I feel a little bit like the woman on those Mervyns commercials from the early 1990s. Only instead of standing in front of the store saying “open, open, open,” I’m staring at my tomatoes, saying “ripen, ripen, ripen.” Mike assures me that tomatoes ripen more slowly on the mountain due to the temperature fluctuations, so I shouldn’t get discouraged by plants not meeting the “days to maturity” target. But, I’m still impatient and anxious. We’ve noticed blossom end rot on a few of our plants, which I hope we remedied by adding lime to the soil (which helps decrease acidity and allow for calcium absorption).
Our nine tomato plants, one giant squash, giant marigold & cosmos are overwhelming the space of our garden boxes. Based on his past experience gardening in this space, Mike had no idea that our plants would grow so big. By the time we noticed that the squash was strangling the cosmos and a few of the tomatoes, we couldn’t disentangle them. I decided to cut back the squash to free the other plants, which may or may not have been a good idea…stay tuned for the fate of the squash.
We harvested some wild plums and I made some jam and chutney. Our stone fruit yield this year is much less than the past few years. We think that it rained at the wrong times in the spring – either the bees couldn’t pollinate, or the blossoms blew off of the trees. We have a prune tree with fruit on it, and a dwarf plum that seems like it’s struggling to ripen. We had apricots one one of our three apricot trees, but left them on the tree too long and they rotted from the inside – how sad!
Creatures of all kinds seem to be drawn to Mike’s property. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t use chemical pesticides. Maybe it’s the shade of the redwood trees. Maybe it’s all of the places where little creatures can hide and feel safe. Of all the creatures who call Mike’s place home, my very favorite are the California quails. So, you can imagine my horror when I accidentally disturbed a quail nest a few weeks ago while I was cleaning up a few things. The mom fled the scene in a flash and my heart sank when I saw a small clutch of unhatched eggs. I covered it back up and worried. This past weekend, I asked Mike to look to see what happened, fully expecting that the mom hadn’t come back and the eggs hadn’t hatched. But, luckily, we found a small clutch of hatched eggs. This has been a good year for quail on the mountain – we think that at least 3 clutches hatched on Mike’s land alone. Seeing all of the baby quails running around after their parents is just about the cutest thing ever and never fails to make me smile.
Bees of all kinds are loving the cosmos that we planted with the tomatoes. We’ve not only seen our honey bees on them, but also native bees and bumble bees. Here’s a bumble enjoying the pollen.
Lastly, we (knock wood) haven’t had any fires nearby yet this year. But, the smoke drifting into the area from other fires has been making for spectacular sunsets. I say the only good thing about fire season is the beautiful sunsets resulting from the smoke in the air. Sending up immense gratitude for the first responders who so bravely put their lives on the line to battle these horrific fires that have become the norm of late here in the western United States.