Pyracantha berries in the rain
Overnight, Mother Nature smiled on us and opened up her skies. We woke several times to the sound of rain drumming on the roof. It rained steadily through the morning, a real drenching, none of this 'misty' crap that sometimes passes for rain around here. I needed an umbrella and my boots for walking the dog; the 'river' outside our house was there again, however briefly. The earth sighed with relief and soaked it all up.

Erigeron glaucus 'Wayne Roderick'
We had a nice couple of hours to dry out, and now the thunderstorms have started. It's all terribly exciting and fun.

Just before the storm
The chickens don't know what to make of this (ba-gawk!), and Joe the dog is pacing nervously around the house. The cat is sleepily stretched on the sofa. The kids and I are cozy and warm. Lasagna will be in the oven soon, and  Adam just said "I like afternoons like this." I'm feeling comfortably smug because I got the South Garden planted yesterday, just in time (kale, chard, greens, broccoli, cabbage, peas, kohlrabi, spinach, fava beans). I guess I'll need to get the North Garden planted ASAP (garlic, shallots, beets, turnips, Brussels Sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, fava beans), though the outlook for the rest of the week is dry.

Rain feels like a blessing.

"You care for the land and water it;
you enrich it abundantly.
The streams... are filled with water
to provide people with grain...
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops...
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness...
They shout for joy and sing!"
                             Psalm 65-ish

A Gift of Seeds, and a Recipe

You might remember that back in March, a neighbor posted on Nextdoor about some free seeds to give away. I jumped at the chance, and came home with maybe three dozen seed packs. I was thrilled. Those seed packs have become the pollinator garden that my bees visit every day, all the cosmos, nictotiana, and forget-me-nots, a bunch of other stuff. It was such a gift.

Yesterday I noticed the neighbor had posted again! this time with even more seed packets. I was volunteering at the middle school, I couldn't go check it out, and today was busy too - but I made a moment to stop by this afternoon when he posted there were some left. I wasn't hopeful because folks are fast here, damn they are fast!

Well, I pulled up to his house and on his front porch was a Rubbermaid bin FULL of packets. I came home with hundreds of dollars worth of seeds, all from Renee's, my favorite seed house.

I dumped my booty on the table and went straight to the canning shelf, pulled out our last 4 ounce jar of homegrown honey, and went back and rang the neighbor's doorbell. I thanked him profusely and told him that the honey (which we harvested by accident back in July) had come from the flowers that came from the seeds he gave me back in March, and I was so grateful. He was glad to have the honey and promised to let me know when the next batch of seeds arrives. Apparently his mom runs a public garden in Southern CA, and always has too many seeds to use, and brings a batch a couple times a year. Oh, my. I hope I can score some next time as well!!!

Here's some of the haul.

It's mostly flower seeds, but there are some winter vegetables as well as some herbs. I could not be more delighted!!!! Some of the flowers seeds will get planted right away, like the zinnias, but others will wait until late winter, early spring. Winter seeds will go in in November. The herbs will wait until spring as well. So my storage box in the fridge is nice and fat. I separated out about a third of the seeds to share with friends and family, but if they don't want 'em, my box'll be even fatter.

Charlie Brown never said it, but I do believe happiness is a full seed box.

I also wanted to share with you a recipe I made tonight that could not be simpler. I don't know why I haven't tried this before, because as you know everything tastes better roasted with olive oil and salt, but thank goodness inspiration struck, because this recipe will be in regular rotation here from now on.

I harvested a couple of delicata squash early this morning (along with a good ten pounds of tomatoes, a good pound of ancho poblano (or pasilla) peppers, six cucumbers of which only 3 are still edible). I just learned that some folks call delicata "sweet potato squash' because it tastes, well, like sweet potatoes. It never has to me, but tonight it definitely did. In fact my kids liked it better than sweet potatoes, which they don't particularly enjoy. But they both ate and liked this squash recipe.

Ok, so wash the squash well, because you're gonna eat the skin. Preheat oven to 425. Slice off the ends, slice the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds (and feed them to your chickens :) or plant them!), then slice the halves into half-moons. Place on a cookie sheet, brush liberally with oil and salt lavishly, then roast for 15 minutes. Turn them over, roast another 15. Or so. You'll know when they're done because they are golden and crispy.

They tasted like sweet potato fries! oh my goodness. delicious.

So, a happy day, also my first day back at work, a sort of meet-your-teachers-and-see-your-classroom thing. One of the kids from last year saw me in the crowd, walked straight to me, and threw himself into my arms. !!! He held me for a solid minute. I must say, that made it worth going back, for sure!

Sometimes nothing gets done

This weekend was a bit of a wash, garden-wise, though it was rich in personal gain, as we watched our daughter perform (several times!) in a production of Mulan. Helping out with the performances and dealing with the logistics of getting our son home from his band competition in LA took up all of Saturday. Tom is sick with a nasty cold, and I have a foot injury, so there wasn't much done in the yard.

Tom did manage to get gates built for the 'new' fence, but we are having trouble finding the perfect hardware with which to hang them. Meanwhile we are chasing deer out of our garden every night. We park our cars in front of the gates, and prop long pieces of wood against them to deter them, but sometimes we forget and then I go out in the morning and find the beans eaten. Argh. I cannot describe how demoralizing this is. We are having much more deer activity than we did last year at this time, and I think it must be an effect of the drought. Likely there's nothing to eat in the hills. And I'm sorry for the poor deer, but honestly. There's plenty of grass to eat around the neighborhood, they can eat that!

On top of that the dog has been digging again in the pepper bed and I don't know how to get him to stop. Today I fashioned a screen out of hardware cloth and laid it in the bed, we'll see if that stops him. Between the deer and the dog, I have to say I've been a bit depressed when I walk out in to the yard. I guess also I am maybe feeling the results of several months of non-stop work in the garden every weekend. I think we just might be the tiniest bit burned out.

There's one thing that made me very happy this weekend, and that's my new canning shelf, made by Dad. I hung the garlic braids I made from our harvest, and there's a jar of honey on the shelves from last year's hive, as well as a dry garden my mom gave me and a painting I made a few years ago. I'm excited to fill these shelves with pickles and preserves.

Gorgeous, right?

I'm hoping to have an attitude adjustment and have lots of progress to show you later this week.