Early November, 2013

_DSC6611 _DSC6618 In my last post I had pictures of us releasing ladybird beetles (lady bugs) into the garden to deal with a invasion of aphids. Well those lady buds were mighty happy and gobbled up lots of aphids. Almost immediately they started mating like crazy. Before long their eggs were hatching and thousands of lady bug larva shown above were crawling everywhere. The adults eat many aphids but the larva (like teenage humans) eat with seemingly unending appetites. Soon the peppers and eggplants were completely clean of any aphids. It was a fantastic example of biological control!   _DSC6638   Another wonderful insect I had in the garden this year were praying mantis. They will go after almost anything except your plants. The females are ruthless though, devouring the heads of the males as they mate as I captured in the picture!   IMG_0769 IMG_0778 IMG_0786   As summer moved into fall the collection of the cow pies continued. This year has been the best yet. My son Quince and I had a sweet father/son morning collecting and then my last wwoofer of the season Katie-Grace helped me finish off the pile. She, having grown up on a dairy farm in New Zealand felt a tinge of nostalgia and joy in the experience. How lucky am I!   IMG_0796 IMG_0804 IMG_0809   Katie-Grace also helped with the last Plymouth Farmer's Market. The market was wonderful this year and my thanks to Austin Ford and the Rotary Club for their work with the Amador Farmer's Market.   IMG_0832   On September 29th, Abbondanza was part of the Farms of Amador farm tour. Wow, the people just kept coming and coming. During the course of the day between 75-100 people visited my little mini-farm. It was so good to share and to see so many people interested in the natural methods I use. IMG_0887   My Kiwi friend Katie-Grace got to experience the grape harvest too. Here she and I celebrate after picking a bin of Missions that my late uncle Armenio planted thirty years ago. These will become a sweet dessert wine made at Mira Flores Winery.   IMG_1076   On Thursday, October 31 (yes Halloween) 40 second grade students from Plymouth Elementary arrived to visit the farm. [I have deep history with students and school gardens and I recommend after checking out this blog that you go up to the Gallery button and after clicking it check out the "school garden" page and also the link at the bottom of the information I share there. Thanks]     IMG_1102   Here I am sharing information about my bees and the "top bar hive". Just too cute as some of the little ones were in costume as bees! IMG_1162 IMG_1175   Fantastic attention from these little people - credit to parents and teachers. IMG_1270   We have the ability to grow all the food right here in our county that our children should be eating. Local, in season, and obviously fresh. Why we force our schools to feed them questionable food from hundreds and thousands of miles away makes no sense to me.

August 2013, mid-summer

Today, August 18th the hot summer sun is somewhat muted by smoke drifting in from a large wild fire to the north. It rose a large red disc this morning and still is orange now at mid-day. Today is also the first day in a month that I have not had the company of  WWOOF-USA helpers. So much has been accomplished while sharing great food and laughter. For three weeks now we have been offering the abundance from the garden and trees at the Plymouth Farmer's Market. We have been busy weeding, watering,and managing insects. We have been eating extremely fresh (just picked) and local (out back) making colorful salads, sauces, pies, smoothies, and even de-hydrated kale and squash chips. Most importantly the compost pile is organized and the collection of the new pile is half way complete! Here is a gathering of images from the past few weeks: August 5th some of the staff from Taste arrived for visit and tour:IMG_0437 IMG_0440   IMG_0448 IMG_0466 IMG_0485 IMG_0492   IMG_0495 IMG_0499   IMG_0509  

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    Joey & Libby arrived at the end of July and helped in so many ways. We did a lot of harvesting and cooking together and had a great time at the first two markets in Plymouth.   IMG_0525_1   IMG_0528   IMG_0531_1   IMG_0532_1   Preparing squash for de-hydrator: IMG_0515_1                                   IMG_0517_1 IMG_0427                                                 So many beets and tomatoes fixed so many ways. Yum! IMG_0429   Before they departed Joey & Libby had helped clear and relocate the old compost pile and set up the new collecting area. I was overjoyed. IMG_0536 And within one day of their departure two very enthusiastic Ecology majors from UC Santa Barbara arrived to help me in the annual gathering of cow dung. A daunting task turned into fun with these two bundles of energy and curiosity. IMG_0539   IMG_0543 IMG_0546 IMG_0549 IMG_0553 IMG_0560 The are a few bulls in the herd but the majority are lactating cows with their calves. This makes for the most wonderful dung as these cows are truly happy free ranging.   I had an outbreak of aphids in the peppers and eggplants so released a unit of lady beetles (most people call them "lady bugs") but they are really beetles and hopefully they will get things back in balance.   _DSC6522 _DSC6524 _DSC6529 _DSC6539 _DSC6542 _DSC6557   Lauren and Stephanie also helped as did Joey and Libby remove second growth green grapes, bottom suckers, and dry leaves out of Betty's vineyard.     IMG_0572 Of course picking blackberries was essential too. Each evening we would pick and create wonderful meals and in the morning after watering we would head up the road to fill the trailer and the pick up with more from the cows. IMG_0578 IMG_0579             IMG_0583 IMG_0588IMG_0601 IMG_0602 IMG_0604 copy IMG_0614 IMG_0617                          

Did a lot of transplanting on April 15th, put all the tomato seedlings into one gallon pots. Then it  got really cold so I had to bring them in and turn on the lights. The stars were beautiful , wind chimes singing, and I prayed that those fragile tomato plants would survive and that those people still hating stop hating and those who are being mean stop being mean. time for everyone to breath.

Did a lot of transplanting on April 15th, put all the tomato seedlings into one gallon pots. Then it got really cold so I had to bring them in and turn on the lights. The stars were beautiful , wind chimes singing, and I prayed that those fragile tomato plants would survive and that people still hating stop hating and those who are being mean stop being mean. Time for everyone to breath.

Crimson Clover is one of the cover crops Betty has in her Blue Faerie Way Vineyard. Its roots host a good bacteria that off gasses nitrogen into the soil. She mows and discs itinto the soil after it has cast off seeds.

Crimson Clover is one of the cover crops Betty has in her Blue Faerie Way Vineyard. Its roots host a good bacteria that off gasses nitrogen into the soil. She mows and discs itinto the soil after it has cast off seeds.

January 24, 2013

1-24-2013.....Raining lightly today and that is good since I transplanted out over 150 sugar snap peas yesterday! For several weeks we have had clear cold conditions with morning temperatures in the twenties. I've got a fire going and thought I'd share an interesting experiment I began this past August. The late Maria Thun stated that from her trials broccoli grows best when planted and tended on "blossom " days, meaning days when the moon is passing through the signs of Aquarius, Gemini, or Libra. So in August when I was thinking of planting broccoli for the winter garden I conducted an experiment. I filled two of my seedling planting boxes with the same soil and I took a package of organic broccoli seeds and divided out tree equal groups making sure all were large seeds. Friday August 31 the moon was in Aquarius and I planted the first group of seeds-group A. On September 2 the moon was in Pisces and I planted the second group-B. By September 5th the moon was in Aries and I planted the third group-C.  One month later I took the following  photograph. Dramatic! Group A is on left, B in the middle and C on the right.

Happy new year.

So I look up the date and it is already January 3, 2013, a Thursday. Brilliantly clear again tonight with the winter constellations twinkling and morning temperatures sure to aline with the  past three days of 27 degrees. We had pipe busting lows of 23 and maybe lower (wasn't here to measure) two days previous. Cold and clear. The prediction for the next ten or more days. We have had a lot of rain and are "above" normal for this point in year. Typical to get a span of clear dry weather. So this early winter night I will attempt to upload images from this past season as we evolve here at Abbondanza. This image shows me pulverizing quartz I found on my hillside and Betty's. This was May 28th. Betty and I then went to help make 501 at Grgich Hills.       This group of pictures that follow show of Betty and me over at Grgich Hills with Philippe Coderey being our mentor.          Next on May 30th we have Kolo the third....2012 was the third year in a row that we had a fox family keeping their babies in one of our sheds. Three years ago we named the male and female adults Kolo and Kola and they had five kits. Ever since we have had foxes each spring. This year's mother looks a lot like the first year Kolo. We all get along and they are much better at catching gophers than any of my cats!       June 6th shows Betty harvesting Chamomile     The next sequence show me retrieving cow pat from the cowpat pit  based on Peter Proctor's descriptions that we created on the compost pad.           THE BEES and their flowers and water were a focus all summer.       Our summer was hot and busy. Here a glimpse of the table at farmer's market,  lavender beds being cleaned, and the harvest in the Blue Faerie Vineyard.                                        

Today is Saturday, December 1. Since Wednesday we have accumulated 3.91 inches of rain and the system arriving here later this evening may add an equal amount before it leaves. Nice to see this at this time of the year. The trees and vines need it now. I've got a warm fire going and going to share pictures of the gardens and farming activities. We get all kinds of weather. This first picture was taken on March 17th, 2012. Just three days later it had turned warm and Riley came for a visit. She helped plant seeds in the greenhouse, check the compost temperatures, check out the worm-bin, and also the new top bar hive I had just gotten. On March 29, the sun was in the watery element of pisces and the descending moon in front of the earth element of taurus. It seemed the absolute perfect day to apply the Biodynamic preparation 500 as a chance of a very light rain shower was predicted in the late evening. I have been applying it to the soils here at Abbondanza since 2007. In this next photo a WWOOF helper from Croatia learns while assisting in the hour long stirring. April 3rd. Garlic beginning to shoot up.April 8, Betty at work pruning in her Blue Faerie Way vineyard. This next group of images were taken on April 9th. The first give a glimpse of the 199 one gallon pots each with a one month old tomato plant. Back on March 7th I had planted 200 seeds comprising 16 different types ( Aside from Turtle Island http://www.turtletreeseed.org/aboutus.html my two main seed choices are Peaceful Valley http://www.groworganic.com/ and increasingly becoming my favorite Baker Creek http://rareseeds.com/ Their recent catalog is a must!) This next image was nettles that had a fantastic germination rate and were waiting to be transplanted. We use nettles for teas for us and our plants. The tomatoes love nettle tea sprayed as a folier. A book I recommend is Grasp the Nettle, making Biodynamic farming & gardening work. by Peter Proctor with Gillian Cole.