Parfianka
Thursday July 09th 2020, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden,Life,Mango tree

I’ve told this before, but for those who haven’t yet read it: My friend Jean planted a pomegranate tree and two years later brought a half a paper grocery bag’s worth of fruit to church to share that was bursting open, breaking itself into pieces that made it easy for lots of people to get a sample (outside). *She* thanked *us*, saying there was way more than she could eat.

I had never tasted anything like it. I wondered if I’d ever tasted an actually ripe pomegranate before, or was it just the variety (she didn’t remember the name.)

A few years later I got to tell her that she was why I’d researched descriptions and taste tests and planted my own, a Parfianka, the favorite of not only a whole bunch of people online but the owner at Yamagami’s Nursery. I never would have done it had I not tasted hers first and found out what I was missing. She’d definitely earned a thank you.

Mine was a cute little $10 end-of-season-clearance what-they-had-left thing in one of those 4x4x10″ sleeves. Jean was 80 when she planted hers and she clearly started with a more established specimen. Makes sense.

Time and sun and water and dirt and the little one got there just the same. It fascinates me how the tree just keeps on randomly throwing out new flowers with the fruit in various stages, keeping the feeding station open for the bees and hummingbirds.

Jean is 94 this year and I think others will be bringing her pomegranates inside to her. I hope she gets to see them fully ripe again.

And one of my mangoes, too: two more months. I would not make her wait for an Alphonso, knowing she misses the Hadens of her childhood in Hawaii but her late husband even more, but I hope to help her discover something new to love and partake of just like she did for me.

I don’t dare risk bringing one to her in this pandemic, but if her daughter okays it I’ll pass one along through her.



Lockdown day 52: afghan on lockdown
Thursday May 07th 2020, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Knit,Mango tree

Why was that one strand so thin…

Oh. Oh rats. It was Arroyo, ie about 300 yards per skein vs the 200 yards per 100g skein of the Rios, and it looked it, and I stopped, found a similarly-dyed skein online in the right weight–judging by the picture, wish me luck–ordered it from across the Bay, nice and close by, put the afghan away and hoped.

I really wanted to work on it.

And went out and checked on the mango tree because I needed that.

So the plan is: I’m going to get the new yarn, weave a strand around over and through kitchener style over all the existing stitches in that grouping–ten, I think–and then work the original strand back out of there with the replacement already in place.

Or maybe it would be simpler just to undo the entire three rows but I don’t want to. 

 



The Alphonso
Sunday March 08th 2020, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

Flowers, fragrant flowers everywhere. At least one honeybee  found its way through the door.

I found more new buds this morning, which means they’ll be coming ripe at staggered times rather than all in a rush at once.



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.



Hurry up, tree!
Wednesday February 05th 2020, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Mango tree

My Big Boy tomato plant from last year finally froze to death. The Sungold under the eaves is still blooming. House warmth for the win.

Monday night and thereafter, I had to turn on the heater under the Sunbubble at dusk for the first time all winter; the Christmas lights just weren’t enough. For so long it was simply about keeping the mango comfortably above freezing, but now we need to protect the more vulnerable flower buds that are bursting out all over.

This is just the top of the tree because I can’t step far enough back in the greenhouse for a better shot.

The tree’s gotten big and the crop will be a lot more than last year’s three fruits.

My friend Jean grew up in Hawaii and misses the Hayden mangoes of her youth. She tried three times to grow her own but always lost them to the cold and she has cheered my tree on with great enthusiasm ever since she found out about it.

Last year’s three went to Dani who instigated the whole thing and whom I’d long promised the first fruit to, Eli who helped take care of the tree numerous times while we were out of town before we bought the greenhouse, and the last one for, well, us.

This is the year the first one is supposed to be for Jean. Jean, who once brought a paper bag of ripe pomegranates to church from her two year old tree that were such a revelation that I’d planted my own, a Parfianka, having never known before what a ripe pom actually tastes like. (The stores can’t sell them when they start to split.) Jean, who loves seeing pictures of how my Alphonso is growing, it’s really doing it, it’s surviving here! It’s blooming!

Today’s her 94th birthday.

The last few months she’s been pretty much bed-bound.

I don’t know that it’s fair to ask her to hang around till this big plant of mine finishes doing its thing in six or seven months but I’m still going to remind her I promised.



Old enough for kindergarten
Thursday January 23rd 2020, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Mango tree,Wildlife

This is its year. There are tightly closed new buds everywhere and the tree is dense and wide. There will be fruit, (hopefully) lots of fruit. 2020 here it comes!

Assuming the cottontail rabbit (how did it get here?) that’s taken up residence in the bushes next to it doesn’t start to develop a taste for mangoes.

Which you know it will. And it can dig under the Sunbubble to get in.

Richard bought me not one but two new supersoakers, just to make sure I got one that was good enough.



Bubble bubble toil untroubled
Friday October 11th 2019, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Life,Mango tree

Babysat the doorbell today.

The replacement Sunbubble came in the afternoon. It was in a 49-pound box and I knew I was going to need help getting it inside while it was too expensive an item to leave unattended.

FedEx Guy turned out to be the type who was glad that he got to help someone out today. Which was a relief.

Now that it’s here, my question to myself is, do I just tape together the torn greenhouse for one more winter to extend the future of the new one? (Googles: yes, contact paper does still exist. I could double-side it to have no sticky parts exposed while connecting the walls to the sides of the zipper.)

So far, you can’t buy Sunbubble covers separately.

There are no mango flowers nor fruits to protect this winter, at least not yet. So the tree doesn’t have to stay quite as warm as last year.

It did bloom about six months ago but that time the buds all died back due to mold from the moisture buildup inside that tent after that one extremely wet winter. I toweled it off from the inside every morning and left the door open when it was warm enough but that wasn’t enough (and I’m too short to open the overhead vents.)

My Alphonso has since recovered nicely, proving it is indeed the resistant variety they said it was, and it has put out a ton of new, healthy growth where all of that had been.

I figure when it’s ready, given the size it is now, we will get a ton of mangoes. We just have to be patient.

And I just have to get all of the details right. Working on that.



“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”
Friday April 12th 2019, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Friends,Mango tree,Wildlife

I sent Dani (the original instigator of the planting of my mango) a new picture of the tree and he sent me this article.

Who knew that Alphonso mangoes were helping to keep the last wild group of Asian lions in the world alive?



Well that worked
Monday April 08th 2019, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Family,Mango tree

I left the Sunbubble zipped and the Christmas lights and heater on while we flew to see my folks; Richard’s Rube Goldberged auto temp set-up on the lights no longer works, so those would just stay on, but the heater’s would turn it off above 74. I knew the humidity would rise a lot with nobody around to open the greenhouse door by day and I had no idea how hot it would actually get in there. But tropical trees don’t argue with heat, is all I could figure.

When we left it that way for five days over Thanksgiving we came home to black spots on the leaves and a graying and withering away of all new growth, taking away all chance of fruiting from what would have been. Alphonso mangoes do not like humidity. The fruits from last summer held on, though.

It’s warmer now than it was then and boy has it rained (with the irony of, not inside the plastic. I’ve had to water this one tree.)

I didn’t want another disease attack, now that I know my resistant variety is actually somewhat susceptible, but you do what you have to do, and besides, visiting my Dad was vastly more important.

All this in ten days. This is what the new growth looked like as of yesterday that had been just starting in several spots, like the first photo. All those small lower clusters of leaves did not exist yet when we left. New branches on a mango in flush can grow several inches a day, with the leaves reddish as they grow, then light green, then gradually dark and lush, and I knew that, but still, wow.

Heat and increasing sunlight with the season and plain good luck. And suddenly I have a much bigger tree.

As soon as these bud out and start fruiting, those uprights will start curving gracefully downward with the weight. And what would have fruited in November suddenly doesn’t matter.

We ate our first just-for-the-two-of-us mango yesterday, the third from the tree. It was like nothing I could describe and do it justice, but it was very very very good.

There is one last summer 2018 mango turning slowly yellow as this year makes its promises.



The long-awaited day
Sunday March 17th 2019, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life,Mango tree

I had pushed leaves aside to see how yellow it was and it had fallen into my hand a little early, as that variety apparently does, but it was ripe now. I found a good box for it. I put small-bubble bubble wrap inside, then a paper towel, then nestled the homegrown Alphonso mango there, nicely cushioned for the short trip.

Eli’s mom and big sister were outside as I pulled in, along with their neighbor, who seemed to be helping with the daughter’s bicycle.

I told them what I’d brought.

“It IS?!” His mom and the neighbor both sniffed its fragrance and the neighbor did a little swoon. I explained to her that Eli had helped keep my tree alive while I was traveling when it was small and I’d promised him the second mango ever and this was it.

His big sister pedaled her bike in great excitement around my car and towards the front door to go tell him.



Detours
Monday January 28th 2019, 12:09 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life,Mango tree

Church. Then Dani and his beloved and our mutual friend Lee, whose birthday party it was where the conversation happened that led to my tree arriving.

I offered the not very large mango to Dani and he inhaled its essence, remembering the Alphonsos of his childhood back yard. I had my good Mel and Kris stoneware set out and we went to it. Mango pieces, homemade chocolate, juice I’d squeezed the night before after the neighbors gave us a boxful from their orange tree.

The mango might have been even better with one more day to ripen, but still: I could honestly say, and did, that he’d been right: that that was the best mango I had ever eaten in my life. Such a depth of flavor. The perfume! So much to that tiny bit of fruit the five of us each had. I did not know they could be like that. Wow.

Dani asked for the seed and the skin: the scent of home, and to prove to a fellow ex-pat friend of his that yes you can grow them here–you just have to want to badly enough.

His SO teased him that she was sure he was going to grow his own tree from it. They’ve told me their condo doesn’t have enough sun, but hey, if he wanted to badly enough. Right?

They headed out after a bit and I got a message from my daughter: could I bring…

She’d been spending all her free time of late helping some friends pack up their house. Their moving van arrives tomorrow bright and early, and they were glad they had that one last weekend to finish everything up.

Except that yesterday morning the guy’s father, a farmer, dropped dead, utterly unexpected, and they dropped everything and ran for the airport knowing how much his mom would need immediate help. There were still two baby bottles in the sink. Michelle was trying to finish what they no longer could and needed something to package some of their papers that they hadn’t intended for the movers to touch.

Sure, I can do that, and I headed off to San Jose with the requested bin.

I took one look around when I got there and knew that this was where I needed to be for the next little while.

I washed all the dishes, by hand so they would be seen on the drying rack and not forgotten in the dishwasher, I folded the clothes that had been washed, I sorted all the socks of all the sizes. I did not find the key to the firesafe that the toddler had run off with, but we were all in each other’s good company on that one. I remembered the days of one child of mine in particular who was always finding what squeezed into what and the hairpins we shook out of a ride-on toy years ago.

We’d been working for some time when…

The baby blanket! This is the couple I’d knitted a cashmere/cotton 50/50 afghan for, and it was their now-toddler’s favorite blankie. It was there. Michelle called them: I was offering to mail it to them tomorrow if they wanted. (Their stuff was going straight to storage given the new circumstances and it might be months.) Or I could keep it at my house till they were ready, free of moths or loss.

Her friend burst into tears: yes please send it?!

First thing, honey, first thing. That, at least, is something I can do.

(And hey, now I know: after 18 months of it going through their high-end washer and dryer, it’s still so very soft, the excess fluff is gone, and it has shrunk only a little. I pre-shrank that yarn hard before knitting it up and it basically held, while the essence of the cashmere endures. And it is THE beloved blankie. I’m quite pleased.)



January fruit
Saturday January 26th 2019, 12:11 am
Filed under: Friends,Garden,Mango tree

Hey, DANI! This is all your fault! Thank you!

Wondering if it was ripe yet, I just barely touched it and to my great surprise it fell right off in my hand.

My first. Alphonso. Mango. Ever! Already, six hours of being inside the warm house and the fragrance has started to bloom.



Green, two days ago
Friday January 18th 2019, 11:47 pm
Filed under: Mango tree

It was warmer today, in the upper 60s.

This afternoon I found this.



Inadvertent favor
Saturday December 15th 2018, 12:11 am
Filed under: Garden,Mango tree

I had wondered when we set up the Sunbubble if there would be water seepage under the sides during a rainstorm that would get to the mango. Nope. It was time to get the hose going inside there again.

Turns out that over my birthday it had sprouted new budding branches in five places, which is the best evidence I could have asked for that my new improved heating set-up seems to be what it had needed and means summertime fruit, when it will have real heat to make it sweet. Yay!

I also found that my long-time tree guys goofed. I’d hauled my sick self out of bed yesterday morning (thankfully not too early) because months earlier I’d contracted for them to winter-prune some of my fruit trees so that I wouldn’t have to worry about branches falling at my head while doing it myself. Twelve concussions is enough. The pear, which is tall and thin and really isn’t much yet, the big peach (the Indian Free) and the sprawling 25+ year-old Fuji apple.

That pear is going to grow a lot in the coming year now that we cut away so much that was shading it when we were making the insurance company happy. I need to set a good foundation for that.

Chris called the day before to confirm and I couldn’t stop coughing. Which may well be why when the crew came yesterday the one guy who approached stood well and I mean well back from the door and I couldn’t hear a word he said and didn’t want to breathe on him so I just said you’re here to trim my trees? Apple peach pear? Great, thank you! and left them to it.

I was too tired to go look afterwards. Chris always follows up with a walk-through, but I did not hear the doorbell. Not with my stuffed ears. That’s fine, I didn’t want to infect him, either.

Today I was up to walking around. Even did my treadmill time tonight (slowly. Very slowly. But it felt great to.)

They’d trimmed the Fuji apple, the Indian Free peach–and the Santa Rosa plum. The three biggest trees, planted in a triangle. Made perfect sense. The pear over yonder needed maybe a dozen snips at most and quite honestly made no sense to call them in for other than as a one minute add-on, while the ten-year-old plum was a project.

I know Chris had mapped out what was where for them.

If I call and tell them then they’ll have to come back for just such a waste of their time and they really did me quite the favor. I was trying to keep the cost of the job down and figured the plum was mostly at a height I didn’t have to worry about.

My lingering achiness is really quite delighted that I don’t have to handle pruning materials for very long at all now. What’s left to do is, thanks to them, a piece of birthday cake.

Postscript: I couldn’t find the original email with the contract in it before I wrote this, but I just found the saved document: okay, so Chris did put the plum on the list in August, then. Alright, that makes more sense.



Hey, Dani, look!
Tuesday November 06th 2018, 11:42 pm
Filed under: Friends,Mango tree,Politics

Glued to the election returns, glad there will be some checking and balancing–always a good thing.

Meantime, the heat is working in the mango tree’s enclosure but, um, not so much in ours. Brrr. Hoping I can reach our HVAC guy in the morning.

So I thought I’d chill out by posting a bunch of tropical-tree pictures so Dani could see how what he instigated into being four years ago is doing. (Don’t worry about that dusting of cinnamon, that’s just anti-ant.)

I need to ask: are you supposed to let them ripen on the tree? (Why the traditional store-it-in-camel-dung method? All my camel comes in yarn form only.) I know pears have to be picked unripe or they’ll go mushy first, and every reference to Alphonso mangoes I’ve found (that would probably be two) said to let them ripen in warm temps, picked. How do you know it’s time to?

I love that I finally get to need to ask.