December 2, 2013
California, Photography, Travel
Los Osos, Morro Bay, Morro Rock, Paso Robles vineyards, vineyards
I enjoy taking Highway 46 from Highway 1 near Harmony….south of San Simeon and Hearst Castle to highway 101 in Paso Robles. The views can be spectacular. There is a vista point along the highway heading east that affords a spectacular look back toward Morro Rock and the Morro Bay area, weather cooperating.
About a year ago I was driving my mother from her home in Los Osos, CA to Bakersfield, CA. I normally catch Highway 101 in San Luis Obispo and head back to Paso Robles and then on to Bakersfield. Mom prefers “her’ route! Mom has the route timed and the stops carefully designated to accommodate her “needs”. That means we drive her route and on her timetable! That is unfortunate for me! I almost always travel with a camera or two or three! On this trip I had just two. As we began the climb up and over the Coastal Range toward Paso Robles I caught an amazingly clear view of the Morro Rock and the Bay. It was early morning within the golden hour after sunrise. It was absolutely amazing. I pulled of into the turnout and was prepared to snap a few shots. Again, unfortunately, I was not in charge and this was a disruption to her timetable. I “snapped” as many visual mental images as I could with out stopping. The images were and are still held in my memory . The problem is – I haven’t figured out how to hook a USB cable to my brain and download the images. You will just have to trust me that they would have been awesome through the camera lens.
I have driven this route four or five times since that trip but the fog, the sun or the clouds precluded a photo shoot. In early November this year I got a chance. The Morro Rock view was nice but still not close to the image I have stored in my itty bitty brain. I was pleased with the morning light on the fall colored vineyards just outside of Paso Robles. Click on an image to scroll through the gallery.
Just imagine a crystal clear day and the view that it could present…I am still waiting for that day but here is a teaser.
Big oak adjacent to the vineyards
Looking south across some vineyards – Vertical orientation
Looking south just before dropping into Paso Robles. Horizontal orientation
Looking east towards Paso Robles on Hwy. 46
I am going to keep trying to get the shot!
November 25, 2013
Composting, Gardening, jam and jelly, Strawberry, Vegetables
asparagus, carrots, compost, cucumbers, gardening, peppers, strawberries, sweet potatoes, worm poop
I haven’t written much lately about the backyard garden but it has been slowly morphing into a winter garden. I harvested the last cucumbers two weeks ago because I knew that the Houston winter temperatures were coming. On the vines were a few edible and nearly a dozen immature cukes that became worm food. The sweet potato vines finally showed their dislike for anything below 50 degrees F. They weren’t grown for tubers this year, but they did provide great ground cover. I found a couple of nice sized tubers and a bunch that were restricted by the heavy soil to elongated sausage looking things. The dying tomatoes were pulled up along with the Poblano pepper plants.
I left the Serrano peppers in as the plant is still setting fruit. I made a batch of Serrano Pepper jelly last week and may make another batch soon. This week I also made a couple of pints of lemon curd from my Meyer Lemon tree. What an amazingly rich treat – 4 very big lemons, 2 cups of lemon juice, at least 2/3 cup of zest, 12 egg yolks, two sticks of butter and two cups of sugar… I am afraid to calculate the calories per teaspoon! I will send a jar to my granddaughter – she loves it!
Over the past two weeks I pulled about 2 large wheel barrow loads of compost out of my bins to amend the beds. I fed a bunch to the asparagus bed hoping to get it producing better during this next spring. I added a bunch to a section of the beds that I have designated as the carrot patch. That same bed is also home to my sugar snap peas – hopefully this planting of peas will be the one that produces. I tried on two previous efforts to get them to sprout and the cool weather never showed up. They don’t like warm weather! I hope I didn’t miss the weather window!
Some of my strawberry plants are confused. Weeks ago I had a number of them blossom and I plucked the blossoms off. After traveling and working for a few weeks out of town, I ignored them. I now have green strawberries - about 3 plus months too early! My 100 new strawberry plants planted in early October have settled nicely into their new home and will hopefully bring me a couple of good years of harvesting pleasure.
I have four pineapple plants started from tops nearly two years ago. They are now beginning to leaf out vigorously and who knows, this may be the year. A little research says it takes 2 years and maybe more if it is cold, in order to flower. The leaves look like they are becoming mature so this could be the lucky year. I put another top in the ground a week ago to add to my collection. According to the research the buggers will start spreading on their own. May wind up with 30 or 40 before long.
My little buddy Caleb and his now walking little brother Levi, stopped by for a visit a few days ago. Caleb is ALL boy….gotta keep an eye on him. Levi loves to munch on cucumbers off the vine and the cherry tomatoes, not so much for Caleb. They both enjoy the strawberries when they are in season. I hope to have them back this week to help plant my beets and turnips. I was in the process of harvesting the worm poop and adding another bin to the top of my worm composting bins during their visit. Being boys….they both loved touching and playing with the little wrigglers! Mom wasn’t as enthused or amused as the boys were! I sent them home with a couple of long stemmed roses for their mother……she left smiling!
The new carrot patch….waiting for the emerging tops.
The old sweet potato bed – cleaned out and what next ????
Pineapples – hopefully this year they will fruit.
Those danged, confused strawberries.
Strawberry towers planted with about 75 of the 100 new plants.
November 17, 2013
Composting, Gardening, Vermicoposting
My silent workers toiling away in the darkness of the worm bin have been overjoyed of late! My daughter Ashleigh asked me “ Dad, how do you know that they are overjoyed?”
“It’s simple, they wiggle more!”, was my knowing response.
There is a little more to it than that. The red composting worms I use, (Eisenia fetida or Eisenia andrei), are surface or near surface feeders. For most of the summer, up until two weeks ago, they weren’t wiggling much at all. In fact they either stayed buried deeply in the bins or, possibly succumbed to the brutal heat. During the weather change I took some groceries out to the little guys. Not much sign of activity. I was afraid that this long hot summer had been too much for them. I spread the meal out, put the lid on and hoped for the best.
Two days later I took another bowl if groceries out and on the surface, especially on the strawberry trimmings, it was swirling with red wrigglers.
Yes they were overjoyed!
A bowl of yummy worm food
My overjoyed workers wiggling, waving and eating!
October 11, 2013
California, Healthy Lifestyle, Strawberry, Vegetables
Carpenteria Farmer's Market, Cork Tree Bistro, Friends, Island Brewery, strawberries, tomatoes
Thursday Afternoon – We, my wife and visiting friends from Canada took a stroll down the 800 block of Linden Avenue in Carpenteria, California. The weather was perfect and our friends, Alan and Jan, seemed to enjoy the day.
Below are a few shots I took as we wandered down the street, puntuated with stops at the brewery a few blocks away toward the beach and at the Cork Tree Bistro on the way back. It was a great evening.
Orchids – so beautiful!
I wish I could get my heirlooms to grow this beautifully. Jan had the green striped variety with her lunch on the pier in Malibu.
I couldn’t resist – I bought three baskets! Yum
The colors and variety are a visual treat as well as nutrional treat.
TTFN – Houston is cooling off but it will never match the weather in and around Santa Barbara!
October 1, 2013
gardening, hummingbirds, shadows, star, texas
I had hoped to garden some today but I took the day off. Early, it was warm and very humid. Mid morning, the skies opened up and really drenched my neighborhood. The busy hummingbirds too a short break but as the rained eased they flew. My wife asked about them flying in the rain – I told her their wings beat so fast that they don’t get wet….not sure she believed me.
I think more than anything I was just lazy today!
As the sun was going low I sat on the patio and snapped a couple of backyard shots that I would like to share with you.
One of the little bombers circling
Ready to dip the bill
Casting shadows on the fence
Cropped a little closer
The Texas Star
I hope to get some dirt on my hands this week…..I promise I will!
September 21, 2013
Gardening, Potato Growing, Vegetables
cucumbers, gardening, hummingbirds, sago palms, strawberries, sweet potatoes
Trying to balance work, travel and my backyard duties has been a juggling act. My hired help has had to step in and lend me a hand. My hired hand is a bit expensive but he does good, albeit slow, and deliberate work. Expensive in that I pay him an hourly wage and have to feed the 6 foot 5 inch behemoth too! He really is worth every grocery bag that he chomps through!
This week besides the usual lawn mowing and edging he harvested some long overdue Sago Palm pups. He did a beautiful job removing them and now we are in the process of potting them. Sago Palm pups can be a money making venture. I may ask him to cruise the neighborhood and remove the pups for our neighbors.
A nice sized pup!
Before I took off to Colorado last week I was replanting some of my strawberries. One of my beds was devastated by the brutal summer an then wiped out completely by my son as he did some irrigation work in the strawberry patch. It really turned out well for me in the end. I had a portion of my veggie beds where I had dropped some strawberry plants into several years ago. They took over that end of the bed! I am needing to clean that end out to plant some fall veggies so no harm done. I moved quite a few out last week and have more to do this weekend. Can’t wait for the spring harvest!
The newly planted strawberry bed
The white flies destroyed my cucumbers and devastated my friend John’s too. I replanted and the white flies returned only this tie I was ready! At first sign of the little buggers I blasted them with a good and safe insecticidal soap. They are looing really healthy! My discarded sweet potatoes have overwhelmed the 4X25 foot bed near the garage. Wow….I will be very curious to see the resulting harvest in a month or so.
My healthy cucumbers climbing the trellis
Those pesky sweet potato vines!
The hummingbirds have been cruising through the Houston area on their way south. We love watching their antics around the feeders as the greedy ones chase others off.
Rain has been long overdue and we are getting a huge dose of it over the past several days! Needed but probably not quite enough to pulls us out of the state wide drought!