This past weekend was a busy one for me. After a week of working on landscape art projects for the Presidio, I was ready to get down to business in the garden. My focus was to begin the spring planting with the long-term goal of diversifying our crops. When I arrived at the garden I was pleased to see that our potato towers have sprouted and are now covered in new growth.
Also, the fava beans were starting to flower and green garlic is plentiful.
After this bit of garden porn it was time to get to work. I started by mapping out the garden and loosely planning our crop rotation. I say loosely because we have some big changes coming in the near future for our first garden, but more on that in later posts. After that I dug into the seed box and realized we desperately need some seed. It was then that I realized that we should start a CSA (community supported agriculture) to provide us with some income at the start of the season. It always seems to be the time of year that farms need the most and are the most broke due to the winter. The good news is that it is early enough in the season to put in seed orders. Also I was able to plant some early and hardy crops such as radish and collard.
I decided that I would try using straw mulch when planting. The mulch will serve to keep the soil slightly warmer and suppress the early weeds. Mulch has the added benefit of breaking down over time and providing the soil with nutrients and humus. As the temperature starts to rise and rain fall lessens a mulch layer also helps to keep moisture in the soil and evenly distributed.
As Sunday came to a close I realized how much there is left to do. I made a lot of progress, but really only scratched the surface as we have two other gardens that are ready to be jump started into spring. I would like to put out a call for volunteers. If anybody would like to get involved and get dirty I will be coordinating work parties primarily on weekends as that is the only time I really have free. Also I would like to put out a request for old windows that can be donated to build a cold frame for vegetable starts. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and would love to hear from readers who would like to volunteer their time, money, or materials as well as anyone who just wants to say what’s up. I’ll leave you with a photo of the garden as she stands.
Around the gardens here in The Mission, we’re packin’ up for winter. As I write this, record low temps are due for the entire Bay Area tonight that dip below 30*. This frost is most certainly a game-changer for our greens. While there are many ways to prevent frost damage, luckily Amyitis doesn’t have all that much to protect at the moment. Most of our space is now occupied by frost-hearty cover crop or planted deep with garlic and potatoes. Some of these root crops have sprouted and I am curious to see how the frost affects them, the garlic shoots in particular.
In Vermont, November garlic plantings very quickly faced low temperatures and light. This didn’t allow them time to sprout before the snows of winter; they lay protected under the ground until spring. Here however, all of the garlic planted in November has seen the light of day due to our easy climate…. and now BAM! An edge event like this frost can be quite destructive for a region unprepared for such weather. I guess I’ll see tomorrow morning.
Frost occurs when a (deposition) surface temperature falls below that of the dew point of the surrounding air. Plants not protected by a thermal mass or with exposed foliage quickly fall below dew point temperatures on these extremely cold nights and begin to collect ice crystals. These ice crystals can destroy cell walls of many vegetable plants turning them black and rendering them “compost” within an hour.
Above and below are a couple of pics from a potato planting day. The cut halves of the seed potatoes are dipped in ash ( highly alkaline) to prevent seed rot. Tomorrow I will be experimenting with potato towers to examine the difference between methods.
Until next time,
After a once in a lifetime travel experience in Australia and New Zealand, my mother paid me a visit on her way back through the states to PA. While it is always nice for me to have a visit with my parents, this one has held some really special events. During her stay, my mother has seen Amyitis in full swing during our busy harvest season and tasted the fruits of our labor at The Corner.
Before I set her to work we had an extraordinary evening meal at The Corner. Since its opening, The Corner has strived to be the next up-and-coming locavore’s playground. Offering fresh Amyitis veggies from Mission District back yards, local wines, cheeses, and charcuterie, the menu aims to please a diverse range of locally tuned palates. Its beautifully and simply designed space feels hip but yet unpretentious at the same time. Now with new NYC chef (and Grammercy Tavern alum) Alex Jackson, the place has gone from the culinary runway to gastronomic hyperspace. While most of it has been a team effort, it is obvious that the star player here is Chef Alex.
Alex Jackson is the type of chef who wants to know your name and make you the best meal you’ve ever had. He doesn’t appear to care if you know your confit from coulis but he might make you a sample of both to try. He wears a smile and a collected cool unseen in many busy kitchens. We were lucky enough to have the chef’s menu on Wednesday night. Our biggest favorites were the Panchetta Potato Salad, the Braised Pork Cheek with Roast Peaches and Tallegio, and the Confit of Tuna. And if those menu peeks aren’t enough to drive you in there, it is important to note that their wine list is impressive and diverse enough to work up any appetite.
I am extremely grateful to have my mother visiting here to see such a great sample of what we have to offer here in this great city. More importantly, I am beyond grateful to have Amyitis Gardens be a part of the experience that makes this city great.