Monday, November 28, 2011

Late November Harvest

Farmer Dave and his family took this holiday weekend to do a little planting and harvesting in the BeachFire Backyard Garden! Check out what's popping up and what you can expect to see gracing our menu this winter!


Monday, November 21, 2011

A Winter Harvest

Today was a great family gardening day. We got up this very grey morning and had to beat the rain. I spelled grey that way so it feels like a British cold, dark morning. Nonetheless the family rallied and we kicked some serious butt today.

We weeded the entire garden, pulled out tons of old vegetation, spaded, tilled in compost and fertilizer, and planted two whole parcels with seed. Paige was quite the seed planter with four varieties of carrots, two varieties of beets, two types of broccoli, kale, strawberries, and snow peas. Some may work and some may not. We are planting mostly heirloom varieties.

We also picked a ton of vegetable today with surprising results. Even after three nights of frost, a few early rains and Santa Ana winds we are finding zucchini, corn, squash, bell peppers, watermelon, eggplant, tomatoes, pole beans, and beets. The herbs seem like they may grow well year round.

I dig the soil. It is just amazing to me how well the soil has transformed from dirt – clay basically – to dark, rich, and alive soil. The earthworms have exploded underground. I am only spading lightly to no more than six inches to mix in the rotting straw mulch, some additional compost and Dr. Earth organic fertilizer, There are sow bugs, grubs, mushrooms, decaying matter and other crazy stuff living in the soil with its own secret world. As the garden matures I plan to till less and less so as to not disturb such a fascinating and hidden society.

The compost is store bought for now until our compost pile regenerates after last spring’s planting used all of our supply. Fortunately the animals have not stopped giving us new material. The pile right now is about twelve feet square, four feet high and growing.. The center is warm and should stay hot even in the dead of winter making it ready for springtime use. We are putting household green waste in there along all the animal supplies. It is quite a rich mix and the chickens do a great assist in stirring it up on a daily basis.

It has now been heavily raining for the last four hours. We are well over an inch today which puts our rainfall total since October first over five inches. We seem to be off to a start of a very wet winter. I just went outside before dark to check on the property to make certain that the rain was flowing right in all the ways which it is. The creek is flowing with much needed water. The duck seems happy, the pea hen is sleeping out in the rain on her favorite perch and the horses are standing out in the rain. All is good at the ranch.

LATE NIGHT UPDATE: This evening my upper right arm was hurting increasingly. I finally pulled up my shirt to take a look and found a tick burrowing into my skin! Lime disease and yellow fever here we come. Allison had a great time digging it out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Evolving as we go!

     It is Sunday and it has stopped raining. We had about a half inch today and about an inch on Friday – that puts us to three and a half inches already. I have noticed that fewer than usual predictions are coming out about our weather this winter. I think we are heading into another wet season. I said the same last year but mid season the rain stopped and I thought I was going to be very wrong but then the skies opened in the spring. Imagine another good rain season – all of our water storage would be full and for a bit we could relax about water. I really need to get going on the water tank.
   Just Wednesday the Santa Ana’s were blowing up to 45 mph gusts. It was a huge test for the garden and it did well but it still was tough on things. Fortunately I had built a few lattice fences on the north side of the garden to block these very winds and it helped.
   So we have – I mean had – two goats until yesterday. Friends of ours have 21 acres in the Tenaja area and are collecting goats to help keep their brush down. I was quite willing to release the devil goats to someone in need. The goats will be happy and I can plant flowers in my own yard without them being eaten. When I say “them” being eaten I not sure if I intend the flowers or the goats. Izzy might have been right when he wanted to eat them. I will miss them.
   We have come to be friends with this family from barrel racing. Their daughter and son ride with the girls and are amazing talents on horses and with other animals apparently. Mom, “Laura”, expertly straddled each goat and pulled a baby diaper out with some duct tape and wrapped the diapers onto the goats’ butts, picked them up with ease and stuffed them in the back seat of her F250. Impressive, educational and really entertaining.
   We participated in the Taste of San Clemente Friday night at Talega Golf Club. I had a great time with Allison and team. Chef John stepped up with the fresh Shrimp and Pork Egg Rolls and Marinated Jerk Skewers on the grill. Liv and Kelly helped out. We had a nice display with about three cases of veggies and herbs fresh from the garden. I picked them in the pouring rain Friday afternoon to get it fresh. The event was fun. San Clemente is doing great with the same characters all looking for a good time and lifestyle. We are happy to be a part of it.
   The garden is still producing great fall fruit but the temps are getting down to the 30’s the last couple nights. When the soil dries a bit we’ll be planting like crazy for winter. I was talking with some regulars at SC BeachFire last night and we all decided it was best to cover much of the garden this winter. Amazing what can be worked out over a couple beers. There were several calls for me to grow wine grape. I wonder why. We’ll likely be planting big time on Wednesday or Thursday. For now, time to go feed animals.