What the Rain Brings

We've had rain almost every day here in Northern California, for the past few weeks. It's sorely needed and we're all grateful, but our wildfire-razed hills and unprepared infrastucture in the valleys makes it hard to take in and absorb all the bounty. We've had flooding, electrical lines down, and uprooted trees. None of that has happened here at Poppy Corners - at least, nothing more dire than the 'river' we get in front of our house, which is a permanent fixture in rainy winters. Our garden seems to withstand quite a bit of moisture, which is one of the benefits of having an abundance of organic matter - it just holds on to the water more efficiently, allowing less to run off.

I haven't gotten out much in the yard, however, because - well - it's kinda miserable to garden in the rain. All the greens and peas are growing gangbusters, the shallots and garlic are doing brilliantly. The broccoli, beets, and kohlrabi are another matter. I never seem to have luck with these vegetables, no matter which season I plant them. Luckily there is plenty of other green stuff to make up for that.

Red Russian Kale, my favorite!

Snap peas
I've been harvesting braising greens from Renee's Garden (Asian stir fry mix) and eating them every day, they are just so delicious right out of the garden. The spinach and chard are almost ready, and even the romaine is making a go of it.

Another thing the rain brought, in abundance, is mushrooms.

I'm really fascinated by fungi. I've found a great guide online, but it really is hard to identify some of these. Ideally I'd like to take a class, but so far the only one I've found is in SF (the Mycological Society of San Francisco), and it seems a long way to go for a passing fancy.

On my walks with Joe, I see changes all around, as creeks and streams start to run again, and vernal pools fill in the hills. I hear bullfrogs and wonder how many eggs, deeply buried in mud, just hatched in the past few weeks.

Joe loves to eat the fresh, new grass bursting out everywhere in the open space. Walks take twice as long, because he's snacking his way through them.

In my yard, I noticed that the manzanita is blooming. The hummingbirds are happy, but this is occuring at least a month earlier than it should. Also, my neighbor's narcissus are blooming, and that's at least two months early. While the rain is nice, we also need some colder weather (and some frozen water in the form of snow in the mountains!), and that hasn't happened yet; I think the plants are a little confused.

We finally got out to cut down our Christmas tree. We went to Castro Valley Christmas Tree Farm, where we were told that the trees grew very little this year, due to the drought. We picked out a very small tree and it took about one minute to chop it down.

I don't think the Christmas trees will have that problem next year. So far, it looks like it's going to be a wet winter. Stuff is growing EVERYWHERE, even in unexpected places.

Now that I've sent out my holiday cards, I can share them with you. I decided to paint a seed packet of sorts, and include a few seeds for each recipient. I enjoyed working on this project, and smile at the thought of California Poppies growing in little swathes all over the world.

I also thought you'd get a kick out of my honey labels - we gave honey to all the kids' teachers this year (just a taste! there really wasn't enough for much more than that.):

We're a brand!

With just one more day of work and school, we're looking forward to having a couple of weeks off to enjoy Christmas - family, church, food, presents, concerts, and of course, getting stuff done in the yard. I have several projects lined up, including moving the remainder of that pile of mulch, and taking a trip to the dump. It's possible that we'll be part of an urban farm tour coming up in the next year (details to follow, if it comes through), and preparation for that needs to start now.

oh! I almost forgot a recipe I wanted to share with you: Lacinato Kale Gratin. This was incredibly delicious and we had zero leftovers. I used the kale they recommended (also called Dinosaur Kale), because of the large, puffy leaves, but I suppose any kale or hearty green would work. I also took the cream down to two cups, and used leftover gruyere I had in the fridge. This was an amazing recipe that will be in our regular rotation. Enjoy!