I'm just back from a visit with friends in Los Angeles. They are fabulous, caring cooks (one worked in some of the great kitchens in New York and Seattle before she went to grad school) who scour the incredible farmers' markets of Venice and Santa Monica for the freshest organic ingredients straight from the farmers. Over the years they have established real relationships with their favorite farmers who never steer them wrong as to what is at its peak.
And so, of course, they took us to the markets (there's a market every day of the week!), and I was instantly envious of my friends--for what they have access to on a daily basis, and even more, of these farmers--to be picking such gorgeous artichokes and peaches and strawberries at all much less in May! To have citrus and olive trees! Almost everything imaginable that comes from a garden or orchard...read full post »
I've been wondering about my flower gardens lately--asking myself why I put so much energy into those lovely blooms that buzz nicely with bees and birds and bugs and bunnies (and sometimes deer) and feed my eyes so magnificently but not my stomach. Perhaps I should rethink those beds, make them work harder.
Over in the nearby orchard I have flowers, too, after all, gorgeous flowers that in spring also buzz with the same creatures except for the deer, thanks to the fence. But these flowers become edible fruit and nuts: cherries, apricots, peaches, pears, apples, plums, hazelnuts. And then in summer the stunning sunflowers and lavender bloom--both will serve the kitchen, too. And then the berries with their less showy but pretty blossoms and fabulous fruit and intense fall color.
Why not choose flowers and trees and bushes that do double duty?...read full post »
First thing I do every spring/summer/fall morning (even in the rain) is head to the gardens and orchard to see how everything is doing--and (hopefully) to plan dinner around what's ready for picking. Recently the rain has been my constant companion out there to the delight of some garden denizens and to the dismay of many.
The fruit trees, for instance, took a hard hard hit last spring when we had a late frost after an early flowering. I think I picked a dozen pears and apples in all, a few apricots and plums and half the cherries I normally get. It was a disaster. This winter was mild and so now in mid-May the trees are heavy with blossoms--too heavy in fact. Few bees buzz around in such weather, and the flowers are sinking to the ground, I'm afraid, before they've been pollinated. It might well be another bad fruit year.
But in the raised...read full post »
We've reached the turning point--the fields and woods have shrugged off their winter torpor and are decking themselves out in glorious shades of green. The female coyote who hunts in our back field is clearly a nursing mother; the birdboxes all have residents; the turtles are digging holes to lay eggs near the pond. Everybody is busy out on the land.
That means I'm hard at work in the gardens and orchard whenever possible, planting seeds, transplanting the hardier sorts into the open ground after they've been hardened off, and the heat-lovers beneath tunnels. The gardens begin to look like themselves again, their garden selves.
I'm almost ready to harvest radishes, spinach, radicchio, endive, arugula and lettuces for our first-of-the-season salads. Nothiing better. No more buying greens trucked in from somewhere else until December. Today I'...read full post »
Thank goodness for the little surprises of the spring garden--with this relentless rain and the resulting muddy mess, especially in the potato bed,a gardener needs something to cheer about. Really, I'm a bit worried about the potatoes rotting out there before they break ground--they've had one dry, sunny day in the past week. I may have to replant them, something I've never had to do in all the years I've grown potatoes. But I've come to expect surprises--of the disappointing sort and, fortunately, of the happy sort, too.
Today I went out to take a look about the soggy garden, to see how everyone is holding up, and apart from the quiet potato bed, things actually look okay. The young transplants aren't exactly growing with any speed, but they look perky enough. The newly planted lettuces, greens, carrots, peas, radishes, favas and calendula are...read full post »