Windshield View (3/10/17)

Yesterday, I took a driving tour of a ranch along to the Middle part of the Salinas River. It was an opportunity to peer into the thicket of vegetation lining the levee. The impregnable riparian habitat stretched for hundreds of feet from the ranch into the main channel of the Salinas River. The vegetation resembled the twisted jumble of a mango grove and was peppered with discarded furnishings, appliances, large pieces of metal, hunks of cement, and trash. Nothing about it resembled the healthy watershed so touted by regulators. It was a mess. I would hazard a guess that:

  • The impenetrable brush prevents free wildlife movement.
  • There is limited wildlife feed because of plant shading and competition.
  • The vegetation lacked biological diversity.
  • The lack of plant diversity means only a few wildlife species are supported.
  • All of that unchecked growth continuously transpires thousands of acre feet of precious groundwater.
  • The pools that were visible were stagnant and were great mosquito habitat.

Reposted from Facebook, March 10, 2017

Windshield Views: (3/18/14)

Today was THE DAY!

There was a major sign that spring has arrived. No, it was not the day I saw the first robin, or the first daffodil, or the last snowflake!

It WAS the first day that I saw the semi’s loaded with vegetable harvest equipment headed home to Salinas from the desert! There were convoys headed up Highway 101! The Salinas fields are ready to be cut with their first shamrock-green heads of iceberg lettuce and romaine sizing up nicely.

You will never know the difference, but very soon, your lettuce will be originating from a very different part of the world. Instead of the desert, it will be coming from The Salad Bowl of the World, The Salinas Valley. 

Windshield Views (2/8/17)

The Salinas River was roiling today when I drove north. There have been >25” at the headwaters of the Salinas River since October (with about 6” in the past couple of days).
The Nacimiento Reservoir is almost full and is already releasing to the Salinas River. If the Arroyo Seco Watershed gets a stalled storm in the next few hours, it could contribute a substantial load of water.
Is it time to prepare for flooding and start moving equipment?
The next few days are going to be nail-biters as waves of rain keeps surge through the area! 

Windshield Views (7/14/16)

As I drive through the Salinas Valley, I consider the precise rows of cool season vegetables and ponder emerging attitudes. Some regulators believe that growers need to find alternative crops to cool season vegetables and this will protect and conserve water.

Hmmm…What alternative crops could be grown?

  • We know it is too cold for tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, and most c-4 plants, such as corn and sorghum.
  • Alfalfa uses too much water.
  • The sugar beet market has been destroyed by fructose corn syrup, trade and labor issues.
  • It is too windy for tree crops.
  • Canola? Would it grow? But, it can grow on marginal land, why would we put it on high-rent, highly productive land? 
  • Soybeans don’t like California. 
  • Beans and peas will grow, but the markets are limited.
  • We could grow potatoes, but potatoes, apples, and garlic are mostly grown in China, these days. But, maybe, Ag would produce more vodka?
  • Grapes? Yes! We could grow MORE wine grapes!
  • Hops? Maybe…
  • Pot! We can transition from emerald, healthy salad greens to medicinal greens.

Bottom line? The Salinas Valley would be perfect to produce alternative crops that will either get you drunk or high. Who needs to eat?

Windshield Views (11/3/11)

Autumn!

In the fall, the trucks loaded with red Bell peppers* are intense splashes of color heading south to the processing plants in Southern California. I am especially fond of the brightly yellow Dusi Bros. trucks, carrying those crimson loads. The contrast of red and yellow against an azure autumn sky is stunning! 

Note: the Central Coast is a composition of disconnected microclimate. Red bell peppers are grown in Gilroy and King City because those areas are warm and have enough heat units to produce peppers.

Windshield Views (8/8/12)

Central Coast Crop Report:

  • Wine grapes received their last powdery mildew spray and grape growers are now preparing for harvest.
  • Celery harvest is in full swing!
  • This is the best Avocado fruit load in years! Get ready for some great California avocados in a supermarket near you!
  • Peak vegetable planting was the last week in July. Over 10% of the crop acres were planted in just a few days. This is the last crop of the year.
  • Strawberry harvest continues. In marginally producing fields, growers have begun to pull up their irrigation drip tape up in preparation for the next crop.
  • Red bell peppers plants are polka-dotted with tiny white flowers in their deep green foliage. Summer heat should create a great crop in a few weeks.

San Joaquin Valley Crop Report:

  • The California table grape harvest continued with the Flame Seedless and Summer Royal varieties harvested in the San Joaquin Valley (SJV). The Thompson grape harvest began.
  • Wine grapes colored and sugared as the SJV harvest was expected to start in several weeks. Harvest started in a few early champagne grape vineyards. (Note: Champagne grapes are harvested when they have very low sugar. Other varieties will be harvested when they have very high sugars. The higher the sugar, the higher the alcohol content.)
  • Almond hull split continued while harvest started in some Nonpareils.
  • Walnuts are harvested by shaking the nuts off of the trees and then using big machines to pick them up off of the orchard floor. The nuts are sent to almond hullers to remove the soft green outer covering.
  • Pistachio nut fill continued as growers saw some nut splitting.

Windshield Views (7/27/13)

Colors of Summer’s Peak!

This morning, the colors at the Farmer’s Markets were shifting from fresh, cool tones of spring and early summer to warmer colors and tones of mid-late summer: intense red, yellow, gold, burgundy and aubergine.

It’s time for sunflowers and dahlias, and watermelons, tomatoes, eggplant and peppers!

Windshield Views (8/24/13)

Wandering Around South Monterey County:

  • Rows of Garlic bins were queued in the fields.
  • Bean threshers were in flailing.
  • Red bell peppers were glistening.
  • Fennel was being picked in a patchwork of vivid jade and faded celadon.
  • Brix (i.e. sugars) are increasing as the wine grapes hang heavy on the trellis.

Veggie fields resembled vitreous green shards impaled in the dry crust of the southern Gabilan hills.

Small, impoverished communities give testimony to tattered remnants of Victorian dreams of railroads, prosperity, and hope.

Windshield Views (9/26/13)

Today and yesterday were just gorgeous! As we pass the fall equinox, the shadows lengthen, yet the sun is still strong. Thus, contrasts were phenomenal!

Let’s talk harvest! On the Central Coast, the crews are working like mad! I MEAN running! They were precision machines! When I asked my client about prices, he said that labor is so short the crews are really hustling.

What was being harvested today? Pearly Garlic, emerald Anaheims, ruby-red Bell peppers, garnet-red wine grapes, alabaster cauliflower, jade-green broccoli, and citron-green lettuce! It was a treasure chest of fruits and vegetables.

Thank you Mother Earth and our farmers for our bounty!

Windshield Views (1/17/13 & 1/30/13)

Elks!

Jan. 17 – I saw an elk herd of about 30-40 elk this morning! Going east on Hwy 46 at the intersection of Hwy 41. This an area where I usually see antelope on cold and frosty mornings.


Jan. 30Elks revisited! I spied a second (and separate) herd of elk only about 100 yards from Highway 101, as I headed south at dusk two nights ago! The bull was regal as he stood watch over his herd!

For today’s BIG excitement, Berny, my husband, saw a mountain lion cross the highway about where the elk herd had been! It’s been a while since we have had a lion sighting!