Week 13 of 2020

Photo to illustrate trees in bloom
naval orange tree in bloom

Spring in Sonoma

It’s true, housing costs are sky-high, traffic is dreadful during commute times, drivers are insane, and the fire season has been disastrous the last two years yada, yada, yada. Still and all, Sonoma County is one of the most beautiful places west of the Mississippi.

From the middle of February through the end of March, it is breathtaking. Under turquoise skies, the hills are covered with green velvet and blanketed with acres of brilliant yellow mustard. The almond trees and the stone fruit trees are covered with pink or white blossoms. Navel orange trees are budding and tossing fragrance on the breeze.

The vineyards are waking from their winter sleep. For the next two or three weeks, they will be filled with grazing ewes and their new lambs. Since the county banned chemical weed killer two years ago, the vineyard owners run flocks through the vines to clear the weeds.  If you are lucky you can watch Border Collies rounding up the sheep and herding them up the ramp into the truck that will take them to the next field.

Half a mile down the road is a pasture filled with Clydesdales; a foal or two will be showing up next month. There is a horse, a cow, a pair of goats, or a flock of chickens every other block. A strange blend of down-home country folk and Euro/Arab/Russian multimillionaires.

Lots of problems in this huge county that reaches to the ocean, but for now I am lucky to live here.


Through the Front Door 2019 Week 15


Just planted tomato

An early start with tomatoes this year; planted four varieties in the raised garden: an Early Girl, a Husky cherry tomato, a Roma, and a grape tomato. Compared with a year ago, last year was a dud. The cherry tomatoes did alright, but the large tomatoes were few and far between and lacked flavor. Over the winter, I tried boosting the soil with some compost and ground egg shells. Next week, I plan to interplant the tomatoes with some basil and marigolds.


After the peony, the double iris is my favorite flower. Last year, I planted six bulbs imported from Holland. A whole bunch of nothing happened except for some green spears. Too late in the day, I discovered they were not getting enough direct sunlight. I moved them to a sunnier location, and late in September, the yellow iris bloomed out for two weeks. Now five of the iris are budding already, so I have high hopes for blue and purple blooms by the end of April.


Roses are so thrilled by three days of sunlight, they are blooming already, but they all have black -leaf from as a result of the continuous damp. That requires pruning ninety percent of the leaves back to the stem. However, with a little fertilizer, they will leaf out again quickly.