Tag Archive | tomato

Last Day to Order Bee Calendars, among other things

Just a friendly reminder, if anyone wants bee calendars I’ll be placing the final order tomorrow night. Email subscribers have pointed out that there is no order form in the email version of the blog; to fill out the form you’ll need to click the link to go directly to dukkaqueen.com, and follow the post to the bottom of the page. I’ll get the final tally tomorrow night and your calendars will begin buzzing their ways to you!

Everlasting snapdragons kept budding and blooming through the first snow, the second snow... Finally, after some six degree nights, they have wilted.

Everlasting snapdragons kept budding and blooming through the first snow, the second snow… Finally, after some six degree nights, they have wilted.

Ice Canyon putting on ice. We've only had a couple of one-inch snows so far, but the snow has stayed on the ground with nights dipping into the teens and days barely up to freezing, for the most part. The roller coaster has slid to a stop, and now there's time to breathe into winter hibernation.

Ice Canyon putting on ice. We’ve only had a couple of one-inch snows so far, but the snow has stayed on the ground with nights dipping into the teens and days barely up to freezing, for the most part. The roller coaster has slid to a stop, and now there’s time to breathe into winter hibernation.

The dogs continue their vigilance on daily walks to the canyon, monitoring wildlife, scenting the bucks in rut, the lions laying low.

The dogs continue their vigilance on daily walks to the canyon, monitoring wildlife, scenting the bucks in rut, the lions laying low.

Just enough snow last week to build a Rocky-sized snowman. He had so much fun and was so proud when we finished!

Just enough snow last week to build a Rocky-sized snowman. He had so much fun and was so proud when we finished!

Cynthia's sensational sesame-semolina bread.

Cynthia’s sensational sesame-semolina bread.

Earlier this month, I had a few last yellow Brandywine tomatoes that Chris and Rosie had let me pick from their drooping vines. The plants were so thick with foliage that some of the fruits in the center of the cluster had survived a hard frost. All I wanted was one last tomato sandwich. I texted up the hill to see if Cynthia wanted to trade a couple of tomatoes for two slices of her delicious bread that we’d had at Halloween.

That bread was all gone, she said, but she was baking right then, and would bring me some shortly. Around two that afternoon she arrived with a precious bread round, warm and fragrant right from the oven, in a tin she was returning. I worked the rest of the afternoon, savoring the aroma, thinking from time to time about the delicious sandwich I’d have when I quit for the day. After four or five hours, I turned off the computer, and went into the kitchen to prepare my delectable repast. The last tomato sandwich of the season! I’d been salivating all afternoon.

I took the bread out of the tin and set it on the cutting board. Then decided I’d better go pee before getting the sandwich all ready to eat. So I did that, and washed my hands, and returned to the kitchen in about two minutes. The perfect loaf of bread was gone. Disappeared. Two minutes. Vanished. Not a crumb anywhere. I looked in the microwave, thinking well maybe I had stuck it in there automatically to keep the bad dog from snagging it. Alas! I had not. It was nowhere. And there was a skulking girl catahoula in the living room, and also a slightly anxious boy dog. GRRRR! I knew who had scarfed it down in one gulp. Just the one bad dog, Raven.

I tossed her out into the cold and made her stay there a full twenty minutes, while I railed and raged about my lost dinner. It surprised me how angry I got, and mostly at her. Though I knew deep down it was my fault for leaving the bread out. Usually I take precautions with food, conscientiously putting it in a box or in the microwave or out of reach on the windowsill. But the one time all year I drop my guard, and she steals the gift bread, made special for me, special for that last tomato sandwich… Such a blow! A real first-world problem, though. I could laugh at myself and at her after a short while. And when Cynthia heard of the mishap, (as in, got my text saying I am going to fucking kill Raven!), she offered immediately to bake me another. The next evening, all was well: fresh bread, last tomato, plenty of mayonnaise, and the forgiven dog on my lap afterwards. These little disappointments, tempered by the gifts and grace of good friends and the overriding sweetness of sneaky animals. Life is always in flux.

Bad Dog forgiven, sitting on my lap.

Bad Dog forgiven, sitting on my lap.

I have it on good authority that Jigsaw Puzzle Season officially started on Thanksgiving Day, but I got the jump on game season when I found this mystery card game while cleaning the mudroom.

I have it on good authority that Jigsaw Puzzle Season officially started on Thanksgiving Day, but I got the jump on game season when I found this mystery card game while cleaning the mudroom.

Speaking of flux, I found this card game out of the blue while rearranging some furniture, and that led to a whole ‘nother string of lessons about life, or maybe just a series of delightful reminders about how the rules are always changing, and the means, and the goals. I’ve felt especially up in the air these last few days as I await a doctor visit tomorrow morning. This past year has been fraught with several physical challenges, from a dislocated clavicle to plantar fasciitis, to the lingering effects of a dizzy virus. All these pale in comparison to the news that may come tomorrow. I try not to think about it; everything can change in an instant all the time, a lion attack in the woods, a rockfall on the highway, a maniac at the movies, stroke, aneurism, pneumonia; why worry about a biopsy before you get the result?

Maybe the only thing that will be different will be a new lease on life, and renewed commitment to be grateful every living moment of every day.

At Play in Fields of Bees

Beeplant and sunflowers grow with abandon in the hottest, driest part of the garden, a lush late summer banquet for bees and birds.

Beeplant and sunflowers grow with abandon in the hottest, driest part of the garden, a lush late summer banquet for bees and birds.

Rocky Mountain Beeplant, sown twenty years ago around the rustic trailer I used to inhabit, down where the Butterfly Bed is now. This wildflower blooms and seeds prolifically in areas where I let it, and seems content to do so. I pull stray seedlings when they're tiny, so easy they are to recognize, and let them flourish in certain spaces. Knowing what delight they'll bring in late summer, for honeybees, wild bees and hummers.

Rocky Mountain Beeplant, sown twenty years ago around the rustic trailer I used to inhabit, down where the Butterfly Bed is now, blooms and seeds prolifically in areas where I let it, and seems content to do so. I pull stray seedlings when they’re tiny, so easy they are to recognize, and let them flourish in certain spaces. Knowing what delight they’ll bring in late summer, for honeybees, wild bees and hummers.

They start to flower in late July and just keep on going, growing new blooms up and up the stalk, transforming downward into seedpods.

They start to flower in late July and just keep on going, growing new blooms up and up the stalk, transforming downward into seedpods.

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These green-eyed, pollen-packed wild bees constantly prowl the sunflowers. Hey! Get off! This one's mine!

These green-eyed, pollen-packed wild bees constantly prowl the sunflowers. Hey! Get off! This one’s mine!

Despite not being in right relationship with the grasshoppers, I can recognize a striking composition when it's given.

Despite not being in right relationship with the grasshoppers, I can recognize a striking composition when it’s given.

And that pesky doe. Caught her in the act again, eating the last half dozen tomatoes this tired bush is likely to ripen. Just look at her! I can't begrudge her.

And that pesky doe. Caught her in the act again, eating the last half dozen tomatoes this tired bush is likely to ripen. Just look at her! I can’t begrudge her, though. She needs them more than I do.

But I can try to salvage a few bites for myself, so I gently spook her away. Next year I'll fence the food gardens, for sure.

But I can try to salvage a few bites for myself, so I gently spook her away. Next year I’ll fence the food gardens, for sure.

 

Full On Summer

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Today the garden is full of yellows, oranges and greens, and full of buzzing bees. Summer is a full on ride, roller coaster or tilt-a-whirl, it’s hard to know; reeling through colors and days so full.

July arrivals in the garden, the variously colored Ratibida, or Mexican Hats, and an unusual, fast bee that flies with its tip up.

July arrivals in the garden, the variously colored Ratibida, or Mexican Hats, and an unusual, fast bee that flies with its tip up.

At first I blamed the damn deer for demolishing one of my Roma tomatoes, until I looked closer. Love the little manatee hands.

At first I blamed the damn deer for demolishing one of my Roma tomatoes, until I looked closer. Love the little manatee hands.

Why do you think they call it Hornworm?

Why do you think they call it Hornworm?

Little solitary bees work the tomato blossoms diligently.

Little solitary bees work the tomato blossoms diligently.

And at last, overnight, one of the Early Girls begins to ripen.

And at last, overnight, one of the Early Girls begins to ripen.

The new raised bed in the south yard grows squashes from Earth Friendly Farm.

The new raised bed in the south yard grows squashes from Earth Friendly Farm.

I transplanted them into walls-o-water, then implemented a trick I learned at a dinner party recently: keep the walls on longer than you'd think you need to, and turn them down into collars, to hold water better and protect the plants from wind.

I transplanted them into walls-o-water, then implemented a trick I learned at a dinner party recently: keep the walls on longer than you’d think you need to, and turn them down into collars, to hold water better and protect the plants from wind.

All the squashes are thriving.

All the squashes are thriving.

One of three visiting catahoulas, Jupiter, Last Son of Sundog, with Raven's birthday bunny, still remarkably intact six weeks later.

One of three visiting catahoulas, Jupiter, Last Son of Sundog, romps with Raven’s birthday bunny, still remarkably intact six weeks later.

I could not figure out what these tiny green beads were that the ants were so busy around. Husks of tiny beetles! What's up with that?

I could not figure out what these tiny green beads were that the ants were so busy around, scattered in clusters along the path through the woods. Husks of tiny beetles! What’s up with that?

Dragonflies are zipping all over the pond.

Dragonflies are zipping all over the pond.

 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The last little core of the tiniest ripe apple ever, the tenth and last from my Fuji tree this year. Apple production at Mirador went up more than 100% from any previous year!

Yet apples appear to come of their own volition from friends with bigger trees than mine.

The apricot tree just keeps on giving. After a full fruit crop enjoyed by birds, chipmunks, and me, she gave golden color for weeks last month.

I marvel at the things I’ve planted and nurtured and what they have done this autumn. I haven’t seen a mature fall here in my yard for a long long time. All these shrubs and trees I’ve planted, Nanking cherry, chokecherry, aspen, birch, maple, apricot, honeysuckle, lilac, snowberry, sumac, plum, roses, and more, their leaves turning all kinds of colors all fall long, then dropping to color carpet the garden ground, they’ll mulch and then break down to feed the soil. Such a rich gift. All the grasses going blonde and orange and shades between yellow and green, swaying in the breeze and popping off seeds. I have been visually wallowing in this waxing embrace of autumn.

“May I be a bride forever married to amazement,” Janis quoted Mary Oliver, and yes, may I. We have cold now, the trees in a day lost their leaves. Until just this last week, even as rifle shots reverberate from just up north along the canyon, honeybees still found nectar and pollen in the reproducing salvias, each multi-headed stem holding one, two, a few single tiny blue blossoms. Nepeta reblooms a third or fourth time. There’s an art to cutting back, knowing what to cut back how far and when.

The bees are put to bed, their hive surrounded by straw in a configuration that I hope will insulate the hive and prevent snow from blowing in their front door, now well fortified with a propolis barrier lined with a few bee-sized holes. I wish I could see a cross-section of this cold-barricade, it looks as though some of the holes go straight in, and others curve or angle with yet more protection behind. On warm days they continue to come and go a few at a time; but often when I stop to check on them there is not a bee to be seen, or just one, looking slow and cold, guarding the threshold.

Meanwhile, the last fresh tomato sandwich of the season has been eaten, on Halloween.

And the first spinach of winter harvested this morning! Just a few thinnings from the spinach, cilantro, and mustard greens thriving in the caterpillar. Such a treat to harvest fresh greens in November, and it looks like the setup will provide well into winter.

A cottonwood leaf falls into the scene at Crawford State Park, where the reservoir is the lowest I’ve ever seen. The apparent sandbar just under the leaf is actually the bed of the old highway from before the dam.

 

 

 

 

Overwhelming Harvest

It’s been such a busy week, I still haven’t had time to deal with all these goodies. The potatoes are still in the bowl in the pantry, cool and dark; carrots have been topped and put in the fridge unwashed, until I decide whether to can or soup or what them; the little green cherry tomatoes have been pickled!

Scarlet runner bean seeds remain in the bowl on the counter; they’re not really edible, and will go back in the ground next spring to provide gorgeous red blossoms for the hummingbirds. Yes, I’ll put them away soon, in a jar in the pantry. And the colander full of arugula is all made into pesto, both walnut and macadamia nut. Going out in mid-October and harvesting six cups of arugula is a delight I had not anticipated. The caterpillar greenhouse Katrina built for me is providing yummy results already. This afternoon I harvested cilantro for the chicken-tomatillo-cilantro enchiladas I’m serving guests tonight. Spinach and mustard greens grow slowly, and next spring’s carrots and beets are full of leaves. A row of parsley divides the winter greens from the spring root crops. I have never been so content with my yard.

Carrots out of the ground, sun drying for a few minutes before going into the basket, into the house.

My pantry, a pale echo of Connie’s, but the most food I’ve ever canned in one year. From left, tomato paste, pickled jalapeños, marinara, and the yummy pickled green cherry tomatoes. I can’t wait to open a jar of those!

Onions and garlic from the Small Potatoes Farm, peppers from Katrina, parsley, basil and thyme from my garden, all simmering on the burner next to the tomato purée squeezed with Cynthia’s hand-crank food saucing appliance: romas from Small Potatoes, big juicy slicers from Dawn’s garden.

Guitarist Michael Gulezian plays by candlelight while I craft the marinara for a spaghetti dinner the next night. To hear more or less what that sounded like, check out some of his videos on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqQKfvbsp-8

The threat of industry changing the face of our valley brought many disparate people together. Michael contributed to the scrapbook I made, and in the summer I heard him play and met him. We didn’t have much chance to talk. He lives in Tucson, and was passing through the North Fork on his way home after recording a new CD in Fort Collins, so he stopped by to visit. A lovely couple of evenings ensued with great music, friends, and food.

Monday, Stung

Checking the comb this morning I became alarmed at how fast they’ve reached the back, and decided to just do it, right now, harvest that one comb.

Despite how busy they were, and that it was already quite warm, I did not wear the bee hat because the jacket it zips to is in storage. I figured the bees know me by now…

Last night I played with some of the flash options on Hipstamatic.

I am not Corwin Bell. I knew that, of course, but I thought maybe I’d be calm and collected enough with the bees that I could get away with rubber bands around my pants ankles, and glasses so I could see what I was doing. Removal of the roof went well. Removal of the spacer between top bars went well, using the hive tool to pry the ends and scrape the propolis between the spacer and the back bar. I pulled up the back bar first, knowing there was only a partial comb on it, so I could see what the next to last bar looked like. Then things fell apart. Literally. As I endeavored to set the bar down upside down, the comb, warm, pliable, flopped to one side, alarming the bees. One, Bitey Bee, got caught under my glasses rim, so I set everything down and pulled my glasses off, but too late. One sting. I calmly hurried inside, scraping the site with my fingernail to remove the stinger, and applied Prid drawing salve. I came back with tongs to pick up the dropped comb, covered with bees, and set it in the bowl I’d brought for my harvest. I’d also pulled my hat off as I went inside, and forgot to put it back on, so my hair was falling in a mess; as I tried to put the bar back another bee tangled in the back of my hair, so again I calmly hurried away. Stingbee’s buzzing got more and more frantic as she burrowed deeper into my hair, as I tried to shake and sweep her out. Sting two. More Prid, in my hair. After being chased away two more times (calmly) without getting stung, I finally got the bar back in place and the flat roof on without further incident.

I left the glistening piece of comb in the bowl so the bees could take their time leaving it. I wasn’t a complete idiot about it. I did call three friends to try to get backup before I started this escapade. Luckily for my pride none were available. But after all was said and done, Cynthia called back to see if I still needed help, so she got to share in the tiny, sweet, taste of honey.

First, and accidental, harvest of honeycomb.

Not quite honey but almost, the nectar is thickened but not yet capped. We snipped off the tip and shared it, yum yum yum, chewing the wax like gum, like when we were kids.

A drop of perfection.

I immediately went online to http://www.backyardhive.com to order a full suit and some fine mesh for straining. Chalk this one up to a lesson learned, and try again in a few days with proper protection. What was I thinking? At least I bought some time; I may have a week before they start to glue their comb to the back wall.

Other harvests have been more successful. Green and pink cherry tomatoes from my vines, and a chocolate pepper; yellow peppers and red cherry tomatoes from Ruth’s fabulous garden, and a Palisade peach from the market. All in the wooden bowl the Colonel carved by hand forty years ago.

The fava beans are growing thick and tall, and full of blooms!

Mirabilis multiflora at the end of the turtle pen has expanded to cover the path. When they die back in autumn they form a brittle, featherweight skeleton; I’ve been scattering these skeletons around under junipers in the yard, and three or four have grown from seed under several trees.

So a few small successes to counter my humbling bee fiasco, and now for a lunch of fresh ripe tomatoes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, July 22, morning

Flight lessons. Earlier this morning, as I fed the temporary turtle some worms, I heard the screes of the three young redtails that were raised along the river at the mouth of Buck Canyon. Cameraless, I simply watched with delight as all three circled low over me and Mirador, shrieking, soaring, flapping.

About an hour later I heard the birds again. Again three circled and soared, farther up, but this time it was one adult and two juveniles, clearly enjoying their lives. At the same time, Geoff was at Dr. Vincent’s picking up a young hawk that hadn’t quite learned how to make it on her own. Picked up from the roadside, emaciated and unable to move, she found her way to our raptor rehabber down the road.

Peek-a-Bee on St. John’s Wort.

After a beautiful sunny morning, the skies opened this afternoon, flooding the patio again, cooling the air, watering all with a full inch of rain.