I hate the holidays and am so glad that they are over. It was nice having my sisters-in-law and their kids around, and we went for a nice hike with my in-laws, but I personally have a hard time. I did go to the garden to show people what little there is to show on Saturday (and I pulled a few weeds and noted that the gophers seem to have stolen some of my garlic plants already), but other than that, I went 3 days without doing any work out there. Tonight I managed to put 4 wagonloads of compost out, so that makes me feel a bit better. On the way back to the compost I’d grab a bucket or two of wood chips and put them in low or bare spots on the path, so I felt like I was getting some work done on that project. We’re due to get a bit of rain this week. Like really not much. We are having a very dry winter so far.
Z’s relatives actually found edible strawberries in the garden this weekend. Those Seascapes are amazing. I’m sure that I wouldn’t have found them very good, but I am spoiled from living in California (and getting to choose which ones I eat vs compost as I harvest them).
We had a live christmas tree this year, so we spent some time today figuring out where to plant it and then putting it in the wrong place, anyhow. Check out (below) what a gorgeous day it was! It was interesting to see how my way of planning and carrying out movements was more efficient than Z’s. I actually spend a lot of time worrying about my inefficiencies when I’m working in the garden. Tonight I finished reading the excellent book Lean Farm Guide to Growing Vegetables. It gave me a lot of food for thought. I even learned something (I think it was in this book) that I’d suspected about needing a different potting mix when I’m potting things up into larger pots.
The raccoons have been digging up a storm. You can see that they dug all around a spot where I had put compost. This area is the southernmost end of the south garden beds.
We won’t be getting any rain until December 21st, according to the forecast. I’m trying to use my limited garden time to put compost out on the areas in the beds where the animals have been digging, but for areas like the paths at the end of the rows, I NEED WOOD CHIPS. I tried to buy wood chips from a guy, but he said they were from trees that had dropped their leaves due to the heat from the #SantaRosaFirestorm – too close for my comfort. I need them to be clean and not from so close to the fires. So of course every time I go anywhere, I see tree service trucks coming from areas where there were fires. I’ve also been digging out some of the curly dock that’s all over the place, while my soil’s soft and mostly not too wet.
This reminds me, I see debris removal trucks every time I leave the house, too. Well, that kind of truck is actually all over town all the time, what with wood chips, gravel, and compost being driven around in similar vehicles. I really hope that the drivers have the debris closed up tight!
My gym is closed this weekend and I’d love to go to outdoor water aerobics, but the pool is located too close for my comfort to Coffey Park. 😦 When I went to an event on the other end of that neighborhood 2 weeks ago, I could smell and taste the ash in the air. I don’t want to mess with that.
Today is the LAUNCH of our crowd-sourcing campaign! We need at least $500 in community donations to meet our matching grant funding from The Pollination Project, which combined will get us half-way to our $2000 goal to get all samples from one site into a lab for analysis!
Please donate to UCCE Sonoma‘s “Citizen Science Projects” fund and write “Produce Safety” in the comments.
Just what is the effect of ash from the #NorthBayFires landing on plants in our gardens? Is the food we’ve grown safe to eat?
Today I went to an event about the “Citizen Science” produce sampling project. Here’s a link to an original invitation for sites to get involved. It was really good but I can’t type up all my notes. Basically, very little is known about the effects of fires on garden/farm produce. A graduate student was “voluntold” by a produce project founder to look into air quality issues from the time of the fires so that any toxins in samples could be compared to the air quality during that time. The samples are from a nice smattering of places around Sonoma County (and, I’m sure, beyond). There is a basic list of things that are common chemicals in houses, furniture, clothes, etc, and there is a list of things they’ll test for. I seem to remember lead, PAH’s, lead, arsenic, cadmium, and cobalt. PS, more research is needed about the effects of flame retardants and the Phos-Chek that was applied.
There is at least one group doing bioremediation by putting (mushroom) inoculated straw wattles in/around streams. There will also be a project that will do soil sampling (I think they said it will be linked to the results of the produce test? or at sites that were sampled?). It sounds like sites that had more than one type of greens, ie lettuce and kale, will be prioritized. Someone from UC Davis has already collected ash from impacted sites to examine with mass spectrometry. “Science is amazing!” as the kids from the Pokemon cartoon TV show said.
I still need wood chips. Now I’m nervous about sources (were the trees from burned areas? was phos-chek dropped on them? etc) and about my compost in the future- are people bringing fire-damaged plant materials to the big composting sites? Should that stuff go to a toxic waste disposal site? It was mentioned that adding organic material to the soil is a key way to mitigate the effects of, or even basically break down some of the bad compounds into things that are not as bad. So I need to keep covering my soil 🙂
Funding for the produce project is yet to come. They figured out that each site’s produce testing will cost some $2000. There is a Giving Tuesday campaign to raise money for the produce testing project (although the project is not mentioned on the link I’m including?). The goal for this Tuesday is $2000 to be able to get one site’s samples tested, but I would like to think they will raise more. They will also be requesting grant money. Please help support the project if you can. Please comment here or contact the folks in the first link to find out more about the project.