A quick note after celebrating our friend Lee’s birthday
Saturday June 15th 2019, 10:23 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden

My sister-and brother-in-law are arriving this coming week.

Ripen fast, guys.



Protecting others is the right thing to do
Thursday June 13th 2019, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

(Dwarf hydrangea from a florist, a gift a few years ago from my friend Edie that has naturalized beautifully in my yard.)

One of my friends had someone hijack her FB post to take it on an anti-vaxxer rant.

Which helped me walk away from the whole thing and go finish that fifteenth long afghan row of the day.

But while I was knitting, just amazed yet again that someone would be so afraid of autism that even if vaccines caused it, which they don’t, that they would be willing to hurt or kill my child or theirs or anybody on chemo or any child too young for their shots–to try not to have to parent a kid who saw the world differently? Huh?

And then the sudden thought. I know from a friend with a severely autistic son that statistically the people most likely to have an autistic child already have one–there is a clear genetic component.

But still, the question I might ask the next such person is this: If someone came up with a vaccine to protect against developing autism, would you give it to your child?



Seeds and dirt and magic
Tuesday May 14th 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Garden

There was this big Costco planter that had gone empty. (You have to drill your own holes in the bottom. I did, way back when.)

There were these veggies I sowed in January.

Now, before you start thinking that I’m one of those bona fide gardener type people who starts things in winter like that, those were seeds I’d bought two years earlier that I finally got around to trying. I figured if I didn’t do it then, then I’d spend another whole spring procrastinating and then buying whatever leftover straggly three-pack last-chance tomato variety showed up at Costco and call it done. Again.

All those little packets of hope begged for better.

I was a little surprised at how many still came up.

I’m guessing the tomato that’s filling out that planter must be a Big Boy because it most definitely is one, dwarfing even the ones that are in the ground.

Those with the purple stems will be the Basque Blues, right? Sherlocking here.

There were a couple that were obviously more Sungold cherry tomatoes so I gave one of those away yesterday already covered in flowers and fruit, because with my 2017 one still going at it we have enough. Someone else is getting one, too.

The zucchinis were chosen because they promised not to grow to baseball-bat size. Um. When they get as long as my fingers (and I have short fingers) they yellow and shrivel and give up the ghost. I picked four nice green ones tonight that seemed to be as big as these were going to get and for the two of us, sliced not much bigger than a green onion, two each made a small serving.

Who ever grew zucchini as a garnish?

Meantime, with all the rain this winter, the Santa Rosa plum is giving us the best year it’s ever had by far.

Tonight we start in on two new winter-heavy storm systems and we’re in for some real rain. Not normal, but free water in May? We’ll take it.



Peregrinations
Monday May 13th 2019, 10:43 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit,Wildlife

I haven’t mentioned the peregrine falcons all season and the San Jose ones are about to fledge.

Video taken today here, a few baby feathers hanging on as the eyases look over the edge and see some of the world outside their concrete outdoor hallway, with everything new.

Photos from when they were banded last week here. Two males, one female.

And the afghan? I started in on that pattern.

Goofed, tinked back all 279 stitches I’d just done, put the project back in its ziplock, and decided to let it breathe for a day. Discovered a ninth pomegranate on the tree.



The moving fingers, having writ…
Sunday May 12th 2019, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

Jean was at church! After a month in the hospital. She was surrounded by family, some local, some that had flown in to help her celebrate Mother’s Day.

I showed her my phone and grinned, “This is your fault!” It was the picture of the pomegranate flower on this part of the tree, and (scrolling) the baby pomegranate. I reminded her of the time she’d shared hers and how revelatorily good they were and told her that’s how I came to plant my own.

As I spoke, her son-in-law sitting between us was typing my words into his laptop in a huge font to make sure she got every word. Her daughter-in-law leaned forward, loving this, looking to see Jean’s reaction.

Jean looked tired but happy. “You’ve got a green thumb.”

I am so grateful I got that chance to show her she’d made a difference. Again.



Parfiankas!
Thursday May 09th 2019, 10:16 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

The Yamagami Nursery guy’s favorite variety.

Somehow I completely missed them before today. I had been a little disappointed that my pomegranate had decided it needed a full third year’s growth before producing anything, unlike my friend Jean’s that gave her enough to share at two years old. She couldn’t remember what type she’d bought but they were so good that I’d bought a tree myself and I’d hoped I could compare with her and maybe even see if I could find the name for hers thereby.

She’s 93. I’m in a bit of a hurry.

I’m sure she bought a bigger, potted specimen; my four-inch-sleeve one was, um, cute, the last one they had, and given how flimsy the branches still are it made sense that mine wasn’t ready.

Plants flower most where the sun shines brightest and every day I’ve been looking out the window at the new leaves across the top of the tree behind the barbecue grill, wondering when it was supposed to flower and wishing for some sign that it would.

So someone explain to me how it is that they were all tucked away at the bottom and underneath, so out of sight that even with those colors I didn’t see anything while watering the thing? How did I miss these? They were all on the morning-sun side, at least.

Because this evening I discovered bright orange petals on the ground, a few flowers still on the tree–and a few actual tiny pomegranates! Eight in all! Richard, Richard, guess what, we get to taste our new Parfiankas this year after all!

Jean’s been ill these last few weeks. Something to look forward to will be a good thing.



Puttering, watering, checking
Friday May 03rd 2019, 11:03 pm
Filed under: Garden

The irises keep blooming. (That’s my dwarf Black Jack fig behind.)

The nurseryman who warned me that Frost peaches can break the limbs? He wasn’t kidding.

I planted this tree two months ago, gave it some serious pruning and limb-spreading to correct its shape and start it off right, and it’s already shot out 12″ worth of new limbs. It helps that it’s a standard, not dwarfed rootstock. I thinned it to two peaches, one on either side of the tree, and they’re already big for how far along they are.

And the tree is healthy. Look at that. No leaf curl and there never will be. So much better.



But don’t climb the peaches. They’re useless that way.
Monday April 22nd 2019, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

It’s easier for the two of us to fly than the two of them and their four kids, so it had been awhile since they’d all been here. There’ve been changes in the yard just this year; the two older boys ran out back to explore.

I named each fruit tree going around one by one.

It was when I said the magic words ‘apple tree’ that Parker’s face lit up. “Apple!”

I’d wondered if he remembered. He’d been not quite four. Me snipping the tape off the clamshell squirrel cage then lifting him up, him picking the last apples off that tree I planted when his daddy had been about his age, him watching me intently in the kitchen as I sliced them up and then him proudly offering everybody their portion. (His baby brother ditched the skin on his by wiping the bits into the spaces between the keys on the piano when no one was looking.)

After that visit, my daughter-in-law told me that Parker wanted to eat apples all the time and he wanted them cut across the equator so all the seeds showed and he wanted to go on walks to plant those seeds so they could grow into great big apple trees where they lived so that everybody around them could get to pick and eat apples like that, too.

He wasn’t more than politely impressed with my peaches or cherries (yet) but that big old Fuji, that one was near and dear to his heart.

And the kids could climb it, too, though I didn’t think of it at the time and they didn’t think to ask. It wasn’t till later that I tried to picture any good climbing trees near them and couldn’t come up with any, and I can imagine it didn’t occur to them that one even does such things.

It’s not terribly scary high and it is pretty sturdy.

Well then. Next time.



For Emily in her recovery from sepsis
Sunday April 21st 2019, 10:48 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

The second cherry, the tart English Morello, is really putting on a show this year.

Some of you may remember: this is the one that the spring after I planted it was nearly killed by–something, and I never saw anything going at it and couldn’t figure out what, but its new leaves got chomped on and then entirely disappeared practically overnight; when it tried to put out a second set, those went down to the nubs, too.

My bare root had become a bare everything again.

I finally decided whatever it was had to be nocturnal and I went out at night with a flashlight.

The entire tree was utterly engulfed in swarms and even multiple layers of iridescent black and green Japanese beetles trying to push past each other to devour some faint morsel. I had no idea what to do–knocking them off and trying to stomp on them all was so gross and useless because there were constantly so many more, and pesticides meant killing the wildlife. The soapy water that I use to suffocate indoor ants and wipe away their scent trails (insects breathe through their skeletons) I didn’t want in the soil.

So I Googled.

Which meant that good friends scraped off their barbecue grill for me and gave me a plastic bucket of the ashes. I waited for the tiniest first sign of green and went out that night and doused the beetles with the stuff.

They fell away from my tree instantly, gratifyingly, dying unanimously while fertilizing the roots those non-natives had stolen so much from. I repeated that scene till they didn’t seem to come anymore.

But the sapling had already given it its all. It stayed bare. I thought that was the end of it.

It took longer to come back on the third go-round and there were fewer and smaller leaves but it just wasn’t its time to go yet. Recovery wasn’t immediate, not that year and not entirely the next, but this year it’s already growing faster than it ever has.

And look at it now.

(Old wire racks recycled as gopher barriers: where they can’t come up for air, they don’t want to go.)



If only I could put their perfume in a photo
Tuesday April 16th 2019, 10:38 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life

I spent lots of time today winding yarn, going over patterns, debating doing this vs that. It felt great to be planning something interesting.

There are more and more and more apple blossoms. My Fuji tree is nearly 30 years old and last fall was the first time I ever hired a professional arborist and his crew to prune it (and a few others.)

Those guys knew what they were doing. Yes, we had all that rain, but still, not only is it beautifully shaped, I’ve never seen it bloom as much as it is now. Which is what I was hoping for.

P.S. And on a completely different note, as someone whose family did a camping trailer trip across the country and back in 1969 plus many other road trips, man, what we missed out on! An entomologist and his son have created an app to identify the bugs that wipe out on your windshield. Divvy it up, kids, your side vs. Susie’s and see who can win the most splats! A bug in the southeast likes the smell of exhaust pipes for laying eggs. Darwin rules.

Make sure Dad passes on the right, too. You want your fair share.

 



Blenheims
Saturday April 13th 2019, 5:44 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Life

(Photo posted with permission.)

I love growing fruit trees. How many things that we spend money on remain with us, doing good, for the rest of our lives?

Jennifer and her husband bought a house early last year about a half hour away, and sorry though I was to see them leave here, I asked her if they’d like one as a housewarming present, and if so, what type.

YES!

Turns out she had been wishing very much for an apricot tree, specifically one of the old wonderful Blenheims that are hard to find in stores.

Yamagami’s had Royal Blenheims in stock.

She sent me this picture today.

I cannot begin to tell you how happy it makes me.



Can I hear you now?
Thursday April 11th 2019, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Amaryllis,Family,Garden

A few more days and the whole cherry tree should look like this and more.

For my dad: an Apple Blossom amaryllis started opening today.

The Frost peach has been properly thinned, and so has hours of paperwork and housework that had needed to be out of the way before company comes next week.  Sometimes even the disorganized have to crack down and get to it.

The reward is that I found the bluetooth pendant for connecting my cellphone to my hearing aids–it had fallen behind the computer.



The apples are finally waking up
Wednesday April 10th 2019, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Garden

More spring pictures.

The Fuji apple started blooming two days after the Yellow Transparent, as it does every year.

The brand new Frost peach tree I planted last month? I need to thin that pair to a single peach. (I know–already!) Always leave the bigger one.



Italian for star
Sunday April 07th 2019, 9:48 pm
Filed under: Garden

An afternoon at 74F and the Stella cherry started to quietly celebrate at the back of the tree.

I’m not putting any sweaters away yet, but I’m looking forward to what that one’s going to look like in a few days.



Reds and greens
Saturday April 06th 2019, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

We’re having a Cooper’s hawk sighting nearly every day now. Cool.

Another Red Lion amaryllis from my dad–here, the hawk’s gone now, let me give you a close-up. Love love love these. If you have an amaryllis with four or more leaves it should bloom the next year, too.

The ground is so wet that digging a big deep hole and finally planting the Kishu mandarin I got for Christmas was surprisingly very easy. Like pushing a shovel into Play-dough.

If you live in non-citrus-growing areas and wish for a mandarin orange, plant this one in a pot to keep in or out depending on the weather. The tree is small and the fruit is golf ball sized, soft, seedless, and the peel pretty much falls off and you can just pop the whole thing in your mouth just like that. The fruit doesn’t ship well for grocery stores, you have to grow your own.

It ripens months before my Gold Nugget and thus stretches out the season for us. Not to mention it will create more ground-bird nesting habitat out of what was a bare spot.

Today was a perfect spring day and the Sungold cherry tomato that I planted in 2017 burst into even more blooms. Three years!

Note that it was originally set up inside the largest tomato cage I could buy but by now it’s simply carrying it up and away on its shoulders to wherever and there’s no disentangling the thing, all you can do is admire its Leaning Tower of Pisa impression from inside that happy thicket. (Those few dead leaves are from where the freezes got to the outer edges of the plant but it’s made up for it since.)

And to repeat the Red Lion red theme, while listening to two two-hour sessions of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I got ten repeats done on this cowl; I can get one last one out of this skein and then that’s it.

There will be two more sessions tomorrow, so it is time to pick the next project. Baby girl afghan is what I want to do, but I don’t think I have quite the yarn I want for it yet.