Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The long weekend.

We were able to spend four days at the cottage this past weekend. It was a tad too chilly for my liking but we have a 90% working kitchen so I didn't mind staying inside a bit more this time. My dream stove was installed, I can't wait to start stirring batches of jam on it. I ordered lots of Weck jars and picked up a canning book at our local bookstore. In the meantime, I cooked up lots of our produce from the garden.

As soon as I arrived Thursday afternoon, I got right to work digging out the old garlic bed to lay down gopher wire. I now have a place to safely grow all of my tomatoes and parsley. I plan to slowly replace the raised beds throughout the rest of the year, shifting some around now that I have a better feel for the garden.

The apples are starting to redden on the trees. I'm waiting for the June drop before I thin these. I'm curious to see how much these trees self-prune.

We spent some time riding our bikes around town for some wine tasting a lunch or two out. After twenty-two years, I upgraded my bike. My posture was terrible on the old bike and I just didn't feel safe riding it as it never felt balanced to me. This one is a dream ride.

We love to ride on the Sonoma Bike Path past The Patch. Just beyond, there's a charming little cottage that I'm always admiring. Hidden behind the olive trees are raised bed veggie garden using metal troughs. It all looks out onto vineyards and the bike path. Hmmm, maybe we should paint our house this color?

Soon, we'll be able to spend longer weekends here once summer arrives and school is out. There's lots to do in the garden, so it will be nice to have more than two days a week to work on it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cherries, garlic and gopher snacks

It started off as a sublime weekend, the net on the cherry tree held up and we had tons of ripe sweet cherries ready for picking. We gave some to friends and still managed 20 cups of pitted cherries.

We froze most but made some divine balsamic cherry preserves with four cups of them from this site. So many more recipes to try out!

The garlic was also ready for harvesting, some of the cloves were beyond big.

And even three onions that had started as seeds snuck in the bed were ready for plucking.

But the gophers also realized it was prime harvesting time. Last week I had noticed that one tomato plant had just up and gone. This week, three more! After doing a little internet research, I realized they're the culprit. Who would want to eat an entire tomato plant, bleh.

A gardener told me to pour fish emulsion around the plants, they'll hate it. It was like a vinagrette for the tomatoes. They went after those first the next morning. One of the highlights of the garden was going to be harvesting loads of heirloom tomatoes. Not to be had likely. I'm on the hunt to get rid of them but have resigned myself that it's probably too late for the tomatoes, sigh.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The harvest has begun

This weekend was a busy one, all still without a kitchen. A few more weeks and all will be finished.  I'm so happy to have my wainscot ceiling. It's cheaper than drywall and looks a lot better.

I spent today harvesting the last of the spinach and chard before it bolted. Over six risotto dinners in the basket.

I prepared one of the last two beds to plant melons with my new broadfork. This will save me a lot of backbreaking work. I even feel like I had a good workout, although my neck muscles are sore, I hope I don't start to look like a linebacker.

We also managed to partially net the cherry tree before the birds stole all of the cherries.

Friday I saw a few reddish cherries but on Saturday I noticed many more. So did the birds. I watched a bird land on our roof, check me out and then jump onto the tree to do a taste test. I went back through the cherry postings at A Sonoma Garden blog, written by the previous owners. A great education! The next morning, we partially netted the tree. It has one trunk that reaches about 20' up, too high for us to even attempt to net. But we covered the majority. My husband told me he read that netting a tree can test a marriage. Ours was tested, but we came out just fine. Next year I'll plan ahead and order a finer grade mesh that's easier to work with and safer for the birds.

Spring planting in the square foot garden: chard, radishes, shiso, tarragon, peppers, lettuces, carrots,
calendula, bachelor buttons and santolina.
The rest of the garden is growing fast as are the gophers. All five of my parsley plants just disappeared one week as did a tomato (not sure who took the tomato, I didn't think gophers would eat those). What's next I wonder?