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.
I wish I had the time to write a longer thing about new housing that I see going up around the city and its outskirts (often displacing homeless people who camped in beautiful empty lots), and about how upset survivors are about disaster tourism (Especially when people walk around their properties! ugh), and how there are a lot of different art projects that are exhibiting right around now. I met an 8ish year-old girl last week who was a very angry and bitter fire victim. Can you imagine how hard it is to come home to live in a trailer where her family’s house once stood?
If I had a podcast, one of the people I would interview is one of our local farmers whose whole property burned down, and some who lost only small parts of their properties, and learn how the fire affected their operations, their land, their customer base… Sigh. Back to breakfast. Have to pick strawberries.
Many of us have been on edge this weekend because of the hot, dry north wind that creates the perfect condition for fire to spread…
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’ve been seeing a therapist lately. This week I said something about how later in the season I will have to accept that I have limits to what I can do. (I have a lot of self-pity when I compare myself to others, believe me.) She said that this week I should “accept my limits” and focus on “quality, not quantity.” It’s hard to know how much quantity you’ll have with growing food and flowers. I tend to start two sixpacks of tomatoes, and I’ve been getting only 4-8 plants germinating. I have 3 of 12 cucumbers, which is actually a more manageable number for someone who has trouble getting around to harvesting. Then some get damping off or other problems. I realized yesterday that I had to stop using the little watering can that I use in my germinating greenhouse. At the base of the end sprayer (what’s that called? a rose? rosette? I forget), there’s some water that drips out in droplets that are much larger than what comes out of the end. So I’m watering one or two cells gently, while the one that I just watered is getting pounded with even more water! It’s been that way pretty much the whole season. Maybe this is why I’ve had such bad germination of zinnias and some of the small-seeded summer crops? Argh! I need to find another source of organic full-size zinnias. So I’m dragging the curly hose over from inside the garden gate, and it barely reaches, and I’m bumping into the greenhouse frame as I pull the hose tighter… It’s not good. I’m generally miserable and feeling like I need help brainstorming and implementing solutions. I guess I could try putting newly seeded trays into the “new” greenhouse, even if they’re on the low shelves, since it’s so much cooler and gets less direct sunlight. I’m just nervous that rodents would get in there and eat them the first night. As it is, I wonder if earwigs have eaten any seeds in the other greenhouse!
I’ve planted most of my broccoli and cabbage in the last 10ish days, and this week I started on the dino kale. The broccoli is getting DESTROYED by flea beetles 😦 I finally pulled my onion seedlings out of the fridge (why didn’t I at least put them in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel when they arrived was it Monday or Tuesday of this week?! busy. And there’s a packet of Petaluma Gold Rush (not technically organic, but I think I’ve looked and not found them organic elsewhere) seeds in a plastic bag inside that box which I’m like, maybe I’ll just leave it there until I’m ready. Petaluma Gold Rush bean info(accessed tonight): “Pole/Dry. Short Rounded seeded horticultural type from Peru. Introduced to San Francisco area about 1840-1841 by Adeline Azevedo Frye. Sold by Azevedo family as snap and dry bean to mining camps. The plants are vigorous, producing vines that grow up to 10 feet tall.” Petaluma is like 10 miles from here (Z and I rented a place there before we moved 3 cities to the north). So I guess that counts as a local heirloom crop. I never dealt with the seeds that I harvested last year. Limitations. Well, really I just need to set a date by or in the 2nd week in November for collecting and processing seeds.
So I started planting onions yesterday along with the Dino Kale. I’ve got about 20 of the kales into the ground, and around 35 of the onions. Last night’s handful of onion seedlings was much bigger than I’d anticipated and made me a half hour later coming in from the garden. Sigh). I also put some of the onions amongst the beleaguered broccoli. Gotta keep planting, but also need to prep more beds. The ground in the next section has a big dip and I’m not sure if I/we can fix it any time soon. We have a pile of soil that, if it is moistened, could be moved to that area if we have time. I’m tempted to switch over to the summer crop area since I need to get my okra and tomatillos into the ground! And I have a few cukes and melons to transplant, too. And the dahlias are really getting rootbound. Wish me luck getting stuff done on Sunday. Z has been so stressed that he’s getting really forgetful. He needs some time to himself, but he always gives in when T says he wants to be with him. So it’s kind of his problem, but really it’s ours as a couple and family.
T was “helping” me transplant for a bit on Thursday (? or Friday?). He’d start to separate the roots a bit, and then he’d keep pulling at them. I’m like, “No. stop. Stop. STOP!” and he finally stopped. ARGH! Then he went into the house…
Haven’t harvested strawberries in around 5 days. No time. PS, calf still sore. Seeing a chiro/physiotherapist a friend recommended on Tuesday.
Ha! There is no catching up! I’ve been starting seeds, mostly when the Gardening by the Moon calendar recommends, and today I did some potting up (potting-on for you Brits and um Canadians?) of most of my dahlias (started from seed) and some red cabbages and broccoli. I am torn between using 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch pots. The plants are small, but their roots do fill the sixpacks. This means that the 3.5 inche(r)s are better. I think I got a whole case of them! I do have small-seeded things that I started in 128 and 200ish cell trays last week that I need to pot up, so I guess I should save the rest of the 2.5 inch ones for those (and order a case). I have a lot of kales to pot up, too :/. Almost everything looks stunted (I could just start new dino kale, broccoli and cabbage, I guess, but I’m a bit concerned about space.) I think I will get some short metal shelving units for the wooden greenhouse. I am a bit concerned about getting mice in there, which is why I use the old plastic greenhouse for most germination.
I was hoping to have seedlings for a benefit auction/sale that benefits my kid’s preschool later this month, but my tomatoes haven’t even emerged! I could probably have some nice tomatillos and thumbelina zinnias, and even orange marigolds… I guess it’d be worth potting up a few for that… Despite what the lunar calendar/astrology says, I’m going to need to reseed tomatoes (plus now I have more varieties of seeds!), California Giants zinnias, the bell peppers I was unable to locate last time I started seeds, etc. The nights have been in the 40’s and even the low 50’s a few times. Anything that’s above 39 is good by me (strawberry fruit gets very unhappy below 41 or so). On the subject of strawberries: OMG what am I going to do? I’ve had whole days go by on which I didn’t work on them. I’m trying to get the old debris and fruit mummies cleared out so there’s less habitat for pests. Speaking of pests, from time to time I read that Shasta daisies host pests, but in my project for the IPM class I took at the junior college, I learned that they help repel Lygus bugs. I find a few of those bugs each year, and it would be nice to have one less source of catfacing on my berries (and weird marks on peas). It’s a mess under those daisies – dead leaves and buried strawberry plants lol. I had no idea that those plants would be so big – why did I plant so many so close together? The berries that I planted this spring have to be constantly monitored so I can pull the flowers off to promote growth of the plant. I hoed the bed today- we had lots of pigweed, lambsquarters, bindweed, and purslane. I need to hoe that grass that’s to the right of the bed that I planted last year (see green grass below). I guess it really liked all that compost that I put down last summer (and this winter?).
Oh, on to the subject of space – we put a silage tarp on an area where I could put 3 or 4 beds of greens (well, the left-most one actually had a mustard cover crop and flea beetles, so that could be a bad idea). The rightmost bed had greens in winter 2015-16, and I am wondering if it’s too soon. I could probably put some kind of flowers there… I need space for kale, hopefully collards, and chard (gotta pot those ones up asap), as well as for the shorter-season crops like the pak choy that T and I started, cabbage, and broccoli.
As you can see from my writing, I am having a lot of trouble organizing my thoughts. Planning where crops will go is mostly beyond my capability these days. I need to go see an ADD doctor (I was treated for it in the past).
While I was inside with T, Z was sneakily putting the greenhouse up on two dollies and the wagon. Then he had me come try to help move it. He got inside the greenhouse and pushed, and I was supposed to just help direct it with the wagon handle. That was difficult, when he was pushing uphill and I really wanted to help pull. Any pulling or pushing results in a wall leaning in a scary direction. The wood is so worn out that the greenhouse is about to fall apart! So uh, we’re thinking of paying someone to basically rebuild it. I am even thinking of asking my friend’s ex-husband (I feel conflicted about him because my friend’s mentally ill son said that he had sexually abused him – but the son was/is out of touch with reality, so do I believe him? Could I have the ex-husband/ex-father-in-law only be here when T’s not home? I know that he does good work. Otherwise, I have already left a message for a guy who did a bit of work for us a couple of years ago. He’s not that thorough and he doesn’t clean up after himself very well tho.
I’ve planted 66 strawberries over 7 of these last 8 days. They’re getting pretty old there in the fridge, and some of the ones I’ve planted have pink stems (last year this went away after 2 applications of liquid fish and kelp). The raccoons dug in the strawberry bed for the 1st time this season last night. The garlic is still visible. I get better at weed control each year! I finally started some greens and flower seeds this week. My book recommends planting favas and peas through March but no later. 😦 It seems really early for planting green beans…
Yeahhh, I probavly should have researched this in advance. But this guy said he sold hops as cut flowers last year and I was like, that’s cool and they seem like tall plants… how would i even trellis them? Would it be weird to put them along the property line with the neighbors? It’s kind of this raised area. It’d make more sense to put them there if I had put a silage tarp over the area already. Or what about the northeast-most bed, for maybe a bit of shade over/into the yard? Eh, probably would attract deer… and how would I trellis them? Hell, how will I plant them? It’s rained a couple of inches int eh last few days.
Meanwhile, T came down with strep Monday night and Tuesday I went and bought about 50 strawberry crowns. So I want to plant those first since there’s already a place for them that’s not full of bunchgrasses. And when will I do that? Z is taking most of the day off on Thursday, so maybe I can start?
Also: yay, we’re up to 62% of normal rainfall for this point in the rain year. #drought
Wow, it looks like Harmony Farm Supply (I noticed last time I was there that it’s now Harmony Farm Supply and Nursery) has taken over Cameron & Cameron, which is at River Road and Fulton in northern Santa Rosa. It’s on the way to Shone Farm, which is Santa Rosa Junior College’s farm. I took classes there for two years, so I drove by this place pretty often. They were one of 2 places in the county that had organic straw bales (rice has never worked well for my compost, btw). I guess that this lot and the one next door both burned.
Yesterday was my first trip up to that area since the fires in October. The fire came through this area the first night and day (Oct 7-8, iirc). A friend of mine was driving home from Fort Bragg that day and was on the phone with me for quite a while as they had to take side streets through the fire zone and smoke. This time we were going to a birthday party, and we stopped for a brief hike in the redwoods – my first time visiting Armstrong Woods. Hopefully I will post photos to flickr soon.
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…