Just after the new year I sat on a sunny but chilly afternoon looking through an online fruit tree catalog dreaming of future harvests and having home grown fruit. That afternoon I purchased seven trees:
Two types of apples
All of the varieties I choose require low chill hours and can handle heat and drought. They are also grafted on small rootstocks. With any luck next summer we’ll have our first harvest.
I’ve planted the trees very close together using the new method of backyard orchard culture. This means you plant the trees close together and prune them twice a year to keep them small. No taller than my height on a low stool they recommend.We choose these trees because we know we’ll eat these fruits willingly when there is an abundance of them.
I look forward to sharing with you all a picture of this mini orchard a year from now! Maybe they will all look like taller sticks.
This weekend I turned 31 and the comment of this year’s birthday was “oh you’re so young!” It would seem that I have surrounded myself my whole life with people ten years older than me, and that’s totally fine. But I keep thinking when will I be old enough to not be considered so young? I guess I will be perpetually youthful!
This birthday brought me lots of love in the form of cake, flowers, good food, and friends. In the picture above we were at a lovely Thai restaurant. I had a very fancy vegetarian Pad Thai served in a fish bowl and to finish it and cool my tongue from all the thai chili I had a coconut ice cream with chunks of pineapple and coconut flakes. Oh it was yummy!
Best of all I went to the bathroom ALONE! Hehehe……
Over the holidays I found myself unexpectedly gifted a new hobby: spinning. I asked my dear aunt if she had a drop spindle and she came back a few days later with a drop spindle, two bags of roving, and a beginner book.
She also gifted me a two hour class with a local spinning teacher. We had a great time talking about fibers and what you can spin and the history of fiber making. I learned a lot of great tips from that class.
Spinning is not hard. What is hard is consistency in the size of yarn you spin. That all will come with practice though. For now I like to think of my thick and thin yarn as an aesthetic choice, like a chunky malabrigo! Spinning, like knitting, is very soothing and terribly satisfying as you watch a huge bag of fluffy wool turn into yarn.
I finally finished spinning one bag of roving and am now plying it together. I think I might have enough for a chunky ear warmer headband. However we’ve already left winter behind entirely and have headed to spring with 70 degree days. Whew, I’m not ready to make popsicles yet.
Do any of you knitters spin too?
My German friend, we’ll call her B for the sake of not always calling her “my German friend”, calls me up close to dinner time on Tuesday night and says, “I’m going collect pecans tomorrow. If we don’t go tomorrow it might rain on Thursday, can you come?” I tried to search through my brain really quickly of any impending plans and there were none, so I blurted out with excitement that yes we would join her. She gave the most wonderful directions that only people who forage food can give. “Turn right here, go under the overpass and park by the willow tree then go down the dirt path…” You know the descriptive but not googleable type. Though truth be told I did look up the area on Google maps just see and it was there.
Wednesday morning we met B and her kids at the abandoned pecan orchard. She gave me a few quick instructions on how they went about finding the pecans among the leaves, but really it wasn’t hard as they were everywhere.
It wasn’t long before I found myself on all fours digging around in the leaves picking up treasures and feeling like I’d won the lottery. S and V ran around helping B kid’s collect pecans and mostly asking them to open pecans for them so they could eat them.
Like generations of people before us, B and I chatted while we collected, it felt primal, gathering nuts while our children played and helped on occasion. As I’ve said before B is a wealth of historical knowledge and we talked about all manner of things related to foraging and how it would not be possible for people now to take up foraging on a grand scale: there are just too many people in the world now for us to all live like our ancestors (over 1 million people in Tucson alone). Imagine if they all tried to forage for food; there would be nothing left at all. So selfishly I am glad that hunting for food is not for everyone.
At the end of three hours, our cheeks rosy from the warm sun, and our hair wind blown we walked away with 5 gallons of pecans. What will I do with them all? Well I think Heather’s Vegan Chocolate torte is in order, maybe a healthy version of pecan pie, maybe a few grain-free treats using nuts. The possibilities are endless really. D is using this opportunity to make pecan puns.
What is your favorite use for pecans? Any recipes to share?
The first year I began gardening was also the first year I started this blog. It was because of gardening that I wanted to start this blog really. I’ve shared with you all lots of pictures and notes about what was going on but truth be told I wasn’t taking any serious notes. Now that I have a permanent garden I’ve decided to get serious about my family food garden. I was gifted two lovely gardening notebooks which I am very eager to fill in. This weekend D and I sat down to hash out just what we’d realistically eat and what can grow here. Lots of herbs for eating and medicine have made their way into our garden plans too.
I’ve learned over the years that if you want healthy pest free plants start from seed. Saturday night I sat down and ordered lots of heat tolerant and drought tolerant seeds. Here in Tucson we are in USDA zone 9a. We do get killing freezes but we also get killing heat. It’s hard to grow things here. Down right frustrating. But for some reason I am an optimist and so every season I say, “This season I will….” And I keep going no matter what the setback. Heck i still have strawberries growing in January despite the fact that we had a killing frost three nights in a row!
At some point this month we are also going to step into backyard orchard culture and plant fruit trees. This is a new area of gardening for both of us. I’ve done a ton of reading but like all new things it comes with excitement and a bit of trepidation. Let’s hope we don’t kill these trees! I’ll share more with you as the orchard project comes closer. This will inevitably lead to beekeeping I’m sure of it. I’m already looking into backwards beekeeping or natural beekeeping. D even bought me this book a few months ago.
Are you dreaming in middle of winter of fresh produce too?
This year is almost at its end. For me it actually feels like the new year has already started, seeing as the winter solstice is a change of season and return of longer days. New season, new year. This past year has been so good to us. Or rather we put all our cards in the right order. We bought a house, traveled to new places, created lots of new friendships and finally love the life we have.
My word for the year was SLOW. Now many things happened quickly, like buying a house but that wasn’t because I rushed it, they just had no kinks in the way. I felt I really enjoyed this year not rushing into anything. I feel I am a better parent because I try to be mindful of that slowness.
I also noticed that in my effort to slow down and enjoy my family and my kids that they grow that much faster. I found myself often wanting to hit the pause button so they would slow down. But I also know that going slow for them is not the right path at the moment, they have things to learn and explore.
As for this new year I have decided my word will be FOCUS. I find myself to be a constant muti-tasker. Multi-tasking has its place sometimes but for others I want to learn to focus on one action at a time. For example when I am talking to someone I want to focus only on what they have to say not on what response I will say to them. Or when cooking I want to only cook rather than try to look at Instagram in the two minutes of down time between tasks.
Trying to focus is rather hard when you have two young children, but I think my learning to focus and showing them that I can focus on one action at a time that will help them to learn to focus as well.
Do you have a word for the year? Please share if you do. If not what are your thoughts on having a theme word?
For those in between days. I like the slowness of it all.
Hugs to all of you!