Saturday, April 28, 2012

Happy Friday Gardening!

Our home is located a little over a half mile from the main road, up a winding, somewhat paved drive.  It is a great way to start the day, as often we spot wildlife (deer, squirrels, coyotes, bobcats, skunks, wild pigs) and get gorgeous views of spectacular sunrises, or the fog hanging in the valleys or playing with the tops of the high hills and Mount St. Helena.  On those rainy, blustery, awful, muddy days, it can be an adventure, but the good times always outweigh the challenges.  The mailbox and gate are at the road, and I stop to let Becca get the mail and open the gate.  Thursday afternoon, she came back to the car with the mail - and a butterfly on her hand.

(Yes, that is a henna design on her hand.)

Becca said the butterfly was lying flat in the roadway, and she thought it was dead until she saw it move its wings.  She gently picked it up, and was so excited, because she's never held a butterfly before.  It flew while in the car, so we knew it was okay, and Becca freed it when we got to the house.

Friday dawned clear and cool.  There's not enough time on Fridays to do any major cooking, so with the weather being so good, it was time to get outside and get busy.  I had wanted to make Eggs Benedict, but Becca used all of the eggs (and butter!) in her cupcakes the night before.  Yes, Roxie lays eggs, but that's one a day.  When the chicks start laying (we'd better not have any more roosters!), we will catch up more quickly.  Croissants appear to be a huge undertaking, so as I looked through and rejected recipes it became clear that I was really needed in the garden.

It was going to be a warm day, but these days there's no way I'll work outside in sandals.  The boots went on right away.

My first "weapon" of choice is the weed whacker, of course, to drop down some grass as I made my way to the garden.  I got a lot accomplished, and I "rediscovered" the rosemary bush that had been overgrown.

One thing that happens when putting plants in a greenhouse is that they don't get the benefit of the rain and overnight fog, so I gave the seedlings in there their daily dose of water.  I took a closer look at the tray holding the mixed up plants from when I'd dropped it, and I noticed two cucumber seedlings that were in the wrong place.  I can't tell yet if they are lemon cucumber or regular, but as long as they're in the general cucumber area and are planted appropriately, we'll figure it out soon enough.  This tray is like a puzzle, as I move the pieces around when their place is recognized.

After getting out of the sauna of the greenhouse, I turned to the garden beds.  My hope is that we'll be able to plan ahead and have a thriving winter garden and fresh produce year-round.  This winter, the garden was untended, so except for the kale, collards, parsley and onions, everything was gone.  Weeds had overtaken some of the bare spaces and soil had compacted and/or washed out.  I turned the sprinklers on to moisten the soil while I went after grass surrounding the beds, and then got to work with hoe and hands to get the weeds out.  I added more soil to one bed, and planted our first two tomato plants!  I added the support cages and set the sprinklers, then stepped back to enjoy the sight.

These plants were purchased at last weekend's farmers' market from the Windsor Community Garden.  One is an Early Girl and the other, Cherokee Purple.  

I turned to another garden bed to pull weeds, and discovered that last year's cilantro had reseeded itself.  I carefully cleared around it so we don't accidentally pull it later.  I have some seedlings I'd picked up at the high school Ag Department's plant sale, so I'll add that next to it so there will be no doubt what's there.

As I picked up and put away tools and pots, I noticed Star pouncing, very attentive and energetic, on top of an old tarp.

I'm sure that his new playmate was a lizard or toad, but I didn't want to disturb his play, or get too close to find out, so I let him have his fun.  The good thing is there was no rattling sound.

There was still plenty left to be done, but by now it was noon, the sun was hot and I was hungry.  The quiet coolness of the house was refreshing and wonderful.  After scrubbing the garden dirt from under my fingernails, I reached into the fridge and pulled out a little bit of yesterday's potato salad. Probably not the "best" as a standalone meal, but a little bit of it hit the spot.  Then it was time to relax with knitting until time to start the  trip to my parents' house for "family dinner" night.

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