|one of three chinese apricots from our tree this year. two seasons ago this tree was a stick.|
After a promising bloom this spring- a tree covered with cherry flowers- my Evans Bali cherry has not produced a single cherry. Instead, there are hundreds of 'mummies'- dark, shriveled fruits, looking like the pits of cherries, still attached to the stems. 20 feet away, the apricot tree has produced three sweet beautiful apricots, after being in our yard for only a little over two years.
|evans bali 'cherries' only mummies are left|
The best match via Google images is European brown rot, though even that isn't a perfect match. But it seems depressingly close. And it could be back next year. What to do? The tree is reaching full size, and is a prolific bloomer. All the advice I see says to spray fungicide, but that's some of the worst stuff- potentially affecting all of the fungi- good and bad- on my eighth acre. I don't want to.
I have all winter to think about it I suppose. I'll pick off the mummies and hope for the best.
Of course, the good news was that the apricots did well and were delicious. I've never had a store-bought apricot this good. Firm, juicy, sweet without being too sweet- just a little bit of acidity to make it bright. More like a firm, ripe peach than an apricot- and absolutely wonderful. I can't wait to see how many we have next year.
Gita got the first one, while I was sleeping in the basement after an exhausting afternoon, so I made sure to pick the next one a few days later and taste it (and photograph it, above). I was glad I took it when I did, because a squirrel (I think) got the last one. It disappeared without a trace. No pit, no flesh. It could have been a neighbor kid, but I prefer to blame the squirrels.
|this year's garlic crop|
So far the squirrels have left the garlic alone. I planted it late last year- so I wasn't expecting much- and that's about what I got. I planted a lot to make up for what I was pretty sure would be small bulbs, and sure enough, they were tiny. It didn't help that it was dry as a bone last fall, so there wasn't much time for them to root in before the freeze, and I suppose I should be happy that I got any at all.
Garlic is one of those things that I still haven't figured out where to plant. It's off-kilter with everything else that gets planted in the spring, or occasionally the fall. Mid-summer planting feels so weird. Everything else is lush, in the way, saying 'pick me'! while I'm sticking these dead white things in the ground. And how to know where I'm going to plant all the other veggies next year anyway? I try to mix up the locations of everything each year so as not to let any diseases establish themselves. So how do I remember where the garlic was? If you have a method that works, please tell me. I am ready to listen.
I like garlic, and so does Gita, so it's worth the trouble. Really, it amazes me that we can grow it in Minnesota at all. But maybe that's a sign of changing climate too.
So now it's drying on the south wall of the house, hanging from the rose trellis that the roses have mostly ignored. I like it there. I'll probably keep it there for a while just to look at it.
|bitter melon that gita was drying in the sun|
It's a great way to preserve food, when the sun cooperates, as it often does in her native Chitwan. And the last couple of weeks have reminded me of the heat in that part of Nepal when we visited three years ago. Unrelentingly hot and humid.
I'll miss this heat in February, if it's a normal February, which is seeming less likely all the time.
In other news- Gita is finally done with treatment for her (now past tense) breast cancer. The burns from the radiation have yet to heal, but she has made it through unscathed inside. She's cheerful and energetic today- more than I think I could be if I had gone through what she has endured in the last eight months. The shock of the diagnosis, sixteen weeks of chemotherapy, then major surgery followed by six weeks of radiation. Hardly any time to rest between therapies. This was not an easy path. She is a strong woman, and my respect for her resilience has grown greatly over that time.
I'm lucky to have her, and feel even luckier now, after having to go through this with her. And having to think through what I'd have to do if the doctors' bag of tricks hadn't worked. I'm exhausted mentally and physically at this point and glad that there isn't anything more to be done. I've been falling asleep with the kids at 8:30 and not waking up until the middle of the night- thinking of the blog post that I was going to post that night, and which was postponed, again.
I want to believe that this is the end of the cancer story, and that it won't be back. Gita has to go in for checkups every three months for a while, then less as time goes on. She is in good hands, so I trust. Thank you to everyone for your thoughts, prayers, support and encouragement through this. I don't know all of you, but you have buoyed me at a time when I needed it, so I'm grateful. And an especially large 'thank you' for those who brought food- the kindest strangers who we never met- and who's generosity caught both of us by surprise.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is why I keep this up, even though I'd rather go to bed most nights. That, and the arguments over soil tillage methods. Those are pretty good too.