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Showing posts from July, 2012

Big Achievements

The Frisbee kids worked to raise some money to help defray costs for the upcoming national tournament with a bake sale. They worked really hard today and were fantastic ambassadors for their sport.

One hen clearly was working to outdo herself. I've never had a triple yolk egg before.

Peter Pepper's got nothing on me

More jars of pickled pepper rings. Again, I sure hope Eric ends up liking these; the plants are ramping up production as we're into what passes for high summer here.

Even though it's summer, it's sweater weather! I just finished the first of three that were all on the cusp. The other two need zipper and trim, and just a zipper, respectively. I used to keep my knitting blog separate from this one, but I'm starting to realize that I'm happier with everything in one place, so I've tried to append all the posts from my old blog onto this one. If you're into spelunking, you can read much more about knitting than you might have wished once I get it all straightened out. In the mean time, here's the front view of my newly-completed Tea Leaves Cardigan.

The multi-headed sunflowers are going gangbusters. It's going to be a pretty week.

Also, I should pull my stomach in when I stand up.

Back view. Were I to make this sweater again, I'd modify it with a narrow…

Things tall and small in July

The garden is looking tall and lush, despite my benign neglect.

I'm even contemplating ripping out things like cornichons just because I'm tired of the daily search for tiny cucumbers to make into tiny pickles. Does that make me a bad gardener?

One of my worst nemeses is back -- why do I have leaf miners in my peppers? It's bad enough that they decimate spinach, beets, and chard. So far, I'm picking and destroying. I suppose if I were not heavy into the summer doldrums, I'd be monitoring leaves for eggs. Head 'em off at the pass, and all that.

One thing I finally have done something about is the bizarre, spotty, aphid infestations in my popcorn. I'm keeping a spray bottle of soap out there and hitting each colony a couple of times a day. Their activity level (and that of their attendant ants) seems to drop off dramatically. I'm also wiping the bigger clusters off, although the ones tangled in the silks are just plain nasty. I'm hoping that they will no…

Unusual for this time

Our Meditteranean climate means that we get the bulk of our rainfall during the winter months, peaking in January. The "golden hills of California" are from grasses that green up in the winter, and then get dry, very very dry, all summer.

Imagine my surprise when Eric told me this morning that it was raining, and I'd need a jacket to go and exercise. Not pouring rain, really. . . more like very wet fog, with tiny droplets sheeting down. But enough to add up to a bit of water for the plants.

Still, what's good for the plants was slightly less good for my laundry.

By the end of today, I hope it's dry. If not, I'll bring it in the house.

Harvest Monday -- here and elsewhere

This week was the annual trip down the coast to pick ollalieberries.

It's a beautiful place.

And the harvest is just lovely -- they tasted like jam on the vine.

While I'm the avid, driving force,

I did have help.

And my help isn't like a toddler's "help," unlike Denise's

The big guys helped, even though they're not thrilled about the berries themselves. My two younger girls refused to come, opting to clean the house instead. Go figure!

I don't think we'll be going back though. I do love the trip, love the memories, but the prices have gone up so far that with the long drive added on, my jars of jam are almost retail priced! Since we have many blackberry patches around town, I figure I can get my jam berries that way. Plus, if I plant ollalieberries in the difficult-to-keep-watered back bed (possibly after cutting down the branch overhead first) I'll probably get enough berries to keep us in pies. And then if we want to drive, we'll just go to…

Door(s) into Summer

My harvests are in no way overwhelming yet -- I've managed to keep up with what we're generating here (mostly beans, squash, and kale, with some hot peppers) and eat lots fresh and turn some into save-for-laters. I even used a large bag of plums from a workout buddy and made jam.

Check out my new, cool Tatler BPA-free lids. I'm still experiencing a small learning curve, since that plum jam on the left came unsealed, but I'm excited about them. Another thing that keeps me excited about gardening is my giddy, "I can't believe I grew it myself" reaction to things like that Marketmore cucumber. Seriously, I started it from a seed scant months ago, and it looks like I just snatched it up out of a market somewhere. Snort. Cracking myself up is a survival technique around here.

And out front, the first ripe tomatoes. Of course they're Sungolds. Prolific and tasty, they are the perfect "help yourself" variety. That reminds me -- I should make a sign f…

Necessity, meet. . .

Well, the clothes washer was flooding the basement, and a quick check revealed that the drain pipe is clogged. No doubt years of clothes-with-pet-hair-chasers have finally sounded the call for snaking the pipe. And yet, my clothes need cleaning so I can exercise and wear jeans next week.

Divergent thinking to the rescue:

It overwhelms the bottle-funnel occasionally, but the water is not inside, not in the basement, and a lot of it is going to fruit trees and grapevines.

It's not the greywater system I'd really planned, but it works fine for now. At least until we figure out the drain and/or a better method for diverting it into the garden.

Which is looking pretty lovely right now, if I do say so myself. Harvests are just starting to feel as though I ought to get out there every single day, just in case.

In other news, someone turned seven this week and learned how to float on her back in the pool.

It's a pretty good summer so far.

Harvest Monday July 2, 2012

Every Monday, Daphne hosts a Harvest Monday roundup.

I usually forget, and haven't photographed any recent harvests, but today was a good day. Without further ado, clockwise from the zinnias, Fagioli Pavoni bush beans, Parisian Pickling cucumbers sitting next to the bizarrely-shaped Cucumbers de Bourbonne, a bowl of Tristar strawberries, squash blossoms for lunchtime fritters, a mix of yellow wax beans and rattlesnake pole beans, both picked young for refrigerator pickles, the ugliest yellow crookneck squash in the world, small white pickling cucumbers, three Persian Baby cucumbers (picked at Papa, Mama, and baby size), then spiraling in toward the middle, a mix of romaine and crisphead lettuce leaves -- I think Speckled Trout is one of them, then a yellow crookneck squash, a handful of jalapeno peppers for pickled rings, and four Marketmore slicing cucumbers.

It's going to be a busy kitchen day. The kids have helped and are helping by rearranging cabinets and refrigerator so we…

Cornichon choices and chooks

Yesterday it finally happened! Our February chicks delivered egg number 1, followed by another one today. They are charmingly wee.

For next year, I need to remember that I like Parisian Pickling (the rounder one) and not Cucumber de Bourbonne (pointy, and already pickled in the picture). They both taste like pickles, but I like the shape of the fat little ones. If I don't write it down, I can imagine myself staring at the seed packets thinking, "Now, which one made good pickles?"