Set and match
Thursday March 08th 2018, 11:59 pm
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Knitting a Gift

Leaves and flowers on the Santa Rosa plum, with the Indian Free peach behind it popping out its first flower.

The teal-blue silk cowl came out roughly 13×13″. It will stretch downward somewhat over time, and I’ll tell the recipient that if she wants the top edge tighter I can do that: you pick up two stitches, cast off the first, pick up another, cast the previous one off till you’re done. No problem.

Not that I think she’ll find the least bit of fault in it, I just thought I’d throw that out there in case anybody hasn’t done that before to fix a too-loose edge.

Meantime, I took the second skein of Chalet and knit a not-oversized baby alpaca cowl in order to give my friend Y several to choose from; she wanted cashmere, I have a cashmere one, but color is everything and this is softer than some cashmeres and beige goes well on her. Up to her. It’ll be dry in the morning.

I used the last of the yarn from last week’s hat to win my game of yarn chicken.



Blossoming
Thursday March 01st 2018, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

On the day of the first decent rain in a month, out in the yard these August Pride peach flowers are darkening on their way out while the Santa Rosa plum is just getting going. I’m hoping that most of the buds wait a few more days for the sunshine to keep some pollen for the honeybees and fruit, but hey. I’m just relieved it’s raining. (That is an understatement. It’s been bad.)

The tree bracelets down there are wide paper-thin strips of copper to keep the snails from crawling up at night and eating the flowers and fruit. It works, too.

Today’s half a cowl so far: the Cat Mountain Fiber Arts yarn that I bought at Stitches–I’m not seeing it on her site (yet?)  50/50 merino/silk, 225 yards/100g in the colorway Wood Nymph. Pretty stuff.



One more way to stay in touch
Monday February 19th 2018, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Garden,Knit,Wildlife

There! I said in triumph, done with it for the night. I octopused it.

You what? He wasn’t sure he’d heard that one right.

You know how octopuses can squeeze into anything? I got 61″ of afghan and that ball into that ziploc. (Warning: great National Geographic video in that link, annoying announcer–you might want to turn the sound off.)

Meantime…

I was talking to a friend yesterday who has just bought a house a half hour north of us and is getting ready to move into it. This is a rare and marvelous achievement around here these days. I was wondering out loud if she’d like a fruit tree as a housewarming present.

Because I know how many times I’ve wished I’d planted mine when we moved here, rather than most of them at 25 years later when my kids were newly grown and I needed to still see something grow up year by year under my care. Plus I wanted the fruit. Plus I think they’re pretty trees.

She instantly knew exactly what she wanted and she was ecstatic–was I serious?

Absolutely! As I thought, my late father-in-law is the one who encouraged me to start gardening, and that would be the best use I can think of for some of the birthday check he gave me in December just before he died.

I checked the Dave Wilson site and they said the Blenheim (Royal) was the #1 apricot in California and the top-rated one in their taste tests. But also, as I said to her yesterday, one good thing about apricots is that they’re a little tart and squirrels don’t like tart.

It turns out she knew her apricot varieties and Blenheim was her favorite. Well then.

Yamagami’s, my favorite nursery, had the Royal variant in stock. Perfect.

She helped me get that big thing out of my small car this afternoon, exclaiming, I can’t believe you did this! I can’t believe you already did!

Take pictures for me when you get it in?

She couldn’t wait to.

And I came away thinking, how often do we get to spend money on something that will last the rest of the recipient’s whole life? That tree will keep giving and giving and giving, and you learn with the first one and who knows where it’ll take her from there.

I could hear one of my favorite doctors in my head, an avid gardener, when I asked him about the squirrels, answering happily, I have MILLIONS of apricots! They hadn’t touched them.

I said a little prayer for Jennifer’s tree to grow and thrive along with her three little kids. They need to wait a little while before they climb it, though.

A bowl of them (cupping my hands for size) in five years? An excuse for a visit.

She’s looking forward to it.



Springing forth
Saturday February 17th 2018, 10:25 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

Progress.

Meantime, the blueberry flowers look like pale blueberries, the first two Santa Rosa plum blossoms opened today (that’s the mango tree under the frost covers for the night in the distance), and the August Pride peach, which spent last year in curl-leaf-disease survival mode, is in sparse but full bloom, giving it its all.



Stitches pre-Stitches
Saturday February 10th 2018, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knitting a Gift

The rest of the Tropic Snow peach flowers have opened and the tree is just glorious.

I had to wind, scour, and let dry the next 300+ grams of the coned afghan yarn, having run out of what was ready, so knitting-wise I had a day or two on my hands.

Thus this cowl of long-hoarded Handmaiden’s Camelspin came to be. Lovely stuff, from lovely people, made mostly of silk and it puddles just so (lack of selfie skills notwithstanding.) Nova Scotia was the colorway, if I remember right, and there’s a bit more green to it than shows here.

I really, really like this. I really like even more anticipating surprising the person it’s for.

There’s enough yardage left from the one ball that I could make a second cowl, and it wouldn’t have to be too much smaller.



Well I guess they wanted to plant local species?
Wednesday February 07th 2018, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

The unseen unnamed people who bought the house down the street have been re-landscaping it, and one of the things they did was to plant some plants in a tight row in front of what I assume is a bedroom window, about ten of them and all about two feet apart. So that the spaces between will fill in nice and densely.

With redwood trees. I did quite the double take. Redwood trees?! Under the eaves of the house, no less. Okay, they’re pretty and maybe you guys are new to California but didn’t you at least google the name on all those tags?!



Peach flowers
Tuesday February 06th 2018, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Garden

Gorgeous flowers. Click for the close-ups.

The forecast is for no leaf curl disease this year because I paid a professional to spray my peaches this time, but also because the foreseeable forecast is for no rain. It’s been bad.

My Tropic Snow is the only tree I didn’t get around to pruning this winter–mostly because it grew so little last year while barely surviving the loss of so many leaves.

But wow, look at it now.

For whoever else might need to know this, the guy who did the work said that raccoons won’t climb chicken wire: too unsteady and flimsy feeling. Meaning I *can* keep them out!

(The squirrels, though, I dunno…)



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.