Thursday, January 15, 2009

In the Mail

Another beautiful day and I've got the Spring cleaning itch so I've spent most of it inside. I checked the mail this afternoon and it reminded me to sit outside and soak up some rays. I got my soil block maker! Can't wait to make some muck and try it out.
I also received a package from Seeds of Change:
Stowell's Sweet Corn
Triple Play Sweet Corn
True Gold Sweet Corn
Bennings Green Tint Squash
Harvest Queen Muskmelon
Heirloom Flat Leafed Parsley
San Marzano Tomato
Red House Free Standing Tomato
Golden Lumen Wax Bush Bean
Oregon Trail Shell Pea
Goldmarie Vining Pole Bean

Monday, January 12, 2009

can't chat today

it's 85 degrees in the shade today. I can't be sitting in the cold house typing. Must muck out the chicken pen and put things away and do some more pruning and some weeding and move a statue and a camellia so StevieT can bring in his excavator later this week to move the maple tree. Hopefully, I'll remember to take some pictures for you all.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

the gluttonus gardener

That's me today. I just ordered a million seeds and it's all I can do not to run to the nursery to watch them unpack all of the bareroot trees. I only have room for an avocado and 2 kiwis REALLY. But, oh my goodness, do I ever have the wantsies. I'm thinking that I can plant two dwarf somethings on either side of the front walk. Hmmm, what do I need???? I have the following:
meyer lemon
grav apple
golden delish apple
asian pear
stella cherry
bing cherry
turkey fig
santa rosa plum and blenhiem apricot grafted tree
1 tiny dwarf peach

I ordered a mexicola avocado from Growquest in Ventura in August. After many phone calls and emails and promises, it has still not arrived. I have requested a refund and a week ago they have about another week before I take them to small claims court. I am so irritated. I have never taken anyone to court before and would rather not do it now. But I sent them almost $150 for a tree for Jonathan's birthday and they have strung me along for months. I found another supplier in the South Bay and am hoping to get a tree from them soon. I want to resolve the money with Growquest first.

So, once that's resolved, I'll add an avocado, oh and I have that banana tree waiting for me in Forestville too. I'll buy a male and a female kiwi but I still want more. I'd love some suggestions for small food bearing trees.....Must find more room. Will find more room.....

Friday, January 9, 2009

Warm in the Sun

I moved some trees today. It's warm out, so warm. We're talking pants and a tank top warm! It felt incredible and I wish I had all day to devote to the garden. I even just sat on my favorite rock and had a snack. It was perfect.
I potted a dwarf peach which is in the way of a new path I want to build. I dug up a blackberry which has never been happy. I hope to find a new berry spot and plant some raspberries this year. I planted a lime which has been rootbound in a pot for a few years. I pruned the espaliered apples, the kumquat, the lemon, the lime. I planted a bartlet and moved the bing cherry and the asian pear closer to the porch. These three are in the narrow West garden near the bees and I decided to move them a little closer to the porch and prune them a bit more like fence trees so that they can be harvested from the porch with less risk of bee sting. The boy got the first one of the year last week!
Regarding the bees: It looks like we have one really happy and thriving hive and one not so happy. Jonathan suspected this would happen based on the way the hives looked in the Fall. The good news is that he can split the thriving colony to rebuild the sad one. I think we'll have to order a queen though. How weird is that? Ordering a queen bee? Wow, farming sure is strange.


Much like the critters outside, I've been hunkered down for the Winter. We went off to Disneyland and then headed straight into the big Christmas season without a thought of the garden.
Well, maybe there were a few thoughts. While at Disneyland, I took more notice of the amazing landscape. The horticulturists there must have so much fun. They even had a huge area devoted entirely to edibles. It was mostly herbs, cabbage, and citrus trees but it was lovely. They had really limbed up the citrus trees to allow light underneath. It was a great space saver and cute too. It has inspired me to rethink the placement of some of my citrus.

Before we left, the boy and I visited a 4-H and Slow food heritage turkey event. Slow foods has commissioned some of the 4-Hers to raise heritage turkeys for Thanksgiving. The members pay $7.50 per pound! The kids get to keep more than $7 per pound. Slow foods comes out to the family home of one of our 4-H kids and brings all the supplies needed to "process" the turkeys. In one morning they all go from live critters to refrigerated dinner. It was a big morning for me. I was challenging myself. We arrived just in time to help round up some turkeys. They're big and you must approach them quietly. I walked slowly up to a hen, bent over, and sort of hugged her. Then I looked up and asked for help, what do I do now?? Well, grab her legs and hang her upside down, I was told. Wow! She was really heavy but didn't seem to mind being hung that way. Then we sat down under a tree with our turkeys. I was instructed to lay her chest on the ground while holding her legs stretched behind her. She didn't mind, she was just hanging out. A local photographer took our picture and put it in the paper. What they failed to mention in the paper was that this happy looking bird was on death row. Two feet behind the photographer was the truck. The truck with the killing cones, the man with the knife, the boiling water, and the feather plucking spinning thingy.
When it was my turkeys turn, she was carried over to the cone and set in, head down. Her legs were strapped to a post on the truck and the man used a small knife to cut one side of her throat. She didn't even seem to flinch. One or two turkeys flailed and one gurgled blood from it's beak. But most of them just hung there, getting kinda spacey as they bled to death. It didn't take long, it wasn't really very messy, it was a whole lot more peaceful than I thought it could be. The couple of squirting, flapping, screaming birds really left a mark on me though.
From the cone, they go into the hot water to loosen the feathers and then into the spinning thing. I think it was a big washing machine drum with nubby rubber fingers. After that they go to the big steel tables to be eviscerated. This was done by local chefs and members of slow foods. Many of them had never done this before and were challenging themselves as well. When all dressed, the birds went into a refrigerated truck for transport. It was quite an experience and has brought me closer to raising meat birds.
Sadly, it left it's mark on the boy too. When I told him we'd be having turkey for Christmas dinner he looked at me, head down, and said, "poor turkeys". We haven't really talked of it since.

The cheery news is that the seed catalogs are arriving in droves. What is a drove anyway? I have ordered about a million seeds from both Bountiful Gardens and Seeds of Change. I also ordered a soil block maker from Path to Freedom. It felt great to support them since they have contributed to my process. We've decided not to spend money on seedlings this year but to spend an equal or lesser amount on seeds and sell extras cheap. I'll make a list tomorrow.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The value of neighbors...

Today, I bought 50 pounds of chicken feed with one dollar bills. We have been selling eggs to neighbors almost daily. Some days I have to steal the eggs right out from under the hens. They're super cheap at $3 per dozen. Folks bring their own containers so I don't have to worry about stock piling anything. I could sell them for twice that amount, but this is paying for chicken feed and keeping us from "having" to eat eggs 3 times a day. It works.

I've even had a complete stranger or two knock on the door for eggs. Nice.

We're headed out of town for a couple of days soon and will need someone to let the girls in and out. Usually, our closest neighbor does it but she's been swamped lately so I'm thinking of asking the 10 year old girl up the street. The question is, can she handle it if something gets eaten??? What if she arrives in the morning and there's a mutilated chicken body on the lawn? I better give it some more thought.

For now, the "house" chickens are having some free time wandering the boys' room and I'm off to work.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Experiment over

Earlier this week, I was sweltering in jeans and a t-shirt. Yesterday I was shivering and huddled in front of the heater. Today it's raining. So much for the Olla experiment!