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!

June Full Moon

The garden grows.

The sudden appearance of this zucchini blossom happened right around the Summer Solstice. Well, I’ve been working up to this moment since I arrived back in early May. Pioneer gardening I call it–take the soil situation that comes with the place and build up from there. Seemed like the soil was lacking in humus basically. I found an old compost pile hidden in the bushes and started with that, then added amendments from a nearby hardware store. Looks like I got it mostly right, judging from the results. The tomatoes are looking eager to get huge and are blooming as well. Gotta love the way Mother Nature will come through if you give her a hand.

Another proof that summer has arrived in northern New Mexico is the harvesting of the alfalfa. This field is part of the property I live on and all that’s needed is an annual mow down and bale up. I think you’re looking at 30+ bales. Forget the total. This field, and indeed the entire acreage, is watered by the acequia system. The main ditch is just at the far end of the field. The header photo at the top of this page was taken from the orchard a month or so ago, looking south from our edge of Talpa along the Rio Chiquito.

Ran into these lovely girls in Taos the other day along the main street through town. These are a perfect specimen of Georgia O’Keefe’s favorite variety of hollyhock–Black. There might be a more elaborate name, but anyway I admit I also like them and was able to grow a few in my last garden in Ketchum, Idaho. I will probably make a mental note to pick up some seeds from these plants come fall.

The one thing that came back this spring to greet me here, growing next to the house, was a hollyhock. I asked the one who planted it if it was a double or a single. She thought a double. We’ll be seeing soon, which it turns out to be.

The Taos climate suits the hollyhocks. They are just now starting to bloom all around town. I love to paint them–the singles anyway. You can see the results on my Flower Paintings page (see Gallery).

Took this photo Friday, the day before that June Full Moon. I was in the parking lot where Ranchitos Road meets La Placitas looking northeast toward the traffic, which I cropped out. Shows the big and often interesting cloudy sky that Taos is famous for and, of course, the dramatic nearby mountain range.

As I recall there was a little light rain that evening. Last night there was real rain for a while and this afternoon it’s been spilling down some big drops from time to time. And the temperatures have dropped dramatically for daytime here. Could this be the beginning of the much-longed-for monsoon season?

Since I arrived in May it’s been mostly warm to hot and at the worst, windy in the afternoons. Not much in the way of rain, but I think that’s the normal weather pattern. In Ketchum, they had a very rainy May and June. I was glad to have escaped that. Tried not to feel too guilty, or brag about the weather in Taos, when talking to Ketchumites.