Sunday, March 29, 2009
After the morning fog broke up and retreated (I'm not talking caffeine fix here, just the usual weather) and it warmed up a bit, I noticed butterflies flying by. Not flitting about, but flying by quickly and seemingly on a mission. They were going by so fast, faster than I can walk, that I couldn't figure out what kind of butterfly they were. All of them were coming down the valley, from the south and headed north. Instead of flying level like a plane, they were following the contours of the land and anything upon it. Six to ten feet above nearly anything in their path, coming straight on, rarely veering around things, going up and over and down and onward. They came on two, three, five at a time. Only an occasional one would land, but the minute I moved toward it to see what it was it would fly off. It was amazing how many there were. There had to have been hundreds that passed by during the hour that I sat and ate my lunch. Finally, one landed on flower and stayed long enough that I could get a good look. It was a Painted Lady.
I sat there in amazement watching the show, wondering where are they coming from and where are they going to? Finally, I hit the computer and learned what was going on. Painted Ladies spend the winter in the desert along the U.S.-Mexico border. They breed there and the adults emerge in February and March and promptly start migrating north. The new butterflies have a generous amount of fat stores so they can fly without stopping to feed. When their fat stores are depleted they stop to feed, breed and lay eggs. The new generations will continue the northward migration, ultimately reaching the Pacific Northwest. A similar southward migration starts in August.
Painted Ladies are also called Cosmopolitans because they have an extremely large range. They are found on every continent except for Australia and Antarctica. The migration that I've described here is for the western US population.
Good show Mother Nature! You continually amaze me.
Friday, March 27, 2009
The Crimson Flowering Favas are growing like crazy, almost like weeds! They are at least 4 times as tall as they were when I last reported on them on February 27. They are flowering like crazy, but it seems that they are only now just starting, barely starting, to set some pods.
Sprouting amongst the favas there appeared to be some weeds and I was about to start scratching them out when I remembered that I had scattered some old (2004) seeds of Golden Cornsalad there (my notes say I did that back on February 21, no wonder I forgot). Well, now I know that those seeds are still viable. Next, I'll see if the cornsalad likes to grow in the shade of the favas. I've noticed that my previous plantings of the Golden Cornsalad seem to prefer a bit of shade, but I'm not sure if it will be too shady under the favas.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
I always try to grow extra garlic so that I can pick a lot of it green. The latest dish that it went into was potato pancakes. But, I tried something new this time, I cooked them in a waffle iron. Wow, were they good! Extra crispy with lots of dents to catch the toppings.
Most potato pancake recipes call for russet potatoes. I used what I had on hand, which happened to be fingerlings. I didn't peel them, just gave them a good scrub. The texture is probably a bit lighter when made with russets, but the fingerlings worked fine. I also didn't add salt to the potato mixture before cooking it since the toppings I was using were already quite salty. I made all of them ahead of time and then reheated/crisped them in the oven just before serving.
Green Garlic Potato Pancake Waffles
2 shoots of green garlic, white and green parts, chopped
Preheat a regular (not Belgian) waffle iron.
Stir together the garlic, egg, creme fraiche, and flour in a medium mixing bowl. Add the grated potatoes and stir to thoroughly combine.
Brush both sides of the waffle iron with vegetable oil. Mound 1/2 cup of the potato mixture in the middle of each square, flatten slightly and then close the iron. Cook for about 12 minutes, or until very little steam is coming from the iron and the potatoes are brown and crisp.
Makes about 6 "pancakes".
I served these with some fresh goat cheese, creme fraiche, smoked trout, smoked salmon, red onion slices that had been tossed with wine vinegar, and capers.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Fremont's Death Camas
Manzanita blossoms pillaged by insects
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Part way up the East Ridge trail looking towards the Salinas Valley. The fog which had the entire area socked in until mid morning is now confined to the valley in the shot above.
There's a lot of Manzanita on the East Ridge Trail. This one is putting on a fair display of its red somewhat contorted branches.
A rather weathered specimen of Manzanita hanging off the side of the trail.
Higher up in the park on the Toyon Ridge Trail.
Looking towards the Monterey Peninsula. Highway 68, the main route between Salinas and Monterey can be seen. The peninsula is still shrouded by fog.
This part of the park is rather well fertilized. Fortunately, the locals don't find the wild flowers to be tasty.
This hillside sports a lovely sprinkling of Shooting Stars and Johnny Jump Ups.
Johnny Jump Ups putting on a nice show.
Near our goal, looking back down the trail. The Salinas Valley is on the other side of the peak.
We made it! Eagle Peak, elevation 1,607 feet. That was 1,400 feet of climbing.
Looking toward the Santa Lucia Range. A bit of Carmel Valley Village can be seen on one of the slopes.
Looking a little more to the west, Pinyon Peak and the top of Garland Ranch Regional Park (where I usually hike) are the next to last ridge visible.
Back in the other direction is a view of Spreckles and Salinas. The haze is the residual fog that hasn't burned off yet.
Down the Toyon Ridge Trail. The fog on the coast stayed for the entire day.
Friday, March 20, 2009
My honey took the day off and we went for a hike in Toro County Park. There were wildflowers everywhere. I don't have time right now to get through all my photos so I'm posting a preview here featuring a wildflower that is found only on the west coast of the States. Sanicula arcotopoides is in the carrot family. It grows 3 to 8 inches tall and is often scattered across fields like "footsteps" thus its common name of Footsteps of Spring. I thought it appropriate for today.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
It made it's way closer to the gate...
Closer to the house...
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Whatever it is, it seems to be benign and I'll just let it do its thing.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
That's my second sowing of carrots this year, I've got five varieties planted in their own rows. The variety in the photo is Atomic Red, and there's also Amarillo Yellow, Cosmic Purple, Lunar White, and Scarlet Nantes. The garlic is a mixture of varieties. I sowed the smallest cloves in a separate bed from my main planting so that I could harvest them like scallions without disturbing the garlic that will be allowed to grow to full maturity.
I've planted out 2 varieties of peas that I started in paper pots. In the foreground are Golden Snow Peas and in the rear are Magnolia Blossom Snaps. Next out will be the Green Beauty Snow Peas.
Magnolia Blossom Snap Pea
This variety has hyper-tendrils.
An albino Magnolia Blossom Pea Plant.
I doubt this one will do much but I planted it out to see what happens. The black blurry spots in the photo are because I took it through the bird netting that is draped over all the peas.
Persian Mint coming out of hibernation.
New shoots of variegated Lemon "Pink Lemonade"