Monday, April 30, 2012

Busy! Busy! Busy!

Last week I sang a concert, had two rehearsals for said concert, went to two parties, had another rehearsal, had two rehearsal classes, hosted a guest lecturer, was part of two rehearsals \ interviews for a new music director - at one of which I sang solos - not to mention singing in church, and teaching and taking lessons.

This week I have one rehearsal at which there will be an interview for a new music director - I will sing solos - not to mention singing in church (2 services this week), and teaching (and taking) lessons and two rehearsal classes.

Next week I have two concerts, two receptions, two rehearsals, not to mention singing in church, and teaching lessons.

Life is getting somewhat complicated as we hurl ourselves to this end-of-semester time of year in the academic calendar.

It is busy on the farm, but nothing is ending.

This week was in the 80s and 90s, and we put up most of the shade cloth and lattice onto the grid system we installed last year. So much easier now the system is in place!

We also turned over one of the beds, removing and composting the bolted lettuce (saving some seed). We decided to remove the top 6 in. of dirt as well, and brought in newly composted dirt to mix in. This bed had been used for lettuce, two seasons in a row, and we felt there was likely very little nitrogen left in the dirt. We have planted a mess of melon seeds in the new bed and are looking forward to the new growth.

The peppers are coming on strong. They are about ready for their first harvest.

The tomatillos are getting larger every day - it seems like you can watch them grow. Need to find out what to do with them! (besides salsa verde, which I don't like).

The beans are starting to flower.

There are lots of carrots and onions that we've been picking and eating all along. 

Plus, some onions are going to seed and are simply beautiful.

The farm is always changing, transitioning, moving from one season into the next. But nothing ever feels like it's ending. There's always a new season to plan for, a new crop to grow, a new plot to dig, and seeds to save.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Orchard !!

A couple of weeks ago we visited The Urban Farm - - and learned many things. But one of the major lessons is that you can grow fruit trees like a hedge; not too tall, not too round, but a continguous, fruit-bearing hedge. This caused a lightbulb to flash in our minds. What if we take out our cactus garden strip, at the front of the property, and replace it with an orchard? Several benefits; 1) maintain the privacy that we had been getting from the cacti, 2) more sunlight on the front yard by removing a few un-necessary trees, 3) much easier to maintain, 4) fruit-bearing instead of not producing anything.

Totally win \ win.  Only downside is it was a lot of work. And, we're not done, but we are well on our way to having an orchard with - so far - 3 types of oranges, one apple and one peach. And plenty of room to fill in with more trees as we're able. Our big spring project for this year.

Last year's big spring project was the erection of the support system for shade. This came in handy this week, as the temperatures soared to over 100. It was a breeze throwing up a few lattice pieces on top of the wires and fastening them down.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Water Deeply

It's April and it's beginning to get hot. Not "hot" as we know it in the coming months. Not "hot" as we will understand it next fall. April's hi temps are in the 90s - and next fall that will feel like a breath of fresh air. We know this, and yet it still feels hot to us, because it is a harbinger of what is to come. What you, depending on your bent, either relish or fear. I'm in the fear department.

Silly, because it is really so beautiful outside - absolutely the best wild flower season. My iris have bloomed for the first time ever. Last year they were moved into the bulb garden to get more sun, but didn't flower. This year they are glorious.

The heat signals a change in season for the plants as well. Some - like the lettuces and peas - are at the end of their run, and are bolting or dying. This week we started clearing out the beds of the spent plants. We transplanted what spinach was still viable, cut out 6 inches of the topsoil, dug underneath that to loosen the bed for new roots, added in good compost and dug that in deeply. Then we transplanted 3 Pontano and 1 Italian Red Pear tomato, planted seeds for Punta Banda and Nichols Heirloom tomatoes, and seeds for Sinahuisa chiles. I also sprinkled in a healthy dose of zinnia seeds - to combat white flies.

Other plants - like onions and peppers - have survived the winter and are starting to show the promise which will be harvested in the next couple of months. It is time to adjust the watering technique for these plants to a slow trickle to cause a deep soak. Roots grow into air pockets, which are identified to them by water flow. It's as if the water soaking through the dirt entices the root to grow into the cracks. A deep soak encourages the roots to grow deeply; away from the sun's hot rays and into the coolth of the earth.

Over the coming months we will employ more measures to avoid the sun's hottest rays. But for now it is enough to water deeply. FYI: March temps are in the 80s. April in the 90s. June = 100s. July = 110s and, yes - I kid you not - August can = 120s.  Uff da me.