make it out to see us and taste our Pom Jelly and Spread.  With a little luck Nonna Macaluso's Guava Jam will be available for tasting as well.

We now have 9 fig trees in the ground and leaves on those trees and Fig's forming.  We should have a small supply of fresh figs for sale at the May 2nd Orchard Market as well.  Nonna Macaluso wants to make Fig Spread possibly this year as well.  We can only hope!

Our first vineyard is graded and we have some 35 new vines in our Growhouse and Greenhouse.  These will be planted this spring hopefully with a new drip irrigation system installed as well.  Old Vine Zinfandel wine is being made and tasted in my head now. 

Our Guava crop last year was good and that is the basis of our next product - Nonna Macaluso's Guava Jam mentioned above.  She will be making it under her new Cottage Law Food Preparers certification.  She passed the test "with honors" and we are waiting her certification.  If anybody is qualified my wife is!  The trees are in the process of pruning at this time and look as healthy as ever.

We are growing vegetables and herbs in our Growhouse and Greenhouse and whatever is ripe and ready will also be available at the May 2nd Orchard Market.

If you are not a friend on Facebook or already getting our email updates, please like us on Facebook or go to our website (http://www.macalacompanies.com/ ) and sign up for Email Updates. 

Spring is busting out all over .... and that is surely true at Macala Orchards!

Episode 4

I am writing this from balcony overlooking St Pete's Beach in Florida at the wedding of my Goddaughter Jamie and Corey (great olive harvesters both).

Macala's 2014 production now includes the addition of our very own miracle and angel Julia Jane, who is in Nina's and her family's care awaiting adoption.  She is beautiful and was born December 2nd.

Our Pomegranate and Guava crops were great this past year.  Pomegranate Jelly and Spread production is done with a wonderful final product - now for sale!  Guava's are frozen and waiting for our Cottage Law registrations and home production of Guava Related Products.  Stay Tuned for that.

We harvested our first commercial herb crop this year and enjoyed distribution primarily thru Harvest2U in Temecula.  Rosemary, Lavender and Oregano.  Available year round for sale on our website and at our Orchard Markets.  Plans to expand the list of Herbs grown are formulating and being implemented now .

While we had a ZERO production of olives this year, we did purchase an Olive Mill imported from Tuscany - Olio Mio Gold!  We are ready for a big Olive year in 2015 and more Macala Olive Oil in the fall/winter !

We are working on growing our Fig Orchard and still trying to see if Walnuts can thrive in the Villa Macala climate and soil?

Our first Vineyard is taking shape and has been graded and erosion mitigation work is almost done. We are building around the two parent old vine Zinfandel plants, with 3 babies in ground and another 20+ babies in our green house and shade structure grow house .  This vineyard will end up with 50+ vines by summer 2016.  With luck we will have our first wine production to share with family and friends in 2017. 

Grandma and Grandpa Zinfandel vines and their children...vineyard is all graded and ready for our vines to grow their family!

Grandma and Grandpa Zinfandel vines and their children...vineyard is all graded and ready for our vines to grow their family!

Future orchards and vineyards are being planned and graded over then coming year and starters being propagated in greenhouse now. 

Our retail vendor list is growing and our website sales also.  After a very successful Thanksgiving Orchard Market, we are now planning one for the Spring/Easter time.

Thanks to all of you who enjoy are products!

Rich and Genine Macaluso

Episode 3

Genine and our Italian friend Vincenzo in front of a 2500 year old olive tree in Melissa, Italy.

Genine and our Italian friend Vincenzo in front of a 2500 year old olive tree in Melissa, Italy.

9/26/2014

I am writing this from Italy (the source of Macala inspiration)!  In the coming weeks we will be visiting Calabria, Puglia, Abruzzo and Umbria.  We have family and friends in these four regions. We will also visit orchards, vineyards and mills to see first hand the artisan ways of Italy where Fresh and Simple "slow" food preparation with the best local ingredients is a passion and way of life. 

Rafael has been busy picking our ripening poms almost daily and they are very beautiful as our trees are maturing.  Before we left we were able to juice 8.5 gallons of ruby red pomegranate juice.  We will use this in our new batch of pom jelly and also in our "no sugar added" spread.  Both of these are due out Thanksgiving weekend at our Jelly Stand, which is in one of our orchards, Friday and Saturday after Turkey Day.   Come out and see us either day.  We will have whole fresh Poms for sale also!

Our Guava Orchards are producing many of ripe fruit which Rafael must harvest daily.  We are learning much about this wonderful fruit and Genine will be making our first large scale production of Guava Jam when we return.  We hope to debut that as a new product for sale soon.

We have begun a small oregano and thyme "farm" now and can have fresh or dried herbs for any who want it.   We will have these available at the Thanksgiving weekend Orchard Jelly Stand.

Even though we have no olives or Olive Harvest this year ... We do have our new Olio Mio Olive Mill which was delivered just over a week ago. It is a beautiful "state of the art" machine and perfect for our small boutique Olive Oil production.  It will process 150 lbs of olives per hour into our Gold Medal award winning oil.  Next year we will be able next to harvest in the morning early and press oil immediately for the best results.

Finally Fred has begun to grade and layout our first vineyard and Rafael and I have been pruning and propagating more vines for the greenhouse.  These old vine Zinfandels love it at Villa Macala and are very happy and healthy there.  The grapes seem to be amazing to me and I am anxious to begin to make wine and learn about that process.


Episode 2

Hello all, There is a lot going on at Macala Orchards. First and foremost is the birth of our 5th grandchild Luca Uju Macaluso!   

Meanwhile back at the ranch ... 

Our Pomegranate Crop is progressing very nicely. We are already harvesting a few of the early ripening Pomegranates and refrigerating until we have enough to set up our first juicing.  Looks like a good healthy crop this year.

The Guava Orchard is a very happy place with a great number of Guava fruit formed and growing on almost all of our trees.  See a couple of pictures below.

We have been attaching shiny silver ribbon to our Pomegranate and Guava and Fig trees in order to keep birds off of them and from tasting the good fruit.  Also ordered some netting to put over the Guava for bird protection but also other 4 legged critters that might want to try some of them as they are maturing.

We are picking figs lately and they are very good. Getting ready to plant more Fig Trees over the next few months.

We are harvesting oregeno, chives, Italian large leaf basil, thyme, tomatoes of several varieties including San Marzano and Roma, Eggplant (Nonna Genine made the best Eggplant Parmesan ever) and even our first peppers.

If you would like some dried Oregeno fresh let Genine or Nina know.

We have been growing from seeds Meringa Trees (thank you Jamie Kuhn) and we are getting ready to plan a few of them now. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moringa_oleifera we have several starters available that we do not have the capacity to plant right now, so let us know if you would like one.

We hope to take delivery of our new Olive Press in September or October, so let us know if you have an Olive Tree with Olives on it this year and would like to participate in our first Community Press out at our ranch.  This would involve harvesting your olives and bringing them to us at our Ranch near Diamond Valley Lake south of Hemet.  We will mix with all other Olives and everybody will leave with some fresh pressed Olive Oil = Olio Nuevo.

Nonna Genine is busy today in her 'test kitchen' experimenting with Fig Walnut Jam made with our Figs and Walnut Butter.  We are hoping to have enough that there will be a limited supply available for sale?  Let us know if you would like to purchase any.

We are sold out of all other products, EXCEPT FOR POMEGRANATE JELLY.  Go online to order or visit one of our retail vendors listed on the website.  We are currently donating $1 from every jar sold to THE CITY OF HOPE!  The City of Hope holds a special place in our heart as many of our family and friends have been treated there and we are grateful for the good work they do with cancer patients.

Lastly a tribute to Genine's Father Andy Oddi or Pappa D. Here is a picture of Pappa D's firepit out at the Olive Ranch which was literally the first development there when he and I and Gino would camp out there in the late 80's.

Episode 1

Hello Friends of Macala Orchards ... 

We are in the middle of an interesting growing season.

Our pomegranate trees and crop are doing very well. Another year older and more mature.  We have successfully relocated 37 pom trees from a property we sold to Villa Macala our main orchard. Together with 14 propagated trees that were growing in our small green house we have a new "Circle Pomegranate Orchard" at Villa Macala.  The trees love their new location!

We also have a line of young pomegranate trees lining the driveway of Villa Macala planted this past few months from the same propagation effort.

We are almost sold out of our new Pomegranate Spread (no sugar added).  We will be selling our traditional Pomegranate Jelly right through the harvest of the new crop.

Our Guava Orchard has sprung into a prolific bearing season with a "plethora" of young small guava fruit hanging on our guava trees.  We have attached shiny ribbon to the branches to ward off birds and are hoping to cover the small orchard with netting to further protect from critters.  We will be experimenting with how to use the guava's this year and most likely not have any commercial offerings.  Friends and family will hopefully get to taste whatever 'Nonna' Genine and Nina decide to do with our fruit if we have a successful harvest.

Our small start to a 5 tree fig orchard is bearing nicely and we have 5 more trees in the green house waiting to be planted.  Experimenting with watering volume and keeping birds and other critters from eating these.

Sad Story #1 - our 'old vine' Zinfandel plants and propagation effort has been very successful and the vines love the soil and "terroir" at Villa Macala.  We had the two "Mother Vines" produce a wonderful volume of beautiful clusters of grapes that were starting to ripen early with the great sunshine this spring and summer. I had the refractometer out and had purchased my first "home wine-making" kit.  Alas, 2 weeks ago ... coyotes or deer found my grapes and ate every last one of them one Sunday when no one was there.  Fencing around our Vineyards will be necessary and maybe netting over them.  We know we can produce great Zinfandel wine grapes though and I am excited about the future of that.

Sad Story #2 - Our olive trees have produced almost no olives this year. Due to the alternating production nature of olive trees and the drought as well as our decision not to heavily irrigate we will not produce much olive oil this year and none commercially.  Our trees are very healthy and happy and sending down deep strong root systems for future years.  That portends good things in the future for Macala Olive Oil.

Meanwhile I had purchased our first olive oil press from Olio Mio (made in Italy) and we will take delivery in September most likely.  We will host a "press day" and invite anyone who wants to to bring their olives to us on that day (fresh harvested that morning) to press oil and share the results.

We are very excited about the continued growth of our orchards and vineyards.  We continue to follow all organic growing methods and have decided the time is right to apply for certification of our orchards.  A lot of work to apply and we hope to have it done and in and approved in time for this year’s crop and production.

Thanks to all for your support and encouragement as we continue down this path of being boutique local organic growers and food producers.

Rich