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bryan white

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Seed saving. Shishito peppers. Whenever we don’t pick the peppers fast enough to harvest, we let them mature to red on the plants, pick them and let them dry, then store them. Next year, we’ll just crumble the whole peppers to plant as seeds—there’s no need to pick the seeds out, and it’s an admittedly satisfying crunch and crumble come spring.

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All four of the not-so-teeny-Tiny-anymore girls are laying! M had to apologize to Mochi for giving Biscotti credit for her lovely green-tinted eggs—it turns out that Biscotti actually lays the pretty blue-hues ones. But now that settled, we know exactly who’s egg is who’s—as each girl lays eggs as distinctive as their personalities!

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Biscotti’s first, in a lovely shade of Celadon green!

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Monsoon season. Dust storm. Mesquite trees in the foreground, behind that, a little bit of the mulberries on the left, and pecans in the background. Sounds are the wind, and some scaredy-cat young chickens learning what monsoon season is all about.

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Little Poppy laid her first egg yesterday! It’s the pale pink one on the bottom. Yay Poppy! . The one on top is another one of Teeny-Tiny Dotty’s, whom we are now thinking must be a Cuckoo Maran after all. We’d been going back and forth on whether or not she was a Barred Rock—they look so similar as baby chicks that it’s impossible to tell. And her personality seemed to indicate a Barred Rock, but now with her coloring (darkening up), and the darker speckled egg (they can be as dark as chocolate)... so we might have to start calling her “Mocha-dotty” (like Coco-dotty, our other Cuckoo Maran), rather than Teeny, but lately the best hybrid has been “Moka-tini Dotty”. Either way, she’s a sweetheart!

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Black Cherry tomatoes. This year we caged some of our tomatoes, but a few we left untethered to grow undisturbed, vine-like on the ground. Oftentimes the same plants that grow elsewhere need to be allowed to grow in a bit of a different way than they would in more temperate climes. By letting the tomato vines snake along the ground, the normally exposed stems are shaded and protected, and so long after the other tomatoes have succumbed to the heat, these low-lying plants will continue to flourish and produce fruit.

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Cicada exoskeleton found on a Tuscan Kale leaf in the garden.

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Teeny-Tiny-dotty’s first egg! She’s the first of the not-so-teeny-tiny-anymore chicks to begin laying!

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Snack time: the littles enjoying some (fallen) peaches...

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Monsoon season has begun.

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Carpenter bee—one of our many pollinators on site.

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Mission figs are ramping up

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Happy 4th! . (Repost from @miromadethis)

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This morning, last night, the other day. Meeting all kinds of new creatures in our developing ecosystem... (bunny rabbit, juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, Squirrel)...

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Fig season is in full force! Right now it’s the Genoa and the Kadota figs, and a little later in the season, it will be the Mission Figs. It’s a slow and careful task to pick only the mature figs amidst the others that crowd the branches. Figs are climacteric—they need to mature on the tree in order to develop sugars, but they can continue to ripen (soften and develop their more complex flavors), off the tree. And everyone likes to sample, and voice their own opinion on the selection—to make sure that we only pick the ones that are really ready. Some like to wait to be hand fed, and others get a little impatient and start picking their own...(and we do leave all the ones on the bottom for the girls to help themselves)!

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Last night’s dinner—open face tomato sandwiches from the garden!

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Pretty little Poppy the pullet! She’s a Speckled Sussex, and 15 weeks old today.

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The back forty. Although our fruit tree orchard was originally designed as a structured orchard—trees planted on a grid in a wide expanse of mown suburban lawn—over the years it has taken on the qualities of (both through design and happenstance) a more complex system, in permaculture terms, what is known as a food forest. The term “food forest” refers to a vertical layering of various plantings that together act as a codependent system that allows the inherent nature of the various layers to thrive in their proximity to one another. Typically defined as having seven layers, our particular food forest on the property (note that there is actually more than one variation here), includes an overstory of pecan, mulberry, lucaena and mesquite rising above an understory of pommes, stonefruit, figs, loquats and citrus (the planted orchard). Just below that are shrub (blackberries, boysenberries and sugarcane) and vine layers (grapes), and a layer of below ground, root zone tubers consisting mainly of Jerusalem artichokes. Our grasses layer includes oats, wheat and rye, along with a ground cover layer of hairy vetch and clover. Mint and marjoram add a herbaceous layer to the ground plane. As always, with any regenerative system, it is one that continually shifts and changes as it grows.

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