Planting Olallieberries

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Ethan and “Little P” Planted Olallieberries at Grieb Ranch

Olallieberries are classified as a type of blackberry, and a cross between a “Youngberry” and a “Loganberry”. Olallieberries are shiny and full of juices that most would consider tart. Jams, pies and even wine can all be made from Olallieberries. If you live in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 7 through 9, you can plant a patch of Olallieberry bushes in your backyard. Keep in mind, however, that it takes two years from the date of planting before edible berries make their appearance.

How to Plant an Olallieberry Bush

  1. Block off a 5- by 18-foot space in a sunny location for growing your olallieberry bush. Olallieberries will tolerate a little bit of shade, but they prefer full sun.
  2. Test the soil in the area you want to plant the Olallieberries. Ideal soil should have a pH between 5.5 and 7. You can get a soil test kit at your local county extension office or from a gardening center. According to Oregon State University, you can add lime to the soil if the soil is too acidic.
  3. Erect a trellis at the back of your blocked off space. As the Olallieberries grow, they will need the support of the trellis.
  4. Work manure in the soil before planting at a rate of 2 cubic yards for every 100 square feet of space. If you don’t have manure, you can use compost.
  5. Dig out a hole to place your Olallieberry root ball in. The hole should be slightly bigger than the root ball. Wet the ground in the hole so that it is moist and then plant the root ball. Use some of the soil you removed to fill the space surrounding the root ball.
  6. Water the Olalliberry bush with 1 inch of water one time each week.
  7. Check frequently for weeds and remove them immediately.

Olallieberry picking (740x479)

Barbara the rooster lady gave Connie plants in 2016.  She got her plants from her Father who got the original stock in 1956 when he bought his first house.  Every time the family moved he/they took plants including the Olallieberry bushes.  Now after many moves Barbara has passed the Olallieberries on to Connie and they were planted at Grieb Ranch.

Yummy Berry Sauce as a Topping for Cake or Ice Cream.


1 cup berries (Strawberry or Olallieberry)

1 cup water

1 cup sugar(or less to taste)

*  *  *

2 Tbls Cornstarch

2 Tbls water


Combine fruit, water and sugar ingredients in sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Mix cornstarch with the 2 Tbls water in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to boiling fruit mixture and stir until thickened. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add 2-3 cups fresh berries to sauce and mix gently.

Pour over your favorite ice cream or cake. Yummmmy!


Spring Comes Early

Little P eating fruit (1024x765)

First fruit of the season

The first signs of spring are here and activity at Grieb Ranch continues to swell. Besides caring for the cattle, early spring is when the orchard needs extra care.
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Due to the drought we did not plant new trees last winter, which left room for four new trees to fill vacant spaces in the family orchard.  We planted an Italian Prune, Fantasia (nectarine),  Harcot (apricot), and a Elberta (peach) tree. We got everyone involved in digging the initial hole for the new bare-root trees. Each tree has a family memory and many are dedicated to family members, extended family and some friends.

Two strange weather-related events have caused unusual happenings in the orchard this year.  The first is that it’s February and we are picking mini apples (perfect for full-hands eating for a 3 year old boy) that were created from the freak July rain last summer.  Recently, record high temperatures have produced an early spring so we are busy pruning the older trees and tilling the orchard.

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Fresh Summer Fruits From the Orchard

Enjoying the fruit of our labor.

Enjoying the fruit of our labor.

“The fruit of our labor” is quite literal here at Grieb Ranch as we enjoy summer fruits plucked fresh from the Grieb orchard trees. With Summer just around the corner we are anticipating another season of deliciousness. The Anna apples are just coming ripe, the first of the apple crop.

Orchard Apricot Jam

Orchard Apricot Jam

The Aprium and Katy apricots have come and gone. The birds came in just as the apricots were barely ripe and knocked hundreds of apricots all over the ground. After all the working of watering, hoeing, tilling, etc. the birds were getting the best. What they knocked off we picked up and used for apricot syrup, apricot jam or fruit leather.

Grieb Ranch Apricot Syrup Recipe:

  1. Wash apricots (about 3 lbs), cut into quarters and throw away the pits. There is no need to peel the apricots, although you can if you wish.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, cook the apricots in a little water until they are soft, then puree using a blender or food processor.
  3. Measure the puree (I had 6 cups of puree) and then put it back in the Dutch oven. Add an equal amount of sugar and about 1/4 cup of lemon juice. The lemon juice keeps the apricots nice and bright but you can leave it out. The cooked syrup will be a darker brown color, but will still taste great!
  4. Stir the sugar/apricot mixture until the sugar melts, but first……TIP (this will save you much frustration and mess) take a stick of butter and just rub it along the inside lip of the Dutch oven. The butter fat will keep the syrup from boiling over. This is the voice of experience, apricot syrup all over the stove, floor, etc. is a sticky mess.
  5. Bring the mixture to a boil, and stir often until it reaches 215 – 218 degrees (use a candy thermometer).
  6. Remove the mixture from heat, stir and skim off the foam if there is any. Pour into 1/2 or 1 pint jars (I used 3/4 pint jars here, but they aren’t always easy to find). Leave about 1/2 inch of headroom.
  7. Wipe the jar rims with a moistened paper towel and put on the two-piece lids.
  8. Bring water to a boil in a water bath canner, add the syrup jars (using the little basket that keeps the jars off the bottom of the canner), make sure that they are covered with 1-2 inches of water and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat somewhat (you still want it to be boiling though) and process for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the jars and set on a towel on the counter top to cool. There, you have made delicious syrup perfect for pancakes or biscuits all winter long.

Some additional tips: The 6 cups of puree made about 4 pints of syrup.  You can also use this same basic recipe to make raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, cherry or grape syrup. Don’t reduce the amount of sugar as the recipe won’t work. For lower sugar syrup look for an approved reduced sugar jam recipe (ask your local extension agent) and cook until it is just short of  setting. Syrup is basically runny jam!

Lemons: A Burst of Sunshine to Brighten Winter

Lemons – or any citrus for that matter – brighten foods, smell heavenly, and bring a burst of sunshine to winter. The mild winters here on the Central Coast of California where Grieb Ranch is located, provide the perfect climate for growing citrus year-round. Many orange and yellow fruit are bursting forth right now in our orchard.

P eating a lemon

P enjoying the brightness of a lemon fresh off the tree.

One of our favorite ways to enjoy lemons is in a Lemon Meringue pie. Yum. This pie was Lorna’s (Fred Grieb’s Daughter) husband Merriam’s very favorite pie. It was always on the menu for his birthday dinner and any special family gathering. Some family members went right to the pie before the main course just so they could get a piece before it was gone!

The Family Favorite Lemon Meringue Pie

The Family Favorite: Lemon Meringue Pie

Recipe For: Daddy’s Favorite Lemon Pie

From the Kitchen of: Lorna Erickson             Servings: 8

Making the Pastry for one-crust pie (8 or 9 inch)
Pastry Ingredients:
1 C flour
½ t. salt
1/3 C plus 1 T shortening
2-3 T cold water
Pastry Instructions:

Measure flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in shortening. Sprinkle in water and mix until all flour is moistened. Roll dough out on lightly floured board. Fit into pie dish and prick bottom and sides of crust with fork. Bake 475 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Lemon Filling Ingredients:

1 ½ C sugar
1/3 C + 2 T cornstarch
1 ½ C water
4 large egg yolks slightly beaten
Zest of 2 lemons
3 T butter
½ C lemon juice
Lemon Filling Instructions:
Combine sugar and cornstarch in heavy saucepan. Stir in water gradually. Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thick and clear and boiling. Add a little of this mixture to beaten egg yolks. Add back to hot mixture along with lemon zest. Cook 1 minute more stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and add butter and lemon juice. Pour into baked pie shell. Top with meringue.

Meringue Ingredients:
4 egg whites
8 T sugar
1 t. vanilla
Meringue Instructions:
Beat egg whites until frothy. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until very stiff and glossy. Pile meringue onto pie filling being careful to seal the meringue onto edge of crust to prevent shrinkage. If the filling is exposed to heat it may weep. Swirl or pull points up for a decorative top. Bake at 400 degrees until delicately browned 8-10 minutes.

Thankful For A Rich Family Heritage

Walnuts, bagged and ready to ship.

Walnuts, bagged and ready to ship.

“If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land.” Leviticus 26:3-5

Grandpa and Grandma Grieb had orchards; beautiful apricot and walnut orchards. Every summer of my childhood their barn (processing shed) rang with the laughter and chatter of teenage girls who were cutting apricots and placing them on drying trays, while listening to the popular music on the radio. Fall brought the sound of the huge walnut dryers and the musty-burlap smell of gunnysacks which were used to store the walnuts. One November day stands out in my mind because the radio and the dryers were silent. We were gathering with family at the barn to celebrate Thanksgiving. Upon entering the barn, we were amazed because it had been transformed into a banquet hall. The tables were lined up end-to-end and groaned under the weight of the Thanksgiving feast. The barn was filled with family from 9 Grieb children, 26 grandchildren and of course spouses and great grandchildren. We all came to celebrate family and to give thanks for God’s provision.

Treasured memories from the Walnut and Apricot processing shed.

Treasured memories from the Walnut and Apricot processing shed.

I don’t remember us ever being all together before or after that Thanksgiving meal, but I’m sure that Thanksgiving we came very close to all being together.

Thank you Lord for my many, many blessings. Thank you for a very rich heritage, a large loving family and many treasured memories. – Margie Grieb Runels

“Happy Thanksgiving To You and Yours From Grieb Ranch”

Apples, Apples, Apples Everywhere

2014 Apple picking

“Little P” and the family dog continue the tradition of apple picking at Grieb Ranch.

It’s apple season now at Grieb Ranch and the tradition of picking apples continues with the newest addition to the Grieb Family. Connie gets to enjoy “Little P” during the week and he accompanied her on an apple picking adventure, along with the family dog. For many years, “Little P’s” dad helped Connie pick apples so the tradition continues.

The tradition of picking apples with Connie and Daniel.

The tradition of picking apples with Connie and Daniel.

There are so many yummy ways to enjoy fresh-picked apples. One way is to make Caramel Apples. Barbara used to make these for the 4-H booth at the local Harvest Festival, Connie had her students make them in their Home Economics class, and once Daniel made them for a Food Contest in High School and won the contest.

Grieb Ranch Caramel Apple

Grieb Ranch Caramel Apple

So here is the recipe:
Grieb Ranch Caramel Apples
From the Kitchen of:  Barbara Grieb
Servings: 6

6 Apples (I like Gala)
6 Wooden skewers
Butter, margarine or Pam for coating
1 cup Sugar
¾ cup white corn syrup
1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Wash and thoroughly dry each apple. Remove stems.

2. Insert skewer into stem end of each apple and set aside in the refrigerator.

3. Coat waxed paper with butter and place on a tray.

4. In a heavy saucepan (heavy is a must) combine sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk and salt; mix well.

5. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently but constantly until it reaches 230 degrees on a candy thermometer or until a small amount dropped in cold water forms a soft ball(about 30 minutes).

6. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Stir in ¼ cup of butter and vanilla.

7. Working quickly dip apples in caramel to coat well

8. Place stem side up on waxed paper to harden.
9. Cool in refrigerator.

Leftover caramel is really tasty on ice cream.

A Grove of Giraffes?

A Grove of Giraffes?

A Grove of Giraffes?

“What’s going on with those trees?” That question runs through the minds of the causal observer and the agricultural enthusiasts who drive by the citrus tree grove operated by the Ikeda family off Lopez Drive in Arroyo Grande, CA – Neighbors to Grieb Ranch. Sections of rows of citrus trees have been pruned back to three or four main branches, with one branch reaching to the sky, and a trunk that is painted white. These trees are in stark contrast to the lush full sections of orange trees that have been part of the citrus grove for 25-30 years. The resulting “trees” do not look much like trees at all, more like an orchard of giraffes.


Brysen Ikeda in the becoming-lemon grove.

Brysen Ikeda works this grove and has answers to what they are doing to those trees. The short answer from Brysen is, “We’re changing the orange trees to lemon trees.” The reason behind the effort is market demand. The demand for lemons is year round. The packing house, Bee Sweet Citrus – where the Ikeda family sells their fruit through – is located in the San Joaquin Valley. The citrus growers in the valley, due to the climate, can only grow one crop of lemons a year. Here on the coast the moderate climate, combined with the right variety of lemon (Eureka and Lisbon), can produce lemons year round. “Our trees can set fruit 4 or 5 times a year. The lemon tree varieties we choose are constantly flowering and blooming to grow fruit year round,” remarked Brysen.

Orange trees with orange becoming lemon trees.

Orange trees with orange-trees-becoming-lemon trees.

So why not just pull the orange trees and plant lemon trees? The difference is time for the tree to produce fruit. A new bare-root lemon tree will set fruit in 4 years compared to a grafted tree that will set fruit in 18 months. So that is what the Ikeda family is doing; converting 25 acres of orange trees into lemon trees. They are leaving 35 acres of orange trees and have 10 existing acres of lemon trees presently in this location. The Ikeda family currently has 4 generations of vegetable row crop farmers farming in the Arroyo Grande area where the family has worked the land for decades. Citrus is a new venture for the Ikeda family and Brysen spearheads the citrus operation, learning much about citrus as he goes about this conversion process.

Three lemon bud grafts.

Three lemon bud grafts.

Horizontal cut above graft to pool energy to graft.

Horizontal cut above graft to pool energy to graft.

Just how does an orange tree become a lemon tree? First the orange tree is pruned back to three main branches plus one reaching to the sky as the “nurse” branch. This promotes growth response in tree, as it sends its energy and sap flow up to feed the 3 main branches. Near the top of the branches that stop short two vertical notches are cut into the tree. A lemon bud is then inserted into the vertical notch as a graft. If the nurse branch is one of the remaining branches used for the lemon grafts, a horizontal cut is made above the lemon grafts to pool the tree’s sap and energy at the lemon grafts, instead of going up the limb to the oranges. The orange tree will continue to put out orange branch suckers which need to be knocked off so that only the lemon grafts will become new branches.

graft branches and nurse branch

Orange nurse branch will be cut off soon.

About a year after the lemon grafts are inserted the nurse limb will be cut off. The lemon tree grafts will then be cut back to 6 or 7 leaves of eyes to produce thicker growth and the top of the remaining limbs above the lemon grafts will be cut back to encourage the lemon branches to grow up and out. Because the tree no longer has the protection of its foliage the tree trunk is painted white to protect it from sun exposure. However in time, as the trees continue to grow and the lemon grafts take on their new life as lemon tree branches attached to an orange tree trunk, a beautiful grove of citrus trees producing lemons throughout the year will be present.


Lush grove of lemon trees.

Lush grove of lemon trees.

Winter: The Time for Planting Fruit Trees


Winter is not a time of rest in the Grieb Ranch family orchard of 60 trees. Winter means preparing for Spring, which in turn will bring the buds on the fruit and nut trees that eventually result in a bounty of fruit or nuts for the family to enjoy. A secret to an enjoyable family orchard is to plant a wide variety of fruit and nut trees with a wide expanse of ripening dates in order to eat tree-ripened fruit through the Summer and into the Fall with last apples coming off at Thanksgiving.

There are several winter tasks for the Grieb family to carry out in the family orchard that will yield fruit in the proper season. First off, is winter pruning of the fruit trees.  Pears, apples, peaches, and the like, each have different ways to be pruned, so it is important to know what kind of tree you are pruning in order to be prune appropriately. Then it is important to know how that particular variety of fruit or nut tree likes to be pruned.

Secondly, is the replacing and planting of new bare root fruit or nut trees.This year in the Grieb family orchard, two trees were replaced. One was replaced due a bear damaging a young tree and another small tree was run over by a vehicle. The Grieb family has a tradition of dedicating new trees to immediate and extended family members. One of the new trees, a Florahome Pear, has been dedicated to the newest Grieb family member, Payson. The other tree, a Santa Barbara Peach, is dedicated to his mother, Jessica.