Friday, February 11, 2011

It's Here

Hey Bay Area folks, did you feel it? That blustery northwest wind gusting through our parts earlier this week? Baton down the hatches kids, spring in San Francisco is here! Aside from the annual zephyrs,our city's de rigueur Purple Leaf Plum trees are bathing us in their sea of pink, sweetly perfumed blossoms for the next week or so. Blink and you could miss this classic indicator of the season.

So have you ordered your seeds yet? Better get a move on. There's not much time! In fact, you should have been planting yesterday according to lunar cycles. We've been planting by the moon for the last year, not so much in that woo woo astrology kind of way, but more as a means of staying organized and on track to ensure continuous yields. We also figure that it's probably been the way humans have been planting since the dawn of agriculture and that there might be something to be said for a tradition that has withstood the ages.

What is planting by the moon? Here is a good explanation of the basics. I also find this site really useful.But once you have a general understanding of the way it works, you can just check in with the moon phases and you'll know what to do. The Farmer's Almanac always has a lunar calendar and a list of ideal dates for specific gardening chores, a great choice for the lazy gardener.

With so much back stock of seeds and such limited growing space, I decided to order from only one seed company this year, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I've had great luck with their products and the selection of rare varieties is mind boggling. It literally takes me 12 hours, minimum, to go through their glossy, over-sized mag in order to pick out what I want to grow. I love every second of it. Since we have a super long growing season, but very little summer heat, we have to choose our seeds with great care. For traditional summer crops with heat requirements, we go with short season varieties. I've found that Russian heirlooms do exceptionally well around these parts. Here's the list of what we will be taking a stab at this year:

Beets - Golden
Broccoli - Romanesco Italia
Cauliflower - Purple of Sicily
Carrots - Jaune Obtuse de Doub, St. Valery, Parisienne
Cabbage - Early Jersey Wakefield, Bacalan de Rennes
Pak Choy - Extra Dwarf, Shanghai Green
Spinach - Merlo Nero
Onion - Yellow Flat Dutch, Noordhollandse Bloedrode
Fava Bean - Extra Precoce A Grano Violetto
Bush Bean - Hutterite Soup, Dragon Tongue
Cucumber - De Bourbonne, Early Russian
Eggplant - Diamond
Giant Cape Gooseberry
Melon - Minnesota Midget
Pepper - Lipstick
Pumpkin - Jack Be Little
Winter Squash - Table Queen
Tomato - Orange Icicle, Caspian Pink, Rose de Berne, Black from Tula, San Marzano Lungo No. 2, Isis Candy Cherry
Watermelon - Blacktail Mountain

Hmmm, I think I went overboard again with the seeds. Maybe I'll have to borrow the neighbor's yard for the melons and squash. They get more sun anyway.

What kinds of interesting things are you growing this year? I have to settle for living vicariously through folks who have hot summers.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. I got a $50 gift certificate for Baker's for Christmas (combined with Atlas gloves,!) Of course, I spent $95, but who's counting? Here in the Monterey Bay, we have pretty much the same fog ish as you do, so I, too, went for the shorter season seeds. The one I am most excited about is the Chinese Red Noodle Beans!! Did you see them? So amazingly Seussical!!! Happy, early Spring!

  2. Oh I just love Baker Creek! Good choices!

  3. I'm over in Berkeley and ordered Baker's seeds too. This is only my second garden plot - my first one was planted last June from starts - and my first time planting from seeds, so I'm nervous and doubtful that the seeds will turn into food. I planted Red Russian Kale, Early Wonder Beets, and Little Finger carrots. Happy Spring!

  4. I just ordered from Bakers yesterday! What fun.
    Austrian Winter Pea (cover crop)
    Dragon Tongue Bush Bean
    Purple Podded Pole Bean
    Henderson's Black Valentine Pole Bean
    Beurre De Rocquencourt Bush Wax Bean
    Early Wonder Beet
    Bull's Blood Beet
    Cosmic Purple Carrot
    Rossa Di Treviso Precoce Radicchio
    Dragon's Egg Cucumber (couldn't resist)
    Wild Rocket Arugula
    Wrinkled Crinkled Cress
    Miner's Lettuce
    Russian Red or Ragged Jack
    Rocky Top Lettuce Mix
    Perpetual Spinach Chard