Lockdown day 22, wondering where spring went
Monday April 06th 2020, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Garden

So here we are, on our week–wait, it’s #9 now, isn’t it–of our personal quarantine, and I’m watching my apricot pits trying to hatch. Because life is exciting like that.

Two halves of a large kernel vs an actual, tiny sprout. It’ll be interesting to see if the one wants to be a giant and the other a dwarf or if that’s just this stage. (On my screen it’s cutting off the sprout in the dual picture unless you click on it. New update, don’t know how to fix that yet.)

Lockdown day 18
Thursday April 02nd 2020, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

We had two bad years in a row for peach leaf curl disease, and even though I’d used copper spray, one tree was dying and I gave up and replaced it with a resistant variety, and the August Pride…at least looked better than that. I decided to let it try for another year.

My artistic gardening friend James out of the blue decided that someone had done something good for him that was making his life so much better–so much so that he wanted to pay it forward, and he asked me if he could come over with his copper spray and do that job for my peaches?

Totally unexpected. Yes please thank you!

And look at that healthy August Pride now. Needing to thin all that fruit is a great problem to have.

Lockdown days eight through twelve
Friday March 27th 2020, 10:34 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

Last summer I bought some apricots at Andy’s Orchard that did not taste like any apricot I had ever had in my life. Not only were they sweet, there was a richness and a depth and spiciness and indescribable something and wow were they good. And this from someone who had once thought apricots were kind of meh–but having read a little about what Andy had now, and having tasted his Blenheims, I had to give the new varieties a try.

Someone he worked with had spent decades going into some of the more dangerous parts of the world where they’d originated, trying to discover what that particular fruit was meant to be. He collected the pits and brought the best home to see what might grow in the very different climate of near-coastal California.

He sold a few trees to Andy, but they are not for sale to the general population.

And yet, the pits from the ones I marveled over were going to be at last halfway from one of those trees and the other parent was at the very least going to be something Andy grew and you know that that meant it would be something you’d be glad to have.

And so I looked up how to sprout apricot kernels.

There was a consensus that they had to be kept chilled in the fridge for months. From there the advice diverged wildly: one writer was adamant that they must be sprouted in the fridge as well, another that you needed a heating pad. One said wrap them in wet paper towels after the winter chilling (I couldn’t see how the rot sure to come would help anything), another said soak them overnight.

I soaked them overnight and wondered if I’d drowned them all and would have to wait a whole ‘nother year to try.

I tried a few days of having small pots of soil in the fridge with two of them and then thought, okay, that just really doesn’t work for my household, you know one of us is going to knock dirt all over in there, nuts to that.

The house is a bit chilly and I think our old heating pad got tossed about twenty years ago.

I’ve been watering them for a month. My tomatoes have their third set of leaves but those apricots did not come up. I had planted them after my fevers ended and my cough was subsiding to give me something to look forward to and how long was this supposed to take, anyway?

I resisted the temptation to dig one out just to look at it.

Three days ago a root appeared down the side. Next the split edges of the kernel pushed just slightly above the soil line.

Where they still are. But thicker, and turning green under the skylight and you can just see that it’s getting its strength together so as to be able to hold up a whole baby tree once it pushes itself the rest of the way out of there.

There’s a second pot that looks slightly different, like it might show soon too.

But this one was marked as the one that had been the biggest seed and now it’s the most vigorous earlybird and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

I’m gonna need me some bigger pots. I do have one new one waiting. But the lockdown.

At some point I’m going to be trying to find someone to adopt my spare apricot seedlings, like trying to give away a litter of kittens–just, bigger, right?

That’s the hope, anyway.

Lockdown day three
Wednesday March 18th 2020, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden

Knitted a little, should have done a lot more.

Last year’s volunteer Sungold tomato plant, bursting into bloom all over after the rains, hanging off the remains of the one that would have been four years old had it made it through another winter. I guess it didn’t mind being a toddler but it did not want to sign up for preschool.

A close-up on the Indian Free peach.

This being pick-up day, I happened to step outside to bring the bins back from the curb at about 4:00 and saw my neighbor several houses away. She waved her arms and shouted hello and I waved back and it felt wonderful to see another human being out there. We’re all a little starved for contact.

And while everybody’s working from home and relying on their networks, Comcast went out. This post via my phone.

So not my orange. But it’s someone else’s.
Saturday March 14th 2020, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

1. The mango is starting to set fruit, and not only that but at the time of year it’s actually supposed to. My little tree is growing up.

2. The silk color was called geranium, and it definitely earned that.

They sold it as a knitted tube that looked like a flat tape yarn. I expected it to stretch, since loosely spun silk does, but it wasn’t the spinning of it that had the looseness and it did in fact shrink somewhat when I washed the mill oils out in hot water.

For now. The weight of it is such that it will probably grow longer/wider in time. Either way, it’s all good.

 What surprised me is how much the look of the yarn changed: it went from flat to round and the tube announced itself. The stitch at the peak of each arrow repeat, though, flattens going over the other two stitches. I really like the effect.

And this only took half the cone.

So glad I planted this
Monday March 09th 2020, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Garden

The Frost peach.

The mystery to me is that you need sunlight to trigger flowering, and this tree in the corner seems to get the least direct sun of any of them. And yet, despite the fact that I only planted it a year ago, it is the mostly densely flowered of them all.

It just wants to be what it was meant to be.

Not yet
Thursday March 05th 2020, 10:58 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

You can when you feel better, she’d said. So I washed the afghan and laid it out to dry and made tentative plans to myself.

I sent off a note today to be sure before I did anything, though, and got the same young nurse practitioner calling back on the phone: no worries, she soothed, you don’t have the flu.

(Yeah I knew that.) Well then does that mean… (the obvious)

You were not a person of interest so we didn’t test you for that.

(First time I’ve ever had THAT phrase applied to me!)

Everything was wonderful, everything was fine, nice to hear I was doing better, I said something about a couple more episodes and it went right past her other than her making sure I’d filled the rescue inhaler prescription, mine having expired. Yes I had.

Me: We’ve been self-quarantining. So if I feel fine is it okay to go to church on Sunday?

Boy did that change her tune fast. NO! No, don’t, not for another week or two. At least. You don’t want to expose other people who might not be as able to fight it off! People with compromised immune systems, the elderly.

And I hung up the phone thinking, you didn’t want me to panic but you finally almost said what we both now knew you were thinking.

So I took pretty pictures of the world coming back to life, marveled at all those blossoms on the one-year-old Frost in the corner, and tried not to have cabin fever.

Last year my Indian Free, the only peach that has to have a pollinator, bloomed just as the last few flowers on the last other tree were fading away. We still got a few fruits from it but one could only wonder whether this was how it was going to be.

Nope. Just Mother Nature playing fifty-two-card pickup. This year, all five peach trees are overlapping at least somewhat and there should be a good crop across the yard all summer long.

Blueberries in the last photo. Last year we were picking those in January, this year it waited till now to start.

Here, let me go pick up those scattered cards. Come time to plant my tomato seedlings I plan to be the queen of spades.

Wednesday March 04th 2020, 9:56 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

(Baby Crawford peach, Alphonso mango.)

I needed to run the ends in, wash the mill oils out, and give this afghan to its recipient. (There’s a different shade of brown left in stock, machine washable extra fine merino, here.)

So of course that’s one of the first things I asked the nurse practitioner about: how long should I leave it protected from me in its ziplock?

Wait till you’re better, she counseled.

The water was burn-your-skin hot; I pushed it down into it with the bottom of the detergent bottle and let it soak a good one.

Almost Spring
Tuesday February 25th 2020, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Garden

Book: finished. Mango: watered. Debate: watched.

I finally got a picture that really shows what that first peach tree looks like out there. It’s glorious.

I looked at the Meyer lemon wistfully–I was going to give some of those to some of my favorite Stitches West vendors.

Next year.

Getting antsy means getting better
Monday February 24th 2020, 8:45 pm
Filed under: Garden

Looking out the window, that one limb…

Black Jack figs grow slowly and stay pretty small, which is nice, but that one limb was going to cross over another in a year or two; better to cut it back a half a foot now to where the growth pattern angled the other way. Never mind the why didn’t I do that earlier.

Man it felt good to get something useful and real-world done.

As long as I was out there I looked at the hose, the blooming mango, our little February drought, considered it–and told myself nope, not quite there yet and headed back in.

Throwback Thursday
Thursday February 20th 2020, 9:19 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

My sister found an old photo at Mom’s. I think those were my seventh grade glasses.

1961 or two, the builder was going to plant a single rhododendron in front of each new house on our street. Dad talked him into digging out six feet deep along the front of ours, replacing it with rhodo-friendly soil, and planting the whole length of it in Blue Peters, light purple with deep purple centers.

Years later, a housepainter climbed that brick half-wall to the left in front of the back door where it was laid in more a checkerboard pattern with staggered gaps. The guy stumbled, the bricks crumbled, and between them they sheared off nearly an entire big woody plant and a goodly part of another, too, if I remember right. (He was okay.)

Dad talked to his insurance and then called the local nursery, asking how much it would cost to replace a six foot Blue Peter.

There’s no such thing, he was told. Blue Peters don’t grow that high!

Dad: Mine do.

Flower child
Sunday February 16th 2020, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Garden

The first peach flower of the year, ahead of everything but the mango. August Pride.

There goes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail…
Wednesday February 12th 2020, 10:10 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Mango tree

(Here’s a better picture of the mango.)

I watched a cottontail rabbit jump into and out of the Costco-sized planter my strawberries are in. That, to my regret, answers my question as to whether it was too tall for it. (Well, duh.)  I went to head it off.

Cottontails (says Wikipedia) like to duck into the same sheltering spot every time, which makes it easy for hawks to sit and wait, but it would have had to have cut across in front of me so instead it went straight to–

–the hole past the raised bed under the corner of the fence dug out by one of the nocturnal regulars around here. It would only have done that if it knew it was there and it knew what to expect on the other side.

I immediately boarded up the spot, with mental apologies to the gardeners next door for the return of the goods. It’s got cute twitchy ears, at least. Have fun.

That was yesterday, and today I was trying to figure out how to confess to them.

Until, whoops, guess what was munching on the weeds where the grass used to be.

I think this one was smaller. And yes, it ducked into its usual spot in the coffeeberries. I think the one that went up and over and down to the hole over thataway was going to the spot *it* knew to run to, because it definitely seemed bigger, and it seemed slightly darker–I don’t think it was the same one.

Please tell me we’re not about to have a whole crew of rabbits. I keep marveling at how they could even be here, 65 years after this area was developed and fenced off.

But note that in neither case did they run for the mouth of the mango cage where all that sweet flowering scent is coming out of. So far so good. Yay.

Indoor starts (and stops)
Saturday February 08th 2020, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Garden

Looking out the window, thinking I needed to get to it re clearing out last summer’s tomato plant that finally froze to death a few days ago, I spotted a bit of color. For all the times I’d looked, it must have been hidden by the leaves that are now brown and shriveled and ready to fall.

I stepped outside thinking, How did that get past me? How did it get past the critters?

There was the smallest, most determined, February-iest-looking Big Boy tomato you ever saw, hanging on and even starting to turn red freeze or no freeze.

And then the mail came.

My new Big Boy tomato seeds.

Time to get to it.

Blessings to you and yours
Tuesday December 24th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Wishing everybody a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy New Year, Happy Maddy’s Birthday and every greeting of good will along with a peaceful return of the light.

My three-year-old Sungold cherry tomato plant finally passed on but its progeny lives. It was 34F last night but there was a smidgen more sun time than the day before so the younger tomato opened more blossoms to greet it.

Someone’s got to feed the bees in December, right? Welcome. Pull up a chair and c’mon in.