Posts Tagged: Sonoma County
There's more to Sonoma County's Bodega Head than the stunning views, crashing waves, nesting seabirds, and bursts of flora and fauna. The...
A digger bee, Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana, returning to her nest on the sand cliffs of Bodega Bay. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A digger bee, Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana, edges closer to her nest on the sand cliffs of Bodega Bay. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A bee-ant encounter: The digger bee, Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana, encounters an ant, Formica transmontanis, as identified by ant specialists Phil Ward and Brendon Boudinot of UC Davis. Both species nest on the sand cliffs. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A digger bee, Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana, excavating a nest on the sand cliffs of Bodega Head. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Four digger bees, Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana, appear in this image at Bodega Head. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A view from Bodega Head. Most tourists are unaware of the digger bees that inhabit the sand cliffs. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Beekeepers circled biologist Randy Oliver, commercial beekeeper, scientist, writer and educator, as he held court in the apiary of the Harry H....
Beekeeper-scientist Randy Oliver of Grass Valley gestures during his presentation. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Randy Oliver hands over bees to beekeeper Ettamarie Peterson of Petaluma, a member of the Sonoma County Beekeepers' Association and the Western Apicultural Society. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Beekeeper Etta Marie Peterson displays a handful of bees as a cell phone photographer captures the moment. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush, what's a handful of bees worth? Ettamarie Peterson, Petaluma beekeeper and member of the Sonoma County Beekeepers' Association and the Western Apicultural Society, displays a handful of nurse bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
My current gardening obsession is hunting for nurseries and resources that carry perennial vegetables. Such plants are usually available in the U.S. during the Spring (they are currently available at this time of year in Australia), but being the impatient personality that I am, I am anxious to get going now.
But this post is not about perennial vegetables—that will come in a later post once I succeed in acquiring said unusual and rare plants (such vegetables will go well beyond asparagus and artichoke), which may occur sometime in August (if you are interested, see www.oaec.org). It was my pursuit of these perennial vegetable plants that led me to recently stumble across a wonderful bakery and a small edible garden tucked behind it, which is the subject of this post.
So you ask—where is this place where one can find both amazing food and a beautiful garden? The answer--in Freestone located in Sonoma County. The bakery is called “Wild Flour Bakery” and features tasty creations such as sticky bun bread, scones dotted with strawberry and white chocolate, and savory goods (see http://www.wildflourbread.com/). The garden behind the bakery is cleverly named “Wild Flower Gardens” (play on the word “Flower” and “Flour”) which I suspect supplies some of the fruit used in the bakery’s baked goods. Unlike many edible gardens that can become overgrown because there is so much to manage, Wild Flower Gardens is, on the whole, well-ordered. In that space, you will find a small grove of young fruit trees consisting mostly of pears and plums. Also, in that space, are edible plants (kale, lettuce, raspberries, grapes, herbs, etc.) combined with ornamentals, the arrangement of which always interests me, because I enjoy seeing how people integrate these seemingly disparate groups of plants so that they look harmonious together. Best of all, there is seating scattered throughout the garden where you are invited to bring your fresh baked goods in to sit down and enjoy. It is a great little weekend getaway, just slightly over an hour from Solano County--not to be missed!
Rows of vegetables. (photos by Betty Homer)
Lavendar and berries flank this pathway.
Grapevines above and nasturtiums below-enter at your own delight.
Sunflowers, and plumes of Amaranth in the background with cabbages in the fore.
Kathy Kellison is on a mission: to encourage winegrape growers to plant “Bee-Helpful Cover Crops.” This would include mustards, clover...
Honey bee foraging on mustard, a good cover crop for bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Upside down honey bee on mustard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
For those of you who read my blog entry last year around this time, you know that I had attended the first annual Heirloom Expo at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa last year. Having trouble keeping away, I attended the Heirloom Expo again this year on September 11, 2012 (the Expo usually runs for 3 days in early-mid September, from Tuesday to Thursday). It was just as well organized and entertaining, as it was last year. What made it especially memorable this year, was because some of the heirloom vegetables on display were grown and harvested by my former neighbor (see the pics featuring melons and eggplants). To clarify, the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company has a research plot just 2 doors down from where I used to live in Suisun Valley, and it is there that they grew umpteen varieties of eggplants and melons which they displayed at the Expo.
One of the vendors at the Heirloom Expo, was Paul Palmer of the Los Olive Homegrown Gourmet Garlic company (aka the “Garlic Guy”) located in the San Ynez Valley, which grows, according to an August 2010 blog post by the company, over 61 varieties of rare garlic (see pics). Check out Paul’s website here-http://www.garlicguy.net/99639385, which contains sample photos of some of the amazing varieties he grows. I spoke with Paul regarding what his secret was to successfully growing garlic, and he told me that he amends his soil with at least 25-30 tons of high quality compost per acre. Now most of us city-dwelling garlic lovers do not have an acre to do what Paul does, but we can take that same principle and scale it down to our backyards (where we can exercise greater control over our growing environment than on a farm) and produce some amazing, beautiful, and rare garlic every year which you can then save and trade with friends and family, and replant each year.
As for me, I grow garlic each year and have found success in growing several varieties such as German Hardneck and Ichelium Red. This year, in addition to the Ichelium Red, I will be planting seed garlic from Paul, varieties which include Spanish Morada (hot), Spanish Benittee (hot), Thai Purple (less hot), Red Razan (medium, all-around variety) and Fabermadour (a baking garlic which, according to Paul, is good for spreads). I will report back the results next June when I harvest!
Many varieties of eggplant. (photos by Betty Homer)
Baskets of gorgeous garlic.