I wanted to let people know that my hens are laying eggs now and they are AWESOME. I have enough of them now to be able to sell a few extras, so if anyone would like to take advantage, please let me know.
Free range organic eggs at the farmers market can fetch upward of 7.00 per dozen! I'm going to be selling mine for $3.00 per half dozen, $5.00 per dozen. I can sell 6-12 per week right now and that number will go up in the next month. Ping me any time, and save an egg carton or two! these eggs are so fresh and tasty it's outrageous. they're definitely worth it.
So, our neighbor to neighbor farmer's market has been a bit slow to get off the ground. (I still have meyer lemons aplenty -- anyone want to trade? We're looking for grapefruit, fava beans, or any other early spring delicacies you might be hiding!)
Note: We have acquired some laying hens and will be harvesting eggs by April. We'll have more than we need so anyone in the 'hood who wants to trade for really fresh fresh eggs, let me know. I will also happily sell them for a teensy fraction of what you'd pay at Safeway for a much less nutritious product. Interested neighbors, ping me any time. Our breeds are barred plymouth rock, silver-laced wyandotte, black star, buff orpington, which all lay large brown eggs, and ameraucana, which lay blue, turquoise or green eggs. Omelette anyone?
In the meantime, I wanted to mention that I've been availing myself of a local CSA service that delivers to the door. The farm is Capay Valley Farms ("Farm Fresh to You") -- these guys can be found at ferry plaza and elsewhere and have a good, wide variety of crops -- especially well known for their tomatoes). They deliver in Lafayette on Thursdays, and have a number of different box types to choose from -- i get the standard one which costs 29.00 per week and has a great variety even at this time of year. My last delivery included potatoes, pea shoots, carrots, kale, italian radicchio, tangelo and grapefruit, fennel, leeks, collard greens, apples and kiwi fruit. Thursday night dinners have become veggie-palooza over here -- this week we had fresh mashed yukon golds, collards and kale sauteed with pancetta, a crisp, bittersweet salad with shaved carrots, radicchio di treviso, arugula and cabbage, and maple-sweetened baked winesap apples for dessert. YUM! And everything but the pancetta and the maple syrup came from the farm. summer deliveries include lots of stone fruit, squashes, tomatoes, cucumbers and the like. The quality is high, the people are friendly,and the service is flexible -- you can email them and communicate easily if there is something you want more or less of. Wintertime is very heavy on leafy greens and citrus -- but that's what's growing around here now, so it makes sense. you can arrange for all kinds of options, schedules, etc. they really do want customers to be happy and bend over backwards to accommodate.
I just wanted to toss it out there that these guys are already sending a truck to the neighborhood every week, so if you've been tempted to try a service like this, I would recommend them. go to www.farmfreshtoyou.com if you want to investigate. meanwhile -- have a great February. and please stay in touch if you are looking to trade backyard produce with neighbors.
Whatever you call a group (a gaggle? a murder? a flock?) of unexplained garden phenomena, it sounds like many of us around Lafayette have had similar ones.
If it was so bloody hot all summer, why weren't there any good tomatoes?
Why did the green beans not start producing until practically October?
Why did my vigorous, beautiful persian melon vine grow 25 huge melons and not ripen a single one of them?
Who ever heard of a zucchini that under-produced? I got literally no summer squash this year.
Has anyone discovered a landscape plant that turkeys won't eat?
Seriously, it has been a season of late-bloomers, photosynthetic slackers, underachievers, and disappointing ROI. The Satsuma plums i wait for literally all year were sparse and mealy. The fig tree never set fruit (until about 5 days ago! go figure) -- neither did the passion fruit vines. Birds got every one of my grapes a week before i would have picked them. Deer molested my hachiya persimmon to a state of quasi-dormancy. The 13 "cute" "baby" turkeys that have been roaming the neighborhood since spring are no longer babies, no longer cute, and they have become hell-bent on pulling everything in my front yard up by the roots. I phoned Orchard Nursery and asked them what I could do to discourage the turkeys. Advice: "Get a paint ball gun. Oh, and freeze the paint balls first."
It's not all disaster, of course -- I've gotten a small but gorgeous crop of pomegranates (not enough to share, but next year I wouldn't be surprised!), and the herb garden has been terrific... nothing beats being able to walk outside and snip epazote leaves for quesadillas, thyme and parsley for compound butter, shiso and thai basil for asian dishes. In fact, I officially recommend Thai basil as a plant that everyone should have in their herb garden. My single plant has produced so much foliage that i took a HUGE bouquet of branches down to Metro and donated them to the chef (everyone in the restaurant was squealing about how fabulous it smelled). It has grown 5 feet tall, with thick woody stems and a continuous profusion of new leaves. It's delicious, intensely aromatic, pretty, pest-proof (as far as i can tell) and at almost-November it shows no signs of slowing down, long after the genovese basil has bolted and died.
So, we're trying to regroup. carrots, beets, parsnips, broccoli, brussels sprouts, greens, and potatoes have gone into the ground and we're hopeful the winter crops will perform better than the summer ones. we're trimming, pruning, weeding, and getting ready for our not really so dormant dormant season.
Now -- I cannot help noticing that it is nut season around here. Any of you who have walnuts or chestnuts in your yards that you do not intend to use -- please consider me available to process them! I've been noticing a lot of nut trees along Happy Valley Road that appear only to be fodder for ravens. If you are similarly beset with squirrels and can't stomach the thought of cracking another walnut... give a shout and a friendly neighbor will take them off your hands (harvesting and all, if you want -- I don't mind!). I can even return some of them to you in a preferred format, such as homemade brownies or chestnut soup. Just say the word.
We've been amazingly terrible at developing our food sharing concept in the last few months, but while chronically overwhelmed I have not given up on the idea. Keep in touch and let's plan another morning get together before the holiday season takes us over. And for now, if you have something to share or are looking for a neighbor who does, reply to this list!
well here it is high summer and we have NOT made a ton of progress on organizing the phantom produce collective. I blame myself and my absurdly over-packed schedule -- but i think about it every day!
I'm out of town this weekend and we have a huge glut of stuff from my parents' garden in Alamo. There are a ton of yellow japanese plums -- not sure what variety they are. Also an amazing crop of sungold (orange cherry) and early girl type beefsteak tomatoes. the tomatoes are awesome, the plums this year are inconsistent -- some have been delicious, others substandard. they're perfect for cooked dishes (tarts, cobblers, jam, whatever) , hit or miss for eating fresh.
I am going to leave a few bags of these goodies on my front porch at 1154 Robles and I beg you to come and pick some up! let's not let this good stuff go to waste. it will be waiting on the wicker loveseat, fist come, first served, please, don't be shy. we'll be gone until Sunday evening.
Hope everyone's having a great summer!
However, the garden stops for no man. Or woman. Or sick baby or overscheduled preschooler.
Today the mercury hit triple digits (106, according to my car thermometer!). By 10:00 it was unthinkable to do anything outside, and the only place worse than outside was inside (how many of you live in 1950s Jack Marchant ranchers? Those exposed beam pine ceilings are so charming, but once the temperature climbs over 85, our house becomes a convection oven).
Around 5 pm, I took the girls out to play with the hose so I could deadhead the African daisies and lay a little extra H2O on my drooping oakleaf hydrangeas. The air was beginning to mellow. The light was getting that soft, juicy, summer evening thing. Ginger toddled to the strawberry patch and started helping herself, unerringly picking the ripest berries and leaving any that slugs had nibbled. I noticed a purple blossom on one of my potato plants, and even though it seemed early in the season, I stuck a trowel in at the roots and hit paydirt. Russian banana fingerlings - perfectly formed, thin-skinned, golden, waxy-fleshed, knobby - beautiful. Had it not still been in the 90s I would have cooked them on the spot. As it is, they'll make a delicious meal this weekend, but meanwhile, it's pizza night, thank you very much, yes I would like another glass of viognier, how very perceptive of you.
What's working in your garden this late spring? My endive bolted prematurely: the onset of sexual maturity creates hormonal changes that cause it to become exceptionally unpleasant and bitter - a trait it seems to share with some humans, I might note. I've had mixed success with radishes (a round purple variety is doing decently. My white icicles are tiny, tough and unpleasantly hot, and not one of my French breakfast red and white striped ones even germinated.). I've yet to see a carrot that was visible to the naked eye (I thought they'd be nearly done by now) and the beets have been a little disappointing too, leaving the spuds as my only wildly successful root crop for the spring.
The good stuff? Strawberries. Quinalts, Sequoias, fraises de bois, and an albino variety with a flavor like tropical guavas, all doing brilliantly. Arugula - anyone need any arugula? Mine's going to flower and I can't eat it fast enough. But it's been delicious, not too spicy, good texture. We've had a decent crop of sugar snap peas, probably coming to an end soon if this weather keeps up, and I've discovered a newfound affection for Swiss chard. Ours has been stunningly beautiful, totally bug resistant, and so tender and mild-flavored that I've been loving it raw in salads. Then there are the garden crops that surpass "yummy" and just leave you awe-struck. Ours this year has been an artichoke plant, which has exploded to six feet high and wide, and has yielded a couple dozen perfect, absolutely delicious buds. I'd never grown one before, and now I'm just wondering where else I can start putting them in. They are such handsome plants, so vigorous and so sculptural that I wonder why more people don't landscape with them. I thought mine was finally on its way out, and today I noticed a brand new plant forming from its rootball. It's awesome. Meanwhile, pole beans, sunflowers, pumpkins, melons, and even a few passionfruits appear to be on the way. Can't wait.
Our earliest-fruiting tomatoes have set. The one-year-old pomegranate I put in is falling over from the weight of its new growth and incipient fruits. We have a bumper crop of Japanese plums, and I've had to force myself to accept the necessity of thinning the fruit for the common good - so hard, when the trees are young and you can imagine eating every single fruit they produce!
No figs so far, no cherries, no pears, no peaches - my trees are still babies. Hopefully next year. Is anyone out there growing apricots? I'll trade you for something. (arugula?? Please??)
Hey, that got long. But that's May for you.
Ring in on what you've got growing this summer. The hope is to gather in as many neighbors as possible for a few fun swap meet mornings down on the patio at Metro - sort of an under-the-radar farmers' market. Fruit, nuts, veggies, cut flowers, herbs - all fair game. I say we start the first weekend of June.
Also, if you have neighbors who might like to get in on this and aren't on the email list, chat with them. I'm thinking for instance of seniors who might have nice old trees and have a tough time harvesting, but might like to get more use out of their produce. We can help them. Eventually we can expand this whole thing past our corridor and to other parts of town, too, so if you have pals around here (Happy Valley, Glen Road, etc) who are about to get hailed on by excess walnuts or plums, rope them in!
Here's what I will likely have available to share / trade around the first of June:
How about you?
I have heard from very few people about the Metro get-together tentatively planned for tomorrow, and apparently there is a major winter storm blowing through here for the next several days. It might be a bummer to be on the patio in bad weather, and I'd like to see more of the folks who said they would be interested in a neighborhood group, so I am suggesting a change of date to February 16th, also at 9 o'clock and pending Erika's ok on gathering at Metro on that day.
In the meantime, please chat this up with your neighbors and let's get as many people involved as we can. You do not have to be a garden-obsessed foodie to join in... it happens to be a passion of mine and a main tenet of what I want to do, but the point is to build a strong neighborhood community. So tell a friend!
So -- Feb 16. All in favor?
As promised, I am beginning to shake off the post-holiday overwhelm and move on with life. Erika Pringsheim-Moore, owner of the lovely Metro restaurant at the bottom of our little hill, has graciously offered the patio for us to meet up and discuss our budding local produce movement.
The proposed date is 1/26/08 at 9:30 in the morning, for about one hour. Coffee and some kind of light breakfast snack will be served, and it's a family affair for sure.
Please RSVP if you would, since if most people don't find this date convenient I will move it into february. This will be just a get-to-know-you for the most part, and all sierra vista folk are welcome.
If you still want to be involved, please tell your neighbors to come! This little adventure will definitely get more exciting the more people we can involve.
I've made contact with the people at deer hill ranch to see if they were interested in joining up with us (they sell fresh eggs and grass fed beef). They seemed enthusiastic about the idea of a local food sourcing venture (though they didn't seem to want to offer us a group discount on their six-buck-a-dozen eggs -- yet!) Anyway, there's much to discuss, but for now, in the short dormant season, let's just chat and learn a bit more about each other. I look forward to meeting those of you whom I don't already know in person.
Please let me know if the breakfast date works for you.
This probably goes without saying, but my fruit and veggie mission has taken a backseat to the cold season and the holiday preparations. I hope you are all having a lovely end of the year.
Once the smoke clears, I'm going to make good on my promise of a functioning website and a meetup date. Erika has graciously volunteered the patio at her swanky restaurant, Metro, for a get-together... details to follow.
Meanwhile, we've got a nice crop of meyer lemons and navel oranges. (Anyone got blood oranges, clementines or grapefruit?).
We also have a ton of mistletoe that we took out of our ash tree. If anyone wants some for holiday decor... please come and get it, or let me know and i will drop some off at your door on one of our many jaunts up and down the hill.
Happy holidays to all!
Look for stuffs like this:
Hope to hear from lots of you!