I am inadequate as a photographer to capture the fiery brilliance of the white blossoms that are covering the apricot tree this year. It is stunning. So I took liberties with Instagram to give a sense of how it looks to the unaided eye.
Growing stuff can be beautiful.
An underlying goal of all my gardening and cooking is to convey both to my children as normal and essential. I am a pretty light touch when it comes to directing their activities in his regard, however. I want it to be an assumed part of their lives.
So how happy was I when child number 2 whips out the above platter of play-doh appetizers for her school’s 100 day project? Totally her own idea and she did it like 2 weeks ahead of time. Crazy. And beautiful.
Well, for the time being I am satisfied with the number of fruit trees in my yard. Between the front and back yards, I have the following:
4 apple trees, espaliered in front veggie boxes
1 apricot tree
lemon tree, original with house
tangerine tree, original with house
2 dwarf blood oranges
2 dwarf key limes
1 dwarf meyer lemon
1 white nectarine.
Phew! That really sounds like a lot now that it’s all down on paper…
most of these trees are young, and I don’t expect to have great quantities of fruit except from the more established trees. But next year watch out!
And, in case you were wondering, the irrigation is already installed. (remember, lesson learned!)
Stay tuned for further thoughts on why all of these plantings is not as crazy as it sounds!
Mark Bittman, now retired from his fantastic run as the minimalist, has started his new life as a columnist. His focus will be “food issues” along with plenty of recipes. I can’t wait. He kicked it off with a manifesto laying out his first crack at a vision of food policy in our country. It is a good start, but I think that he shifts a little bit too much between the broad and the specific. I think that there are really three areas he seeks to focus on:
1. Promote the production and consumption of foods grown for direct eating at the expense of things grown for the purpose of processing or becoming animal feed.
2. Promote a sustainable agriculture model that lowers the environmental impact of growing food.
3. Reform political and economic structures that empower large food processors so that goals 1 and 2 are more achievable.
My attempt to simplify his manifesto is no knock on his first post as a columnist. As he said, it is a start, with the goals of sparking conversation. I for one am a committed soldier in the army of Bittman (and Pollan), so LET’S DO THIS!!
Being a gardener in Southern California certainly comes with a tremendous advantages: year-round growing season; a climate conducive to almost every single edible plant with the exception of very high chill or tropical varieties; fewer plant-borne diseases.
Of course, there are a couple of downsides, the largest of which is the lack of regular rainfall.
It is not unusual to go from April until December without any significant precipitation of any kind at all. For those of you who aren’t familiar with these conditions, that is a long, long time in the veggie garden.
And to make this especially deadly, I am a horrible procrastinator. Of course the vegetables I try to grow don’t care about my procrastination issues. They care about one thing only: a steady supply of water. And I wasn’t steady. So there have been issues…
This Fall, I decided that enough was enough. I would not plant anything or have anything to do with the garden until the watering issue was solved. After plenty of vacillating, I went with a microsprinkler setup. I had much earlier installed a sprinkler head in each veggie bed in the front so that was easy, but I was shocked to learn how badly many of the drip system connectors are made. After watching a few completely fall apart, I finally settled on a very solid multi-head outlet. After this it was relatively easy to set up with the microsprinklers and the lines. So Far so good.
My preference would typically be to have used soaker hoses, because there are many fewer parts, but I simply could not find any soaker hoses in all the usual places (Home Depot, Lowes, Etc.) So I went this route and we will see how it goes. The advantage to this method is that I can set the timer to give a little spritz every day to keep the topsoil moist for lettuces and other greens as well as give it a weekly or bi-weekly soak.