Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Weather Finally Gets Here

This may be the last toad I see for the year, now that it is getting cold and wet.  He surprised me when I was out in the dark collecting salad greens.  I thought he was a leaf.  Leaves, however, don't jump out of one's hands quite like that.  Nor do they pee in one's palm.

This is the newest bed I've created.  I did nothing to amend the soil before planting this time, but instead planted fava beans and arugula, both of which I'll dig into the soil when I'm finishing harvesting from them.  This year, I've planted only Crimson Flowered Favas, a 12 foot curving double-row of them, in order to be able to save a large enough quantity of seed, safe from cross pollination, to share through Seed Savers.

At the far end of the garlic bed, the earliest planting of the three Sugar Snap pea towers has already started to flower.  I've been carefully saving seeds for a few years now, saving especially for early and heavy production and powdery mildew resistance.  Usually, when I plant in October, as I did this year, I don't get flowers at least until February.  It's been much cooler lately than last year; I'm not exactly sure why they're so early, nor do I know if it is a good or bad issue.

I have three different kinds of cabbage growing in this section of the cole crop bed.  I bought the Red Ace cabbage seedlings, and I started Red Verona Savoy and Perfection Drumhead Savoy from seeds I ordered through the Seeds Savers Yearbook.  I'm particularly excited about Red Verona, supposedly a blushed, mildly savoyed, delicious cabbage.  Towards the top of the picture, the forest of self-seeded Oriole "Orange" chard is visible.

Here, Redbor Kale (hybrid, but so pretty) frames Lacinato Kale (my favorite) that I started from seed.

I've purchased just about variety of orange chard that I've been able to find, but never do the stems actually glow orange.  Usually, they're yellow, which is pretty, but not the fiery orange that I love.  This year, my Five Color Silverbeet chards have two beautiful, orange-stemmed knock-outs.  I'll let only those two bolt this spring, save seeds from them, and see if I can pin down the orange chard for which I've been hunting.

A field of arugula in the new bed gives us lots of tasty salads.

Last year, I had such a beautiful garlic crop, I thought I'd have plenty for the year.  But when the garlic is so good, we eat it.  And then we eat more of it.  Despite last year's generous crop, the end of 2009's homegrown crop is in sight.  This year, I've planted twice as much.  I've added to my favorites—Ajo Rojo, Shilla, Applegate, Red Toch, and Metechi—some new-to-me varieties—Red Janice, Sonoran, Music, Blossom, Lorz Italian, Khabar, and Bogatyr.  

At the top of this picture, the Sugar Snap towers are barely visible.  Far out of the frame on the right hand side, I've planted Sharon's Shallots (from a fellow Seed Savers member); it is my first time growing shallots.

This is an Owari Satsuma, the first fruit tree I planted when we moved here.  The fruit are almost ready.

My little Keitt mango tree is still growing, apparently unfazed so far by the frost we've already seen.

This papaya isn't quite as happy.  The plant is still healthy, with a strong trunk and lots of fresh young leaves, but the most exterior leaves are a bit frostbitten.

When we moved here last year, the existent Meyer Lemon tree had four fruit on it.  This year, it has hundreds.  In this picture,  a few fruit are visible, as well as the edge of our Big Project, almost ready for a full reveal.  The rain has slowed us down, but I'm not complaining.

Rain.  It's about time.