He said the right thing at the right time
Monday January 15th 2018, 11:05 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

I somehow inexplicably, completely and utterly forgot that you’re supposed to spray the dormant peach trees with copper to head off peach leaf curl disease. Which three of my trees got hit with hard last year with all the rain we had, even though I did spray then. The disease can only take hold at cold temperatures on wet, new, growing leaves, but it can kill a tree and it destroyed all the fruit on those three.

A friend who’s a master gardener happened to say something on the subject, with the end result that I hired him to come do it for me. I knew that if nothing else, he would do it right and after last year I was certainly not sure I had.

It’s been warm during the day the last few days and turns out those same early peaches were starting to come to life again. They hadn’t broken bud yet though, so the job could still be done. We just made it.

And only because he didn’t have quite enough copper to finish his own job and wondered out loud if anyone had a bit to spare, to save him the hassle of buying and storing a whole big thing of the stuff for a year when he only needed a few spoonfuls’ worth.

I responded with, Sure, I do–  and then–  !!!

And now it’s done.



On their birthday
Wednesday December 20th 2017, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Happy Birthday to my mom and to Parker! He has been waiting all his life to be seven.

Sat down at 9:00 this morning with the barely-begun and pulled the yarn triumphantly through that last loop at 1:30 on the nose. Put a tag to it (and iced my hands) and got it wrapped and out the door. And another one’s done and another one’s mailed and another one bites the dust. Hopefully that’s not already too much of a spoiler. But–I did it! Saturday delivery, they claim.

Drove from there to Cottage Yarns in South San Francisco. (Nope–their site’s still hacked, don’t look at it like I just did but if you know a good web support person she’s looking and I’d be happy to pass a name on to her.) I got the yarn for two of the three people still waiting–the two I needed to buy for. (Dark but no purple? Oh well that lets out that that and that in my stash. Purple gravitates towards me.) Oh and no brights. (Not that or that or that either, then.) The more I’d thought about it, the more I felt it needed to be superwash, if for no other reason than to be fair to some future grandchild or child helping their aged parents out with the laundry and being horror-stricken at how the favorite hat had come out. Been there comforted the kid when it happened to the Scandinavian sweater I’d knit in high school. So let’s not do that to them.

THAT, then, at the store. Yes. Dark not purple, heathery not a boring solid but going subtle on the hand-dyed look even if he did marry into a definitely artistic family. Good old Mecha by golly. It seemed exactly right to me, and if it’s not, (talking to my sister here) let me quietly know and I’ll try again.

Meantime, yesterday morning I went out and again picked the tomatoes that were far enough along to ripen inside. There was a possibility of snow last night. (So of course it rained instead and the 30-something temps took a night off.) The ripest were at the bottom of the bowl, with a few surprise orange ones added to the top after I thought I’d gotten them all.

Five and a half pounds this time. And yet, still more to come, if they can.

So my day went from fiercely focused to meandering blogging. How was yours?



Fried, and green tomatoes
Tuesday December 05th 2017, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Early this morning I went outside with a paper bag and scissors in hand and snipped off all the clusters of larger and near-ripe tomatoes from the Sungold to ripen them inside. Just in case. There are easily this many more still out there, but they were small and best left to chance.

It’s 9:40 pm and forget the forecast of 41, it’s 35 already out there. I think I got these just in time.

Oh and. You know how we replaced the double oven recently because it sparked and arced and tried to burn the house down and the dishwasher because it got caught in the act of scorching the floor? We got a recall notice Saturday on the new Bosch: its cord catches on fire.

California doesn’t need any more fires, thankyouverymuch. All of you in SoCal–stay safe.

Today the washing machine died. Again. We’ve had its transmission replaced twice already; I’m guessing it just really doesn’t like my repeatedly putting individual hand-washed items in on spin-only. Tough beans. I’m going to do it anyway.

Just not tonight, clearly.



Tomatoes, still
Saturday December 02nd 2017, 12:08 am
Filed under: Food,Garden

December first. Thirty-eight degrees last night. I went out this morning and around to the side of the house to the Sungold tomato hedge that is a single monster plant, and it was happily carrying on as usual.

There was a deep orange cherry tomato tucked halfway down that I’d missed earlier. I was curious. I know that any fruit or vegetable you pick will be sweetest earliest in the morning; I also know that tomatoes have a gene that turns the sweetness off if the fruit gets too chilled, which is why you don’t put them in the fridge.

It wasn’t a summertime Sungold but it was still definitely a good tomato. I didn’t know you could still get that this time of year.

Still. It’s probably time to pick all the big green ones and bring them inside.



A candy-pink greenhouse
Friday November 17th 2017, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Garden

Now this is really cool: a greenhouse that is both solar-powered and still allows enough of the right colors of light through to let the plants inside thrive, while at the same time they require less water.

Someday our kids will ask us why we still call them green houses.



The Alphonso
Friday November 17th 2017, 12:29 am
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

June bearing, said one site. Six months from flower to fruit, said another, with cooler temperatures triggering bud formation.

Well then this makes sense.

There are a whole lot of these; this is just the one at the top getting the earliest dose of morning sun and furthest along.

Each of those little brussels sprouts-y dots becomes a cluster of flowers (most of them male.) Hoping all goes well, we should get a fair number of mangos this year.

One for Danny, who inspired the tree planting, one for Phyllis, who aided and abetted and covered it from time to time for us, one for Eli, for saving it from the cold, too….



Jungled
Friday October 27th 2017, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Garden

Well, one thing about having had temps in the 80s and 90s during three weeks of October is the sea of yellow flowers across the top of this, hundreds of them.

One single Sungold cherry tomato plant that took over the world: it’s eight or nine feet long, six feet wide, and generally eyeball height. Those fancy extra-large tomato cages I bought? That I carefully checked morning and night to ease the branches back inside of as this one in particular grew upwards? It sometimes grew an entire rung’s height in a day. Doesn’t matter that I had other tomato plants, it wanted all of theirs and still kept going.

The others gave up at about a foot high. And see that pink miniature rose way down there? It had plenty of space to itself when this started.

The Sungold is swinging from the fig tree, it’s almost trampolined itself over the fence, and at some point it’s going to ask us for the car keys. It’s hard to believe a freeze will end it all–but at the rate we’re going this year, maybe not. (I can wish.)

I am definitely planting Sungolds next year. A little further away from everything else.

It’s a good thing they have the best flavor, too.



October tomatoes
Thursday October 19th 2017, 10:55 pm
Filed under: Garden

Two big tomatoes left (again) and just starting to turn color and then they’ll give it up. I’ve got two layers of birdnetting tents over them, since that worked for scaring the critters out of the zucchinis. (Don’t step between those! It’s a trap!)

The enormous six-feet-in-every-direction Sungold cherry tomato bush, on the other hand, is loaded with flowers and keeping the neighbor’s bees happy and has just a few fruits right now–I thought I was done picking but it got its second wind in that last heat wave.

The nights have been in the 40s. But we keep getting one more day.



Wasn’t it nice of him to invite a critter buffet
Thursday August 31st 2017, 9:47 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift,Life,Wildlife

1. Found an obvious mistake made right at the beginning and that could not be fixed, frogged the whole thing, and started over with a different yarn. Same old same old pattern because it’s mistake-proof and right then I just needed that.

2. Bird netting, bird spikes, and covering bags didn’t do it this time–they got my one ripe fig last night that I was going to pick in the morning when it would be sweetest. Darn.

3. The story from a few years back is there was a young male mountain lion who followed the creek beds from the mountains to the valley across downtown and into a suburban neighborhood, where a UPS driver saw him near dawn near an elementary school and reported it immediately.

And then it vanished.

A quite-elderly golden retriever saved the day that afternoon about the time school was letting out when he announced his opinion of a cat trespassing in his territory. A little one he might ignore but this one just had no business being there.

A reporter was standing under a tree filing a story update that no, the lion still hadn’t been spotted yet. (Dude. Straight. Up…)

So this morning, again around dawn, a man across town who has fruit trees and a garden that had been being raided by raccoons in the night (and has my greatest sympathies) and who is on the board of the state’s Nature Conservancy heard noise outside and went out to try to do something about it.

There were wildly swinging branches in the redwood just over the fence, and redwoods are not flimsy things–

–and a deep growl.

Holy. Cow.

And then the lion’s cub, echoing Mommy and trying to sound fierce, too.

…Well, I guess we don’t have to worry about raccoons tonight, honey…

They’re still looking for them. Our city’s hero golden retriever has gone on to that great dog park in the sky. We’ve had lions before, but never one with young. Fish and Game is on it and the cops again guarded the children going to and from school.



All tied up in pretty boughs
Monday July 31st 2017, 9:45 pm
Filed under: Garden

I had some figs that were turning that sweet shade of brown suggestive of summer sugar coming in…

…And then I didn’t. I saw a Bewick’s wren diving out of there and up again to the fence as I approached, and they’re my favorites, but hey, guys. Clearly they were not impressed by my strategically-placed leftover birdnetting bits and leaning broken netting cage (to thwart leaps from the fence, but squirrels aren’t supposed to like them anyway.)

I had this yellow mesh bag and stuck it over one of the bigger figs–and it has stayed put for weeks now. Hey!

So I ordered more. I didn’t need big ones, just big enough to slip over each fruit and tug a little on the strings. Green seemed good; it would help disguise the ripening, right? I’m told (is it true?) that birds tend not to figure out when the green varieties are sweetening up. Mine are the aptly-named Black Jacks, though, so no such luck on that account. So maybe buying green would have been better, but this is what I’ve got.

Pro tip: if you search for mesh bags, soon you get Amazon ads for, of course, mesh bags thrown at you. I’m on to them now: the price in those ads was $2.66+free shipping, whereas when I clicked through the various colors offered, the price was suddenly about three times that plus shipping, and when I went back to the white that it had started me at, it, too, was now at the much higher price. Stinkers. Or, to be more charitable, bistro mathematics (a la Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).

Note that now that I haven’t looked in awhile it’s down another 68c.

Anyway. So I went back to the window with the ad and clicked through again. There was the white again at $2.66 total. And here we are.



Second Hat Syndrome
Saturday July 22nd 2017, 10:15 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift


Location location location. Sewn in February, about three feet apart. Now about 15″ high vs over 5′. I planted my tomato seedlings in what was a nice sunny spot last year, but I guess the tree nearer the smaller ones grew more than I thought.

But then I only had enough wire framing to keep the raccoons out of the one plant, so that works, right? And the guardian acanthus stalks are drying out fast.

Meantime, the second hat is done and the ends are about to disappear into them and then they will be tattooed with a “made with pride by…” label inside. Via a separate strand so that if the feel of it ever bugs them, they can simply tug on it gently till it comes out.



So how do you like them apples?
Saturday July 15th 2017, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Garden,Wildlife

The acanthus. I’ve had good luck with using the vicious stabby flower stalks as guardians of my tomatoes, going two stalks deep on every side. Two, because last year a raccoon pulled the first one away in the night, got a pawful, there was still another in its way and it never went near again. And two, to make the squirrels decide a leap is not worth the landing. With all the rain this year, some were as much as eight feet long. This is useful. (Just don’t accidentally touch them when you reach in for a tomato.)

So, brilliant me, I thought hey, let’s try threading some of those stalks through the Fuji leaves to defend the plastic clamshells. I so much want to be able to have my grandkids pick their own apples at Grandma’s again.

And it worked. For two days.

Thursday evening I came outside and stopped right there speechless.

I didn’t even know I had that many clamshells. The squirrels had presented me a museum installation of them all over the ground beneath that tree and had named it The Inbox. Still with apples inside (except two that must have bounced just right.) There will be no apples from those fruit spurs next year, either.

All I can figure is, when they couldn’t stand on a branch next to the clamshells to try to pry them open, they simply leaped straight at them until they broke off and fell out of the tree–where they still couldn’t get at them, so they tried the next one. And the next. And the next.

I had two that were wedged in too hard and those were still up there.

Uh, today, not so much. Down too, with one branch inside, one whole branch outside. They even knocked down another I didn’t know I had because the leaves had filled in around it.

There is one, count’em, one, clamshell left in that whole tree. Today.

So… What on earth do you do with a whole lot of way-underripe apples? These were supposed to be picked in September and October.



Still new at all this
Wednesday July 12th 2017, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

Another “this, now this” pair of pictures. July 4th to July 12th. The Alphonso mango tree is loving the summer sun and heat.

But it suddenly hit me today that by this time the last two years I’d carefully unwound the Christmas lights so that there would be no chance of the tree growing into the cord or becoming inextricably tangled.

Um. I think I need to wait until the new growths are hardened off a bit before I dare mess with them, and as long as they’re red they’re not done growing–and there are a whole bunch more just now popping out into view.

Maybe this year I just leave the lights be?

But I so love how the tree is filling out.



And the new leaves’ red glare, the fronds bursting in air
Tuesday July 04th 2017, 9:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

The last rays at sundown were coming through the window right on that drying merino/silk cowl (Scrumptious 4-ply yarn by Fyberspates), showing the radiant deep purple hiding in that dark navy. I ran for the camera, but in the steps it took me to go down the hall and back the light was gone.

You can almost see it.

The mango tree has sprouted like crazy just since two weeks ago.That top branch grew from ending at that last big green leaf to seven new branches popping out–and that’s just the one cluster. From this morning to this evening, it went from looking like a solid poof from inside the house to discernibly separate branches: they are stretching up and out at two to three inches a day.

All the flower stalks that had the tiniest suggestion of buds when we left town to help when Mathias was born–it got too cold for them while nobody was home to cover the tree at night and they gradually turned black, so I think there will be no crop this year. The rest of the tree is doing fine. And who knows, it might surprise me yet.

(Cute hat and matching socks–hey, they match the mango!– from longtime online knitting friend Susan Schutz.)

 



Memo: While You Were Out
Friday June 23rd 2017, 9:22 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Recipes,Wildlife

Cooper’s hawk. Adult. Right there, intently watching my patio and back door as I came around the corner of the yard from trimming back the kids’ old climbing tree that had been shading my tomatoes a bit.

I stepped quickly back behind the house–but I think my startling it cost it its dinner. Sorry about that.

I came inside a few minutes later with  these Yellow Transparents. It is a sign of how different things are this year, drought-wise, that I still have plenty on my tree, proof that the squirrels don’t touch the tart stuff unless they’re starving: this year they have better options.  (Whatever they are out there, starting with my California Coffeeberries).

A little apple juice, four small quartered apples, cover, zap five minutes, cool, scrape off the skins and voila! Apple sauce for two.

And a Mathias picture just because.