Monday, May 25, 2009

Healdsburg Jazz Festival Time!

The Healdsburg Jazz Festival is coming! Running this year from May 29-June 7, the Jazz Festival has been running strong for eleven years.

The concerts range from quiet outings in small venues like the Palette Art Cafe to my personal preference for this year, the Stars of Brazil that will be held outdoors at University Park. Pack a picnic and enjoy the sun (bring your sunscreen!)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Farmer Murph's Orchard and Garden - Healdsburg style

This weekend was a heavy work weekend in Healdsburg in the Garden. More tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, and especially a lot of thinning of the fruit to make sure that in July and August we hit the jackpot.

Right now it looks like a banner year for Almonds, Pears, Peaches, and Pomegranates.

The tomato plants are blooming, and now I have 10 plants going with some basic tomatoes and some more esoteric heirlooms. The basil plants are recovering from some early issues. The irrigation lines are setup to use every drop I put on them properly. Now we wait!

And yes, there are still some available weekends :) to rent our Healdsburg Vacation Rental Home during harvest, and yes you can have your pick from the garden!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Windsor Farmer's Market

Windsor is a town 5 miles or so South of Healdsburg. Windsor is bigger than Healdsburg, with a lot of recent construction. Windsor is known among other things for it's Old Downtown which is really not so old. The location is the same, but there is a lof of new construction, done to have the look and feel of "old" downtowns, with mixed retail/residential around a town green. It definitely looks a bit manufactured, but it's functional and has made downtown a center. If the SMART rail comes to fruition this is also where the Windsor train depot is.

On Sunday's, Windsor has a farmer's market on the town green. We wandered by on Sunday to see what was up. Windsor's market is slightly bigger than Healdsburg, and contains many of the same vendors. It was sunny this weekend so I got some photos.

There are more food options, including Charlie's BBQ which has some great pulled pork sandwiches.

Sonoma County Honey was there. Is there a season for Honey?

Dan the Tomato Man from Soda Rock Farms holding court! Sadly I had bought plants from the Healdsburg Nursery yesterday when we missed Healdsburg's market, not knowing Dan came to Windsor as well. His plants look great and he has a lot of knowledge. I asked him about my basil plants, which keep getting eaten. He says the don't do anything about pests on the basil as they plant 15,000 basil plants a year so a little loss doesn't bother him.

There is a string band playing acoustic music, largely folk. I missed the action photo as they were done for the day.

There are picnic tables on the expansive town green where you can sit down and sample the goodies and eat lunch. Tent not included!

If you are lucky enough to wander through on Thursday nights, there is another farmer's market on Thursday which includes a movie night! Windsor puts up a big screen in the middle of the green and shows films. There are also bands on occasion. Tuesday's are kids movies on the green. Windsor made a committment to having a real downtown instead of just the big boxes on Shiloh Road, so far, so good!

More information on the Windsor Farmer's Market Here

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Healdsburg - Tomato Country!

Today my Wife had someone helping her with the baby so I was let loose in the garden. Today's priority - Tomatoes!

Last year, we had amazing tomatoes, despite not knowing very much about them. I just bought some starts at the nursery, plopped them in our planter box, turned the drip irrigation on, and voila! Massive numbers of mutant tomatoes!

This year I had big plans. I was going to raise seedlings at home in San Francisco, down in the garage, to plant at Healdsburg. I had them up to about 2 inches in height and looking very good, then yesterday I put them out before work, got home late, and the sun and wind killed them! Doh. Back to starts.

I had planted 2 from starts about a month ago, using last years methodology. They are growing like their predecessors from last year.

One of the keys to this planter box is the huge lavender plant in the background. In addition to smelling great to me, it smells great to bees, bringing pollinators to the garden. This plant is coming along nicely.

In the meantime I've been studying some on tomato planting. We had some extra land that I decided to try to plant with tomatoes. First, I had to lay an irrigation line on a timer.

Unscientifically I am using one 2 GPH emitter per plant, watering 5 minutes a day. I probably would be fine with less volume, but I didn't have lower flow emitters, which I will probably pick up so as to not overwater. One, I'll do some research - it does get very hot here though.

The path from pot to ground is thus - at least this is what I went with. Here is the start.

I snipped off all but the top branches. This is always painful for some reason. I dug a deep hole, put some fertilizer in the very bottom, and buried the plant to just below the top leaves. I dressed it a little with some more fertilizer.

Voila. Looks puny compared to what I start with by just plopping the whole start in at ground level, but the plant is supposed to be stronger and healthier this way, growing more roots, etc...

Finally I put the cages in to set all the plants up - 6 in all in the new plot. I bought some cucumbers to start here as well, but I am going to let them grow bigger indoors. I had some Zucchini starts and they were eaten up overnight. Best to let the plants get a good head start on the vermin, in the meantims I've applied some sluggo. The tomatoes don't seem to be as succulent as they don't tend to get eaten, unlike zuccini and basil. Zucchini and cucumbers are massive producers up here, but I have to keep them from being eaten while they're young.

The tomatoes should be ready in late July and produce through September. All the fruits and veggies are for our guests, so if heirloom tomatoes fresh off the vine are your speed, come up to our Sonoma County Vacation Rental - Le Tournesol (French for "The Sunflower") and feast on tomatoes with some of our areas great wines!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Congrats Douglas Keane

Chef Douglas Keane from Cyrus has won
the award for Best Chef: Pacific at the James Beard Awards.

Via the Press Democrat


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Healdsburg Farmer's Market is open!

Today was opening day for the Healdsburg Farmer's Market which will be open Saturdays from 9 AM to Noon from May 2 until Nov 28. This market tends to lean towards local producers compared to other Bay Area markets that have a lot of Central Valley produce, and as such the produce stays very seasonal and you can chat about the area with the vendors.

Today is early in the season, the primary items were greesn - chards, lettuces, spring garlic. There were a few people with Oranges and Lemons which actually grow pretty well here, as well as Cherries - which I was very surprised to see.

In addition to the greens, there are cheese vendors - Pug's Leap and Spring Hill Cheese are regulars. A couple of Olive Oil vendors are usually present, including Deer Gnaw. Other goodies include Honey, ceramics, and grass fed beef.

A fixture of the market is "Dan the Tomato Man" from Soda Rock Farm just North of Healdsburg. GREAT tomatoes. Of course, at this time of year, they aren't in season - but Dan was selling starts. It was raining today so I deferred but next week I'll be picking up a few to add to the current stock in our garden. I did get my arm twisted and picked up a 4 inch basil plant - a basil plant I put in a month ago didn't survive a couple of cold days but they should be perfect now.

The Farmers Market is on Grove Street behind the Bear Republic Brewery Bear Republic Brewery so you can conveniently pick up some Racer 5 IPA to go with it.

I didn't take any photos since it was raining and it would not do the market justice. I did take a few photos of our own farmer's market at Le Tournesol. Mint, Parsley, and Oregano are in full spring blow up mode.

More importantly the tomatoes I already planted are starting to show a few blooms.

Come July we'll hopefully have big tomatoes like last year - as seen on one of the photos here. My goal is 9-10 healthy producing heirloom and sauce tomato plants to have plenty for us and our tenants alike.