Me and my wife Becky live on the family property right in the middle of Martinez. Not many people know we are back here. We have just under 7 acres of land and it is a lot of work. But it's fun and there is something to do everyday. You never get bored and we are very lucky to have this land and also honored to care for the land while we are here.
I never really considered humans as owning land, more like the land owns us. The earth. It was here a long time before us, and will be here a long time after. We are more like caretakers and it is something I never take for grant it. I look forward to every morning and getting out there and doing the next project, planting this, trimming that, building something, fixing things. It is so much fun, and good exercise and fulfilling. Not to mention the land provides.
Every time of year something is ready to pick here. To name everything we have here would be endless. Lemons, Oranges, Tangerines,Grapefruit, Plums, Apricots, Figs, Guava, Loquats, Apples, Olives, Blue Berries, Tomatoes of all kinds, Peppers, Cucumbers, Strawberries, Squash, Beans, Potatoes, Corn, Sunflowers, Melons, and much more. Herbs and other plants like Aloe, flowers, so many things, you can take a basket out and pick dinner.
Just about anyone can find the space to grow a garden. If you don't have a yard or anyplace to grow, you can grow a garden at one of the many community gardens around Martinez. Also, you can ask a neighbor for a small space to grow in exchange for some work maybe.
My Great Grandfather was a farmer and moved to Martinez in the 1920's. He had chickens, Ducks, Rabbits, Dairy Cows and produce of all kinds. Mostly the Portuguese were farmers back then and the Italians were fishermen. They also traded goods. It was a beautiful land back then with vineyards stretching as far as the eye can see, orchards, and the food and wine must have been incredible. Just look at some of the street names around Martinez and you can see what was there.
My great grandfather farmed out in Alhambra valley and in 1928 rented this property and farmed much of the land around D Street and up Shell Avenue.
In 1929 he was taking Milk downtown by Horse and Buggy, pulled by his two plow horses, Maggy and Chubby, when he was hit by a Model T. He never owned a gas powered machine his whole life, and back then Horses always had the right away. He got an insurance settlement and bought the land he was renting.
I get deja vu all the time when I am out working the land, that my Great Grandfather must have been doing the same thing 90 years ago. Some of what he did is still here. Maybe it is in the genes, but I feel like I have done things before.
The creek was cleaner back then with a swimming hole. The creek runs through our property and the soil, from years of silt, is some of the best soil in the world. Everything you need for great soil is in the silt deposited by the creek over the ages. Sand, Top Soil, compost, manure, everything from the entire Franklin Canyon water shed has come down the creek for thousands of years, from floods, and made the valley floor rich and fertile. We also have a well, which is great water to grow with.
We moved all over California when I was growing up, but this has always been here. Our family property. I have many great memories visiting family here. I moved here for good in 1992 to take care of it for my Great Aunt. My mother also has worked hard over the years and loves to work in the yard.
I am very excited now to have my own blog to talk about gardening and share what I have learned over the years. Also, when I started to manage this property, I inherited some tools, and had to buy some yard tools and quickly got jobs outside the property doing other peoples yards. I worked for old timers who passed on their knowledge to me. Taught me so much. But I learned of course there are many different opinions on everything regarding gardening. From pruning roses, how to plant, work the soil, you name it, there are definitely more than one way to skin the cat as they say.
I ended up with my own technics and opinions that have worked best for me. And of course we have many different types of soil, micro climates, conditions to deal with just here in Martinez, so no two places are exactly the same.
Also I learn something new everyday. Never boring, gardening is one of the funniest things on earth. And the food cannot be beat. Nothing you can buy at Safeway can compare to the taste and freshness you can grow right in your own yard, and save tons of money. And you control the whole process, knowing the food you grow is safe and so called organic, and it really isn't that difficult. It is fun and you save a ton of money.
So put on some gloves and grab a shovel I will meet you in the garden!!