Late Frost in Wine Country

I’m writing tonight later than usual, but that’s because I just came in from admiring my garden and the grapevines and wondering what they are all going to look like in the morning.  Today is Friday, May 25th, and it’s supposed to freeze tonight.  This is really late for us to have a frost.  It froze last night too, but not until 5am.  The sun was already up a little, and we knew that it would just get warmer so there was no need to turn on any frost protection, but tonight could be a different story.  We had rain today, which happens this time of year, but it is not as common as in the mid-west and east coast.

We don’t really know what to expect if we have to frost protect the vineyard tonight.  Our wind machine will work if it doesn’t get too cold.  At the big vineyard, my sleeping husband will have to turn on overhead sprinklers to protect 400 planted acres of grapevines.  If the weather is cold enough to make ice, I’m worried about shoots breaking under the weight.  I think it’s unlikely that we will have temperatures that cold, but the forecast is for upper 20’s in inland valleys.  That is us.  We only get one chance a year to get it right with our grapevines!  That makes it a long time between paychecks if we lose the crop to frost, as happened in vintage 2011.

If you have ever wondered why farmers check the weather all the time, and talk about it with their friends, and contemplate what might happen, and discuss the options and weather events of years past…it’s because we can’t beat Mother Nature!  I’m hoping for a mild night.  I will give you an update asap.  In the meantime, here is what my beautiful garden looked like today.  We have been eating broccoli rabe, radishes, garlic scapes (thank you Katie B. for teaching me the correct name!), spinach, and my personal favorite, Grandpa Admire’s lettuce from the garden for a few weeks now.

The stuff that looks like a homeless camp in the background is my collection of chicken coops for my laying hens.  I have a little over 50 hens now, 12 turkeys and 3 geese.

One of my favorites, Grandpa Admire’s Lettuce, available from Seed Savers.

Raindrops on my collard greens

Let’s hope for the best!

French Breakfast Radishes

Even if you have earned a great big F in the past when it comes to growing vegetables, you can grow radishes.  They are so easy and so rewarding!  I started these from seed about 6 weeks ago.  They jumped right up and now we are eating them.  I’m sure they would grow in a container garden as well.  This variety is French Breakfast.  The seeds came from Seed Savers.  I put them in salads or eat them with butter and sea salt.  Yum!

Asparagus!

Although it is only early February, it feels like spring has sprung here on California’s beautiful Central Coast.  We have had lots of sunny, warmish weather, very little rain (very bad news) and my asparagus is coming up!  This is something I have waited three long years for.  It has been growing all along, but everything I’ve read says that you need to let it grow for two seasons without cutting any.  I did cheat last year and cut three or four little stalks.  This year we are eating asparagus folks.

My lemons have made it through all the winter freezes so far, and I am enjoying more than my fair share of margaritas with fresh lemons.  Also on my mind:  lemon tarts.

It is raining now and I’m really hoping that it continues for a while.  If you know how to do a rain dance, please proceed with the dancing.

Garden Planning!

It’s time again for spending hours looking at seed catalogs, deciding what to grow this year in my garden and in what quantities.  I love this!  My garden last year was pretty good.  Here is what the lower section looked like in all it’s glory.

My mistake last year was that towards the end of the season I didn’t seed anything for Fall.  I am always anticipating the wine grape harvest and the long hours that come with it.  I feel like having a Fall/Winter garden during harvest is adding another iron to the fire that I really won’t have time to tend to.  I regretted that decision this Winter, but I have been pilfering some really awesome carrots and greens from my neighbor Jim who is a seriously self-sufficient adobe-house-building maniac with a vibrant green thumb.  The thing about Jim is that he pretty much survives on homemade tomato sauce and spaghetti so there are lots of extra veggies to go around.  Yes, I invite him over for dinner frequently, but he usually goes to bed too early.

My order this year from Seed Savers looked something like this:  beets, carrots, cabbage, cucumber, kale, lettuce, okra, eggplant, zucchini, sunflowers, potatoes, spinach, radish, onion, turnip, and swiss chard.  That’s a lot of seeds to start!  Very exciting and lots to look forward to as the weather warms up.  But until then, can we get some rain please?

Today’s Garden Harvest

Holy cow, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted something here!  My last blog post went over like a fart in church so I’ve decided to try to keep my political opinions to myself for a while and stick to the fun stuff.

Since I’ve been home from vacation I’ve decided that I never want to leave home again!  Well, maybe just for quick trips now and then.  But I live in such a beautiful place and I appreciate that so much.  I’ve been busy with the garden, my animals, and just catching up on stuff.  Sorry for the lapse in posts.

Here is what I picked in my garden today.  Thought it made a pretty picture and summed up what goes on at my house on Sundays.  Now to the kitchen to cook it!

I feel sort of guilty enjoying a sunny day in the garden while my family back East deals with a 2 foot long hole in the roof, courtesy of a big tree limb felled by Tropical Storm Irene.  No electricity and switching out buckets to catch the rain water pouring through the roof doesn’t sound like my idea of fun.

Beets!

I harvested these beautiful beets from my garden today.

I think I am going to try making borscht.  Never done that before, and I don’t usually like cold soup, but am feeling inspired by some super yummy gazpacho that was made by friends at supper club.  I also love them roasted and tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper on top of salad greens.  But since the slugs slimed all over my salad greens I don’t have lots of lettuce around.