Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Ahhhh....... Moment

Last weekend we had the luxury of staying up at Lake Tahoe for a couple days. While some might find our older Airstream more on the "retro" side, than luxurious, it has everything we need to enjoy the great outdoors. The true luxury though, was having an entire weekend to just relax in the most beautiful of surroundings, Fallen Leaf Lake. We road our bikes every day, with only one of us deciding to go off on his own and get lost -that would be Robert. We went to our favorite used bookstore, Keynote Used Books & Records in South Lake Tahoe -prepared amazing meals in the dutch oven, biked and more biked.

We were camping with our dearest friends Ron & Kathy, also "Airstreamer's" , and because it is the second year we have gone up there for Ron's birthday, it can now be considered "a tradition", which is a great way to say - we get to do it every year!

The mornings were very cool, in the upper 30's, but by the time the sun came up over the tall trees it was absolutely wonderful weather. Robert had downloaded the coordinates into his GPS for a geo-cache that was right there at Fallen Leaf, http://www.geocaching.com/ ,and we took off one afternoon to find it. With dogs in tow, we hiked around the northern part of the lake until we reached the old mill. There we found our "cache" placed in the hollowed out end of an old tree. If you have never had the thrill of finding a "cache" - try it. It is the treasure hunt of your youth only better. We placed a trinket inside, and took one out, and signed the log book that was included. I think this was a pretty popular site as the last sign in was only days before ours.

Evenings were spent around the campfire, stories unfolding about our childhoods, our beliefs, our shared histories, and thoughts on what we would do the next day. Bike rides are always included in these wishes for the next day if Kathy and I have any say.

If you get the chance, head on up there even for the day. The quaking aspens are especially beautiful this year, their golden yellow leaves gently shaking in the breeze. We spent part of one day at Tallac wandering through the historical buildings and it's the best time of year, with the crowds gone and the air crisp.

We set off for home on Sunday afternoon, way to soon in both our eyes. Ron & Kathy, being semi-retired got to stay until Tuesday! It was a great relaxing weekend. If you haven't been to Fallen Leaf, stop by.....I will give you a list of my favorite stops. Till I see you in the garden, Susan

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Worm Composting made easy

Today's post is brought to you by Kim Richardson, one of our Flower Tree family. Kimmie not only attended the class today on Vermiculture, but was an active participant in the worm release!

Worms….,Worms….,and MORE Worms!!!


On Saturday, Michelle, with shovel in hands, took her strong muscles out to the river garden to dig us a hole for our new little creepy crawler friends that would be arriving on Sunday at the Flower Tree. These red, slimy, yet awesome squirmy little guys were put into a new home to help benefit our garden. It was such a great day outside and we were all excited to see what vermicomposting is all about. Many of us were new to the whole concept of worm gardening. As we all sat around in the shade, we got to experience hand in hand how to build our own worm bin. Darren Murphey, a local gardener from Reno also known as the “Worm Guy”, led us in discussion as to why we should help benefit the earth and garden by letting nature take its true course. Darren and his wife helped answer the many questions we all had. One common question that was asked was, “Being that we live in such high desert terrain will these worms benefit our soils whether they’re clay or sandy?” Darren replied, “With clay and sandy soils the worm castings and worms help take off some of the workload by adding natural organic compounds into the soil.

The part that I found interesting was the vermicomposter, also known as can-o-worms that can be put inside your home. Vermicomposting uses earthworms to turn o
rganic wastes into very high quality compost. This is probably the best way of composting kitchen wastes, reducing garbage by up to a third and providing organic soil for your garden. Adding small amounts of damp kitchen scraps (as well as newspapers and cardboard boxes) to a large compost pile in the garden day by day can disrupt the decomposition process so that the compost is never really done. But it works great with vermicomposting.
When Darren was ready to put the worms in the in their new bin Michelle and I got ready with the biggest smiles on our faces. As Michelle held the container they were in, I gently scooped them out into the ground bin. I felt like such a kid again. The worms squirmed in between my fingers, such innocence when touching fresh earth and life.
All in all, I had a really great time learning the advantages to vermicomposting. If you were not able to make it to the class please feel free to look online at Darren Murphey’s website: http://www.sierrawormsolutions.com/ to learn more about the great advantages to having worms live in your garden and in your composter.
(Kim Richardson)

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Garden Goddess CSA

Last spring, while visiting with Korena Mewaldt one morning, she told me abut her plans to start a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or farm subscription in Fallon. It was something that she had wanted to start for quite some time, and was very passionate about. The produce for the CSA would come from her farm, Mewald't Organic Produce, that she operates with her husband Bill. Most years they have been taking most of their produce to the gourmet restaurants in Reno, 4th Street Bistro http://www.4thstbistro.com/and LuLu's, and occasionally at Farmer's Market up there also. This year she wanted to try and stay a little closer to home, while also bringing something new to the community. Most CSA's that I have researched provide baskets of produce and maybe eggs on a weekly basis on a subscription type service. You sign up for a month/week/season and the produce, whatever is in it's peak at that time, is delivered to your door. Korena had dreams of taking it a step further, and she has. Here is what she wrote for the introductory letter:

"I intend to cater to the gourmet, gourmand and culinary cool! Let's travel this summer right here at home, with garden menus/themes from around the world. Our weekly baskets will feature veggies, recipes and tips. We'll experience Greek Week, Tastes of Tuscany, Menus from Mumbai and other exotic destinations for your taste buds....recipes and ideas are always welcome!"

"Here are the details, each week, baskets will be filled and delivered to the drop points. We'll start once our produce is available (near the end of June) and continue until our garden closing in the fall (after the first hard frost), Recipes, culinary tips, and notes on what's happening in the garden will be included" Price: $25.00 per week, payable weekly or monthly.

With this letter came a list of the produce that we might expect during the season, 3 columns, including everything I eat, plus so much more! and also non-fertilized eggs, and edible flowers.

After gathering up names of people that might be interested, she started planning all the logistics. Baskets were purchased, newsletters developed, and menu's planned. With an initial list of 10 people that were committed to her for the season, she was up and going. Then the surprise hit.....all of us!

The first week that the baskets arrived at the nursery, drop off point for 4 people, we watched as Korena got out of the car, a true Garden Goddess! dressed in a beautiful flowing dress, sun bonnet on her pretty head, she opened up the back of her car and viola! there was an amazing assortment of produce, eggs and even a vase full of cut flowers to grace each basket. We stood around the gift shop ohhhing and ahhhing over each item, all individually carefully pruned, washed and wrapped, our newsletters standing at attention on the sides of the baskets. I couldn't help myself, and started picking through everything, already planning out my menu for that evening. There was even a full garlic braid, included! WOW!!

So it has been every week.....each week better than the last as the season's bounty has come into full harvest. We have had beets, blackberries, cantaloupe, carrots in 5 colors, swiss chard, tomatillos, watermelons, lettuce and mixed greens, cucumbers and squash and on and on and on! The newsletter is filled with the most delectable of dishes, most easy to prepare. We have traveled the world from France to Greece, Japan to Spain. I look forward to the newsletter that comes with the produce as much as the greens themselves. Filled with tidbits of her travels around the world, families suggestions and memories and did I mention the recipes! This has been a gift, to myself, that I have looked forward to every week.

Next year she plans on expanding her business to include 20-30 people. I strongly suggest emailing her at korenakorena@hotmail.com if you are interested. She will put you on the list and let you know if she is able to include you next year. I'll be there, right at the top.....I don't want to miss another week. She will also be at the nursery this coming Sunday, September 14th as she demonstrates the Solar Ovens that we sell at the store. She will be making Ratatouille Provancale with fresh produce from her farm and serving it at 3pm when the Vermiculture class is over. YummYumm.
And Korena, if EVER there was a true Garden Goddess....it is you! Thank you from all of us, Susan

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Giant Pumpkin Returns

Many of you may have seen the giant pumpkin that we had at the shop last year for our Harvest Festival. It was grown by Scott Goodpasture here in Fallon and it was over 400 lbs. when we announced the winner for the "Guess The Great Pumpkin's Weight".

Michelle took our giant beauty home and carved it for Halloween, and it graced her home on Center Street for the holiday. She then saved the seeds and dried them, and we gave them away to anyone that wanted some. One of our favorite gardeners, Melinda Clifton, took some home and gave them to her class at Cottage School to take home and start. She also started some plants that we gave away here at the store. If you purchased one here at the store, it was grown by Scott for us to allow others to TRY and break his record.

This is Tucker Stritenberger's giant pumpkin!
You guessed it...grown from the seed of last fall's famous Flower Tree giant pumpkin.

Move over Scott, I think we may have another champion pumpkin grower in Fallon on our hands! And make sure and stop back in the River Garden when you are at the store, Michelle's entry for this year is coming along quite nicely also. See you soon, Susan

Monday, September 1, 2008

And The Winner Is.........

If you were at the nursery today you might have seen this adorable little girl out front selling lemonade. Her name is Jenna Spencer, she is 10 years old, and she decided that she wanted to do something for CAPS, our local no-kill animal shelter. With the help of her parents, she constructed a wonderful lemonade stand, lots of great signage and then set out to make some sales. This morning she set up in front of Berney Realty during the Fallon Labor Day parade, and then she came down to the store at noon to see how sales would be at the nursery. Today at 3pm was the drawing for the 15 gallon Raywood Ash that we had donated for the raffle for CAPS so she thought it might be a good idea to do it at the store on the same day. We watched as she worked her magic smile on all that entered. When 3:00 rolled around we gathered all the tickets that had been sold for the tree, put them in a big glass bowl and I asked her if she would like to draw the lucky persons name. She happily said yes, a big grin on her face.

And the lucky winner is............................
Lorena Sanchez!
Thank you to each and every one of you that bought a ticket. Our next raffle will be for a gorgeous Living Christmas Tree, a beautiful spruce or pine for the holidays.
Thanks to Jenna too, she donated her proceeds from her lemonade stand, $15.00!! I know the dogs and cats at the shelter will appreciate it.

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