Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Companion Planting: My Husband as Companion

A constant agricultural character in my life is husband. In a sense, due to the fact that he works with wine in California, I jokingly call myself a wine widow. This arrangement may seems odd to some, but for two incredibly independent folks, it seems to be temporarily an acceptable situation. We are not really that far from one another, we love driving all over the American West, the flights back and forth are not that expensive, and let's face it, a change from the Northwest's rainy days is a great thing. (Besides, this means we can garden and cultivate plants SEPARATELY, yes, in different states, but EQUALLY.)

Mr B returns home for winter in a few days so I thought I would write up the 4 most important reasons why we go well together. This is actually about plants and I know that many of you will understand how exciting it is to share a love of tilling the soil with your partner.

1) Mr B is the high-quality dry vinegar to my goofy oil drenched cheesiness. He never laughs much at my bad jokes and I don't always know when he is joking. Somehow, this seriously works, mostly because we are not competing for the same audience.

Visiting Francis Ford Coppola's Rubicon Estate in Napa Valley, 2009.
2) We absolutely love traveling by car together, enjoying all the sights, taking in the agricultural, horticultural, historical, and cultural sites along the way. 
Mr B admiring his G-G-G Grandfather Speed Stagner's homestead on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. We drove there and back and I hope to do the drive again someday. It was beautiful. I am sad though that I was unable to germinate the native Clematis seeds I collected on the site. 
Garden at the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo in Carmel, (CA) c. 2009. We have visited over half of the missions and by far this is our favorite. The garden and the grounds felt like home to us. 
Trucks of garlic. This kind of thing makes us both happy. Besides, it smelled amazing.
Notice the juice dripping near the left flap of the truck. This was just north of Los Angeles on I-5 and it was about 100 degrees F. The smell of hot tomato juice as we followed this truck cracked me up. It was surreal especially when it intermixed with the garlic smell from the other trucks. 
3) The site of this vineyard makes both of us very happy. For Mr B, it means hard work and a challenge, but for me, I see the freedom he gets to have while doing something he loves. Besides, you really cannot grow these same Italian varietals in our area in northern Oregon. (Historically, the Italian immigrant families used to pool their money together to buy boxcars of wine grapes from California at wholesale prices and then they would distribute them for home winemaking down in produce row. My family was one of those families.)

Rosa D'Oro Vineyard, Kelseyville, (CA) c. 2009.
Mr B is a cat lover too, but he also likes other animals.
Our American Gothic.
The tanks.
The olive orchard at Rosa D'Oro, Kelseyville, (CA) c. 2009.
Tasting room sign at the vineyard. Notice the piles of rocks. This was something my husband thought up to make the new cement look more rustic. I have no idea if he finished that tiny pile he started at the base of the sign, but this was his
first attempt at being Andy Goldsworthy and I loved it. 
4.) Lastly, we also both love Oregon very much, and we both love our home and garden even if Mr B still likes to have everything planted in straight lines. We're still working on that, but I really cannot complain. He is one AMAZING hole digger, oh, and did I mention, he likes plant shopping!!!!
There are the Sangiovese grapes in our Oregon garden. Last year they ripened nicely, but this year they didn't even come close. This was due to our El NiƱo weather pattern. I planted these to remind him of his home away from home and when he is gone during the summer, I am always remind of him and have a piece of his life here with me. I eat these grapes though and they taste great.

If you are interested in reading more about unusual and uncommon Italian wine varietals, I have added a link to the Rosa d'Oro blog. My husband writes it and sometimes he can get really technical about the wine growing and making process and folks seem to enjoy that quite a bit. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even ask him for menu ideas to go with different wines. He is a trained chef, and sommelier, and sometimes misses that kind of thing. Check out what his currently up to by clicking here: Rosa D'Oro's Blog 


  1. Sounds like you go great together.
    My husband and I enjoy the same type of road trips. We're good going anywhere together. My husband is not into straight rows but he is also great at digging holes and he is very thourogh when I ask him to harvest something.
    Amazing grapes in that photos. Sorry they didn't do as well this year. Dang weather!

  2. Ok, completely confused, and read this three times. Are you living separately for months at a time? For only summers ? When did this start ? Give me more details next time, unless I missed a post about this ( which is probably knowing me ). take care, Gina

  3. Gina,
    Oh I am so sorry it was confusing. We are such weirdos my husband and I. He lives in California for about half of the year at his father's house where the vineyard is to help with the "family" business. We see one another once a month, and since the foster kids arrived, that usually means he drives up for about a week per month. I probably never really mentioned it much, but he and I talk and text one another everyday and it works well. From Thanksgiving until April 1st he is here with me and we try to travel and have some fun. That's when I show him around to those who have never seen him too so they don't think he's my imaginary husband!

    Oh, I forgot to add that everyone gets to see some food posts and recipes in the future. He is a wizard in the kitchen with delicious and healthy dishes. Why not share some of that with everyone too!

  4. Looking forward to the recipes and wine pairings. How great to have a chef/sommelier in the house.

  5. Why is it that men love to plant in straight lines?

  6. Sounds like a perfect combination, I'm quiet jealous. I am very independent and havent met anyone who will work with that.

    As for clematis seeds, I have found them easy to germinate. If you still have them pop the pot outside for the winter and forget it, you never know the cold might just do the job to break the dormancy

  7. patientgardener,
    I have left the seeds out through two winters now. I suspect I picked them before they were ripe enough. I keep joking that I might just have to drive back to pick some again but maybe I'm not really joking. Who knows how far I'd be willing to go to collect seeds. Deep down, I would love to be a seed hunter.

  8. What a sweet post, I really enjoyed the pictures and your commentary. I know what you mean about enjoying the road trips together, I think that is one of the times that my husband and I are at our best. Hope you have plenty of fun in your winter together!

  9. danger garden,
    Oh how I hope we will have a good winter around here! I don't want any snow or ice, and I would like it to stay cold enough to kill off any bugs that need to die. Maybe I know what to ask Santa for now? Yes!

  10. A great hole digger and likes to plant shop? Sounds like the perfect man! I really enjoyed learning more about the two of you. It sounds like you have a lot of fun traveling together. I can just smell those tomato and garlic trucks - a good combination! I enjoyed seeing some of the Oregon wineries last year when I visited my son who lives in Portland. I have another son who just moved to the San Fran Bay area. He is a student of wine, too. So I will have to explore some of the California wineries when I visit him.

  11. A very nice post. You two look great together. I would love to find my companion that would also be my companion in the garden.

  12. What a lovely post - you two sound like you have a good thing going. Enjoy any and all upcoming travels together!


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