I’ve subscribed to Sunset Magazine since my young “alternative living” days. Long hair, long dresses, a little farm in the hills of the magnificent Marin County. Heavenly…… I still subscribe to Sunset magazine but my lifestyle has changed (a little). There are still chickens running around in the yard but I don’t wear long skirts. Sunset magazine is still practical and down to earth, and it still inspires me to get out and do it. Whatever “it” is.
When we moved from Marin to Cambria 12 years ago Sunset switched my issues from the Northern to the Southern California region. Guess it was the change in zip code. It just wasn’t the same. I wasn’t familiar with the Los Angeles to San Diego area, and not that interested in getting to know it. In addition, the gardening in cool Cambria was actually more similar to San Francisco than Southern California and it was there that I’d become a Master Gardener. I asked Sunset Magazine if I might receive the Northern California edition and they were happy to oblige.
Now Sunset Magazine has discovered our little corner of paradise. So far I’ve missed “Savor the Central Coast” at Santa Margarita Ranch, but hope to go in the coming year. It will be held September 25 – 28, 2014. Exact dates still to be announced.
Avocados are one of my favorite fruits. The “pear shaped” seed with surrounding “meat” has been nicknamed the “alligator pear” because of the leather-like appearance of its skin. Originally from Mexico and Central America, it grows on the Persea Americana tree that thrives along the central California coast. When picked, avocados can weigh 5 oz. – 2 lbs.
Storing avocados for any length of time can be nearly impossible. When you buy avocados they can be very firm. It may take a week for them to ripen at room temperature in your kitchen. Then whammy! They are too ripe and have turned dark and become bitter in taste. I have found a solution for storing ripened avocados so that you can eat them in daily salads or save them for guacamole when you have the urge.
Ripe avocado wrapped in plastic wrap.
Avocados are ripe when they “give” to slight pressure from your fingers. To prepare ripe avocados for storage tear off a piece of plastic wrap about 12” x 12” in size. Wrap the avocados in the wrap.
As you use the avocado, cut sections and peel off the skin. Try to peel it so that the dark green part of the avocado next to skin remains. This contains beneficial nutrients. To store the unused portion, leave the seed in place and put the two halves together. Wrap as you did when the avocado was intact.
Wrapped avocados will last in the refrigerator for about 1-2 weeks. I am no longer hesitant to buy more than one avocado at a time or to take advantage of bulk pricing. Hope this works for you!
When partially use, put pieces together and cover with plastic wrap.
Dear Friends. I’m in the process of combining my two websites. I’ve been moving pictures and posts from Backyard Hencam to Central Coast Gardening. It will be much easier to put both gardening posts and chicken blogs on one website and I’ll be able to keep them updated more easily.
Please be patient with me as I dive into this technology. You will notice that I have many things to fix as I limp along.
We. in Cambria, a little village on the ocean between S.F. and L.A. are experiencing a severe drought. Our water district board, the Cambria Community Services District (CCSD) has prohibited the use of potable (treated) water on our landscapes. Here is the notice we received:
“Effective immediately the CCSD is implementing the following mandatory conservation measures: RESTRICTIONS ON USE OF POTABLE WATER:
1) Outdoor watering of landscaping and gardens with potable water is prohibited. “This prohibition applies regardless of whether or not a particular customer uses less than the monthly use allotment.”(SEE BELOW FOR INFORMATION REAGRDING THE MONTHLY ALLOTMENT) Non-potable water is available free of charge from the CCSD. Customers are welcome to use this non-potable water to water their landscaping. Please contact the CCSD if you are interested in information on rebates for non-potable water tanks.
2) Guests in hotels, motels and other commercial lodging establishments shall be provided the option of not laundering towels and linens daily. The CCSD will provide lodging establishments with free notices to advise guests with this option. Businesses interested in receiving these notices should contact the CCSD immediately at (805) 927-6223 or stop by our office to receive these announcements.
3) Washing of vehicles, boats and trailers with potable water is prohibited. Please note that the car wash in Cambria uses reclaimed water.
4) Washing down sidewalks, driveways, streets, walkways, parking lots, windows, buildings, porches, or patios and all other hard surfaced areas by direct hosing or pressure washers with potable water is prohibited.
5) Emptying and refilling swimming pools and commercial spas is prohibited except to prevent structural damage and/or to provide for the public health and safety.
6) Effective February 3, 2014 the public restrooms will be closed until further notice. Our office will provide portable restrooms at both the Cornwall and Center St location.Effective March 1, 2014 the CCSD is also implementing the following mandatory conservation measures:
Stage 3 Water Shortage Emergency Condition has been implemented. This resolution establishes that each residential customer account is allotted 2 units per month (4 units a billing period).
Customers who do not meet the permanent resident requirements are allocated 4 units a billing period.
Each residential customer account is allotted two units per month. Customers may request an increase in the allotment of units by completing a Permanent Resident Certification form. This form is enclosed for your convenience, and is also available on our website. (Example…a household of 2 permanent residents will be allocated 8 units per billing period.)
A five hundred (500) percent surcharge (first violation) shall apply to all water use in excess of customer’s unit allotment.
Sweet Pea Bush
A one thousand (1000) percent surcharge (second violation) shall apply to all water use in excess of customer’s unit allotment.
Subsequent violations shall be subject to a one thousand (1000) percent surcharge and a discontinuance of service.
For reference: 1 unit (100 cubic feet) equals 748 gallons. Customers that own a licensed vacation rental may contact the CCSD to request free notices, advising guests of the enhanced water restrictions and provide conservation tips.
The CCSD Board of Directors and staff thank you in advance for your cooperation. If you have any questions we encourage you to contact the Administrative Office at (805) 927-6223.”
Gads, there goes my gardening plans for the coming year. And, without water, there goes my garden!
Love those fresh eggs but hate that they’re hard to peel?
Years ago, when we got the first six hens, we had more eggs than we could use. We ate quiche, scrambled eggs, omelets, egg casseroles and hard-cooked eggs. The beautiful eggs had dark golden yolks. Little works of arts. The only drawback was that after being boiled, fresh (meaning less than three weeks old) hard-cooked eggs were almost impossible to peel. The shell stuck to the whites of the egg and would stay attached as you pulled it off. I learned that what happens to eggs as they sit, either in the refrigerator and at room temperature, is the air evaporates through the porous shell and air gets between the membrane and the shell. When the egg is boiled it causes further separation and space so the shell is easy to remove.
This problem in pealing fresh hard-cooked eggs is a topic on nearly every website I’ve seen on raising chickens. Many friends have sent me solutions but I have not found one to work like this. My sister sent me this information and it actually worked. Thanks Sis!
Michael Friedman, the chef and co-owner of The Red Hen in Washington, D.C. tells us how to cook fresh eggs:
“I take the raw egg, and at the fat end, I poke a very small hole with a pin,” Friedman told Yahoo! Food. “This punctures the thin membrane between the shell and the egg white, making the egg easier to peel once its boiled.”
It also releases the bit of air trapped inside the shell, so the egg is able to fill the entire interior of the shell. The yolk moves to the center of the egg itself, which makes for a prettier presentation if you’re making a dish like deviled eggs.
Boil eggs for five minutes then let sit for 10.
After you’ve poked a hole in the egg, place in room temperature water. Bring to a gentle boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit in hot water for another 10 minutes. Poor off water and fill bowl with cold water with ice. Let cool. Starting at the big end of the egg, gently remove the egg-shell. The shell removed easily. Notice how the yolk is centered in the picture below.
Perfect hard-boiled fresh eggs. No green. Yolk is centered.
I will certainly continue to use this method for cooking fresh eggs. It worked better for me than any other I’ve tried. Let me know how it works for you on your own eggs or those organic fresh eggs that are so wonderfully tasteful!
Four years ago I wrote this article on Backyard Hen Cam on “hard to peel” eggs. I’d tried vinegar, salt, baking soda, etc. This method worked better than any of them.
Meet “Brown Sugar” at 3 days. Eat, sleep, love is her motto.
Some of you who read my blog know that once and in a while I get “off subject” and leave gardening on the back burner. We have two lovable Australian labradoodles that we co-own with a breeder (Country Labradoodles). They bring great joy to our home. We are obligated to the breeder to breed them twice. Matilida “Tillie” gave birth to her second litter on Sunday night. A beautiful litter of seven, three girls and four boys, three carmel-colored, four chocolate.
The whole process of caring for these three-year-old dogs, watching them give birth, and then tend to the puppies, is really a fascinating process. The dogs have gone from puppies themselves to being great mothers. Tillie now knows from another room which puppy is calling, which is hungry, which just needs a lick and some reassurance. During these first few weeks, the humans only need change the bedding once a day, and make sure the mother has plenty of high-quality food, fresh water, and exercise. She does the rest.
Tillie’s puppies at 1 week. From top to bottom: Beaux, Babe, Oliver, Tuxedo, India, China Doll, Brown Sugar.
We are handling the wee ones several times each day. We turn them on their backs, tickle their toes and hold them against our necks so they become accustomed to our scent. Their eyes are still sealed shut, and their ears are closed so essentially they are blind and deaf. Within a week, these will open up and they will see the world around them.
At eight weeks we will be searching for new homes for these pups. The breeder helps make a match. A few will be destined to become therapy and service dogs. Three pups from the previous litter are now serving in homes and schools. I’ll be keeping my eyes on ones that show special abilities and testing them for various traits. All those years as an educator is not wasted.
These dogs come from a long line of Australian labrodoodles, multi-generational non-shedders with calm, steady personalities. I feel honored to contribute my energy to these wonderful animals.
Limonium, also called Statice, or sea lavender, is a drought tolerant plant that grows well in partial shade and sun. Makes great dry arrangements.
I wrote this article for the Cambrian (local publication) in October. Many people commented on it to me so I decided to pass it on to you who read my blog. I never get too upset about the politics in our small town. Nothing really changes. We have had a “water issue” for 40 years and nothing has been done about it. So here we are being limited and regulated in the use of our water. We’ll see how this all turns out.
In the 1980’s there was drought throughout the west. Water directors where we were living in Marin County piped water from the Sacramento delta, across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, providing customers with enough water for basic needs. Like people here in Cambria, our family carried water from showers to water trees and used clean sink water from washing fruits and vegetables to water potted plants. When the rains came, the crisis was abated.
Any gardener or farmer worth their salt knew there was no water in the soil and that the shortage of rain over the past few years was going to effect local wells. Why the CCSD (Cambria Services District) spent the last year talking about granting water hook-ups rather than solving the problem of an alternative water source is mind-boggling. But I’m way to practical to waste this space on my opinions. I’m a gardener. I’d rather discuss ways to keep our gardens alive in a water crisis.
Gardeners in Cambria are among the most resourceful I’ve met. Cisterns have been installed to catch roof run-off during rains. Friends on Marine terrace have tanks under their house that catch spring water. Some folks have been hauling tanks in the back of their pick-ups for years, helping themselves to the free non-potable water that CCSD offers, using it to keep their gardens green.
There are those who’ve had the foresight to plant drought tolerant plants that are California natives or are from Australia, Africa, and Chile. They may die back a bit but will live with little or no water. Common garden plants will need some supplemental water but will survive this fall if you are creative in saving water from household use. Potted plants, except for succulents, will suffer the most without water. Move your pots to a shady location now to avoid increase demands during the inevitable “hot spells” of fall.
Plants need some foliage to manufacture food, but leaves “transpire” giving off moisture. Native, drought tolerant plants naturally shed some of their leaves in the summer to reduce moisture loss. Let leaves dry naturally on the shrubs. If you prune too early, you may cause the plant to put out new foliage, increasing the need for moisture.
Be rational and don’t panic. Be patient. Be diligent. We will get through this. Hopefully, our gardens will survive and we’ll become “gardening fools” once again.
There are many old surfers in Cambria but this was the only one we saw catching a wave this morning. The “real” surfers were standing on the other side of the road, beside their vans, waiting for the waves to come up in the afternoon.
Scarecrows Keep Coming to Cambria
Don and I drove along Moonstone Drive this morning and took pictures of some Scarecrows I hadn’t seen last year. They just keep getting better and better.
If you are able to visit our little village of Cambria between now and Thanksgiving, you’ll see over 400 “scarecrows” adorning our streets in front of shops, hotels, the Old Grammar School and the Historical Society. They will make you chuckle and smile. “Who thought of that?’, you’ll say.
They come in all sizes and subjects. There is no end to the creativity it takes to imagine and create these characters. This time of year we normally have beautiful weather so plan to spend a day outdoors. Stay overnight in a hotel and eat in one of the little restaurants downtown. This event is for everyone.
See some of the fabulous scarecrows of 2012 on this POST and some of the stars in the festival’s first year (2011′s) scarecrows HERE.
I once wrote that I was a “Terrible Garden Blogger”. I was referring to the fact that I just couldn’t get into a daily or weekly routine but wrote a blog when I was inspired. When I broke my hip last February, I had no idea it would be 7 months before I would be able to get out into my garden again. I had to wait until a second hip surgery at Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto. But, now I’m back. I have to wear a brace to hold me in place and I’ve borrowed a sturdy “walker” to hang on to but at least I’m up on my feet again and it feels good.
I’m sure you’ve heard about our water problem in Cambria. The underground aquifer went dry after the busy Labor Day Weekend. The “Pinderado” fair and parade and car show drew lots of tourists and the hotels were full. Guess there were too many toilets flushed and the wells began going dry. The Cambria Community Services District called a meeting and passed a resolution that, until further notice, no landscape watering of any kind was allowed! Whaaat? People have really had to scramble to find tanks and water resources. Luckily, we have a tank that holds 1600 gallons of water from runoff from the roof. I’ve been using that to keep plants alive. It should last through October. Hopefully, we’ll get some early rain and it will fill up again.
Well, it’s good to be back with you. I’ll try to get back into a routine of writing of my experiences with my garden, my labradoodles, and my hens. I’ve missed blogging but find it uninteresting, unless I’ve got something to talk about! There is enough nonsense pollution in the world without me adding to it.