Monday, January 19, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Yesterday was a glorious crisp sunny winter day with global warming or something thrown in. So temperatures were up there in the mid sixties, perfect Farm Stand weather. I am feeling a bit guilty enjoying this warm dry winter, because I know the garden needs rain; we all need rain, and some of our fruit trees need a period of cold weather to make abundant fruit.

I harvested a handful of yellow cherry tomatoes from the small garden at 18th and Rhode Island St. With a big white reflective wall, that garden gets the heat and the tomato plant is still growing and has ripening tomatoes this late in the year. This is the garden neighbors had started before we started the big permaculture garden on the vacant lot. There is a fence around it and no one is working in it at the moment and I am just harvesting what I can through the wire fence. Kevin and Fred harvested various things from the Chronicle rooftop garden: lemons and various herbs. Rosemary, lemon grass, bay leaves, French sorrel, kaffir lime leaves, and Vietnamese cilantro. Christy brought more things from her garden on Corona Heights: Cape Gooseberries, and carrots and she also dropped off some extra CSA produce that she couldn't use (apples, pears, and kale). I brought some lettuce mix and arugula from my backyard and Caleb brought arugula from a friend's garden. I also grew more sunflower greens and I forgot to bring the clover sprout mix that I had in a big jar.

We also had a lot of produce from the Ferry Building Farmer's Market including, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, oregano, and many different kinds of greens: mustard, spinach, kale, chard, and collards. The leftover Acme bread supply continued to be unreliable and we had only two bags of bread, mostly rolls.

By the end of the day all the food was given away except for some herbs.

California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG) scion wood exchange

This was one of the highlights of my week, going to the meeting of the CRFG on Saturday where people from all over come to exchange dormant branches of fruit trees used to graft or splice onto other trees or rootstocks. We graft trees for different reasons, to add a different variety of some fruit to a tree we are growing, like if we want to add a late bearing apple branch to a tree with early ripening apples. Or if we want to have more than one kind of plum on one tree you have to graft the tree to have that. There are other reasons to graft besides those too.

I believe we are living at a unique time in history when things are rapidly changing in every way. The political changes at the top are significant, but the changes we can make in our own lives are what are most important of all. So we need to learn certain skills and gain knowledge about things that are always on the verge of being lost. How to grow our own food is part of what we all need to learn and grafting trees and plant propagation is a part of that. We need to learn these things if for no other reason than to bring us closer in touch with the power of life and creation. I feel lucky to meet the true masters in this field and be able to learn from them directly, since I don't learn from books as easily. That is why these meetings are so fun and educational for me.

I came away with a big bag filled with propagating wood. I learned at the meeting that four Mediterranean trees propagate easily by sticking branches in some fast draining rooting medium like perilite, especially with bottom heat: figs, olives, grapes, and pomegranates. Mulberries should also be almost as easy to grow that way too. I have had good luck with pomegranates so I want to try more. So I collected mostly branches that I am going to try rooting and some wood that I am going to try grafting onto seedlings I have. If anyone wants to join me in the fun please contact me. I have some time onWednesday, Thursday, and Saturday to work on this. My goal is to learn how to propagate trees and give them away at the farm stand. A do it yourself way to reforest the city with fruit trees.

18th and Rhode Island workday

The Friday workdays on the hill continued and a few people showed up. We potted up seedlings and did some work on the "ivy rock" mound…widening the path between the fence and the mound. I think we will have work to do every Friday and I plan to continue going there every week. At the end of the month we should be getting more trees to plant.

The Secret Garden and the Jamestown kids

On Tuesday Nicole and her kids helped me shovel extra soil into bags from the sidewalk tree planting project. We took some of the soil to the Secret Garden where the kids got to see how things were growing. They really got into raking leaves and making a huge leaf pile. I haven't seen pure joy in a while where the kids loved falling and diving into the leaves. What a simple and beautiful fun thing to do, jump into a pile of fresh fallen leaves. Something so simple and wonderful, but how easy is it in the city for kids to get the chance to do that? I wish I had the camera with me that day, several girls looked so beautiful with the leaves all stuck in their long hair.

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