Monthly Archives: August 2012

Oh yes! The Garden!

Given the lack of blog attention given to the flora around the farm, one might assume I have forgotten entirely about the garden. One would be mostly correct in that assumption. Thankfully, artful positioning of the camera can catch some of the abundance that just happens unattended here in California, while editing out the weeds.

Scabiosas, black and white

Upon our recent return from Idaho I found a weed that was, no joke, 12 feet tall. It was just in the process of frothing out a billion seeds to ensure a thick blanket of next year’s uber weeds. I think I got the last half million or so seeds into the green bin. Sigh. This picture was taken soon before we left for that trip to Idaho. I can actually spot the weed, in bud state, in the back/right of this picture. I like to think the eyes of those not involved directly in battle with that weed would be distracted by the jungle of other plants filling this shot of the backyard orchard culture style row of fruit trees ending in our raspberry patch. Can you spot it?

We have 16 fruit trees along about 90 feet of fence. The backyard orchard culture idea is that you keep your trees small through root competition and aggressive pruning, and plant many different varieties so you can have successive ripenings of fruit throughout the season. Instead of one big fruit tree that gives you waaaaaay too many one one kind of fruit all at once, plant several trees in the same space that will all ripen at different times. These trees were buggy whips 4 years ago, and this will be the second summer we won’t need to buy any fruit in the summer or fall. Very satisfying.

If the teeny tiny spines on this next plant make it look a little sinister to you, consider your gardening instincts strong.

If you merely want to pet this fuzzy beast, you are my kind of gardener. In a moment of weakness (okay, it may have been several weeks of researching varieties and locating the correct male and female specimens), I decided that I could grow two kiwi vines on one modestly sized arbor. Along with a rose and two other flowering vines, you know- for a little interest. Here is what it looks like one year in:

Innocent enough. Next year it is likely I will be issuing machetes to all who visit the garden in order to hack his or her way back to the orchard row. And yes, that is an embarrassingly uncoiled hose slinking through the photo. It is always like that. My mother says this is a genetic problem. She cannot be bothered to recoil, and apparently my grandmother was also unwilling to ever properly stow a hose. It’s hard to fight one’s nature. At least I’ve heard that’s true. I can’t speak from vast experience.

Recently these guys:

Are looking a lot more like this:

Because we don’t have luxurious amounts of space in which to rotate our crops, my big idea last year was to grow a huge crop of tomatoes to can and not grow any this year. My grand plans were minimized by a cold, cold summer. Our coastal climate is iffy for tomatoes even in good years. You can grow and ripen most any variety, but most will taste like the anemic store bought variety because of our lack of heat. The tomatoes that work are cherry types and certain early ripening varieties like Stupice and Momotaro. Last year we canned enough sauce for the year, but certainly not two. This year I went all cherry. Most folks prefer thick walled paste tomatoes for canning so they don’t lose the majority of the fruit in the deseeding/skinning process and have to cook down their sauce for days on end, but paste tomatoes taste much like actual paste around here. Fortunately I have stumbled upon the ultimate tomato canning tool, The Vitamix. I will post in more detail when canning season is upon us, but let me entice you with the news that with this miracle of engineering you can skip all of the sloppiest and most laborious steps in sauce making while simultaneously preserving the flavor of the whole tomato. Seeds, skin, pulp, it all goes in the vitamix and makes the best sauce! When I figured this out it I was baffled to not find copious numbers of recipes on the internet for canning Vitamixed tomato sauce. Canners, you must try this. It’s a game changer.

I will leave you with the view coming into the garden. Come visit again soon!