The rainy season has come

Clearly I need to be keeping a closer eye on the 10-day forecast. We got around .11 inch of rain on Saturday. I found my first Berkeley Pink Tie Dye tomatoes on Sunday!

At least I got compost delivered last week. I was disappointed that it is not “finished,” since I need to use it right away. Fortunately I have a teeny bit left from this spring’s delivery and I also may be able to salvage a yard from the last delivery I got from Waste Management (I thought theirs was a very good compost). It’s almost buried by wood chips from the notorious time this past spring when the delivery truck got stuck between the driveway and the garden and sank into the soil. They put the wood chips where the compost went, and then the compost got dumped where the truck was stuck. I guess that my next delivery will have to go at the end of the driveway and I’ll just have to go a longer distance with the wheelbarrow. Sigh! I’ve been putting wood chips on the bald spots on my paths and today I finally started putting compost on the new greens bed. So far behind, as always.

I sold my first flowers!

I’ve kind of been waiting for sales to fall into my lap, rather than like picking flowers and then hustling to sell them. Kind of pathetic, I know.

A woman in the local flower growers/florists network said she needed marigold flowers (without stems). Here’s a photo of some of the 30 (36?) that she took.

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Dark Orange Marigold flowers

I was concerned that many  looked too far developed, but that’s kind of where they are at late in the season. I’ve really been in denial and it’s becoming increasingly clear that winter is coming. Early.

Workshops… tempting…

I get so frustrated with all the questions I have and the lack of people to ask… I need mentors. In the meantime, I keep hearing about all these workshops that I wouldn’t really have time to go to, like locally at Singing Frogs Farm this fall and The Gardener’s Workshop (online) with the author of the book Cool Flowers. I just don’t know…

The garden looks pretty darn good, but I have no idea what to do with my gorgeous, big purple, pink, and white zinnias. Do I sell them one at a time? In bouquets of 4? And um who do I sell them to? I was thinking of selling thru a local buyers’ club but someone sold like a $20+ bouquet at $5 each (with like 5 focal flowers, smaller flowers, and foliage and other fillers) and I’m like… peace! I’m not about to way underprice my flowers just to bring in a couple of bucks. And yes, I am pretty sure that the other grower, like me, has a partner who has a pretty good-paying job. That doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve to cover the expenses and labor incurred in growing the flowers, though!

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Reportback of sorts about the produce testing project

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.

Meanwhile, in my garden…

there are a few ripe strawberries!
there are still some strawberries!

 

Started a new compost!

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T “riding” his tricycle in the garden.  Compost pile in foreground, along with shovel, bucket, and wagon

Yay, I started a new compost pile on Sunday. I didn’t get to add all of my buckets of compost, never mind all the smelly tomatoes that are in the field… (T was sick Saturday night, and recovering on Sunday)

I put out the last of my straw bales along the “old” strawberry bed. Today I picked 2/3 of a basket of strawberries from that bed, and then this evening I put compost down at the edges of the bed and on the bare spots. I got a lot on leaves and fruit, too, mais c’est la vie.

I smushed so many cucumber beetles in my few flowering calendulas today!!! It’s almost enough to make a person not grow it. Speaking of flowers, I also still have stock. The flowers I picked last week are still mostly doing well on the table.

Still need wood chips, lol.

We’re up to 77% of normal rainfall for this point in the season (3 inches so far). Lots of cool, cloudy, kind of rainy days lately.

The sky after some rain; produce study

The air quality is, at least on paper, getting better. It rained .2 inches on Thursday night! Note dark-colored soil due to the presence of moisture in the photo below. The air is definitely worse in other parts of town (like 6 blocks from the Coffey Park neighborhood on Friday, and when I visited Bennett Valley on Weds it was really bad). I got out to the garden on Friday morning and picked a basket of strawberries.  A lot of the “eat today” berries did not take well to being quintuple-washed. 😦

In the evening I started a new compost pile. I only used 4 or 5 buckets of stuff because I sprained my thumb (tho now it feels like the whole wrist) taking off my backpack the other day. SIGH! I’ve really overdone it the last few days, but, you know, vacuuming has to happen, especially after all the smoke in the last week and a half.

On Saturday I am planning on going to an orientation training thing to be part of a study about the effects of fire on produce! Yay! The woman was like, wow, you were really close to the fires. (3.1 miles by our count) I hope that some of the farmers who lost everything in the actual fires have gotten in touch with her!

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Starting to get fall crops in

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plants in the greenhouse this evening

Well, I have cabbage seedlings that are getting big, and broccoli seedlings that i’ve potted up (some have been rotting in their new pots 😦 ) and this stuff needs to get into the ground. Z prepped the area with the tractor, and today i put out enough oyster shell and compost to get me started (the right row is pretty much ready to receive seedlings).

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new greens beds. cabbage and broccoli scheduled for the right, and kale and broccoli in the left rows

I should have watermelons soon if they can handle the 48-degree nights.

Hm, the bad Inaturalist code at the right is worrisome; no time tonight.

PS, I planted some snow peas last week and they have emerged!

The harvest continues

I harvested 4 baskets of strawberries today. Got about 15 pears (low-hanging) from trees in garden. They are still ~75% ripe. It feels like they are ripening very slowly this year. And of course about a pound of green, yellow, and purple green beans.

Got my 40 yards of compost delivered this week. They didn’t call in advance (I hadn’t even paid yet, and they hadn’t confirmed!!!), so I didn’t get to move the old compost out of the way before it got buried.

The second, larger batch of green, yellow, and purple (Trilogy) beans is starting up…  hoping that folks we know will come over and pick some (pears, too). I planted another round of them today. Maybe I’ll get to one more before I stop planting them. There’s always that fantasy of having fresh green beans for thanksgiving, lol.

I have some flower and dill seedlings to get into the ground really soon. Those are for fall. I am missing my chance to plan and plant for the spring. Missing the chance to get cover crops in. It’s really a terrible month for planting because the raccoons do so much digging at this time of year :(. I have to pot up my broccoli seedlings in a few days, and start many other kinds of greens. The aphids are destroying my red russian kale and have moved on to the dino kale. i need to clean that bed up (deadhead and harvest and sell flowers, as well as getting rid of old kale leaves) and just cannot find the time. I started a compost pile last week and never managed to turn it. I did add water to it once or twice. Z even got me a new hose for it.

Have been thinking about how I need a farm partner or three.

Better get ready for bed. Phone having trouble posting photo but i think one may have gotten thru to my flickr page…

Plant/harvest, repeat

I haven’t been harvesting the peas – it’s time to get them out of there before the bugs decide to migrate to the strawberries. Ok, they’ll do that either way. They’ve reached the stage where every pea is trying to be a seed.

T and I started some seeds tonight – things like tomatoes, etc that most people would have been planting almost 2 months ago. I’m just kind of on my own late timeline. Someday I need to write something up about our cheapo starter greenhouse, but not today. Let’s just say that I take the trays out and leave them on a table in the sun because it’s too hot in there in the daytime. Tonight when I was putting trays away, I broke the clothespin that was holding the bird netting over the door. Sigh! At least the heat wave is ending.

Today Z mowed the area where I want to put the summer crops. First I need to deal with the pea bed and the Chesnok Red garlic. I can’t tell if it’s ready to pull or not. Most people either pull theirs or use a pitchfork. My soil is so hard that I have to dig with a shovel. I dig all around the plant and still usually end up cutting the bulb. Need to develop a better technique. Need to improve the soil!

The strawberries need fertilizing. I didn’t mulch them because 1. I never had the time, and 2. I wanted to compare the sow bug presence when there’s no compost on the ground. It’s a lot better, but the berries are VERY thirsty. They got 1.5 hours of water (through drip tape) yesterday and were dry today. I’m trying to go back to every other day watering as we come out of this heat wave. Gotta let those roots spread.

The cabbage and broccoli (or whatever) that I transplanted this week have had all but one leaf eaten off of them. There’s a thick layer of compost on the ground in that bed.

I did a bit of mowing along the blackberry patch that borders our driveway to make access this summer a bit easier. And, of course, also to check if they’re ripening. They usually start in the first few days of July, but… I harvested and ate 3! I need to figure out a way to hang the harvest bucket around my neck so I can use both hands.

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