After years of living in some great Seattle neighborhoods, I left my teeny-tiny house in Seattle (a real-life version of the cottage I drew as a kid, complete with pointy-tip tulips of unnatural colors and spiral smoke escaping the chimney). I moved to the country, to a schedule of tides and ferries, to five acres of possibilities and a community of kind people.
I found a gem of a house, just needing someone to provide the polish. (photo circa 1900)
Locally, the farmhouse is known as the Peach Palace, a moniker not so much based on the fruit in the orchard or the size of the house, as much as on the paint hue that covers its frame. (One pays a price for the savings found in another person’s paint mixing mistake.) Actually the color has grown on me, and no matter what the hue, I am smitten with my home, its history and welcoming presence.
In the orchard, my newly planted trees bend with the promise of future bounty. For now, they’re just getting settled. I grow apples, peaches, pears, persimmons, quince, berries, figs and cherries, mainly because I love to eat apples, peaches, pears, persimmons, quince, berries, figs and cherries.
On a personal note, I’m someone who embraces the beauty of the bulldog…
Succumbs to the power of pie…
Contends that summer is never long enough…
Shares his hammock…
And sofa with bossy (and weighty) interlopers,
Plays with his food (reprising my role as Cyrano de Raspbergerac)
And finds that any time his feet are walking in tall clover, it’s a good day.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me here. [contact_form]
Stumbled upon your website after googling the best way to freeze blackberries, blueberries, etc. Absolutely love your writing, sense of humor and am intrigued with your island home. I lived in a lakeside community in Upstate New York for 10 years and miss my little cottage terribly. For writers block, I have found that reading previous pieces of writing, changing my writing location and simply sitting in the beauty of nature helps me to gain new prospective and get “re-inspired”. Looking forward to returning. Thanks for the inspiration, Mary Ellen.
Hi Mary Ellen, Great to make your acquaintance and really appreciate your kind words and tip. Here’s to more writing and less block. Warm regards, Tom
Tom, I have sought some northwest gardens dilemma delight from you and your blog in the past. While on a long stint away from my home in the Pacnorwest woods, I decided to visit your blog as a reminder of home. I have to say I was terribly saddened to see the copious advertising in front of me. I understand the importance of providing for the future, but these advertisements were so auspicious and completely out of line with what you assert yourself to be. Again, I understand, and still I find myself wondering if anything remains without a price tag these days?
Hi Tom. I was looking for Antique Fire Place Andirons and saw the picture on google images. I saw your picture of your 2 bulldogs curled up together. That is how I found your site. I love it. I am going to try your Leek soup recipe this weekend. I have a bulldog too. His name is Winston and he is in his senior years now (11). We also have Annie (Saint Bernard) and Little Man (Golden Doodle). I just wanted to say I love your website and love Tall Clover Farm.
Thanks Ken, I sure appreciate the visit and kind words. It sounds like you have a houseful of great pals. And anyone who loves bulldogs is alright in my book; it’s a sign of keen insight and smarts, I always say. 😉
Could I bring my students to visit your farm in the Autumn?
We have 11 raised beds at our school and we love Apple trees.
Just stumbled across this when looking at another site. I’m finding it interesting but don’t see a place to subscribe.
Thanks Sharon, for bringing that to my attention. There is now a subscribe heading on the upper menu bar, next to Radio Show.
Well wishes, Tom
Finding your blog was the “way less traveled” for me. I rarely read blogs as just as you feel like you’ve come home, the blogger has left the building.. and I know this sounds terribly selfish, but I so love to read the moments of a day that are my vacation from my own. but, i digress. I love pie. .o my gosh.. no matter how the day has gone, it is .. the moment of release, that quintessential soul food.. and on FB, I belong to a group, Pie Nation, and your blog was highlighted today from a reader who adored your wee blog on Pie Crust washes..
…. but for me.. I found myself staring at the pies like you had them framed.. such art! I paused over the descriptions: crunchy, crispy and such.. next thing you know.. I was searching for pie in the fridge. .you had me.. I had to bake. I choose the milk with sugar and a filling of Honeyberries, blueberries and strawberries. I rarely do lattice, as I adore my pie birds and wooosh. into the oven.. its hrs hence.. but I couldn’t sleep. Had to at least say, Thank you Merci~ your sunshine, flowers, grasses among the toes, the pups at rest, the fruit on your nose… thank you .. what a lovely day we had!
Blue, I am deeply moved by your very kind comment and delighted to make your acquaintance. Thanks for taking the time to share your generous words and thoughts, and love of pie, pups, and general farm antics. I’m an early riser, so my morning, though still dark is blessed with your light. Thank you so very much. Tom and Buddy (who’s not an early riser)
Hi Tom, I just found your blog while Googling a recipe for apple berry pie for my Thanksgiving table. My granddaughter, Brooklyn has requested it for dessert. I’m can’t imagine where she got the idea; she’s only six, but her wish is my command, lol. I’m going to try your recipe (it was the custard that got me). Your life in Vashon Island sounds like a dream to me and I am compelled to reach out and tell you as much. Congratulations, you lucky man.
Hi Sue, I like how your granddaughter thinks and I hope the pie recipe is worthy of your holiday and family get together. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and our neighbors to the north. And thank you for the kind words. I try not to take my life, my farm, my friends and my family for granted, and yours is a good reminder of that wish. Thank you Sue!
Tom, I found you on a search for Blackberry Vine removal. Your approach to their demise was exactly what I was looking for. One of my daughters has 5.5 acres in Ravensdale and every time I go there I imagine how beautiful her property would be with a beautiful grass pasture void of the nonnative blackberry vines. I will follow, (with patience) your recommended procedure to rid her property of these brambles. By the way, you seem like a guy that once we meet it is as we have known one another for a lifetime. Like, dude we are living here in the 21st century, but we feel perhaps we should have been born 80 years earlier. Your approach to all things appear to be basic, unassuming without pretense and thoughtful. John
Hi John, I salute your effort to tackle your daughter’s wild blackberries. You are obviously a good dad. And thanks for the really kind words. I so appreciate your generous support. Let me know how it goes. I have a new area that’s succumb to brambles after one season of looking the other way. Back at it again, and this time I won’t take my eyes off of them. Cheers! Tom
Hi Tom. I have subscribed because every time that I am googling something luscious for the garden or the kitchen (Nanaimo peaches and growing tomatoes to name a few) your interesting, well written and informative site pops up. I have enjoyed all of your posts that I have read and thought that you should know. My weather is not so different from yours. I am on the island to the north and across the invisible line, on lovely Vancouver Island. Not as small and quaint as Vashon, but still a PNW island that contributes to my glad heart and my l sweet life. So your gardening tips are both relevant and welcome as is your light hearted wit.
Thank you so much Karen, your kind words warm my heart and fuel my love of writing this blog. Vancouver Island is a wonderful place. Like the words on the Peace Arch in Blaine read, we are “Children of a Common Mother” and that not only is between the U.S. and Canada, but around the world. Merci!
Hi Tom, I have been following you and enjoying your posts for a long time.
I was born and educated in Europe. Now I live in the south US.
I enjoy the life very similar to yours, including a fairly small garden. Of course, we love dogs, too.
We enjoy fresh vegetables and some fruits. Then, we preserve the rest by fermentation.
Lately we started to freeze-dry some.
I enjoy making fruit preserves using the “old country (European) way”, all natural, no additives at all. I especially like your strawberry and rhubarb jam recipe. All my friends love it. Thank you for sharing it.
I noticed you appreciate “the old needlework and similar”. I have a beautiful large collection and I would be happy to send you a special one as a token of friendship. Please send your address.
Julia Paula Karen
Thank you so much for the lovely and most generous note. I love it when we can all share the interests and the beauty of life’s simpler moments and things. Your recipes intrigue me as I know little of these wonderful countries’ recipes and cuisine. Thanks for thinking of me, and the offer to share these kind tokens.
Hi Tom, my comment disappeared in front of my eyes.
So, I will try again.
I was born and educated in Europe. Now I live in the south of US.
My husband and I live a life very similar to yours. Our values are equal to yours.
We have a small garden and a few fruit trees. We also have many flowers, some wild and some not.
Plenty of deer, squirrels, many wonderful birds etc.
We enjoy it all and never kill any animals.
We live a simple life and love it.
Now we are harvesting the vegetables, enjoying them in salads every day: tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, hot peppers, and many spice plants like horseradish etc. We will soon start freeze=drying.
I want to say that I especially appreciate your recipe for strawberry-rhubarb jam. I made numerous jars of it. We enjoyed eating them and I also gave many to my friends. They loved it.
I noted, perhaps wrongly, that you appreciate “old things” like handmade
lace and needlework. I am not only a well-known collector of such things but I use historical examples to make similar works.
I would like to chose one and send it to you. Please send me your address.
If you wish, I would gladly share AUTHENTIC recipes from Slavic countries, as well as from the neighboring countries: Austria, Hungary… THE RECIPES ARE AUTHENTIC AND RARELY SHARED.
Every year at this time, as my wife and I set aside peaches and nectarines to ripen, I think of how grateful I am for having come across your ripening video several years ago. I just want to say “Thanks” for having added so much to the pleasure we get from them. It is sincerely appreciated. Best regards.
Mark and Kathie Hilliard
Hi Mark and Kathie, wow, I really appreciate your note. As a fellow peach lover, I love that you’re getting the best tasting peaches you can. A little time goes a long way. Take care, and again, thanks for making my evening. cheers, Tom
Tom – I found your website looking for how to ripen peaches. I was going about it all wrong!
I have lived in Ohio most of my life. I don’t mind the 4 seasons, but, as I am no longer working full-time, am starting to think of where I really want to live. I am a widow, and my boys are adults, so I can please myself. I have been seriously considering moving a little south – to North or South Carolina. However, this was only because I wanted a longer growing season so I could have a peach tree, and a garden un-shackled by Northern Ohio weather. Now, that I read your life on Vashon blogs, you have opened by eyes. I don’t have to leave the state to have a garden! You have truly freed me! How joyous. Do you all need a family doc on Vashon?
Hi Kathy, what a lovely note. Thank you for the kind words and good thoughts. Funny you should mention about doc on Vashon. We are currently entertaining the idea of voting to become a hospital district to provide more health services to islanders. Most of us now go into Seattle or Tacoma for our health providers. This reminds me, I better buy some med-evac insurance. Vashon is a great little spot, let me know if you have anymore questions. Cheers! And Happy gardening and semi-retirement! Tom
Wow, great beard. Most men (that I’ve seen) just don’t look that good in a beard…I’ve probably just insulted a lot of your readers…Nancy Ann
Thanks Nancy Ann, as I enter the precipice of geezerdom, I may have to grow it again. 😉
I totally understand. I moved from Huntington Beach, CA to Hood River, OR. I saw a friend post a picture of your farm on Facebook. It looked like Mt Rainier, but, I wanted to make sure as I have a view of Mt Adams.
Yes, Mount Rainier is beautifully seen from Vashon Island and in the old days of farming, you could see it from my front porch. Trees now obscure the view. Hood River is beautiful, what a lovely place to land.
Tom, I am the last of my family that stayed in the house when Calloways owned it. My grandmother used to take me there to pick berries to earn money for school clothes. My grandmother and my mother were goods friend to Mrs. Calloway and Betty the daughter. They both used to come over to Point Defiance park for family get togethers. I have pictures of Mrs. Calloway at my daughters house in Canada. When this Covid thing is over I want to go get them. I would someday like to come over and see the old place.
Hi Deanna, what a wonderful history to share. Thank you. Yes by all means would love to hear more. Take care, Tom
thank you for this website and your sensibilities; they’re lovely.
Thank you Marsha, that is so kind of you to say, uh, I mean write. Most appreciated.
I’d like to share with you a peach tree story. I have a pdf file and jpg photo of my young trees if you have an email address I can send them to. The story is…my Great Grandfather planted peach pits in the early 1900’s which do not have the peach tree curl. He lived at Black Lake in Thurston County. To this day, these peach pits have been passed down through the family and continue to successfully grow in Thurston County – true to seed. As my Aunt Marie (who wrote the story) passed away 15 years ago, I’m the person she counted on to keep these trees going. This last March was the first time I took on the job as my son who has two of Aunt Marie’s trees had a bumper crop.
Andrea that is so cool. I love that these peaches produce, thwart leaf curl and are a wonderful legacy for your family. Would love to learn more. Thank you! Tom
I really enjoy your website. I am sorry to see there have been no updates on your peach trees. I would love to grow one that resists peach leaf curl, as I too, hate spraying. We took out a peach and nectarine several years ago that was supposed to be resistant. We’re going to be planting figs later this fall. I’m hoping to get one named Beal that is supposed to taste like a peach.
Hi Karen, Thanks for your comment, it’s a good reminder to update my post about growing peaches here in the NW. I can tell you, that I only grow two peaches outdoors that is not under greenhouse protection: Nanaimo and Indian Free. Both have bouts with peach leaf curl when young but outgrow the disease a few years in. Nanaimo is so sweet and a good producer. Indian Free has been slow to produce fruit and it ripens in October. Good luck on growing figs, they’re a great garden addition and usually pretty easy to grow here.
Hi Tom: A friend forwarded me this web-site. My wife and I were dear friends of the former owners, Buzz and Karin Brusletten. Buzz and Karin have both passed away now but they were wonderful people and we shared many fantastic meals in your kitchen. I also have an original painting of your kitchen by Pam Ingalls, a Vashon artist you may know. Your home and property has a lot of great ju-ju. From the moment I met her, I felt like Karin was the mother I was supposed to have.
John, you are not alone in your love of the Bruslettens. Even after I bought the house and moved in, I referred to it as “their” house. Their joy and laughter is present to this day in the walls, windows, floorboards and gardens of this magical place. We lost them way too soon, but I am treated to their memory every day in this beloved home and blessed to know their children and grandchildren. Thanks for sharing these memories and reminders of our friends who felt more like family. Warm regards, Tom