Bare root season

It is the time to think about purchasing fruit trees and other fruiting plants because now is when they are available more cheaply. You get them without any soil around their roots instead of coming in a container (bare root) and put them right into the ground. The last few days I have been refining my list of fruit trees for two sites that we are planning to plant within a month or so. One is maybe a bit of a long shot, which is to expand the small urban orchard that is in Treat Commons out into the park (Parque Niños Unidos). We need to get permission from Recreation and Park and I am not sure how long it will take or what kind of bureaucracy we will face. At the permaculture farm on 18th and Rhode Island I think it is a little more straight forward. A few of us have been trying to figure out what trees we want to grow there and where we want to put them, then we have to get the trees. It has been fun to spend almost a whole day thinking about varieties of fruit trees and trying to design a high density plan for fruit trees in a public park.

One thought that has come up in my mind is that we as consumers are so controlled by the corporations and even the farmers who grow food for us to eat. They decide what kinds of apples we can chose to buy or avocados or potatoes. A lot of times it is based on how easy it is to ship (you don’t see a lot of mulberries for sale) or what foods people are used to (maybe based on marketing). People now want Haas avocados even if they have to come from Chile because they don’t make fruit year round here. We are really limited in choice when we buy food and the only way we will be able to have more choice in what flavors we taste will be if we grow food and share it among ourselves. Some fruits we may have to go to other neighbor’s trees to graze because they are hard to transport even to a free farm stand. Just running the farm stand I am learning more about local varieties of fruit. For example, I have learned l lot about figs this year from people bringing me samples of figs from their trees and also by picking them. This week we had two varieties of figs that two different people brought from their trees. Brown Turkey figs grown on Capp St. and Black Mission figs grown in Visitacion Valley.

I dream of finally learning to graft avocado seedlings and other fruit trees and giving them away at the Free Farm Stand. We need to establish some mother trees of different cultivars that we can collect scion wood and use to graft the seedlings.

Talking about fruit trees. Jo picked some wonderful fruit that she called Asian pears somewhere in Pacifica that looked delicious. I only tasted one that was slightly under ripe, but the fruit was in perfect shape and I can’t believe they are so late in the season. I want to get grafting wood from that tree for sure, and it would help if we knew positively that it was an Asian pear. From my tasting one it seemed like an Asian pear. Besides the figs that both Marcus and Sarah brought, Christy came up with a couple of pumpkins from Corona Heights Community Garden and more Cape Gooseberries. Rory pointed out that these berries when dried are what they sell as Inca berries. I got more feijoas (pineapple guavas) from my friend in Noe Valley and Stephanie brought some from Southern California (she actually drove down here with two plants and a banana tree and found some fruit at the nursery that she brought for us to taste). The small rounder ones from the nursery were somewhat sweeter which would make sense). A woman brought some rosemary from her garden and some Haichiya persimmons from her grandmother’s tree in Millbrae. I really wanted some food at the stand that I grew (while our garden sits in shade and things grow so slowly). So I ordered more sprouting seed and grew sunflower greens and clover/brassica mix sprouts. Do people know that San Francisco is home to the ultimate sprout seed selling business, Sprout People, a family run internet business ( How local can we get, though they have to get their seeds shipped to them. I am not so much pro business, but they really help people a lot with free sprout growing advice on their web site. Growing sprouts is so empowering! People love the sprouts and I need to put out a how to flyer to encourage people to try growing sprouts themselves. I just don’t have time to do all the wonderful things I can think of doing!

We also had carrots, salad mix, lettuce, bok choy, and turnips from the ferry building.

We had a lot of great volunteers helping set up and run the stand. And we had at least two Spanish speakers that really make a lot of people more familiar with the scene. Recently while collecting horse manure I was talking with two new friends that go to San Francisco State about another component of the Free Farm Stand that I would like to get off the ground eventually. They have a lot of students who want to volunteer to do some work related to gardening and improving our environment.

I want to have one day a week, maybe Saturdays, that the Free Farm Stand helps Mission neighbors put in gardens in their backyard (or plant a fruit tree or some berries). And if they have some surplus they can bring some to the Free Farm Stand or share it with friends. I was talking to Blair at the fabulous end of the year open house party for Garden for the Environment and The San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance. This was a night for networking with other garden folks and I started talking to Blair who is involved with the Victory Garden Project. With some grant money they are putting in 15 backyard Victory Gardens in the city. He said there were 1000 people that applied. I thought that if we had a core group of volunteers we could possibly contact some of those people who applied for a garden in the Mission and offer to help them put in a garden of some sort. There seems to be a lot of people that want to help out and this would be the perfect way.

I also learned some news about the Project Homeless Connect Garden. The site is that was donated to project is where the old Glidden paint factory was and has verified levels of contaminants that exceed hazardous waste levels for human health exposure. It is actually the road between the two buildings of the old factory and is one of the original streets now classified as a “unaccepted roadway”. It is big (.8 acres). I also heard that it may belong to the Port Authority. So it sounds like the garden will have to be built in containers. Blair thought that if the city were to remove 8 inches of soil on the whole lot, using permaculture techniques and bio remediation it could possibly be cleaned up within a year. I think more research could be done also about planting fruit trees in the soil and whether the contaminants would wind up in the fruit.
Well I guess after thinking about that site, the 18th and Rhode Island land sounds like paradise. Last week I think we finished planting all the fava beans (I was only there on Friday without a camera) and we sprinkled granite rock dust everywhere for minerals. I am not sure what is next to do there, deal with the ivy for sure and I am trying to move forward with getting trees planted soon. The seedlings are growing larger every day!

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