Workings of a Local Food Farm

 

Most of us are interested in eating locally grown food these days, and some of us even try to grow as much of our own food as we can. Try as I may, I don’t seem to be able to keep enough growing to insure that I’m well fed. There are certain times of the year that I seem to have more time to do the nurturing (and work) that is involved, but at other times, I get too busy with my teaching career and something called “Life.”

Fortunately, there are some who make their career out of producing food for the rest of us. Such is the case with Chas Canon and his family. Our Garden Club made a trip to his acreage here in Ocean View in late October of this past year. If you’re like me (and if you read my blog regularly, I suspect you are), you enjoy seeing where your food comes from.

Rather than elaborate too much on what we saw there, I’m going to give you a quick look at what he grows and how he grows it. Please click on the slide show at the bottom to see all of these pictures, and more.

There is a deep gulch on the property where he grows a few things at the bottom – even along the edge of the gulch as shown here.

 

Path to the gulch
Path to the gulch

 

Growth in the gulch
Growth in the gulch

 

Up above near the house, we were shown how he mulches, sets out the irrigation lines, and grows great produce.

 

 

I don’t even get tomatoes like this that I try to grow intentionally!

Volunteer tomatoes
Volunteer tomatoes

 

Here is where it all starts.

 

He showed us the book that he follows religiously. I promptly ordered a copy for myself. It is put out by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. Cornell University strongly supports the organic food movement.

 

Look for his produce at our local farmer’s market on most Saturday mornings.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

You’ll get much more out of this if you watch it in full size here.

A Country Haven

GATE TO CONNIE'S HAVEN
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GATE TO CONNIE’S HAVEN

 

It’s hard to believe that only twelve miles away is a hideaway this lush and fertile! On twenty acres of volcanic land that has decomposed, my friend Connie has created a delicious and peaceful botanical garden.

My friend, Velvet and I were invited to come and take pictures. Once we were through the gate shown above, we walked along this beautiful roadway.

LONG ROAD INTO THE PROPERTY
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LONG ROAD INTO THE PROPERTY

 

All along each side were many plants and flowers. It is obvious a great deal of loving care has gone into developing her acreage. Tucked into the ferns were several of the colorful Stromanthe sanguinea.

STROMANTHE
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STROMANTHE

 

Many were plants that we don’t commonly associate with brilliant or startling color, like this bromeliad with scarlet spotted leaves.

SCARLET BROMELIAD
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SCARLET BROMELIAD

 

Under thick foliage, we discovered hidden treasures like this Japanese lantern.

HIDDEN JAPANESE LANTERN
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HIDDEN JAPANESE LANTERN

 

I love looking back through the foliage and wondering what else is back there.

VIEW INTO THE FOREST
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VIEW INTO THE FOREST

 

Color keeps popping up everywhere.

MORE COLOR
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MORE COLOR

 

Even without color, most plants are striking and dramatic.

DRAMATIC GREENERY
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DRAMATIC GREENERY

 

At one point, we stopped and looked back along the path. I would love to live at the end of this lane, hidden from the world.

LOOKING BACK
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LOOKING BACK

 

Finally, we reached Connie’s living space. In addition to the flowers, I’m always attracted to the figurines. This heavenly angel keeps watch over the flora and fauna.

ANGEL
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ANGEL

 

She is joined by the Buddha in protecting the property.

BUDDHA
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BUDDHA

 

I was stunned at the size and beauty of her yellow native Hawai`ian hibiscus. I found out that mine is from a cutting of this particular plant. Click on each of these small pictures to see a full-sized version.

 

This climbing Mandevilla vine gave me a great idea for my own property. It is a way to lift the color up off the ground and toward the sky.

CLIMBING MANDEVILLA VINE
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CLIMBING MANDEVILLA VINE

 

Here is a bit of whimsy.

DOGZILLA
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DOGZILLA

 

There are too many scenes of flowers and greenery to show individually. Please take time to look through this slideshow before continuing to read this post.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf

For a larger version of this slideshow, click here.

 

I’m also envious of this shade house. I don’t need shade on my property, because it rarely stays very sunny for any length of time, but a shade house makes it possible to keep many shade-loving plants together in one spot.

SHADE HOUSE
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SHADE HOUSE

 

Ideas for my own place kept coming to me throughout the morning we were at Connie’s. At the end of the day, what better place to enjoy a cup of tea and to survey your work?

A RESTING PLACE
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A RESTING PLACE

 

Another bit of information about Connie . . . she is the owner of TLC, a business providing indoor plant services. If you want to contact her, leave a note in the comments and I’ll let her know you are interested.

For the next two weeks, my brother Hilton will be the guest poster. He lives in Florida and writes a travel/food blog about the St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay area. Please visit to see some of the gardens of Florida.

A hui hou!

 

Yard Sculpture

STONE TABLE
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STONE TABLE

 

Last week, I showed some of the flowering plants and landscaping of Bob Elhard’s plot of land. I love to show local gardeners and their work because it gives me so much hope!

The photo above is a stone table in the entry patio he has created out of a lava slab.

He has used bits of found wood and stones to create little pockets of art everywhere you turn. Most of us here in Ocean View end up with all sorts of pieces of ohia that has blown down during a storm. I have my own piles of dead wood (like the one shown below) and someday I’ll go through them to find interesting pieces to use like Bob did.

MY WOOD PILE
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MY WOOD PILE

 

Some of these pieces may be driftwood, although the sun-bleached ohia branches look much like that.

TWISTED WOOD
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TWISTED WOOD

 

This piece looks like it is growing right out of the gravel.

WOOD
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WOOD

 

Here is an attractive combination of wood and stone. The wood cradles pieces of both rough and smooth rocks.

WOOD AND STONE
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WOOD AND STONE

 

Even something as utilitarian as barrel hoops add a touch of the whimsical to the lava rock sculpture.

BARREL HOOPS AND LAVA
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BARREL HOOPS AND LAVA

 

Another barrel hoop and an unusual piece of wood create a wall sculpture.

WALL SCULPTURE
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WALL SCULPTURE

 

This wall sculpture contributes to the feeling of all the wood being driftwood.

SEASCAPE
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SEASCAPE

 

This old bell does its share in sending my mind toward the ocean.

RUSTIC BELL
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RUSTIC BELL

 

A piece of the wood rests on the windowsill to gather sun.

WOOD IN THE SUN
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WOOD IN THE SUN

 

I love this scenario of wood, stone, and the Japanese lantern combined.

JAPANESE LANTERN WITH WOOD AND STONE
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JAPANESE LANTERN WITH WOOD AND STONE

 

I have named this sculpture “yin-yang” because of the juxtaposition of rough and smooth rocks.

YIN AND YANG
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YIN AND YANG

 

Even a bowl of crushed glass and pebbles becomes a work of art.

BOWL OF CRUSHED GLASS
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BOWL OF CRUSHED GLASS

 

This is obviously not the rough lava rock so common in our yards. What a graceful shape it has.

SMOOTH STONE
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SMOOTH STONE

 

Tucked into the undergrowth is a peaceful Buddha.

BUDDHA
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BUDDHA

 

There were many other pictures I took, but I didn’t have room for them in the post. If you want to see more photos, including the ones from last week’s post, click on the arrow for a slideshow.

http://picasaweb.google.com/s/c/bin/slideshow.swf
Click here

    to see a full sized slide show.

    A hui ho!

Who Wants Worms?

I love to fish! I’ve been fishing all my life. Even as a little girl, I remember pulling in crappie and bream from lakes in the Midwest and catfish in the South. As an adult, when I lived on my sailboat, I fished on the Pacific Ocean for shark and other blue water fish. I waded out into the cold rivers of Alaska for salmon. I chopped ice off the top of a minnow bucket to go fishing with my children in Mississippi.

But I have never used a worm!

I can thread a hook through the eye of a minnow and put rotten meat in a basket to lure crabs, but I can’t bear the thought of touching a worm.

Last week at our local garden club meeting, several of the members mentioned that they would love to teach the rest of us about vermiculture. I’d taken an elective course in viticulture at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which now has grown to have its own department .

Our class prepared and planted several acres with sauvignon grapes, which are bearing beautifully now. I knew vermiclture and viticulture were not the same thing, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know more about vermiculture.

When the question came up about red wigglers vs. earthworms, my worst fears were realized. It was clear that wine and worms were definitely not in the same category!

I listened closely to the conversation, waiting for some other brave soul to ask the question that was running through my mind.

“How do you handle them if you don’t want to handle them?” someone else finally asked.

Two responses came out of it. One is to wear rubber gloves, the other is to use chopsticks. Now that I could tolerate (maybe). I’ll wear rubber gloves and use chopsticks!

My second daughter, Inga, has the most incredible garden in Boise, Idaho. Her little magical space was on the Boise Garden Tour a couple years ago. She takes advantage of every inch in order to grow her garden, even out by the street.

I know Inga keeps several compost piles going so I asked her if she also grew worms. There are worms in her compost, but she hasn’t specifically set herself up to do vermiculture, she said.

Here is Velvet Replogle and some of her explanations of how to start and what to do with vermiculture .

Strips of damp (not dripping wet) newspaper are put into the bin as bedding for the worms. When Velvet first started, she used Styrofoam containers, but the worms burrowed a hole through the Styrofoam in search of food. She said that if they aren’t getting enough food, they leave.

Now she uses plastic bins with tiny holes so the worms can’t get through but still get air. You can see some of the holes in the far side of this bin.

With a moderate temperature and a relatively quiet atmosphere, the worms will stay alive and healthy. Like chickens, worms like a bit of grit, such as ground up egg shells or coffee grounds. After about a week, you can start adding other bits of kitchen scraps.

When you pull aside the wet newspaper, you see the dark and rich castings – by-product of your worms and the primary reason anyone would bother to raise worms.

This article states that castings have a nitrogen content five (5) times greater than regular soil. The phosphate is seven (7) times greater, potash is eleven (11) times greater, and magnesium is three (3) times greater.

Those facts are almost enough for me to reconsider my aversion to worms! When you are trying to grow something in a field of lava, you need all the help you can get. You’ll rarely get such magnificent fertilizer with so little effort.

My daughter knows how I hate the thought of touching worms, so I mentioned that Velvet uses chopsticks to move her worms. Inga’s response? “They are yummy! But a little hard to eat with chopsticks!” (big sigh) Our kids just never grow up, do they?

These redworms (Eisenia foetida) are also known as red wiggler, brandling or manure worms. They can double their populations every 90 days if given the right amount of food and a good home where they can live.

After watching Velvet and learning the value of these little wiggly things, I thought, “Maybe I can do this!”