Planter Boxes for Fruit Trees

Plant delivery today. The last one of 2010. We installed fruit trees in these rectangular redwood planter boxes I designed. It was pretty cold out there early this morning.

Trees were Fugi Apple, Granny Smith, Bing Cherry, Black Tart Cherry, Washington Navel Orange and Nagumi Kumquat.

We installed electrical outlets in each box so we can add Christmas lights to the trees, especially the citrus, because the heat of the lights helps protect against frost damage. LED lights don’t work – not hot enough.

Below – the Ag Inspector checked the plants for pests. Nursery shipments to Napa County are inspected for wine grape pests – the Glassy Winged Sharpshooter and Light Brown Apple Moth.

I love this Orange kniphofia. – Kniphofia rooperi. It’s already flowering in winter in Napa. I got it from San Marcos Growers. Its super drought tolerant but it won’t die if you over water it, like some other kniphofias – I don’t want to name names, but its yellow. I planted the Kniphofia rooperi by oak trees.

Check out the frost on the ground. My black mulch looks gray. I know there was a blizzard on the east coast this week but this is cold for us.

Rent a Christmas Tree!

At least seven groups on the West Coast are now offering a service where consumers can rent a natural tree without the guilt of dumping it curbside later according to an article in USA Today. These companies will store the trees for the year and trim them. You can rent the same tree the next year. I hadn’t heard of this but it evidently isn’t a new idea: Companies in Britain have been renting Christmas trees for years. In the debate about real versus fake Christmas trees, I prefer real trees, but I cringe when I see folks planting live Christmas trees in their yards – nine times out of ten it is an unattractive landscaping move – especially in my neck of the woods. The concept of renting live trees is excellent. I hope more people offer this service in the future.

Bringing Safe Drinking Water to Children

It is estimated that 90 percent of the 3 million people who die every year due to waterborne diseases caused by unclean water are children under the age of 5. These diseases are the single biggest threat to children throughout the world.

That’s why an organization called A Child’s Right has focused on this problem. The group assists children in developing countries by providing water purification systems and water filtration units for orphanages, street shelters, schools and children’s hospitals in areas that lack access to clean water. Water filtration systems make such an amazing difference – and they aren’t even that expensive, just $1,000 will buy a system that lasts for ten years.

It was a blast to attend the Mutineer Magazine Holiday Comedy Festival dinner at Jordan Winery this weekend. The festival continued at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards.

The funds raised support Mutineer Magazine taking a trip to Kathmandu, Nepal next spring to install five water filtration systems.

These guys know how to party too. They take their parties very seriously and had a great time raising money.

An over the top dinner was paired with Jordan  Chardonnay and Cabernets– followed by an auction of rare whiskies and then an ultra cool retro reception with cocktails, cigars, and music. The comedians who performed were hilarious.

The cast of characters lending support included Charles Smith from K Vintners and The Most Interesting Man in the World. One of the comedians made a joke about the “kids not being thirsty anymore my friend.”

I enjoyed the dinner conversation with “The Most Interesting Man in the World” – I can confirm he’s totally interesting.

His lovely wife is extremely interesting as well.

Then of course, there was the dancing, cool cocktails, and even fine cigars.

It’s great that John Jordan made the event happen and that he’s been generous in supporting this critical cause. The charity delivers a big bang for the buck. The dollars spent make a huge difference in people’s lives.

Yes, that’s me with the cigar and blue martini.

Take a look at the video below where John talks about the event beforehand and about why he supports A Child’s Right.

New Life for Classic Country Barns

The landscape of Sonoma County is dotted with barns from old times, as are rural areas across America. These romantic old barns all too frequently are in a state of disrepair. Majestic though they may be, they  are often on the verge of collapse. That’s why its inspiring to see these old treasures given new life.

Sonoma Architect Adrian Martinez has laid the groundwork for saving a some of these barns at a site in Sonoma California.

The large one is most likely more than 100 years old and is about 42 feet wide by 40 deep.

It  has been raised in order to build a new foundation. First, however, a wood framed structure was built inside to stabilize it.

The original foundation was stone and the new concrete foundation will be faced with thin cut stone to emulate the original.  Old barnwood will be used to infill as needed and new barn doors of old planks will be made. There will be new multipaned dark green windows.  The deteriorated tin roof will be replaced with a new red corrugated metal roof.

The smaller barn is the Garden Barn, which is new construction but with old barn-wood siding, new dark green windows and a red corrugated roof.  It will be used in conjunction with an extensive vegetable garden & pumpkin patch, a place for potting, storing tools, equipment & will be a nice place for lunch & resting.

Here’s to seeing these and other barns given new life.