Finally started planting!

part of one planted row of spring crops in the garden
6 broccoli plants along with dill, onions, and one zinnia

We are expecting one to three inches of rain in the next week. Our rainy season is usually pretty much over by now, but the weather is changing…

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.

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…

Thinking about where to plant hops

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

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…

…and the garden got frosted-out

Yesterday afternoon I found out that the temp overnight was going to be 34, or maybe 37. I’m not sure why it didn’t occur to me to water, and I’m not sure if it would have made a difference to my poor, belated zinnias. I think I will leave the ones that aren’t touching the kale, in case there are butterfly eggs (?) on them. Why, oh why didn’t I pick some yesterday? Because I picked tomatoes and strawberries.

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Zinnias that were killed by frost

I also lost my basil. I did pick a little bit of it yesterday. And tomatillos.

Today I did some hoeing in preparation for planting garlic. And I watered for like half an hour this evening, as I picked a couple of gallons of tomatoes, a few peas (the snow peas don’t seem to like frost, hm), some stock flowers, and a few marigolds.

Started mulching paths, now that it’s winter

View from gate at center of garden. Shows light-colored straw that I put to cover the soil
Newly-mulched path down the center of our garden

I’m trying to get more active, since I gained like 10+ pounds back since I planted the tomatoes. When harvest uses up all the garden time, I get a lot less exercise. And then we had the fires (2 weeks where I avoided being outside except to harvest quickly) and a sick kid for a week in the last month. So yesterday I spent 2 hours putting compost out to mulch some paths, especially the ones around the strawberries that I planted this spring, and today I did the center path and most of the way to the compost (that I make) pile.

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“new” strawberry bed with compost next to it to cover the soil

Winter is here

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Oops, never got new rain gear. Rain imminent. Paths to mulch with 3 bales of straw I bought today. I did put compost on the paths around the “new” strawberries and in some of the bare spots in the bed and on paths that I walked on between that bed and the pile of compost. Wish I had an effective way to quickly seed the cover crop beds (oh, wait, we do have that seeder)… no time…

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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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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