|Baseball is back, baby!|
Here is Northern California -- all is just peachy keen! There might be a bad bout of peach-leaf curl on the peach trees thanks to some late spring rain and cold weather -- but baseball is back in the San Francisco Bay Area and life is just fine.
And it does appear -- once again -- that the San Francisco Giants motto for the 2011 season will be TORTURE. After an AT&T opener like fans experienced today (a 5-4 come from behind NAILBITER over the Cardinals) -- how could one expect any differently?
But -- hey -- it's baseball, right. Whaddya want? Another three months of the Sacramento KINGS? Another season of Alex Smith at QB for your San Francisco 49ers?
No -- thank you -- I'll pass. Gimme some Giants baseball -- with a side of your Sacramento River Cats on a warm summer evening on the banks of the Sacramento River.
Despite what appears to be yet another lousy spring for us gardening types -- things are a changing for the better in the Bird Back 40. Yes indeed -- the grapevines a growing! There appears to be a WHOPPER of a crop on the Santa Rosa Plum tree -- and for the first time ever -- Flavor Finale Pluots on our pluot tree which is now entering its second year of production. We didn't get pluots last year -- so this will be a first for us.
|A second spring swarm from the Hello Kitty HIve|
But the bone-chilling sunny afternoons aren't holding down the colony of bees in the Hello Kitty Hive -- which swarmed for a second time this week. They are kind of tough to see in the mass of vines that is the Dinner Plate Honeysuckle bush -- but trust me -- they are there.
And when the bees aren't swarming about the yard? They're doing a pretty good job at what I wanted them to do: pollinate various crops here and there.
Case in point? The wife that is Venus and I are heading for an impressive pea harvest from vines that we allowed to grow through the winter. To put in bluntly? We're loaded.
Venus and I have been hit and miss with our pea plantings -- mostly miss. During the past couple of years, we've always planted seed during the first week or two of spring. But by the time the vines finally reach the desired size where they can produce? Hot weather sets in. And nothing knocks off a nice pea crop like successive 90-degree days.
The tomatoes might love it -- but peas are a cool weather crop. Once summer checks in, pea crops check out.
|Did someone say peas?|
So this year Venus tried something different. Rather than plant in February -- she planted in early November. The intent was not to get a fall crop of peas -- although it is possible. Nope -- the hope is that the seeds would sprout just before the winter freeze set in. Did they survive that freeze? It appears that they not only survived -- they loved it.
There are a few plantings in the Bird backyard that really thrive in cold, wet and wintry conditions. Artichoke plants are one of them. Artichoke plants are gluttons for winter punishment. Two weeks of non-stop winter rain and cold? Bring it on. Wind gusts of 35 plus? Is that all you've got?
Venus suspected that peas could not only absorb the same abuse, but continue to grow through the winter months. Guess what? She's right. The pea seeds that she planted in November didn't necessarily grow to towering heights during the cold weather. But they appear to have developed strong root systems.
|Monster peas growing up bamboo support system|
So when the first warm, hint of spring days arrived? The pea vines shot out of the ground like a cannon and started marching up a bamboo tee pee that we had assembled earlier. When they began to flower two to three weeks ago -- the vines hummed with that unmistakable sound of foraging honeybees.
We didn't do a whole lot of fall or winter vegetable gardening this year. A death in the family will knock you off the gardening track for awhile. It's tough to find enjoyment in the dirt when a family member is suffering. Suffice to say that the onion and garlic crops will be substantially smaller this year.
But chalk one up for the peas -- and a bounty of a 2011 harvest.