Monday, November 7, 2011

Fall Harvest

It's getting colder fast, and before going into hibernation, we gardeners needed to harvest our fall crop. We threw a garden party, and a bunch of additional co-opers jumped in to participate.

One huge task was taking out the three big tomato beds; a little emotional since the tomatoes were still producing fruit. What a long growing season we have here! Of the different tomato types, the Moskovich tomatoes were the longest lived. Even some tomato flowers were still visible on the Moskovich vines. We saved what fruit we could. Fried green tomatoes, here we come!

We also planted beans this summer, and although they didn't flourish, the plants did manage to produce some pods, now pretty lifeless on their vines. We pulled those out, and salvaged a few beans that should at least serve to start some new plants next year if we want to try again.

Another late summer experiment was the squash plant. Like the beans, our squash grew but did not fully thrive. It developed some sort of white mold on its leaves, and so we decided to take it out with everything else, even though the gourds it was producing still looked like they had some growing to do before they were fully ripe.

Of course, harvesting the fall crop didn't just entail saying goodbye to the tomatoes, beans and squash; it meant putting in new stuff. The beds look pretty barren right now, but they are in fact newly turned, nitrogen-infused with the red-worm compost, and planted with starts home-grown in the cold frame. The new baby plants include broccoli, cabbage, swiss chard, lettuce and quinoa. Stay tuned!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

summer tomatoes

The late-summer tomatoes are in full swing! So far, most are red, spherical and a little smaller than fist-sized; this one was more interesting.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Year 2: Underneath the Coldframe...

We're starting our second year of using our beloved new frame up on the roof. Due to some unexpected aerodynamic qualities of the coldframe design, we’ve found a temporary solution by laying the frame on it’s side. Although this does limit light access (due to mid-afternoon shadows), overall it still gets the job done. Despite the dreary weather, we’ve spent the past month growing some yummy beet and turnip starts as well as lavendar cuttings beneath the frame. Take a look!

cold frame laying on it's side

lavendar cuttings
standing in perlite, a less toxic alternative to vermiculite
new growth extending from nodes of lavendar

beets galore!

two different colored beets growing in the same well

Turnips too!

Friday, January 14, 2011

New tree to the South of South House

Dear House,

There is currently a large Australian Cherry (does not actually produce cherries) tree to the south of south house.  This tree is in competition with the house foundation and consequently must go.  There are a few options for what to do with the space post tree removal and I am looking for feedback from the house.  The purpose of this blog post is to create a forum for discussion so please comment if you have an opinion.

The options as I see them are:

1- to plant another large tree in place of the one being taken out, but further away from the house
2- to plant a smaller tree
3- to not plant a tree, which will increase the amount of sunlight to that area making it easier to grow other ornamental plants.

My recommendation is option 1.  Here are some trees that might suit the space.

Liriodendron tulipifera- Tulip Tree

This tree, even with a full canopy, would let in a fair amount of light. 


Magnolia graniflora- Magnolia

A Magnolia graniflora would compliment the row of magnolias that the people across the street have.


Melaleuca styphelioides- Black Tea Tree

this tree gets pretty tall.  its all about the peeling bark


Aesculus californica- California Buckeye

A CA native.  This tree doesn't get that tall really, but I have to include it because its my favorite.  Its shape is also unpredictable.


Alnus rhombifolia- White Alder

I also really like this one, a CA native.  It has cool catkins and white bark.  This tree is normally found in riparian habitats so it might require more water.

Quarcus suber- Cork Oak

Yes, this is the tree that cork comes from.   They are all over the UC Davis campus and look beautiful there.  I've seen multiple specimens around Berkeley that look very healthy as well.



Braided Garlic

While our adventures in braiding our garlic harvest did not always yield the most aesthetically perfect products, our garlic braids provided an effective way to store and dry our garlic in preparation for use. When the garlic heads were very small, we combined 2 or 3 into each strand. We braided the strands together while they were still damp. We hung our strands in a cool, dry place (the co-op storage closet) before use.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gardening in the winter months: Lessons Learned

To Bay Area Gardeners: Beware of planting during the winter months (especially late November thru early January). The cold soil temperatures and lack of sunlight does not bode well for direct seeding into the soil. Whether it be a hardy winter veggie or cover crop, we had a hard time getting things established when planted mid-season. Add in the bountiful rain season due to the strong hit of La Nina's jet stream.

Click HERE for more info on the effects of La Nina across the country, and click HERE to find out what it means for NorCal. Basically, it's a crap shoot of whether our winter will be wet or dry during La Nina. This year, it was strong enough to pummel NorCal with heavy rains, in weaker years the bay area will take on the drier qualities of the Southwest.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Western Sword Fern

I just bought nine Polystichum munitum, commonly known as the Western Sword Fern.  This fern is a typical understory element in a redwood forest or woodland and is native to California.  They will be planted below the plum tree to the North of South House.  The leaves are evergreen, leathery and finely serrated.  I love the look of the mature plants spores on the underside of the leaves, which you can see in the image below.  The Western Sword Fern looks similar to the Southern Sword Fern, the Nephrolepis cordifolia, as both are in the Polypodiaceae family.  However, the Western Sword Fern can be distinguished by these full circle spores.

Western Sword Fern
Image originally uploaded by June Beetle