|Precious the cat being "precious."|
...and a Happy 2011 to you as well! I tell you -- it's been a busy start to what promises to be an even busier New Year. 2011 brings all sorts of challenges to the Bird Household -- which includes a new job -- which deals with a LOT of writing.
Writing about VEGETABLE GARDENING matters you ask? Hah! No -- that would be my dream job. I'll do that in retirement -- along with my other dream job -- selling Steer Manure Compost at my local Home Depot. Us Birds can never retire you know. We have some sort of wacky gene that shuts off the heart muscle at any moment retirement plans are made.
|From L-R: Deborah, Andy & Mary Bird|
So -- we don't use the word "retire." We use the term; "moving onto the next career," instead. Hopefully, that terrible Bird Family gene will be satisfied and not give the dreaded Final Order. My older sister -- who is quite the vegetable gardener and gourmet chef herself (she's to the left in the family photo) -- is currently preparing for her next career as "Horse Whisperer."
I figure she can supply me with plenty of horse apples with this new profession. But I digress...
Don't you just love this weather? I loved the handy-dandy gardening guide that appeared in last Saturday's Home and Garden section of the Sacramento Bee. It contained lots of colorful suggestions for each month out of the gardening year. You can find it right here if you missed it. It made me want to run right outside and put what was in print into practice -- until I realized it was POURING BUCKETS OF RAIN.
There's nothing like an inch of rain or two to -- uh -- dampen that gardening spirit. Put away the trowel son. Turn on the Mud Bowl instead -- featuring two college nobodies that you've never heard of. Mother Nature has since shut off the spigot -- and given us a blast of icy cold arctic air.
Yet another gardening downer.
|Dancy Tangerine tree in November|
But -- despite the flooded backyard and muddy gardening areas -- the wonderful wife that is Venus and I have been happily harvesting during this cold weather period. The Dancy Tangerines that were ripening on ye olde citrus tree during October and November are now ready for harvest. This is the third year for my Dancy -- and I must say -- it's been the best ever.
The frosty mornings that kissed our backyards during the months of November and December did not take the terrible toll that I had feared it might. We're not quite out of frost danger yet -- not hardly -- and although a solitary leaf took a freeze hit here and there -- most of our citrus trees are undamaged.
Indeed -- my Bearss Lime tree continues to grow -- as does the Improved Meyer Lemon. In fact -- as I type this -- the Meyer Lemon is actually FLOWERING.
But -- it's the Dancy that is the real star of this show. It's the oldest citrus tree in our young backyard. It's been -- by far -- the most productive. If I'm brave enough to slip on a pair of mud shoes and traverse through what seems to be a long stretch of brown clay slop -- I'm rewarded with a bowl of 15-20 tangerines.
My initial fear was that the frost had sucked out every last remaining bit of moisture from these tangerines. This has happened in the past. There's nothing quite like the downer of chewing on a tangerine that is as dry as dust. It's sort of like chewing on a well-used mud shoe.
But -- my fears were put to rest during the first harvest. I came back from the mud adventure with a bowl of juicy -- sweet and sour citrus. Better yet? If I let the tangerines sit for a day or two and come to room temperature? The sweetness factor jumped X 10.
I've always been a fan of mixing different kinds of fruit to see "what happens," and I didn't stop with the Dancy Tangerines. I'd like to tell you that I have a Pineapple Tree in the backyard. But that would be -- in fact -- a LIE. However -- pineapples were on sale that week at my local Bel-Air Grocery Store...
|Tangerine & Pineapple Breakfast!!! YUM!!!|
And who can resist a big, fat pineapple for a $1.99? I can't. So -- two pineapples came home with me on that day. And they found there way into this breakfast bowl of tangerines and pineapples that I prepared for the wonderful wife and I this past weekend.
So -- gardeners -- I share your frustrations. It's wet. It's cold. Conditions just aren't conduicive to stepping outside and digging in the dirt right now. But there's still lots to be done. It's BARE ROOT season people! It's time to order seeds (if you haven't already)! Time to set up the seed rack! Get the grow lights ready!
The 2011 gardening season -- and harvest -- is now -- officially -- underway.