Garden Goings-On


It has been another lovely week in the garden. The beans are starting to ripen.

It’s nice to pick enough for the two of us each day. This was what I picked on Saturday. 

And this is what I picked on Sunday. The dragon tongue beans continue to be my absolutely favorite bean. Beautiful, easy to spot when harvesting, and unfailingly tender when I let them get a bit overgrown. 

The red swan beans are nice, but I think I might try a different purple variety next year. If anyone has any suggestions for purple beans that do well in the Bay Area, I’d love to hear your thoughts. 

This was the first year I managed to grow breadseed poppies. I’ve tried these in the past, and could not get them to germinate. I absolutely love the colors and the architectural quality of the seed pods. 

Another first this year was a respectable crop of figs from the tree I got from my neighbors. They had it in a pot, and it was really struggling. They’d ironically named it Jésus (with Spanish pronunciation), because the poor tree looked like a crucifixion. 

In the past, I’d feel lucky if I got three figs off this tree so this is a huge improvement. 

The other varieties are doing quite nicely as well. 

I do really have to give these trees a massive haircut.  They’ve gotten ridiculously leggy, and I need to get them under control. 

And speaking of getting fruit trees under control, I took the radical step of spreading out my apple tree. This tree started out as an experiment when my friend Gaby found a sprouted seed in an apple she was eating. She planted the seed and kept it as a houseplant until she moved across the country to attend graduate school. 

I adopted her little apple plant, and with her blessing used it as rootstock for some grafting experiments. 

I’ll readily admit that I had no idea what I was doing when I started. The fact that any of the grafts succeeded seemed utterly miraculous. 

The fact that the branches immediately grew into a messy tangle was less of a joy. 

After a few years of ignoring the problem, I stumbled across a video from the University of California Santa Cruz that — among other things — demonstrated a method of spreading out the branches on compacted apple trees. 

I figured that I had nothing to lose.  I asked Robb to make me some spreading sticks, and set to work straightening out my badly intertwined tree.  The poor thing was practically braided  

The tree was reasonably pliable, and I’m both strong and stubborn.  I think I vastly improved the future health of my apple tree.  It’s nice to straighten out a bad situation before it gets any worse 

Don’t get any ideas about me having things under control. 

And don’t think my life is adorable and charming  

I mean, sure, I’ve got a flock of hens named after minor characters in Jane Austen novels.  Lydia, Charlotte Lucas, Harriet, Miss Sophia Grey, Biddy Henshaw.

And Adventure Chicken.

Adventure Chicken has decided that none of the SIX nest boxes in the henhouse are suitable places in which to lay her eggs. 

In fact, there are no acceptable nest-laying locations in the back yard. 

So every day, she figures a way of escaping from the Miserable Chicken Prison that is our back garden and lays her egg in the unfettered freedom of the front yard. 

For a while, she was slipping out and laying eggs under the brugmansia, but now she’s decided that her favorite spot is behind the gas meter. 

We’ve tried every kind of hen-barrier imaginable, and she’s outsmarted everything we could devise. 

So, no.  We do not lead orderly or well-regulated lives. It’s all hilarity and chaos around here  


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