Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Hard Days Work in the Garden

Who says its winter in the BF Garden?!  Check out our big red beets, green onions, sugar snap peas, carrots, herbs and eggs - the chickens are back in business!  I think it's the extra protein in their diet.  ;). Saffron is in the hen house crowing right now so I think we've got another one!  
The bounty

Saffron hard at work

Check out those carrots

The work center

Friday, January 27, 2012

New Year, New You, New Harvest!

    I just ate two insanely good navel oranges from our own property. To the uninitiated that may not sound like a big deal. First of all, finding a truly great orange anywhere is really hard to do. Secondly, these same trees last year gave us bitter crap that we couldn’t eat. Third, we have had several freezing nights up the hill this year and the oranges did not suffer. I have re-hab’d these trees with Dr Earth Big O fertilizer and John and Bob’s Soil Optimizer and damned if it didn’t work. I am so happy with myself as you can surely see. Did you know my grandfather, Merwin Brown, was an Executive VP with Sunkist? Growing up I knew every happening packing house in Southern California. Can you say “wallpaper the house with packing house labels”? I talk more about that soon. Now I talk like recently immigrated Asian gardener. I sure you can’t wait to hear about my family’s Sunday drives from packing house to packing house.  I love Asians by the way and teand to be at one with the soil and plant life.

    Tonight I am getting ready to speak at the Ladera Ranch Horticultural Association’s monthly meeting. Turns out some don’t believe anything grows in winter and they want proof. Proof I will give them. One thing I know is that gophers grow very well in winter. More on that later as well. We made a small spread of carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, green onions and deviled eggs all fresh from the garden (and the chickens). Everyone loved the beet and blue salad from the garden as well.

    Okay, now it is two days later and the Association meeting went great. A big turnout of 60 or more gardeners. Good foe Ladera! There is always something I love about the people you meet in groups like gardeners, artists, book readings, music buffs, theater folks and the like. We are all a little different and opinionated yet really accepting of differing opinions at the same time. Creative loons maybe? I am definitely one of them. You see things from a unique perspective when you actually take the time to watch something grow. Most people don’t take the time or have the opportunity to focus on the details of life and it teaches you in a big way. How many of us commonly dig up soil and look closely at what is going on inside it’s secret life?

Frost on the romaine but it survived
just fine!
Frosty Strawberries
I have attached some photos from the most recent frost. A few days back we had three consecutive nights of frost and tonight it is 75 degrees and blowing offshore which must be confusing to the plant life. The seedlings were damaged by the frost but those that made it are loving this warmth. I managed to scare the gopher out of the garden with good old fashioned water and smashing its tunnels. Round one I am victorious but I know he’ll be back.  

Sage thrives in frost
    I am really looking forward to spending some time in the garden this weekend. I am starting to gain some strength after the surgery but these heart meds are sapping my energy. This recovery has been much tougher than expected thanks to heavy doses of stress with the businesses. 2012 will see some simplifying in my life. For now the garden is my escape and I am so happy for it. Get out and enjoy this beautiful weather. It supposed to be 80 degrees this last weekend of January!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Year, New Vision

Holy Horse Manure where does the time go? I say it every time but I mean it.

Anyway, I thought I had written about all that I seeded before I had heart surgery on December 12th. Man, I worked my ass off in the garden to get ready for the surgery knowing that my ability to get physical in the garden was not going to happen for some time. So I, with my wonderful family’s help, managed to get a ton of seed in the ground. I really didn’t expect much because the winter had started so cold and wet that I thought maybe winter wasn’t going to happen at all for the garden growing through permafrost. Since November First we had already experienced 20 nights or more of frost and six early inches of rain by the second weekend in December. We seeded like crazy anyway. (Sidenote: I just realized I am getting pissed off at Word for not autocorrecting quite like texting on my iPhone but at least it doesn’t have me sending out texts that replace “shot” with “shit”, I digress, or is this simply wandering off into the ethernet?…)

Where am I? In the garage typing on the computer. No, I mean the garden story. We planted carrots, onions of many types, kale, kohlrabi, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, peas, romaine, iceberg, arugula, all your boutique greens…..on and on.  The herbs keep kicking butt.

The week after my surgery it was cold and depressing. No growing and not even sure if there was any healing happening. But it was dry and has been dry ever since. Where did the rain go? Only La Nina knows as she has now shown her true colors. My earlier hopes and uncommitted suggestions of a really winter have been dashed for now. I am now having to water the yard and the garden. Even the deep rooted fruit trees. What the hell? I see every day how climate and weather are two different things. The planet is warming without a doubt and the weather is doing really freaky unpredictable stuff because of it. I laugh and curse when I hear rednecks deny global warming because their ranch was just buried under 20 feet of snow after a summer of drought. Fox News enlightens not. Oh shit, did I just edge into political punditry? I will stop. The climate is changing just as it has always changed however this is currently outpacing even the believer’s predictions. NOAA knows stuff that is freaking them out and they are talking about it in their communities in a big way. It is not making sense to them.

Ahhh, the surgery. Second heart surgery this year. I am trying to have heart shaped strawberry seeds implanted inside my atria walls so I can cough out valentines by February. My last surgery was in early February but it didn’t work so I started earlier in December so they can take root by the big day. Allison will be so impressed if it works. She will truly love me then.
Okay I need to seriously talk about the surgery. I have been dealing with an irregular heart beat for 15 years now. I had kept it in relative control with heavy and toxic medications that I can no longer take. A couple years ago I had a couple cardioversions done where they put you under and hit you with the paddles of the defibrillator basically stopping and resetting your heart to start back in normal rhythm but they didn’t work. So 2011 was the year of the atrial fibrillation ablation for me. It is super high tech surgery done by the MAN. Dr. Wee made this stuff up that is now done worldwide. He is originally from Thailand and the brilliant personal physician of the Emperor and Empress of Thailand. Quoting from his website, “ At Pacific Rim Electrophysiology we have refined the standard approach to atrial fibrillation ablation. Pioneered by Dr. Koonlawee Nademanee, our approach targets specific sites in the heart using a 3-dimensional mapping of complex fractionated atrial electrograms (CFAEs).” He and his team are amazing people. The procedure can take a few tries and my second effort this year appears to be working but the recovery has been rough. Too much business stress after. If you know anyone suffering from arrhythmias that affecting their lives please let me know and I’ll get them to this magic man. He basically maps out the electrical signals inside your heart walls and then lasers out the hot spots. Great stuff.

All this gets me to thinking I want to farm and paint more. It is time to downsize the biz and get back to a balanced life with my family and the land. Real life. City life, real housewives, rat races in fast cars with plastic everything is not where life is at. Let’s get back to the land, slow food, get dirty and get real.
The weather has been unusually warm and damned if the seeds aren’t sprouting like crazy. We have a healthy start to great winter crops. We bought a new Ford F350 for hauling horses and compost. Check out the photo of the truck with a great load of compost from Sir Dave McAllistar Soils in San Juan. Look forward to some healthy, fresh and tasty food this winter. Chef John is on fire with great nightly features. The restaurants have been jamming and the teams are on fire. See you there.

The truck ready to do some fertilizing!