Love Apple Farm
Ben Lomond, California
Last weekend, Rick rode is his bike down to Santa Cruz and I was the designated picker-upper. Actually, we met at our favorite beach on the San Mateo coast. On my way down to Santa Cruz/the beach, I stopped in at Love Apple Farm to buy some tomato starts.
Usually I just bust open a couple of sacks of Bumper Crop and spread it around. I have some old but still-standing raised beds that we put in when we bought the house. Our native soil is heavy clay. I didn't know what I was doing then and I don't know much more now but hope springs eternal. The soil in the raised beds has a lovely texture but I suspect that it is quite infertile.
Linda told me about Cynthia Sandberg, an amazing grower in Ben Lomond, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Her Love Apple Farm is the kitchen garden for Manresa, the Michelin-starred creation of chef David Kinch. This year she grew over 150 varieties of tomatoes, mostly heirlooms. She offers them for sale through the end of the month.
After strolling around the farm, checking out her pig and her chickens, I made the pilgrimage to Mountain Feed and Farm in downtown Ben Lomond. I have been fascinated with Cynthia's ideas for bed preparation and tomato planting. Mountain Feed usually has most of the ingredients necessary for the Love Apple protocols. Alas, I was too late get everything I needed. Next time I will call before making the trek. I did get some of the things on my list and resolved to try to secure the most daunting item for the almighty tomato hole: fish heads.
My test run was yesterday. Cynthia's method requires a deep hole. This is not because of the size of the tomato start, but because of the fish head. I was able to find salmon heads. Four of those babies weighed 10 lbs. I dug an 18" hole and threw in 1/2 a fish head per hole. Don't ask. Actually, that was the worst part. Next, she recommends bone meal, two aspirins, 2-4 eggshells, humic acid, earthworm castings, and an organic fertilizer. Am I the last person on earth to know about earthworm castings? That was the best part. This morning I couldn't wait to get up to see if the two tomato plants had been ravaged by marauding raccoons. So far, they don't know about the fish heads. I planted 6 more tomatoes and now I will take a nap. Je suis fatigue...