Last blog post of May, 2010

First thing I did today was pick a bunch of raspberries.

Good morning raspberries

(Note: It was 10 o'clock when I did the first thing that I did today. I fell asleep around 8:45 pm last night, woke up at 1 am, went back to sleep some time later, and got up around 10 to pick raspberries.)

Then I turned the compost pile which I haven't done in months. I pitchforked off the top third of material and put it in a large plastic pot that I keep for just this purpose. The goal is to move the top third of the pile to the bottom, use the bottom third in the vegetable garden, and put the middle third on top where it then becomes the top half.

I always need to break down the top third a little with my hand pruners. Most things soften up after sitting in the compost bin for several months, but have you noticed that some things seem to get much harder? Rootballs often become very dense. And branches cut from my neighbors Ligustrum lucidum turn into teak or something. Weird.

Anyway, after I break down the top third and put that stuff on the bottom, I like to top it off with a layer of shredded newspaper because I feel like the slimy top third still has a lot of nitrogen in it and I like to do that nitrogen-carbon layering thing to help the pile cook faster. It works! Then I put the middle third on top and it's the new top half because I removed the bottom third and used it.

Whenever I do this (once or twice a year, max), I find the whole thing breaks down really fast. In two weeks, the compost pile will be half as large as it is today, and I can use most of it in the garden without having to turn the pile. Whatever doesn't get used will become the bottom third the next time I turn the pile in 8-12 months. The best part is now I can start adding waste to the compost bin again. It had been overflowing.

Anyhoo, that's my compost ritual. Not that anyone asked.

Vegetable gardening is off to a late start this year with the late rains and cold air from the El Nino. I don't think it can rain anymore (Rain in June? Surely not), so it will have to warm up. It only rains in California when it's cold, whether there's an El Nino or not. I've got Magda squash ripening already. I'll start harvesting in a few days.


Tomatoes have been planted out--Stupice and Early Cherry, the only two I grow. Scarlet runner beans have sprouted and started to climb the braided twine rope I hang from the deck. I started cucumber seeds the other day and they've already germinated. In a week or two I'll have ripe blueberries. In the meantime I have raspberries.

My first two Gravenstein apples are still making good progress.


Gravenstein needs pollen from another apple tree to set fruit. I have fruit so that means my neighbor's apple tree two doors down, whatever kind it is, did the trick. I'm not sure if that plan will always work, but for now we're good. I'm watching these apples like a hawk to make sure some bug larva doesn't get ideas.

After all that, I puttered. Last year's Verbena bonariensis came back and sent up HUGE flower stems. Can you see the one in the back--the faint lavender smear? Way over 6' tall.


I'm sitting on the stairs for this picture, but still...that flower is *way* up there. See the bee?


The lemon bush is getting to the point where we have lemons all the time now.


Long time readers will know I've always had a lemon bush, but I don't know if I ever fully detailed all the trouble I had getting a lemon to be happy in my garden. This bush is my third or fourth try. First I had to learn that citrus don't like wind. They really don't like wind. Then I had to learn how they don't like to be in too large a pot when the plant is too small. (Honestly, I'm still confused about that.) Then I found that they like to be planted in the spring, not the fall. A lot of other things prefer a fall start, but not citrus apparently.

Wind knocked over my wacky tower of pots, smashing a couple of them. I'm doing it again with smaller pots this time. Seems more stable. Strawberries do really well if I remember to water them, but the birds and mice will eat them. A Flickr friend suggested that I try yellow strawberries which apparently the birds at least do not recognize.


I've got lots of fennel and dill for butterflies, but I haven't seen any eggs or caterpillars yet. I'm ready whenever they are.

Passiflora 'Ebay' has been keeping the hummingbirds busy.


Passionflower is also supposed to host butterfly larvae, but I've never seen that.

For bees, we've got poppies, Cerinthe, some perennials...



Birds and insects should not feel shy.


It's almost summer.


Let's do this thing.


Corona Heights

Time for another stairway walk! I have been too busy to blog much lately, or even to do anything fun. Today was a treat. Alas, the stairway walk had relatively few stairs.

Crassula ovata






Doggie water fountain. That's nice I guess. A lot of dog people bug the heck out of me, but I like dogs.


What a grand entrance to Buena Vista Park.

Buena Vista Park

We're not going in there.




Behind that iron fence...


A sunken garden. Neat.


This uncommonly large, and hence very old, Ginkgo biloba was pruned to accommodate the pole. I guess you do what you have to do.

Ginkgo biloba

This is not something you have to do, but it's kind of cute.

A cute thing to do with...Algerian ivy. I saw this today in the Castro.



The small stretch of Noe Street north of Market has some nice expanded sidewalk areas with planters, pots, and benches.

Noe St.

Noe St.

Noe St.


There's a small farmer's market.

farmer's market at Noe and Market

Standard fare mostly, but these breads look especially good.






Moroccan sausage sounds intriguing. All sold out.


I stopped for a lime Italian soda at Cafe Flore, a storied neighborhood institution.

Cafe Flore

Haven't been here in many, many years.

Cafe Flore

This teeny community garden

Noe-Beaver community garden

has a ridiculous waiting list.

The saddest thing I saw today. Poor Debbie G!

Excuse me, community gargen.

The waiting list is especially ridiculous considering how much weedy open space is just a block away.



Centranthus ruber


Anyway. We're climbing a hill now, and nearing the end of our trip.




That building went condo, but it used to be a hospital. Kinda creepy.


Looking south toward my beloved Bernal Hill:





Corona Heights does have better views than Bernal Hill. I'll give it that.


Dolores Park

Dolores Park

The Castro


Some of the best views are close up. Grindelia sp. (gumplant) is a widely distributed western scrub plant that I am quite fond of. I don't know how to distinguish among the different species, although a few have made it into our gardens, including G. hirstula.