Unbelievably here it is almost Thanksgiving and I’ve finally given up on my Tomato Cambodia. You’ll remember from earlier posts that our oddly wet and cold spring and summer caused my tomatoes to stagnate. Until they didn’t. And suddenly sprouted up everywhere including where I never planted them. So followers of my adventures will recall how I spent the better part of late October and November desperately trying to keep pace with ripening tomatoes by canning a toddler’s weight of tomatoes about every other day. Without intervention, my tomatoes would still be stubbornly hanging on today, even after a week of near freezing temperatures at night. I usually hate to do this, but I finally had to just call a halt to tomato season and yank up all the remaining vines and fruit and send them to the compost pile.
Now I’m all about the legumes. Of course, that necessitated a trip to the fabulous Petaluma Seed Bank. These are the fabulous people who hosted this summer’s excellent Heirloom Festival. Even better, they are the best resource for a novice gardener. Walk in and the friendly proprietors will be right over with loads of helpful advice on what to plant now.
Which brought me to peas. I’m sure my bumper crop of tomatoes have sucked out all the nutrients that were in my soil. So it’s time to fix nitrogen back in. That means peas and beans, my friends. Fava beans are the prescription for my former tomato beds. (Come spring, I’ll serve them with a nice Chianti.)
Now the good folks at the Seed Bank, being excellent salespeople, managed to get me to the cash register with three times the seeds I’d planned to buy. I walked out with five kinds of lettuce, parsnips, rutabaga, two types of peas, fava beans, onions and spinach. They tried to ply me with cauliflower, but I’ve already had that crop. And been successful with it, which is amazing as cauliflower is notoriously difficult to grow.
Yes, we have winter crop planting fever here at Two Terrier Farms. That’s a little surprising for vegetables, but the cusp of winter is actually the best time to plant California Natives. You put them in the ground just before the rainy season, they get enough moisture to establish themselves and, come summer, they are able to withstand the dry season. The best result: no need for artificial irrigation.
So John the Baptist is in a flurry of planting. Salvia, ribes and other bee-friendly native plants. I sense it will take several future blog posts to do justice to those efforts. But I thought I’d mention one interesting plant that John secured through his wife, Sherrie, who owns a wonderful native nursery.
This is Salvia sonomensis. I’m assuming sonomensis refers to Sonoma, where it is a native. But the most interesting thing is its nickname, “Hobbit Toes”.
It should be noted that before John’s nickname was securely fixed as “John the Baptist” (the vote was tipped by the crew constructing the barn who decided Biblical was the way to go), Andy and I had been referring to John as Tom Bombadil, a forest spirit from The Hobbit.
So there is clearly cosmic symmetry at work here. Now to figure out how to serve peas and fava beans with a sprinkling of Hobbit Toes.