Garden Journal – Tomatoes 2020

It is beyond time for me to update my garden notes here. So I’ll start with everyone’s favorite veggie to grow, tomatoes.

First my excuses – in February it REALLY looked like we were going to have a horrid drought year so I didn’t start my seed as I normally do planning to just skip growing vegetables. Then, we had enough rain in March and April that I changed my mind but started everything MUCH later than normal. So, this year everything is a tad behind.

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Peach Wapsipinicon heirloom tomato is something I’ve been growing for more than a few years now. It has slightly fuzzy skin – just fuzzy enough to be different but not so much as to be gross or weird. Slightly sweet, it’s a mid-size yellow that I enjoy.

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An experiment this year is Indigo Rose Tomato.  Haven’t yet had the opportunity to try it as you’re not supposed to harvest them if there’s any green at all on them. They turn the deep purple first, but until the little bit of the green on the bottom turns pink  leave them on the vine. Indigo Rose is one of the blue tomatoes bred to produce high levels of antioxidants. So far, it looks extremely prolific. “Indigo Rose” was bred at Oregon State University. I’ll mention this as some may jump to conclusions about breeding “The new tomato is released as an open pollinated variety, and as such, seed saved from self-pollinated plants will grow true and not produce hybrids. It’s also important to know that genetic engineering techniques are never used to develop these lines”.

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Heirloom Chocolate Cherry is the big one is the above picture, if I’d left them on the vine another day it would have gotten a tad darker it’s considered a purple tomato and sweet. I love that it’s large – so easy to harvest. I don’t care how sweet they are, I just can’t go for the tiny cherries as they are such a pain to collect. Chocolate Cherry is also prolific here – a  bit plus for me.

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Peacevine (bred to be an open pollinated Sweet 100 Cherry Tomato.  Peacevine is reported to be very high in GABA, a sedating neurotransmitter, thus Peace in the name. I always loved Sweet 100 but it became harder and harder to find. I’m delighted Dr. Alan Kapular of Peace Seeds took the years it takes to stabilize and produce this open pollinated variety from the hybrid.

I have a few others, but having started late they’re just coming in. More on them soon.

Counting Sheep, aka Stitch Markers

Well, I had been putting up posts of knitting and crocheting. But I haven’t shared any beading or jewelry posts in eons. So, here we go. Jewelry for crafting.

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People who knit and crochet need to keep track of a few things, what size needle or hook they’re using on that project, what row they are on, certain special stitches (for instance ‘increase here’) and in some cases quite simply which is the front side. This can be accomplished often by using a piece of colored yarn or safety pin and keeping tick marks or notes of your projects. A fun little luxury are the beaded markers.

The little plastic lambs were an inexpensive find at AliExpress. They’re light, so no added weight when using them for my knitting needles or loom. I used 10mm rings to fit over my loom hooks as well as work for knitting projects. Didn’t want split rings – the yarn might snag on those.  I found Soldered Closed Jump Rings at AliExpress as well. And, La Voila – markers. So, if my pattern were 5 knits and a purl, 5 knits and a purl and so forth, I’d just mark the purl stitches and not have to count.

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By using the mm measure for the hooks and needles, I only need the one set to work for both crochet hooks and knitting needles. A bead = a decimal point (so 5.5mm = size I crochet hook or 9 Knitting needle). The small lobster claw at the top lets it hook onto any project.

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Perhaps I got carried away when shopping for beads to use, but these are fun and a great to keep a shawl closed. I find shawl construction so much easier than sweaters, you don’t have to worry about the pattern sizing (they’re never just right) and they’re more relaxing for me to work on. I work the Safety pin/Kilt pin brooch between the stitches when I fasten it – no wear and tear on the handmade shawl.

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Bit of a fan of Celtic knotwork here, so had to make myself an Irish set. The branch gold Love Knitting is too small a pin to keep a warm shawl closed – can be worn on any number of things, but not a worsted weight shawl. Hmn, thought I’d shared some shawls here and see that I didn’t – next post up is needlework.

Garden Journal – A Few Spring Flowers

It’s that time of year to lust over the seed catalogs and plan your upcoming garden. I like to start more of what works really well here, and often add a few new things to try.

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Coreopsis are one of the plants that thrive in my location. I mentioned the very dwarf Presto in my last post. The taller single variety Coreopsis Sunburst (below) blooms a few weeks ahead of the others so I keep a few clumps in the back of the beds to satisfy the early pollinators. The compact Early Sunrise (above), an All American Selections Gold Medal winner,  is another favorite for cheery spring blooms.

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Another early spring bloomer, Scabiosa atrropurpurea (invasive in some other states and countries), is a non-stop bloomer, once it starts just chugging away until a hard frost. Although not invasive here, in an irrigated garden bed, it will happily reseed.IMG Knautia Maroon 2071

Years ago, I’d bought a flower seed mix called Knautia Melton Pastels – well, Knautia used to be Scabiosa, but it turned out the seed supplier had it wrong.  They are very close and hard  to tell apart, but the seed heads are a tad different and it turns out my mix was burgundy, white and lavender Scabiosa. IMG Knautia Lavender 2113

The Variable Checkerspot butterflies appreciated the early bloom on them.

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Lovely as cut flowers, they keep producing if you keep cutting.

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I’ve developed a bit of a rotation with them. They are charming little 1.5 ft tall plants their first spring, expanding to 2.5 ft their second year, and although still quite floriferous at the end of their third year – they’d big and getting woody bases. So I rip those out to feed the compost and sprinkle seed heads to give me more the next season.

Updating my Garden Journal


Meā culpa, meā culpa, meā culpa …. Yes, I’ve let the blog slide a bit. So, I’ll start with something pretty.

IMG_1535This is Milky Way Morning Glory. The morning light hit it just right (not re-touched!).

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I enjoy keeping a few of the vines in my vegetable garden. Always feel that the bright flowers help the pollinators find their way to my beds.

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The flower beds were looking good a bit back. Presto Coreopsis, at only 8 inches tall, flowers all summer and is easy from seed to boot.

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Unfortunately, this guy and his family have moved in and decimated a few beds (pocket gophers). I have a ‘no kill’ garden (sometimes that means ugly plants or dirt). Living on the edge of forests, I’d be killing and removing critter bodies daily if I tried to keep them out. Not my idea of a good time. The voles (tiny meadow mice) are prolific here as well, and quite voracious to boot, Thus every year is an experiment to see what works. Wire under the veggie beds is a huge help, but I think it’s ready to be replaced (ugh!). Purchasing wire gopher baskets can get expensive and building your own takes a bit of elbow grease and patience. So, experimenting to see what survives it is. Usually things look good through spring. I’m accustomed, due to the heat and dryness in addition to critters, to allowing the ratty look come September. I don’t strive for perfection here.

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Hate to say what they haven’t eaten as seem to jinx myself and they attack that next – but thusfar Salvia Victoria is looking good.

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Flowering Spring Cheer

IMG_0013Tips for healthy Daffodils (Narcissus):

  • Sun – six hours of daily sunlight. Without enough sun you will not get blooms the next year.
  • Fertilize when the flower starts to die back to help nourish the bulb. If there is a prolonged dry period after fertilizing, you may water it in lightly. Bone meal is not recommended because it can attract animals and it is incomplete nutritionally. Planted in ground in our nutrient rich clay, you may be able to skip fertilizer, but any bulbs in pots or beds filled with compost/mulch will need it for repeat blooms.
  • Allow the stem and foliage to thrive unfettered for six to eight weeks, until they die back naturally for maximum photosynthesis and chlorophyll production that nourishes the bulb for next year.

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Narcissus are referred to as Daffodils or as Jonquils, reflecting the types of Narcissi historically grown on a regional basis over time.
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Leucojum aestivum, the Summer Snowflake, is an English native dating back to the mid-eighteenth century. Although in the right place it can create drifts, I prefer to have some close to where I’ll be passing by as they’re so delicate looking I crave a close-up view.
IMG_0050Narcissus Tête à Tête is the shortest I grow at only 6 to 7 inches – cluster of them are just so dang cute.
IMG_0019It works well with Muscari.
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That I also enjoy in pots near the front steps.
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Violas make me smile, sprinkling some seed in each of my bulb pots in one of my annual late fall tasks.IMG_0104
Forget me nots are another well used heirloom flower that brightens my early spring garden. This one can become invasive in some areas My exceedingly dry summers prevent the unwanted spread.
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I debated about sharing this shot. If you aren’t careful when holding your iPhone, you’ll suddenly find a slew of photos taken in “Vivid” mode. I lightened the coloration but couldn’t quite get it back to normal (and it’s been raining since). However, this rates up with my favorites so I wanted to be sure to include a shot of Dickcissel for my own records.

If you grow Paperwhites in pots – did you know that “A dilute alcohol solution limits paperwhite growth and keeps them from flopping over”? Check out the details from Cornell University’s experiment.
http://blogs.cornell.edu/hort/2009/11/10/pickling-your-paperwhites/?fbclid=IwAR2SZhOxWjv3jEi1RHN–9mRChfpBUWEC9L7bnuvgVKm8yfzyo91nHv2cvk

Love Narcissus for Spring Cheer

IMG_0105I adore spring here. When it’s not storming, it is by far the most pleasant time to be in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Mentioned before that I’m using the blog as part garden journal, so up now is a couple of posts on delightful spring blooms.
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Grabbed a few shots between our rains – some of these varieties are new to me. Above is a Tazetta Narcissi, they have multiple blooms per stem.
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I was surprised the Congress (split orange wavy center) survived the rains as well as it did. 
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This is most likely Red Devon.
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Fortune (also yellow with orange center) is similar a strong performer, a bit larger so good in beds further away. Stormed quite a bit last night, but you can see it’s going strog this morning.
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I generally prefer shorter varieties as it does seem we always have rains around bloom time and those shorter stems recover better. Sweet Love (top photo, white with light yellow center) is a one of the 12 to 14 inch varieties. Above is popular Ice Follies, one of the larger varieties that’s usually prevalent in stores.
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Kedron (light orange, orange center) is a more unusual color but also showed the most signs of being beat up by the weather.
Part 2 of my flowering spring collection will be posted tomorrow, so come on back.

This post is participating in Sundays in My City at ByClaudya.com. Stop by to see what others have been up to..

Catching up – Creating Knit Scarves

Mystic done 1It’s obviously past time to update the blog with projects I’ve finished over the last few months. I’ll start off by sharing some of the knitting ones.

I have a collection of long warm scarves that I’d shared in this blog post https://ceodraiocht.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/dash-dazzle-and-flair/ . But, as our winters haven’t been as cold lately, I’d hardly been wearing them. So, decided to frog of a few (frog means to undo knitting or crochet, think rip it rip it rip it). Knitters know that with mohair blends that’s no easy feat. But, with snippers at hand, I tackled it.

Mystic done 2The triangle shape is so easy to toss over my shoulders and wear on only brisk fall winter or spring days. I’d made up the pattern – yarn over increases two, sometimes three times after the ribbing edge and stockinette stitch. The scarves are laid out here, but usually they’re worn closer to the shoulders with a knot or scarf pin.

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The yarn is Kidlin Mystic, a linen and mohair blend.

Mystic blockingIn blocking, you can see the increases better. I wanted this one wider than the blue (that only had he one set of increases on each ribbing edge). I’ll do a blocking post with sources and come back and link here. 

My icy shawl doneI’d worked this blue one with yarn left over from a gift I’d made a few years back. Frogged it multiple times as I worked out what kind of pattern to go with. Did this one before the one above and didn’t keep notes. Pretty much ribbing edges, yarn over to increase along each edge and garter stitch.

My icy shawl

Both scarves were done on size 15 (10mm) circular needles.Icy shawl blockingI‘m not a perfect blocker as you can see on the increase edges, but I do enough so that the  scarves look pretty good when worn.

GIVING TUESDAY is coming

This heartbreaking video came into my Facebook feed buried in all the Black Friday Last Chance and Cyber Monday buy this silly crap ads. GIVING TUESDAY is coming and I wanted to share it.

Pray for Paradise “I See Fire” Ed Sheeran from Judy Abbott on Vimeo.

 

The Camp Fire is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history. It’s also the deadliest wildfire in the United States since 1918.

Nearly 19,000 structures were destroyed, including more than 13,000 residences (with an average occupancy of 3 people per home).  Not 1,300 residences – 13,000. For many, their place of work also burned. Jobs in California are scarce – recovery will be slow and extremely difficult.

Folks not close to a disaster area may not be aware of the painstaking complexity of recovery.  The cleanup of toxic waste removal before any work can be done on any property took more than 6 months to complete after the 2015 Butte fire (that I was too near, so know a lot about) – and that was under 500 residences. All those batteries, tv’s and computers – stuff you’re not supposed to just trash – the burned waste is considered radioactive and very toxic. FEMA won’t put trailers on land that has not been toxic waste cleared; contractors cannot work there. A burned tree fell and killed a fire fighter in Yosemite this year – the dangerous tree removal also must take place to assure the safety of people working in the area. And all the infrastructure (for things like power) is burned.

The very few homes for sale near the area are all going for $50,000 to $100,000 over asking price and realtors report no rentals at all are left. 13,000 homes gone – it boggles the mind.

There is so much need.  Although, within a few days centers were buried in used items and pleaded for folks to stop sending such – even new items and toys had to be tuned away as space for people indoors is the first priority. Volunteer centers reported after 6,000 applications they had to stop taking applications. Word now is that volunteers may be needed in January and February, but not before. Money can do the most good, but for some reason people never want to do it – running off to buy things that they get angry  when their carload/trailer load of things can’t be accepted.

Local Support Non-Profits recommended in responsible media, most also have a Facebook page if you want to check them out further:

• North Valley Community Foundation: https://www.nvcf.org.

• North Valley Animal Disaster Group: https://www.nvadg.org/donate
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• Caring Choices: http://www.caring-choices.org.

Larger Support Non-Profits
• American Red Cross: www.redcross.org.

• Salvation Army: give-do.salvationarmy.org.

• United Way: www.norcalunitedway.org.

If you want to know more about the animals, visit the UC Davis Veterinary Hospital page or check out the KTVU news article how to help the animals affected by California’s wildfires.

Screenshot from ABC news showing Silicon Valley size versus the fire’s size.

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If you’re looking to give anything this season, know that money donated here will go to people who are in need.