Friday, March 20, 2009

A hint of Chelsea

The Flower Show that is. San Francisco's 24th and probably final Flower and Garden Show opened yesterday and runs through until Sunday evening.

I had to go and check it out. Not quite sure what to expect I was pleasantly surprised with the diversity and extent of the show, though i must admit the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) would have had a thing or two to say!!!!! I loved it, fresh inspiring show gardens and displays, loads of stands selling horticultural and garden accessories, dahlias, orchids and japanese maples by the truck load - they must be in vogue this year, at least in California, and that wonderful smell that you only get at horticultural shows. A mixture of damp peat, freshly sawn timber and the blended fragrance of hundreds of flowering plants.

The message, as ever, is conserve, reuse, recycle, save water, choose ecologically sound planting schemes and grow your own vegetables!!! There seems to be a fascination here with keeping gutters clear of leaves and debris, i must have counted six stands, and it wasn't that big a place.

For those in the know, the Franchi seed stand brought familiarity and a smile to my face, as did Tubtrugs and certain tool manufacturers. The world is such a small place at the moment.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Iron Chef America

I can't even recall seeing Iron Chef on the television in the UK, all i know is it originated in Japan and is now a huge hit here. Top chefs from around the US compete against the resident masters in a one hour culinary battle to produce amazing dishes from a mystery ingredient. Fast paced, informative inspirational and dare i say 'American' it is an amazing show to watch.

The Mystery Ingredient last night was the mighty cabbage and the challenging chef, David Kinch. David Kinch of Manresa restaurant who contracts Love Apple Farm to grow vegetables for his kitchen. He who turns up at the farm on a regular basis to collect the tidiest and freshest produce, chat about the weather and the surfing and a bit of world news.

We watched, of course we watched, but as invited guests to Manresa. (We being Cynthia and three volunteers) On a huge tv, with fine wine and delicious canapes, with all of the restaurant crew and their families and an explosive atmosphere. When chef appeared, everyone cheered, when he chopped, they cheered when the hour was up, they cheered. During the judging, much cheering and booing as the judges tasted and provided verdicts on meals the two chefs presented and the finale, when David and his team won, the whole place erupted in the most almighty roar. Then the party really began.....

The episode is taped and ready to watch again at the farm, without the reveling and cheering and conversations. I'll try and take in a bit more detail of what he actually produced next time. It was a spectacular show and a great evening. Congratulations to David and his Iron Chef team, Jean Paul and James.

I guess we'll be picking cabbage all next week!!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Down on the farm

I'm back in the swing of things now. It's been just over a week since i arrived and tried to blog and my mind has had chance to catch up with me now.

As back home, spring is an amazingly busy time in the garden, it just starts a bit earlier here in California. Seeds are being sown by the thousand for the summer garden and more urgently, the tomato seedling sale. The sale starts this coming weekend and runs for ten weeks, it is an important source of revenue for the farm. 126 different varieties of tomato will be available, batches of 50 or so, all sown and potted on by hand. I am so glad that there is a good team of volunteers here to help. It is great fun and interesting hearing everyones stories and reasons that they come to help out at Love Apple Farm.

Around the farm, overwintering green manure crops are being dug into the beds. Compost heaps turned and the oldest heaps incorporated into the beds in preparation for spring planting. Direct sown areas of numerous crops are flushed with young colour. Flats (seed trays) of seedlings are being hardened off and will be planted out as soon as the weather is warm enough and the ground is ready.

The lettuce, chard and pak choi that i planted in November are being harvested weekly and have grown steadily throughout the winter. Most of the winter crops, cabbage, broccoli and brussel sprouts have gone, their time over for another year.

I have been busy with my own project too. A very informative meeting with an Immigration Attorney, last week, has confirmed that my venture should be accepted by the powers that be and sees no reason why my visa application would be turned down. I am now knee deep in the paperwork and the unfamiliar jargon of US business regulations, visa applications and learning how things work in this new many little things are different and have to be checked out. It is all quite amazing. When it all gets a bit overwhelming i check outside just to see that the Magnolia tree is still looking beautiful, listen to the rain on the roof and hope that tomorrow will be a sunny day.