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A slice of summer

Sunday, July 1st, 2018

I sometimes hear people here (and elsewhere) saying that they never get around to finding the _____ (peace, relaxation, you can fill in the blank) they hoped to find once they had time to do so.

I have made an effort to find time to “stop and smell the roses” here, but with work and various other activities, I admit it is not always easy. Now that summer is here, I am done working at the college and in between a few other work projects. This week provides a great snapshot of how life here is when I achieve this.

On Monday, I worked in the garden in the morning, harvested some produce, and prepared some food for a lunch with friends that ended up stretching out to fill the whole afternoon. Most enjoyable!

That evening, I got a call from a neighbor whose apricots were ripe. We often pick for them and then can and split the results. Tuesday was spent doing some office work and laundry and also writing a few postcards to voters (exciting to be working on an Ohio campaign this month) and letters to friends. After that, we went and picked apricots.

Wednesday was a town day with a visit to fill a book box, a trip to the gym, and a tie dye activity at the library with some kids. In the evening, we went to visit a friend who had called to say he had several hundred pounds of onions he’d just harvested. I’m hoping to sell some and preserve some.

By Thursday, those apricots were calling, so I spent the day canning. I also baked for my sales tomorrow. (I’m not doing the farmer’s market this year, but am doing some by-invitation-only sales to a few folks.)

Friday morning was harvest and then off to Portal to sell and do some work at the library. Then more canning of apricots.

We finished off the week by going to Nogales to participate in a Families Belong Together march. We were part of a group who blocked the port of entry in protest of US immigration policy.

Lots of important, gratifying, and meaningful activities. I wish every week were like this!

First of the shishito peppers are appearing

Spring garden

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Here is the garden map so far this year.

We succeeded again in having lettuce growing all year round, and for the first time, we also had garlic throughout the year. We are still finishing last year’s crop as we harvested the first bed this year. The scapes were great this year, and we made a very delicious pesto and also pickled some.

The fencing has really worked out well, so we are trying a few favorites that we’d given up on in the past couple years like sweet potatoes.

And as the garden is getting more predictable, we are also growing some flowers.

 

Spring

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

It looks like it’s going to be a great year for favas. There’s nothing like fresh favas; they’re not at all like the dried beans. They taste like pure green freshness.

A seed meeting yesterday gave me extra motivation to spend time in the garden today.

Here’s what’s growing now: lettuce, spinach, tat soi, arugula, garlic, onions, and of course, fava beans.

Earliest edible tomato we’ve ever harvested

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Garden update

Monday, May 8th, 2017

I have about a half dozen little green tomatoes on plants. This is the earliest by far that this had happened. Chalk if up to starting with starts instead of seeds.

And the gourds are progressing along.

It’s been windy here this weekend so I’m hoping everything weathers it ok.

What’s growing?

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

I love spring here. So many things are blooming, and our garden is getting in full swing. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s growing right now.

  • Asparagus is still producing, but it’s starting to tail off.
  • Lettuce, arugula, chard, and radishes are producing strong. We’ve been selling all of this as well. (Our farmers market got off to a great start last week. In the first week, we had more vendors than we ever did last year. This has been a goal of mine.) I’m trying to keep up with succession planting while it’s still cool enough at nights to germinate.

    Cherry belle radishes

  • Onions, garlic, and shallots all look great. We are looking for garlic scapes now and should see them any minute. This stuff will be harvested around June.
  • I’ve planted new green beans (mostly for market), tomatoes (not for market :), and peppers, and they’re looking good. I’ll be putting in cucumbers and melons soon.
  • We’ve replanted new artichokes since the old ones got eaten down to the roots last year.
  • The pomegranates are blooming nicely so we’re hopeful for fruit this year.
  • We’ve been eating strawberries and mulberries, and the figs and blackberries are greening up.
  • One thing I’m excited about this year is growing some gourds for a friend of mine who hopes to make them into drums. The seeds have germinated, and they look strong. Stay tuned for updates on that.
  • The hedgerow and its flowers continue to be a work in progress. This year with the new fence, I’m more optimistic. I also planted some hearty native perennial flowers near the house this year. (And I said I’d never do “landscaping!”) They’re really beautiful, and I’m surprised how much they brighten things up.

flowers by the house

SpargelFest and the fence

Saturday, April 1st, 2017

The asparagus is coming in well now, and so tonight we’re having a SpargelFest (something I didn’t even know was a thing until today; thanks, E). When I saw this recipe for asparagus and green garlic soup, I thought it was time to experiment with green garlic, which is really just baby spring garlic. Here’s what I pulled up. They smell so good!

And our fence is up! Yay! Attractiveness was a big consideration, since this is right in front of our living room mountain view, and I think it came out nice. (This picture only shows about half the length of the long side — it’s a big area.)

For the first time ever, my tomato seeds didn’t germinate, so I bought starts. It feels a bit like cheating but I have to say that the starts look healthier than mine from seed ever do. I prepared the bed for them today, though I probably won’t put them out for a couple weeks. I read that marigolds are a good companion plant and can help fight off tomato works and gnarly root nematodes, so I put some seeds in for those. With the fence, I’m feeling confident that the rabbits won’t eat them this year.

 

Spring

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

With snowstorms hitting much of the country hard this week, we are enjoying sunny weather in the 80s. The first asparagus has appeared, signaling that spring is here.

We’ve also been working in earnest on fencing the garden area. We decided to go with heavy-duty cattle panels (much heavier than barbed or chicken wire — we are confident this will stop large animals like javelina from getting through) and hardware cloth on the bottom couple feet (which should stop rabbits). Rodents will still be able to climb in, but even they should be slowed down…we hope.

We’ve also been doing some new spring planting, including more greens.

And last weekend, we took a hike at Cochise Stronghold. This is national forest land with a campground that is on the west side of the Chiricahua Mountains from us.

Lettuce

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

This is the first year that I’ve successfully had lettuce all winter.

Actually, lettuce does fine here in temperatures down to zero and even in snow (though I cover it with a light row cover). It doesn’t grow a lot once it gets cold though, so the challenge is to plant it when it can germinate and grow, but not so early that it bolts. It’s also necessary to do this in an amount that gives you lettuce all winter. Until this year, I never quite got it right, but this morning, I harvested all this lettuce. There’s still more that’s harvest-ready and now another younger batch that should be ready in a few weeks. Now I just need to keep the new successions coming.

Protección de los conejos

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

So the rabbit problems have continued. We have gotten very little rain, and they’re just so starving for water. After more frustration over this than is healthy, this week we harvested and abandoned a few beds and then brainstormed what to do for the rest of the year. We decided to fence in one bed and try to grow intensively there (in addition to the greenhouses). Here are the results.

DSC_2658

I was worried about how this would look (which is why we haven’t relented and just fenced the whole thing — in addition to the time and expense and being unsure if it would work anyway), especially in front of out beautiful mountain view, but I think it looks cute.

Despite more challenges this year than we’ve ever had, we’re also having some successes. Garlic, shallots, and onions were all fabulous this year. We’ve harvested and sold over 70 bags of greens at the market so far (plus more we’ve eat here). Our new greenhouse is great. This week, we ate the first edamame and shishido peppers, and the eggplants are coming along. And the first figs have appeared!