Posts Tagged: Freestone
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.
We have two peach trees (Prunus persica) in our backyard. The old tree, original to the property, is a delicious cling (the flesh adheres to the pit). We are not sure what type of peach it is, but it is still producing fruit. Since the harvest is usually small, we eat these as fast as they ripen. Well, okay, we do share a few of them with family and neighbors. The newer tree is a ‘Red Haven’, which is a freestone (the flesh separates from the pit). Last year my husband grafted an ‘Elberta’ peach onto a branch of this tree and it has fruit for the first time. The newer tree is 13 years old and was one of the first fruit trees we planted in 1999. We have always had a bumper crop of fruit on this tree and our friends, family and neighbors know when it is ‘peach picking time’ at our house. The peaches are firm, sweet and delicious, and ripen early in the season. In years past, we have made peach pies, peach jam, peach syrup ice cream topping, peaches and cream dessert bars, (you get the picture). To get these wonderful peaches, both trees are pruned and fertilized once a year, sprayed twice a year with dormant spray and thinned heavily each year. Most peach trees require 600 to 900 hours of winter chill. Annual pruning renews fruiting wood and encourages fruiting throughout the tree rather than at the ends of weak branches that would break. My husband is very particular about thinning. His goal is to have large, beautiful fruit. It is not unusual for him to fill his wheelbarrow half way full of one inch wide peaches when he is thinning. His motto is to thin 8 to 10 inches apart and he sticks to this method. This dedication pays off with magnificent peaches.
Wheelbarrow full of thinned peaches. (photos by Sharon Rico)
My son Joel with our peaches.