Inspiring Successful Earth-saving Projects

We can help the planet re-vegetate and reverse climate change. Here are three large projects that have had success and one which is still in the making because it is so vast. Watch these and be inspired, be hopeful, and plant native trees where you live:

Africa’s Great Green Wall:

China’s Loess Plateau:

Jordan’s Greening the Desert:

Our Annual Marketplace, and Last Tours of 2015

IMG_5608Our fourth-annual Finch Frolic Marketplace will take place Nov. 21 and 22nd from  9 – 2.  We’ve been working like little permaculture elves, harvesting, preparing fruit and vegetables, canning, baking, and inventing new recipes for your table and for gifts.  We have a curry spice mixture that is amazing.  Our record white guava harvest has allowed us to create sweet guava paste and incredible guava syrup.  We’ve pickled our garlic cloves, as well as zucchino rampicante, and our Yucatan Pickled Onions have a wonderful orange and oregano base that is fabulous.  Of course there is Miranda’s small-batch Pomegranate Gelato, Whiskey-Baked Cranberry Relish, and a selection of curds (passionfruit, lemon-lime, and cranberry).  So much more, too.  We’ll also be selling plants from several sources, and some collectibles and knick-knacks from my home.  Please come support a small business early – a whole week before Small Business Saturday!  Your patronage allows us to continue teaching permaculture.

Join us for a tour!

Join us for a tour!

Our last two Open Tours will also be held that weekend, each at 10 am.  The tours last about two hours and we should be having terrific weather for you to enjoy learning basic permaculture as we stroll through the food forest.  Please RSVP for the tours to  More about the tours can be found under the ‘tours’ page on this blog.

Finch Frolic Garden will be closing for the winter, from Thanksgiving through March 1.  However, Miranda and I will still be available for consultations, designs, lectures and workshops, and we will be adding posts to Vegetariat and Finch Frolic Facebook (you don’t need to be a member of Facebook to view our page!).

Have a very safe and very happy holiday season.  Care for your soil as you would your good friends and close family, with swales, sheet mulch and compost, and it will care for you for years.

Diane and Miranda

Finch Frolic Marketplace, Revisited

Wonderful, tasty winter squash of all kinds!

Wonderful, tasty winter squash of all kinds!

Due to popular demand, we’re having one more short Marketplace this Saturday, 9 – 1.

Join us on Saturday, November 29nd  from 9-1  for the annual Finch Frolic Marketplace, the Extended Version!  We’ll have for sale fresh and prepared foods straight from our permaculture gardens.  All are excellent gifts, or will grace your holiday table. We’ll have the much-desired Pomegranate Gelato again, and new this year, Passionfruit Gelato!   Squash, fruit, veg, preserves, passionfruit curd, baked goods, and much more.

Herbs, veggies, frozen juice, gelatos, curds, jams, preserves... and much more!

Herbs, veggies, frozen juice, gelatos, curds, jams, preserves… and much more!

Finch Frolic Garden is located at 390 Vista del Indio, Fallbrook, CA.


Finch Frolic Garden is open by appointment only for tours, lectures and other activities.  The address is 390 Vista del Indio, Fallbrook, CA  92028-2548.  Please call only if you are lost or delayed; we use our house phone only and are often not inside.  Please use the email above for any other communication.

From the North (Temecula and above): take 1-15 South to Exit 51 and turn right.  Make the next right onto E. Mission Rd/County Hwy-S13.  In .8 of a mile turn left onto E. Live Oak Park Rd.  In 1.6 miles turn right onto Alvarado St.  In .7 miles at the top of the hill turn left onto Vista Del Indio, at Roja’s Succulents.  Make the very first right; 390 is at the end to the left.

From the South (Escondido and below): take I-15 North to Exit 51 and turn left over the freeway.  Make the next right onto E. Mission Rd/County Hwy-S13.  In .8 of a mile turn left onto E. Live Oak Park Rd.  In 1.6 miles turn right onto Alvarado St.  In .7 miles at the top of the hill turn left onto Vista Del Indio, at Roja’s Succulents.  Make the very first right; 390 is at the end to the left.

From the West (I-5): take CA-76 East, Exit 54A and drive for 12.6 miles.  Turn left onto S. Mission Road/County Hwy S13 for 4.1 miles.  Turn right onto S. Stagecoach Lane (at the high school).  In 2.8 miles turn right onto Alvarado St.  At the top of the hill turn right onto Vista del Indio, at the Roja’s Succulents sign.  Make the very first right; 390 is at the end on the left.


Candying Kumquats


An army of kumquat halves

We have two small but prolific kumquat trees.  Kumquats are very small citrus that are tart and sweet at the same time, and you eat the skin and all whole.  Kind of scary.  Not wanting to waste food, my daughter picked a whole batch of them and was determined to juice them.  And she did, one tiny half at a time!  There was about half a cup of juice in all, which she froze in plastic butter molds for future use in drinks, etc.

De-pithed kumquat shells

Then we had all these little half shells, so she carefully scraped the pith out of all of them and candied them.  The idea was to make little candied shells in which we’d put little scoops of vanilla ice cream, lemon sherbet, or something yum.  We tried a couple with homemade vanilla ice cream, and it was worth all the work.

Cooking kumquats in simple syrup

The kumquats needed to dry round, like little bowls, so I picked some more kumquats (yes, there are still more!), halved them and used them as molds for the shells, which were put onto the halves like little hats.

Using kumquat halves as molds for shells

All the split ones were set aside, and then everything was sugared and dried.  Several years ago we candied orange and lemon peel and I pulled some out of the bags now and then for use in baked goods.  Now we have candied kumquat peels and shells.

Sugaring the peels and letting them dry

But we still had all those kumquat halves that we’d used as molds.  We also had half a saucepan of simple syrup in which the kumquats had been cooked.  So, not wanting to waste, we put the kumquat halves into the syrup and boiled it again until the halves were candied and then I put them in jars and sealed them.  I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them, but they can be used to decorate desserts.

Candied kumquat preserves in syrup

I also had another ginger beer recipe that called for slicing the ginger, cooking the slices in a sugar and water mixture until reduced, then using the liquid as a base for a ginger drink.  The slices could then be sugared and dried and eaten.  I keep candied ginger from Trader Joe’s in the car to snack on, because ginger helps with car sickness or an upset stomach.  These homemade ginger slices were quite hot, so I think I’ll save them to use in cakes and pies instead.

Stored candied kumquat shells and peels

So it was a day of sugaring, preserving and messing about in the kitchen.  We now have seven quarts of pickles, a couple of bags of dried kale that is not only good to munch on, but great to crumble over rice or noodles, jars of candied kumquats, a jar of sugared kumquat peel, a bag of candied ginger slices, some miscellaneous jam, and lots of zucchini with more to come!

Sun-Dried Fruit

Drying produce is easy!

When I look outside at the over 100 degree F. sunshine baking my property, I’m frustrated that I can’t use it all.  I feel the same when it rains here in semi-desert San Diego county.  I am hoping to purchase solar panels for my house, but until then I have my laundry on the line and fruit on the roof.  Yep.  The bounty of fruit and vegetables always appears during the hottest months, and I’ve spent many summers sweltering in the kitchen cooking  jam and canning tomatoes.  Something in my Celtic and Eastern European genes ignores the long growing season here and sends a message to my brain to preserve everything for the coming harsh winter imbedded in my genetic memory.  Survival food for the blizzardy months!  Um… yeah… reality check here.  Although I try to eat locally grown seasonal produce, you can buy just about anything anytime of year here, although not without a decline in the quality.  To give in to my desire to not waste sun energy or food this summer I’ve been slicing and drying fruit and vegetables on trays up on the roof, with excellent results. 

     If you have a flat sunny spot that ants haven’t found, you too can dry food.  You don’t need to use preservatives. It is a great way to save bananas that are just about to go black, or the ends of the tomatoes that are too small to put on a sandwich.   The most labor is in slicing the food and then later flipping it on the trays. 

Sun-Dried Fruit and Vegetables

You will need:

Produce such as fresh apricots or other stonefruit, apples, pears, berries, tomatoes, squash. 

Reflective cookie sheets (not Silpat)


Thinly slice produce such as apricots, tomatoes, apples, bananas, etc.  You don’t have to peel stone-fruit or tomatoes; actually the skin helps hold the innards together.  If you have produce with inedible skins such as melon or bananas, then by all means take it off.  I like small pieces so that the dried fruit can be directly used in baking or on top of fresh fruit or cereal without having to be cut up again. (Snipping dried apricots with a scissors is soooo time-consuming).  However, don’t slice them too small or when they dry they will turn into little dots which are hard to scrape up. You can leave small fruit such as blueberries and alpine strawberries whole but they may take longer to dry.

Don't chop them too small!

Place the sliced or whole fruit or vegetables on cookie sheets or pizza pans that are reflective aluminum.  Space the fruit so that it isn’t touching, but the pieces can be very close together (they will shrink considerably). 

Measure pieces of cheesecloth so that there is enough to cover the tops of the trays and hang over the sides so that it can be pulled taught and not touch the fruit.

Place prepared trays of covered fruit on the roof, on a hot porch, or anywhere it will not be invaded by ants.  Leave the trays out all day until the sun is no longer on them, then bring them in for the night.  Don’t leave them out in damp weather.

Using a sharp spatula, scrape up the fruit bits and turn them over, re-spacing them not to touch, and replace the cheesecloth.

The next day set the trays out again.  Depending on how hot your roof is, the fruit should be dried at the end of the second day.  If using whole fruit like blueberries or grapes, it may take a few days.  Fruit is dried when there are no moist pockets in them.


Store the fruit in covered jars, and use during those bleak winter months when you plot your spring garden.