Thursday, November 22, 2007

Catching Light - Part Two

The Garden After Rain is a Beautiful Thing...
Chard Power...The chard is all very happy in the coolness of autumn and with the squash beetles all dead and gone. Planted and left to go to seed, chard will readily establish itself in an area with pretty regular water. It is not fussy, and grows in a great variety of color combinations. It is a great (and reliable) overwintering veggie for soups and stir-fry.
Dandelion Going On to Seed...Below, the Future... 25 mixed white wine grapes. Half price orphans, we'll see how they fare in my new zone. 50 more... before I'm 50...
We are still enjoying the Granny Smith. A gift from Joe in the early 90's it has established itself quite nicely and seems to have settled into a pretty steady bi-annual fruiting cycle. Though it is prone to scab, the flavor is perfect. Peeled, they are a zesty, magical and very pleasing treat. Homegrown is just better. Below, Winter Bed. Mustard, Leeks, Onions, Red Lettuce (don't even bother to plant the green - red is so much better for overwinter use) Statice, and Snapdragons that were all planted out a few weeks back. I love my little Robinson Crusoe fence of short sticks and bamboo placed about 5" apart from each other - It will keep the dogs off the bed while it gets established!
More Post Rain Close-Ups...Borage, another homestead plant that makes its own way, absolutely glistens when wet. The droplets cling to each of the hairs that cover this plant. Borage reseeds enthusiastically and is very easy to establish in your garden. Just plant it once and let it go to seed. The star shaped blue flowers are edible. They are a mild, yet fruity flavored addition to any salad, or free range garden grazing. Below, Black Jack Fig...Not Good Grazing. The figs are done gone. Excessive moisture and cool temps produced the expected outcome of splitting/ mold/ mildew. So close and yet so far away.
Fir Spirits Lay Low...Gratitude to the forest and spring flows. Necessary thinning and tree removal a couple weeks back, produced some amazing logs. Respect to That Tree Guy. Respect to the land. Catching light...Below, TYKE the wonder city dog, appreciating all the puddles that come with the rain. Here he is after he spent about an hour barking at, and digging in a water puddle with some underground water current in drove him crazy! He got covered in mud from hips to eyebrows - even the inside of his snout was caked! Dirty dog! He loves the homestead life. He sings when he comes, and he cries when he leaves (barking way too much in-between!) Come again soon little guy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Catching Light - Part One

What can be said? The rain was sweet and now, the sun is a blessing. We still have not had our first frost, which in my experience has come to the ridges in Humboldt like clockwork, around the 15th of November. El Nino or something...

Short blog today. I have lots more pics4U.
More later.

Oh, I must comment on what a great dog Snoopy has been. As you can see by the above pic of Buster and him napping, he is learning to leave it, quite well. Good doggie. He is really showing good focus. The bikejoring has been awesome. Pepper has learned to run in front! We took it on purely by chance, as the brass unit which held her in line, sheared off. I knew it was something we would have to address if we ever wanted to compete or participate in club events. The teams must run in front. She has been trained only to the walkydog which holds the dog alongside the bike. We have for the most part really liked it. I highly recommend these if you just want to get out and exercise your dog. I can't vouch for the quality though, this one was just about a year old, and the metal broke clean through. Too much muscle in that hyped up Russel....Anyway, we were at the park, and there was no not doing this ride. So, I strapped her to the double leash I hook Snoopy up with, and told her to Go out! I had two more crucial equipment failures at the onset of that ride that involved the dogs breaking away from my bike! I told them to Stop - Wait!! and they actually did! Twice! Back to the car a couple times to retrofit for some double tugging, and we were off! They easily completed the nearly 3 miles through winding singletrack in 20 minutes with Pepper running wheel, like a pro, right at Snoopy's hip the whole time. Double good dog. It's beginning to look a lot like...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Lingering Autumn

Perennial Sunflower and a Visitor...
The Sweet Peas, Nasturtium and Mini Zinnias are all still going strong...The colors are wonderfully vibrant since the night temps have dropped. None of these were put out (as starts) until midsummer, they have made quite a good show for themselves. I really love the fragrance of Sweet Peas. Plum Tree in Autumn apparel...Below, Roses showing their enthusiasm for the approaching winter!
I guess Its all about the House Plants now....Above, a very interesting succulent adopted years ago at a roadside sale in the city. It was all scraggly and forlorn at the time. It has since been divided and I've given several away, and a couple still reside here. It is a long, trailing, sweetly blooming succulent. Below, the cool temp loving Begonia. It has lived and died a few times already, always coming back to make a show in the fall. I punish my houseplants somewhat, forcing them to reside outside most of the year, and on the cold exposed porch the rest of the time. I don't know, just can't deal with all that water in the house!
Waitin' on the Persimmon...Strawberries, making and Election Day showing...We are still eating both strawberries, and raspberries. I'm telling you, the small fruits are the way to go! Below, the large fruited Winter Squash. Blue Hubbard, it is an awesome, huge, prolific and incredibly sweet winter squash. They are great for pies, soups, and eating as is, with plenty of butter! mmmmmmm....
Figs....Are not the way to go! Brown Turkey above. As you can see, the leaves have all dropped, and the fruit themselves are shriveled and stressed. Below, one of a few token Blackjack fig that did get ripe. It is simply too cool up here in the fall, and perhaps not enough light either for them to ripen as they should. The summer crop of Brown Turkeys was OK, but nothing to really cheer about. Figs set the bulk of their fruit for a fall crop, but alas, rainy and dark prove to be difficult ripening conditions.
The very last of the grapes below... A Ruby Seedless, i think. There was an interesting syndrome on this vine. It ripened very unevenly, and at the end, it still had many little stunted grapes on it. The ones that did swell, and sweeten however, were amazingly delicious.
Random Volunteer Artichoke...Out of season, but great visual none the less.
Close up of Hollyhock....Below, adventures in the realms of Salvia. I appreciate the drought tolerance, and incredible royal purple beauty of this perennial. They are a very common landscape plant in the Bay Area and will develop into impressive mounds of furry purple blooms. Cool.
Homestead chores galore. We cleared some trees off the land this week. It was a huge project that has basically only created more work! I was amazed at the poor health of trees that in all outward appearances seemed fine. Massive firs that were falling on one another, proved to be completely pithy in the center. My tree guy (That Tree Guy) claims the forest has reached maturity and ...well... I finally told him to just go home, because it seemed no tree was safe from his arborist eye! We dropped a few more oaks and smaller fir on the south side of the perimeter to capture a bit more morning sun, and opened up a new area for additional grapes as well. We also dropped several oaks and thinned the crowded baby fir from around the house in an effort to create a better fire break, and to protect our vehicles. Many of the oak turned out to be hollow, or weakened from disease induced by the mistletoe which grows in abundance all over them up here. Now for the cleanup....