Gradations
Saturday February 27th 2021, 11:22 pm
Filed under: Garden

One to five and a half inches. Three were started at the same time, the littlest later and popped up last week.

So I celebrated by planting some of my sister’s Lebanon White squash seeds she sent me, a variety I know absolutely nothing about other than that she likes them, and some zucchini, along with a pepper that one of my friends reacted to the idea last year with, Oh, that’s cool!

And another with, Then what’s the point?

Heatless Habaneros: all of the flavor, none of the pain. Last time I tried they were plantless seeds and a moot point. This time I have those rooting-hormone plugs on my side. The seeds are a year older, but so were the butternut squash and four out of six of those came up.

I still have another two dozen kernels from the exquisite Anya apricots, if anyone else would like to try growing a few; my plan is to go to the post office Monday and after that wait to go out again till after the vaccines we’ll be eligible for in two weeks. Plunk’em in a plug. Get your head start now.



The AI couldn’t get the math right
Monday February 22nd 2021, 11:15 pm
Filed under: Garden,Knit

The leaves are getting bigger.

Four inches. Curious. At 1/4″ a day if it keeps that up it would be six feet tall by the time it drops its leaves for the winter.

Except that it would be pruned and shaped before that point and all the side branching will take up energy, too. Still. It’s feeling pretty good right now, watching it take off like this.

That one apricot seedling I kept last year possibly got overwatered and stopped growing and I’m waiting to see if it will leaf out at all this year, so it feels all the better to have a vigorous, healthy plant. Last year I gave away the vigorous one, thinking I’d have a more dwarf variant because the other grew slower.

Until it didn’t at all.

Meantime, someone tried to teach a machine how to write knitting patterns. “And it even began to give its patterns names, including Spinches Bottom Up, Squig Dyity, and Owls Punch.”

Interweave warned its readers, Don’t swatch this at home.



When everything is new
Sunday February 21st 2021, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

I’ve been trying to take progress pictures from the same angle and against that narrow line on the basket where the wood end sticks out like a belt loop between the apricot seedlings. The taller one is now 3 3/4″.

Not bad for something planted January 11; last year it took till April just for them to sprout. Which is why I’m so taken with the plugs infused with rooting hormone that I tried this year–I’m getting a two month head start on my future fruit bearing while hoping that ends up cutting off a year of waiting to see how they’ll turn out.

Meantime, Lillian wanted to know what happened to that white snow stuff and where did this water come from.



And I want to see my grandkids climbing the trees to pick the fruit
Friday February 19th 2021, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden

Anya+? apricot seedlings Thursday, and the earliest and so far most vigorous one on the left there again on Friday 24 hours later.

One of my kids asked me about a year ago why I was so caught up in watching my fruit trees grow and I told him, I raised each of you for eighteen years and then I needed something else to nurture and watch grow and develop across a timespan like that.

He hadn’t ever thought of it that way before but yeah, he could definitely see that.



Apricoquadruplets
Wednesday February 17th 2021, 11:27 pm
Filed under: Garden

There’s the picture from my old slow iPhone. They like this being in the sun stuff–the one that’s only halfway out of the sides of the kernel is already green down in there. They’ll grow faster later in the warmth of the spring, but meantime, they’ve got a two month head start over last year’s attempts.



Bring on the supersoaker
Tuesday February 16th 2021, 11:52 pm
Filed under: Garden

Signs of summer Alphonsos to come.

I seem to have interrupted a bird that thought that tree a great place to set up a nest–which has never happened before, and I had wondered if they didn’t like the smell of the latex in the sap or something? Or more likely that of the Sunbubble. The squirrels didn’t, so far anyway, which makes it all the better a place for a baby bird to be hidden away in. A cat or a hawk would have a hard time harassing them and our songbirds need all such spaces they can get.

The third apricot cotyledon uncurved its head today and stretched out its new leaves as if to proclaim, Tadaah! Tomorrow the fourth will finish emerging from its seed.

I put them out under the awning during the day for a little extra sunlight. Not too much yet. Just enough.

The desert cottontail put in the first appearance all winter. Rats. I’d hoped it was gone. My baby trees are going to have to be kept up high for awhile.



Making it be Spring already
Saturday February 13th 2021, 12:13 am
Filed under: Garden

I planted the first three apricots I think three weeks ago? The others this week.

I checked tonight and the roots of those three had outgrown the plugs during the course of the day and one big root was starting back up along the other side of the plastic tray. It needed somewhere to head to that matched gravity.

So I just replanted those three inside a large Jiffy pot to hold them for a few days. I want to definitely be past any frost before they go out.

I still can’t get over how much healthier and more vigorous they already look than last year’s.

Edited to add, I just found a tap root on one of the newly-planted ones. I guess they didn’t need time but rather just a few warmer days–and they did all start out in the damp paper towel thing at the same time.



Want to grow a superb apricot?
Thursday February 11th 2021, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden,Life

Being able to putter around, checking on my seedlings, doing laundry, making a lemon almond cake just because the daughter wished out loud for one, making a spinach souffle with vegan parmesan (for her dairy allergy) and bacon bits that turned out surprisingly good: vegan cheeses aren’t great on their own but it turns out they do pretty well in recipes.

After yesterday, it was a day of just being really happy about all the little things. It’s raining and cold? Have a second mug of cocoa. Why not. He loved it.

I have Anya apricots starting to sprout again and a bunch more kernels still in the fridge.

Last year I followed instructions online that said that after the required cold months, soak them overnight–and had a 70% rotting rate. This year I followed instructions that said for the next stage put them in a wet paper towel in a ziplock in the fridge, did that for a few weeks and I have eleven that are looking good so far and one that rotted. I put them in Root Riot plugs that have rooting hormone added, and the roots that are just starting look much bigger and healthier than anything I ever saw last year.

Probably you should just stick them straight in the Root Riots out of the fridge without the whole paper towel nonsense.

So I have a question for you all: does anyone want some of those saved dry kernels? You cannot buy the trees anywhere, they’re not on the market, period, and the developer’s orchard of them has been ripped out and replaced with almonds. If you want to taste these you’ll probably have to grow your own.

I bought Anya apricots at Andy’s Orchard last summer: so at least one parent is an Anya. Andy only grows what tastes good. The other parent might be one of John Driver’s other two varieties that Andy grows, it could be a Blenheim or something, there’s no way to know.

It should take three to five years before you have fruit.

But then oh what fruit. Anyas are what apricots were always meant to taste like and never could be.

Yours for the asking and the willingness to take care of them.



Offerings to the honeybees
Tuesday February 09th 2021, 11:32 pm
Filed under: Garden

It was a day. More tomorrow.

Quick, more peach flowers! 



Peach flowers
Saturday February 06th 2021, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Garden

The August Pride peach gave us the first blossoms of the year.



Taking a good look
Friday February 05th 2021, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life

Yesterday morning I reached over and picked up my phone, looked at the time and thought at it, it’s too early to be awake, put it back down and went back to sleep.

Usually I bring it out by the computer after I get up. And maybe I did. But I also went in the kitchen, stepped sideways looking down at the mug in my hand I was mixing the cocoa into, looked up–and creamed my head on the overhead cabinet door.

Which I always always shut so that I don’t do that. Um.

Shortly thereafter I realized I didn’t know where my phone was.

Which apparently was in silence mode.

The sheets have been changed, the blankets shaken out, there are no iPhone bits in the bottom of the washer, nothing under the bed, it’s not in the Instant Pot, it’s not in the chocolate machine, it’s not under the microwave, it hasn’t fallen behind the computer desk (although that’s nicely dusted now), it didn’t fall behind the piano, it’s not inside the printer, it didn’t land in his shoes, it didn’t end up in the ziplock bag with the hat project, it’s not outside where I was pruning the cherry, nada.

So that’s what I mostly did today, too. At this point I’m beginning to eye the fridge and wonder if we should pull that out to look behind there, too, having a tall husband who occasionally puts things up there briefly because he can see up there whereas I cannot.

Because I really wanted to take a picture of the first peach flower of the year that opened this morning. I love how short winter is here.

Just watch your head on those branches is all.


Saturday morning update: I woke up and felt the impulse to roll over and grab my phone.

As if. I ignored it.

A few minutes later, the feeling persistent and pushing at me, I did roll over and look to prove to myself I was being silly.

And there, black against black, was the edge of my phone just barely discernible, lodged between the bed frame and the box springs. Even looking at it, I had to reach down and touch it to be sure.

And the little stinker was even still half charged.



Anew
Sunday January 31st 2021, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Garden

The blueberries are waking up and the buds have begun. One of the peaches, too, and it’s usually later than the others, but somehow not this year.



Popping the bubble
Tuesday January 19th 2021, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Garden,Life,Politics

Oops.

It was only anchored in two places instead of all the way around because I wasn’t actually using it on the mango, nor had I set up its replacement we got under warranty because of a ripped zipper–since we know we’re not traveling anywhere at all, I’ve reverted to frost cover layers with Christmas lights at night. Way cheaper to heat.

So instead I left the old one up to help me kill off winter weed season within its circle. Californian weeds have Darwinian survival to a science: their stabby little sprouts come up before the grass can while their roots can go 18″ deep to grab every bit of water there might be. Depriving them of even what rain there’s been has left me a spot of good ground towards the coming veggie garden season.

And now it’s picked its own spot.

Winds 40-45 everywhere around for hours, gusts at 98 in the hills. I woke up to a big branch on the laurel outside the upper windows there twisted completely backwards again and again. I didn’t know it could do that.

It did not topple.

It’s been so dry that the winds reignited unseen underground embers from last August’s fires and now the firefighters are fighting the CZU complex wildfire all over again on ten fronts and I feel for my friends up in the hills.

But unlike summertime there’s a big rainstorm coming in, Friday if we’re lucky, Sunday through next Thursday after that, nearly three inches’ worth. At long last. Hopefully. And that should do it.

So on a happier note, tomorrow’s going to be SUCH a great day!

And y’know? The frame on that Sunbubble is still in great shape. They don’t sell the covers separately. I wonder–there’s got to be a way I can cut the plastic away and set it up with birdnetting, and that would be absolutely fabulous to have. It won’t be as pretty as if they sold it that way but with the help of the tall guy we can jury-rig that.

Seven Big Boy tomato seedlings have popped up in the last 24 hours and they’ll be happy to take that nice cleared spot in a month or two.

I better move the thing back over there before it rains so I don’t have to fight round two of the pricker-stabbies.

Oh wait.

Might be a little less effective this time.



Winter spring summer or no don’t do that
Monday January 11th 2021, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life,Lupus

1. I did the first shingles shot over a year ago and was overdue for the other one. The healthcare provider’s office popped up an auto-notice that my tetanus expired last month.

You do not get near my grands without being up-to-date, not that we can visit them right now, but that was the incentive for me to get it over with.

The nurse insisted on one each arm, not together.

2. I thought about what Mathias had said. Seed starter trays and soil plugs arrived right on cue. I planted tomatoes (or rather, I tried to, they only seemed to actually be able to go in where there was already a hole at the centers.) We’ll make some green inside, too, honey, I thought his direction. And if they get leggy maybe I’ll even buy a plant grow lamp…except that what they need for growth I as a lupus patient need not to be exposed to, and how do you set up a lamp in this house where all its light would be contained and away from me on a timer. Not seeing it yet. Windows will have to make up for my failure of imagination.

3. I twisted my ankle in a good hard fall, more so than last night’s fall, neither one as bad as Richard’s falling over backwards three days ago, and why are we acting so old like that but never mind, icepacks and ankle braces and I’m good to go and he seems pretty much okay now.

4. And now if anyone asks me if the shots hurt I can say no that’s just the other thing. Go, get yours, if you need them!

5. Icepacks really work. I got off easy.

6. Can’t wait to see those tomatoes.

7. There are some pitted Anya apricot kernels thinking about sprouting in their zip locked paper towels in the fridge. I picked out the biggest. One was twins. I am intrigued as to whether that would have any effect at all on what they grow into, other than that most likely they’re duplicates of each other. There is so much I don’t know. I almost chose a botany major and I have at times over the years wished I had.

I could use me some spring right now even if I have to jumpstart it.



Give them a hand
Thursday December 24th 2020, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Garden,Life

With the neighbor’s trees overhanging our house gone now, the holly has berries for the first time in so many years that I’d forgotten it could.

The Christmas tree isn’t up: a few years ago we bought the widest-but-one, fullest, heaviest tree at Balsam Hill for its lack of allergens but this was just not the year for struggling with it.

Which means I didn’t go sorting through the ornament boxes in the garage to find the one with the stockings in it. I asked him his feelings on the subject and he said, apologetically, Well actually bah humbug?

Oh good. Neither one of us had to feel guilty about it, then. (The lights but one have burned out in the garage so it would be one hand on a flashlight and one hand moving and opening boxes.)

We did have a great time of a Christmas Eve, though, wishing Maddy a happy sixth birthday, talking to Mom, and later Zooming with her and my aunt and a whole bunch of cousins–one of whom I hadn’t seen since her wedding in the early 80’s. Aunt Joyce has always thrown a Christmas Eve party for whoever in the family could come and now we all could from wherever we were.

Emily played The Holly and the Ivy on the piano and it was all I could do not to burst into unexpected tears: with her fingertips gone, there were missed notes–but there was so much feeling, so much living, so much rejoicing in those notes, so much forever the musician no matter what and it was a privilege to be able to witness.

Writing that just now led me to Alison Kraus and Yo-Yo Ma’s beautiful Wexford Carol rendition–I have that album. But my CD player did the 2020 thing and repairs have to wait till after the pandemic and yes of course computers and all that but I’ve simply gotten out of the habit.

It hit me that I have needed more music. It has been missing, and a bit of me with it.

As for the stockings: I had to have something, because I’d bought some great treats at Andy’s Orchard to put in them and whatever with the garage, they refused to be denied.

I was standing in the kitchen…

When in Romaine do as the Romaineians.

It’s awfully handy of oven mitts to come with a loop for hanging them. A few long paper/wire twisties that the vegetable crisper doesn’t need anymore, the long thick wire under the mantle we always hang the stockings from waiting for the new set-up, and there you go. No Santa that doesn’t mean your cookies are in the oven and you have to take them out yourself but thank you for offering to help.

I was leaning over the chair taking a picture of the mitts and smashed the back of the rocker into the underside of my nose because 2020 is into slapstick comedy like that.

Next year will be all about the grandkids. As it should be. I can’t wait.