In my fantasy life, I live on five acres with chickens and honeybees and a lamb or two, and an enormous garden that feeds me all year. In my real life, I do what I can. Since we just passed the solstice, I thought I’d post a round-up of the summer homestead news from here in the flatlands of Oakland.
After a long, wet winter and cold, wet spring, the plum report is a little bit mournful this year. The fruit is small and slow to ripen, and we’ve got a little brown rot eating up some of the fruit. That stuff can devour a full-sized plum in an afternoon. Still, most of the crop is surely ripening, and I’ve already eaten a few. They smell like perfume and taste like nectar, and I’ve never found a better plum anywhere. We’re warming up the jam-pots to get ready for harvest, which should start rolling in next week.
This morning, I found a ripe plum on the ground that must have fallen in the night, but some little critter had already chowed down. I suspect the neighborhood possum, who’s also been known to sneak through the cat door to nab a snack of kibble. It might also have the local raccoon, who’s been marauding around here for years.
The dwarf apple tree is a patient soul, letting the plum tree get all the summer glory while quietly growing its little fujis over by the fence. Come November, when the plum branches are bare, we’ll be plucking afternoon apples from this little friend.
We call this part of Oakland the banana belt, a microclimate that usually brings enough summer heat for growing tomatoes. This year, things are a little dicey. So the tomato plants are cranking out plenty of foliage and not much fruit, almost like they’re trying to weave their own jackets to stay warm. I’m betting on a late hot spell, so we should have tomatoes eventually. Between the five varieties of heirlooms, two kinds of romas, and four kinds of green beans, there’s not enough room left for much of anything else, though I’ve got lettuces going in pots and barrels, and our herb pots never say die. The homestead’s so crowded this summer that the Berkeley Tie-Dye tomato had to go in a barrel out front of the farmhouse.
It’s a grand season for neighboring. I’ve been out every morning getting the local farm news, and am happy to report that here’s a whole lot of clucking going on behind back yard fences, and a new community garden springing up down the block. Next week, I’ll bring you the news from around and about. Until then, happy homesteading.