1st anniversary of the firestorm

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“Karl the Fog” sneaks over Taylor Mountain on 10/9/18

This week is the anniversary of the night the big fires in Sonoma and Napa County started (and I think some started Lake and maybe even Mendocino, but I could be wrong). Folks in the Bay Area in general have been pretty on-edge these last few days as we had hot, dry days with high winds (worse in the hills, ugh) coming from the North and Northeast – much like last year. Thankfully, those particular winds and the red flag warnings have ended.

Today KQED Radio’s “Forum” show was a live event in Santa Rosa with updates from officials from city, county, and state departments related to the fires, future altering about emergencies, coordination with other fire agencies, fire prevention, housing construction, and fire recovery in general. I am guessing that this is part 1 and this is part 2.

KQED news and the California Report have been doing some good reporting in the last year about how the fires started, the cleanup, and rebuilding. In our house, we are radio and web people- we don’t subscribe to the Press Democrat newspaper or watch TV news, so I don’t have a good sense of other coverage. Oh, this weekend there were updates about the red flag warning and the just-in-case stationing of fire trucks in the East Bay hills to prevent a disaster like the fires that happened in the past. I’ve also recently found a radio show (segment, realy) called the North Bay Report,  that has some coverage, although it’s mostly of other issues.

I’m glad that this anniversary is mostly behind us. Really glad.

 

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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.

Omg leg injury

Today I was racing with T and I felt something snap in my calf. It feels like a bad leg cramp with some burning around it. I debated whether or not to go to Urgent Care (iirc that’d be $50 and the Emergency Room would be $100). I decided against it after I discussed it with Z and my friend who had a similar injury (hers was a calf strain and it took forever to feel better). I will try to call my doctor in the morning. I do not have time for any of this.

I almost did go to Urgent Care around 4:45pm or so, but first I had to water the summer crop seeds that I started yesterday ;). And monitor the water that was running in the garden. I walked around 5/6 of the garden, which was not a good idea. That said, walking feels a lot better on grass than on gravel or in the house. Walking while pushing a grocery cart also feels better. I also added drip tape to the bed space that I prepared this morning. Had to get water on there! I hand water a lot before I transplant in order to get the compost to start to mix into the soil and coalesce into something that can hold the plant up. I have dozens of plants to get into the ground. My friend thinks I might have trouble being on my knees. We have an upright(ish) transplanter (bought from Johnny’s) but I may have broken it a couple of years ago because I just can’t figure out how to operate that thing. :/ #clumsy Our soil is too hard to be able to get plants in using that thing, anyway.

I donated some plants to a fundraiser for T’s preschool. It was hard to figure out what to give- kale, of course, maybe some broccoli, a few zinnias… they already had marigolds, which stinks since I have soooooo many. I should start some more and sell most of the ones I have. That reminds me, I really need to pot things up. We have the money and I should really pay someone to help me catch up for a few weeks. Especially for the strawberries. So much food is going to waste because I never got the beds cleaned up from winter, our mower has blown grass into the bed, etc. 😦 I need to get after those slugs. The below photo is from our 2018 planting. I weeded around the plants the other day, but I really need to hoe there but it’s just too windy by the time I get outside. Gotta try to wash some dishes, stretch, and get to bed.

Strawberry leaf that is much larger than the others near it
huge strawberry leaf!

Waiting for the ground to dry out

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I haven’t been spending enough time in the garden lately. I’m getting a bit burnt-out on spending most of my garden time watering seedlings (I have 13 trays started so far). I’ve been using the old plastic greenhouse for germination, and then moving the trays (5 so far) to the new-to-us greenhouse. I think a lot of the plants are stunted due to not enough light (or it could be the cold lol although these are mostly greens). According to weather underground, it got down to 35 or 36 degrees  outside last night!

I got a big order of seedling trays this week. I’m interested in experimenting more with the ones that have 100+ holes. I’ve been using the 6-packs that fill up a tray with only 48 cells, and I will run out of greenhouse space at that rate. At that point I would get some short shelving units to put under the shelves- probably nbd (or stepping stones for rats to get to the top, we’ll see).

I keep meaning to start some summer crops for the fundraiser for my kid’s preschool that is in a month. I am not sure what to start that the school isn’t already growing. Some herbs? A tray of summer crops? I got some 2.5″ pots so maybe people can get individual plants. I have no sense of how big the plants will be.

I have mowed the northeast section 4 or 5 times, always intending to put the silage tarp I’ve bought down to kill the grass (wonder if it would kill the flea beetles in my mustard cover crop?). Maybe I’ll fill in the deep holes in that area and get the tarp out tomorrow (Friday).

Flower question: please talk to me about growing dahlias from seed and at what size I should pot them up…

Busy day before the rain

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View of Taylor Mountain on this cloudy and misty day

We’re expecting an inch or two of rain in the next few days — we’ll see what happens!

Today I did some mowing in the garden in preparation for my imaginary pea and fava bean plantings. Maybe I can just sneak them in without a drip tape guide if it doesn’t rain too hard tomorrow(?). Then I mowed a path to the back gate. The wildlife path is super-hard and sunken, so hopefully getting some cut grass and rain on it will loosen that soil back up. I always fantasize that we’ll put woodchips on it. In very rainy winters the low spots get puddling.

This is not a very rainy winter. We have had 48% of normal for this point in the rain year, and 25% as much as we had gotten at this point last year! We’d had like 145% of normal rainfall by this point. Scary.

I’ve been trying to get more woodchips and some compost while the ground was dry (the delivery gate is at the back corner that’s visible in the above photo). I called back the company in Marin County that had flaked on returning my call “tomorrow” 5 days earlier yesterday.  They’re having trouble finding a truck with a transfer (so it can carry 2×15 yards of material) that is available because they are all busy doing fire debris removal. I don’t want my compost to come in a debris removal truck!!! But I guess it’s part of us all sharing the burden of the legacy of the fires(?). I don’t want to get compost from the place that’s like 3.5 miles away from us because it has a terrible reputation amongst gardeners (funny because they have a respected local small farmer writing their blog-type articles). I don’t want to risk having plants that seem to be suffering from herbicide damage (speaking of which, I found a wild brassica that looked like that today – maybe from the 32-degree nights?). Our trash company changed and now our green waste seems to be going to Vacaville, which is an hour or so away. I called out of curiosity to find out how much delivery of compost would be. Guess how much? $600. It’s around $255 from West Marin (CA DFA organic), and it was around that much when Waste Management was making its OMRI-listed compost in Novato. Argh!

This afternoon I got back out to the garden and collected my soil sample. There were places where the compost that I’d put on the surface had infiltrated 6 inches below the surface! Overall the soil was a bit too cold and wet for sampling with a shovel. It was hard to get a slice of soil and it was hard to break up the clods (peds) so I could take a small amount out. I’ll just have to bring in what I have when I’ve got the time. The place we send it thru is close to Z’s job in Sebastopol, but he’s so busy that I don’t think I’ll ask him to do it on a weekday.

Then I dealt with putting soil back on a low spot next to the driveway. By the end I could hardly move! So tired…

Some rain’s in the forecast

We’ve had 51% of normal rainfall for this point in the season. Last year at this point we’d gotten 203%. We started watering this week.

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Thursday

“A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 10am. Some of the storms could produce small hail. Sunny, with a high near 55. Breezy, with a northwest wind 14 to 22 mph, with gusts as high as 29 mph. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.”
In other news, next week’s predicted rain seems to have devolved into showers 😦
It is taking me weeks to get any beds ready to plant. I wanted to try phacelia and mustard – the latter is for the old strawberry bed. It had a big, angry yellowjacket nest last year. Hope they don’t come back to the same area this year. By the way, I saw my first butterfly, cucmber beetle, and yellowjacket of the year last week.
I need to figure out a better way to get the grass off so I can plant. Z suggested using the tractor’s loader, but that takes too much topsoil off.
I’m getting ready to order more compost and/or wood chips. It’s a big financial commitment. Our green waste, by the way, apparently goes to Vacaville, on the other side of those mountains (and delivery of compost from there would cost $600. that’s before the cost of the compost!). Too bad that we can’t get our local organic back into our soil. My friends in the Central Valley buy (or bought) their compost from that site.
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Today we used our new soil thermometer. It said that the soil ranges from 54 to 70 degrees. 54 was in a grass-covered, wetter area in the center of the south side. It was 68 about 12 feet away from there in an area that had compost on the surface.

Had a big windstorm earlier this week

Seeking plans for (12-foot) hoophouse made with EMT (electrical conduit = metal pipe)

Z has/had been trying to resurrect our little greenhouse from last year – the one that blew over end to end a few times in the first night of the North Bay Fires. Well, it was really windy whichever night that was this week (Monday?). Z woke me up and said there were high winds and that the greenhouse had blown over. I told him he was dreaming and to go back to sleep. He had opened the door and felt warm air swirling around from all directions. We’ve been having low-to-mid 30’s temperatures at night, which makes this unpredicted windstorm extra weird! Ok, extra-extra weird when you consider that not everyone got this windstorm- out of Z’s coworkers, only one, who lives like 8 miles away from us, had had it!

So we need to build a very wind-proof greenhouse. We have no time or energy, so this is a real challenge. I have been thinking it would be a hoophouse. Most of the plans that I see are for PVC, but we don’t think plastic pipes would be strong enough. Z is tempted to buy a poly pre-built greenhouse used online. I dunno about that…