Photos from the Yard

Friday, May 8, 2009

Not everything is "peachy-keen" at the Bird household. The "Back 40" backyard remains a work in progress. A lot has been done, but for the few visitors who have seen it, they know that a lot of work remains to be done.

However, there are some bright spots. This is one of them. This is our June Pride peach tree that Venus and I purchased last year, bare-root, from Silverado Nursery. This tree failed to produce a single blossom last spring, which meant no peaches. But this year? This year is a different story.

This peach tree is loaded with peaches. A lot of them have been "culled" (removed), because it's really smart at this point to focus on tree growth rather than tree production. There will be plenty of years to come for production. I want to focus on growing a strong tree first. I didn't pick off all the peaches mind you, but I'm not going to let 50 peaches try to ripen on a tree that isn't two years of age yet. You're just asking for a disaster, like a broken trunk.

However, what really makes me smile is the tree growth. It really didn't grow much during it's first spring. It produced a few upward shoots -- about four -- and I'm guessing those upward shoots produced about two to three leafsets. But that's all this tree produced.

But this year? There is new growth everywhere. And I can't argue against that.

Artichoke season is now in full swing at our North Natomas farm. I like to call this photo the "three sisters." And they were quite good for dinner the other night. You can find this "three sister" cluster formation all over the artichoke bed during this time of year. I don't know why they're producing in clusters of three, they just are.

This will be the first year that I don't resort to any sort of spray to control pests. What does this mean? Well, it means that these artichokes will be soaking in a bath of salt water after they've been cut for dinner. You'd be surprised by how many bugs, both good and bad come off during the salt water bath process.

I'm using a natural defense for my artichokes this year. I've gone out of my way to encourage the production of ladybugs in the backyard. That's the one bad thing about spraying artichokes to control bugs. It destroys the good with the bad. Eventually, the bad bugs take over in the summer, no matter how much you spray. So, for me, the natural method of pest control works best.

And finally, yes, I've made room in the Back 40 for a corn field. Two rows have already sprouted and I'll plant a few more this weekend. That includes baby corn, which Venus and I will save, blanch in boiling water, and attempt to can to be used at a later date. Canning baby corn is a tricky process, but I think we'll be OK.
It's going to be a weekend filled with backyard projects. I hope yours go as well as mine.


Joe the Farmer said...

I would love to see a sketch or something of how you laid out the farm (its hard to tell otherwise). Like, where are the bees relative to the house, and where is the cornfield, fruit trees, artichokes, etc. I am encouraged to see other veggie gardeners in sac!

p.s. My tomatoes are already as tall as my mid-section... it was an experiment gone right!

Bill Bird said...


Good idea. I'll have to put that up sometime. It's not a huge backyard, but it's my quarter-acre slice of heaven. And those kind of lots are very hard to find within city limits, unless you're made of gold. I'm not. Then again -- most people use these kinds of lots to put in backyard swimming pools. The bee hive is across the yard, but they have a prime view of the garden. Haven't really seen them on the tomatoes to be honest, but we have other bees (ground dwellars) that have been showing some interest. The honeybees? They've found something in somebody else's yard to raid (grrr!). Hopefully, I'll be able to keep a few at home when the sunflowers start blooming and the melon and pumpkin patches begin to throw out some serious flowers. It's all about growth at this point. It's still early.