Time for Tomatoes!

Every day at the farm is one to be celebrated,
whether we are planting, picking, prepping the land or stealing an early taste
photo by Jerry James Stone
during his stop at our farm on his Chevy Volt Tour
And, like a parent, you don't want to have a favorite, 
but c'mon, it's hard not to be especially excited on tomato planting day! 
So, while we may have indulged in some "tomato talk" last month (in March,) 
we were really talking tomatoes on this late April morning, 
when we put 500 of our babies in the soil at the farm. 

Even Executive Chef John Toulze got into planting 
And, they truly are "our babies," since all of the tomatoes 
we planted at the farm are starts from seeds 
we planted at the greenhouse behind "the fig." 
this tray can hold up to 1500 lbs of tomatoes!
this pineapple tomato start is 6 weeks old
just one of several truck loads of tomato starts
that went from fig to farm
(and will eventually go back to "the fig" when harvested and served to you!
Planting the tomatoes is really a labor of love, 
with emphasis on both labor and love–all done by hand 
and each one carefully planted. 

 Local Landscapers works with us, overseeing planting and maintenance 
at the farm at Imagery Estate Winery.  

Matt from Local Landscapers offers these tips 
for planting tomatoes to ensure healthy and abundant plants: 
The stems of these young starts are very fragile and the moment of 
putting them in the soil is a critical one, so try not to handle the stem too much, 
in fact don't hold the plant by the stem if you can help it. 
To remove the plant from its plastic pot, spread your fingers around the stem 
as you gingerly turn it over and "dump" the plant into your hands.

Gently steady the plant by holding the leaves 
as you get it into position for planting.
Here are some other tips about planting tomatoes.

Seems appropriate that Executive Chef John Toulze 
would plant the first tomato of 2013 season.
We are looking forward to when he gets his hands 
on this red gem once it is harvested! 

first tomato planted for 2013
can't wait till John is doing this
(photo from last summer)
But, of course it is these "sugar plum visions" dancing in our heads
that inspires us as we work. 
tomato watermelon salad photo by
Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country

Check back next week for a rundown of some 
of the varieties of tomatoes we are planting,
including some new ones not tried before.  

Out of the 800 plants we have, there will be a rainbow of tomatoes.
What are some of your favorite tomatoes?


True colors at the farm

Discovered this welcome sight at the farm just this week!
This strawberry is a beautiful burst of color at the farm.  
beds a few weeks ago

This luscious strawberry, harbinger of summer, reminds us 
that soon the palette of the farm beds will be awash 
in other colors–certainly lush greens and then rainbows of yellow, orange, red, purples. 
Yes, it is a very encouraging time at the farm.
A few weeks ago, Matt from Local Landscapers inspected
the raspberry bushes which were beginning to flourish.

The "sticks" are the raspberry canes

See the small cane in the midst of the leaves.
We could take that cutting, dip in a rooting gel (with root hormone)
and transplant to create a brand new raspberry bush.

Did you know, you can use honey as a "rooting gel?"

It's natural for suckers to pop up near the bushes,
and this is how raspberry bushes spread. Not a problem, if that's what you want
but needs controlling if you don't. Here are some tips on pruning raspberries.

Watch this for tips on planting, growing and caring for raspberries.

Now, a few weeks later, our raspberry bushes are full and lush green bushes.

And hopefully, soon, this is where they will be, dotted with these red gems!

Besides how colorful and abundant the farm will look 
as our plants are thriving, it's also a good idea for your plate 
to reflect a varied color wheel of vegetables and fruits. 
Check out this video about benefits of different colored fruits and vegetables. 

 Your home garden can be colorful as well.
No matter how small the space, it's possible to
grow some of your own vegetables and herbs.

Here are some good resources for you:
Sunset Magazine steps to create an edible garden
One of our favorite sources for great ideas, Smart Gardener
can help you create a vertical garden!
And for those of you want to be more self-sufficient and
produce more of your own food, even in a small space:

While we encourage you to grow your food, create a garden, 
we still hope you will treat yourself to a visit to the girl & the fig or the fig cafĂ©
 to enjoy some of the bounty from our farm

This week's star for Plats du Jour at "the fig:"
risotto, house-made smoked ham, garden peas, st. jorge cheese, charred pea tendrils 

Signs of Spring at the farm

Figs at "the fig!" Right in our "backyard" farm. 
We can't wait for these to ripen. 
Talk about farm to tablethe chefs can truly dash out the kitchen door
pick some figs for our signature fig and arugula salad to serve fresh to you.

With Spring in full bloom, there are many 
other encouraging signs at both of our farm locations.

Beautiful blue contrasts with the white blossoms
of two of our four 20th Century pear trees in the orchard at Imagery Farm.
Vibrant African Daisies highlight
the chive blossoms at the fig garden
The chive blossoms, so sweet and delicate, are lovely additions to many of our dishes.
Did you know the blossoms are great pollinators and attract beneficial insects? 
So, these taste good and are good "workers" at the farm, 
assisting their neighboring plants to thrive. 
 One of those neighbor plants that are really thriving, and a sure sign of the season 
are our Spring Peas which seem to be exploding and climbing high. 
Alongside is the beginning of our bamboo trellis. 
The new growth on the vines are called "tendrils" and are quite tasty. 
Pods should be forming in the next several weeks.
If you look closely you will see that the leaves are actually variegated.

Not too long to go from these in our garden, to this at your table!
photo of sweetbreads with spring vegetables
by Steven Krause for
Plats du Jour: the girl & the fig's Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country

Spring is an especially lovely time to enjoy 
one of our popular cocktails, lavender mojito 
made with cruzan light rum, lavender & rose water simple syrup, 
lime juice, muddled mint.  

The mint comes from our farm, so this one very fresh drink! 

We grow mint in our raised beds behind the fig as well as in the garden area.
We were still harvesting a late winter spearmint garden, last month. 
You can see the new tender growth that forms after 
you take the older growth all the way to the ground. 
Mint is extremely resilient and benefits from 
very aggressive pruning several times a year. 
It should be contained as the tuberous roots can spread quickly.

better get to the mint in this raised bed!
While these are sure signs of Spring, a peek inside the greenhouse 
and the tomato explosion there
is a glimpse towards Summer. More to come on that, soon. 

What is growing in your Spring garden? 
And what have you been doing in your kitchen 
with the spring bounty you find at your Farmers Market?