Garden notes: Mark this date –my first ripe tomato was on Sunday the 8th of June

The famous June Cherry Tomato

The famous June Cherry Tomato

First, my apologies for not being a regular blogger. I will try to make it up to you.

Let it be recorded: my very first RIPE tomato of the year was recorded on Sunday the 8th of June. Now there’s another one right next to it that seems ready to repeat the feat.
After that? Well, all I can say is that everything in the garden is COMING UP ROSES. (No, NOT roses, silly. ROSES!)

The many tomato plants are all thriving, exhibiting that vigorous greenness that is what tomatoes are all about. Including, of course, REDNESS.

Runner beans –a garden first for me– also waxing (No, NOT WAX beans. Anyway…. I had my first meal of beans for dinner last night, picked just half an hour beforehand.

Basil tips are full and green. Initial concerns about the basil crop have proved unfounded. Plus –I learned something important about Basil (and many other plants): keep planting seeds, every few weeks, to ensure that addictive continuity.
The same goes for arugula. And the same goes for a new discovery this year, a close relative of arugula –to wit: Mustard India. Oh those peppery leaves.

I have been (not so) quietly elated to see even a few Nasturtium flowers. I can’t imagine anything that would be more red-orange than those beauties.
And –on the sweet-pea front: quite a few fragrant white blossoms, but, yesterday, morning, here was the very first deep purple, almost black. What a thrill! (A humble thrill, I remind myself: it is apparently all too easy for me to think of myself as The One who is bringing all this about. Instead of being a Laborer-in-the-Vineyard….a very happy LITV, by the way.

Sugar peas –with edible pods– should be on the way soon. They look like SweetPeas, but end up quite different.

The one area of ongoing concern –even though I feel I am getting on top of it– is how my various Peppers are going. I had great success last year (eventually). Perhaps this year will be the same.
I have added a new one –the claimed lethal Red Cherry Pepper. I try to rise about that macho thing about peppers, but I really do like those hot peppers. Learning to use them in exact correct amounts is important, but takes time. I think I’ve got it, but do still surprise myself every now and again.
I am still using some dried Thais and Serranos from last year. They are just as good as ever.
I make myself a tomato salsa every day all the year round –will never tire of that cilantro-hot pepper-lime juice accented excuse to eat a tomato. And here’s a cost cutting tip that I discovered a few years ago: instead of using all those overpriced puff-bagged nachos etc etc, I buy those packs of tortillas (30 for a dollar!) and toast a couple which I then cut up with my kitchen scissors.

Lastly, some bird notes:
Right now, as I write this at 4.07 am, just outside the window on the tree of heaven, my friend the cardinal is doing his chip-chip-chip early morning routine. Five seconds on, ten seconds silent. He will repeat that for the best part of half an hour, switching from time to time to another variant.
He seems to have his female all picked out –or she him, though in that case, who is serenading whom? They both show up at the feeder in the course of the day. She perches a ways off, while he picks out a big black sunflower seed which he de-hulls and then presents to her. Then they soon fly off together.

Yesterday, while up on the studio roof looking down on the garden, I notice one of my mourning doves in some sort of trouble –she is wildly flapping her wings, trying to free her leg from the frayed fibres of some ducttape I used to secure e little feeder to a clothesline.
In the last month or so the doves and I have become much closer, with them trusting me much more than even before.
Now, here was one of them in distress, for all the world trapped.

She struggled wildly as I approached her. Then –without really realizing it, I use the phrase they are probably most used to hearing from me –“Come on now” or just “Come on”– as I reach out to take her in my hands.
After this she is completely calm, with no flapping, even though I can feel her little heart racing as I hold her. Finally I just break the frayed threads –still quite strong– and release her. She is very happy to take off for the tree-of-heaven.
The mourning doves in particular have impressed me with their response to my calls. They will often not come on the first “come on” or two, but then inevitably do, as if I had reassured them in my repetitions.
And they all seem to have this extraordinary individual reaction to me, each one different.

One last sighting: the Peregrines are much scarcer these days, but I did spot one yesterday, doing its high-altitude slow wheel, wing feathers splayed in the generous updraft.
100 degrees! Good thermals, no doubt.

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