March Heat Wave

The rains have stopped, and approximately ten days early, Spring is Here. Today dawned sunny and warm, so warm that we even opted for shorts for our morning workout. Tomorrow we plan to spend some time in the garden. We’ll prepare and plant a pea patch, and plant some runner beans and sunflowers.

The pea patch is going to occupy one entire bed of our garden — practically monocropping for crazed polyculturists like us. The plan is to grow enough peas so that we can freeze some for the summer, and thus avoid buying the frozen green peas from the store, which, though organic, are more often than not imported from New Zealand, for some reason. After we harvest the peas in early or mid-summer, we will plant lettuces and cooking greens in the bed, giving them a good start so they can feed us through the winter. I think we may use some edges of the bed to hold some peppers and basil as well — these heavy-feeding plants will be distributed around the garden wherever there is a well-legumed spot.

I think our timing is right this year for the March heat wave. Last year, we planted a few beds of greens and lettuce in January, and the germination was sparse. When March came along, with its 90?Ǭ?F temperatures, the greens mostly went to seed. This year, we waited until late February to plant, so the seedlings are just poking up from the ground, and the heat and sunny weather will help them on their way. Then, if it goes like last year, April will be nice and cool, and allow the greens to get well established. Come summer, we should have some sunflowers, pole beans, and such growing tall and providing shade for the delicate greens.

This week we also signed up for a produce delivery from a regional CSA, Farm Fresh to You, operated by Capay Organics, a 240-acre farm in the Coastal Range 50 miles west of Sacramento. We got our first delivery yesterday — carrots, salad mix, artichokes, onions, leeks, and some apples, oranges, and mandarins. I put together a quick and delicious salad for my lunch. I have heard many good things about this CSA. The one caveat was that sometimes the salad greens are wilted by the time they arrive. I assumed that “salad greens” meant a head of lettuce, so I had a hard time understanding the early wilt, until I saw our box. The salad greens consist of a mix of young lettuces, trimmed and washed, in an aerated plastic bag. So they’re quicker to wilt, but wow, are they good: a tangy, delicate blend. I think I even saw some speckled trout’s back lettuce in the mix. We’re excited to see what we will make of all this wonderful produce.

And, last night we visited our friends Novella and Bill, fellow Oakland urban homesteaders, who treated us to a fantastic cheese tasting from some beautiful cheeses they brought back from France.

The sun, the vegetables, the cheese, the warm pungent earth. It’s a sense of bounty all round, and we are grateful for our part in it.

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2 Responses to March Heat Wave

  1. Leila says:

    I’m your neighbor about 5 miles south, in “East Oakland” which isn’t really east of you. My neighborhood, the Laurel, used to be a plum orchard. The lots were laid out 90 or 100 years ago, and many of them are extra deep. We have a double lot that goes back to a daylighted stream (Cortland Creek, goes underground again at the neighbor’s, then emerges a mile away into Cortland Park). So much more space around here than in the crowded Temescal district, where you are. An urban homesteader could do a lot in our patch…but we are not gardeners. I keep our perennials alive, and one year grew some greens; even divided the dietes lilies and got more for the front yard. But family medical crises have made us dial back to bare minimum effort. I can’t imagine growing food this year…

    Your blog reminds me how much could be done in our urban home… We’re two blocks from MacArthur Boulevard and 5 blocks from 580, but we’ve got a 6,000 s.f. lot with its own stream, for goodness sakes.

    Good luck. I’ll be dropping by for inspiration and more photos. Part of me wants to keep chickens but I could never butcher them. Never. Also, there are these enormous, aggressive raccoons… they eat up the children’s exercise balls if we forget and leave them outside. Such wildlife back here in the heart of the hood – skunk, squirrels, birds, salamanders etc.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. mary mcguire says:

    I really like Leila’s comment. See, you two set up this longing in others to get out there and dig. I just got my seeds from seeds of change and so I am mapping out where they will go but unlike your spring, mine will be late so I’m goign to use a light out in my entry way, the set up is cool with enough room for four flats of seedlings that can go into the garden in May. I have to wait until April to start. I’m off to your recipes again. m

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