Cherries, Peas and Hollyhocks

Cherries, a special offering of the spring season (until the Summer Solstice June 20) appeared at the farm market last week, along with more fine local peas. Radishes are also abundant, along with the first of summer’s beets. I noticed this morning on the online “Weather Channel” that our Taos temperatures will start creeping up into the low 90s for the first time this season. I guess that’s right on time for the start of the summer season. Peas don’t like the heat so they will scurry to finish up their  seed-making task and step off stage left. I’m just starting to harvest my peas. I’ll make sure to keep up the watering.

More cherries here from Mary Campbell’s farm in Dixon. To her left is Harvey, who is a farming neighbor. He was claiming to be old so I asked the year he was born and he said a number that was before 1930. Old enough to qualify in my book. I mention it because Harvey is still in the game. He and Mary seemed to be sharing a table. And the handsome fella to the right is from Oklahoma, working and living this summer on Mary’s farm to learn the trade. There is an official name for this exchange which I missed, but it’s good to see young people’s interest in farming.

Speaking of beets! These look young and fresh and I’m sure packed with nutrition. My favorite way to cook beets is to drizzle an oil and Balsamic vinegar mix over them and bake them in the oven in an aluminum wrapping. Brings out the sweetness.

My peas, the photo taken a week or so ago. I wanted to show illustrate how beautiful the flowers are, as well as the tendrils clinging to the sticks that make up the tipi they like to climb.

Also thought I’d mention how my pea growing experience each spring brings back memories of the ten years I spent as a nanny to my granddaughter (now 12). She loved my peas from the time she was old enough to pop them into her mouth. It feels good to know I leave behind that legacy of her knowing where food came from before supermarkets. She also loved the seeding time in the garden when I first turned over the soil with a trowel, revealing a world of earthworms. Loved those worms!

This shot was taken in the orchard on the property. Looks like there will be some apricots this summer. All this grass you see has been mowed the past couple of days, along with the alfalfa field. Some of this grass will get bailed and reserved for Barney, the horse who lives here.

And these are the wild plums that never had a chance to evolve last summer due to a late freezing night when they were flowering. What a beautiful sight. They grow on plants that are more bushes than trees and they are small in size when ripe, but delicious. They remind me of picking wild blackberries in California back in the day. Wild fruit=gifts of nature.

This is farmer John, half of the married couple who own the property where I live. He’s using this small tractor to pull out old fenceposts near my house. He is proposing to build a new latia (coyote) fence along the side of my back garden that runs along the road to their house. Now that would be nice.

Here come the hollyhocks. They make the OptiMysm metaphysical store look very inviting.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Petree’s Nursery in Spring

You’d have to include a scenic location when compiling a list of great things about Petree’s Nursery. Yes, those are the Taos mountains in the background and the homes and such between Blueberry Hill Road and the Taos Pueblo.

I’d heard of this nursery and even driven by the sign on Blueberry Hill a couple of times in the short 2 years I’ve lived in Taos. There’s nothing to see as you pass the sign, just a road heading right off to who knows where? But lately I began to have a passion about locating some organic plant food (forget Ace or WalMart) and that’s how I ended up at Petree’s. There were so many choices there it was hard to decide. I ended up taking the recommendation of the helpful clerk and chose her own favorite, a well-rounded dry mix of nutrients called “rose food.”

So back to the right turn at the Petree sign on Blueberry Hill (if you’re coming from the south) I followed the road (Petree Lane) as it headed rather straight downhill. The elevation of the retail area pictured here is dramatically lower than original turn at the top. This place was a real discovery for me in so many ways. I asked the owner, Sylvia, if I could take these photos for a Taos blog and all she said was “make it pretty.” She did share that the nursery became a company in the early 90′ after she and Mr. Petree became a couple. He already owned the land and together they created what you see today.

This is what’s inside those greenhouses in the last photo. Everything you’d need to get your garden off to an early start. I tend to plant my own seeds, especially things like peas and salad greens (arugula, kale, parsley, chard, lettuces, cilantro) which are not that fussy about cool night temperatures. When it comes to cucumbers and tomatoes I like to wait and then buy plants toward the end of May. Because our summers are relatively short it pays to let someone do the greenhouse work for you. That is if you want your tomatoes starting to make fruit in July. Yes we do!

If you’re new to Taos I hope it doesn’t take you as long as it did me to discover the joys and various services of Petree’s. It’s quite a place.

Saturday at the farm market my friend, Lauren, learned what those wagons at the official Taos Farm Market booth are for, and they’re free for the asking. I don’t think I saw those last summer. How nice! Every week there are more farmers with booths and more customers appreciating what’s coming into season. Peas are starting to show up and they are in high demand when word gets out. My personal favorite buy right now is the $4 bag of fresh sprouts, including sunflower sprouts, which I love. Favorite flower starting to show up: Dalias.

I don’t recall the grower but one booth was offering this freshly picked camomile, with the suggestion that you allow it to dry then use it for making tea. I loved the fresh beauty of it and the container too. I’d bet the tea that results will have a more delicious flavor than store bought.

This peacock was putting on quite the show Sunday at the Hanuman Temple. He allowed plenty of time for crowds to gather and camera toters to find their equipment. Loved this photo of the intent observers.

And that would be the “object of attention” there on the lower left, the female. This is the first time, for all the many times I’ve been to the temple on a Sunday, to see this display. The building that houses the temple room is just behind the peacock.

Alfalfa blossoms