Nov 6, 2008
After the Rains
The recent rains were exactly what the Bay Area needed, and not a moment too soon. The billabong started to fill, but drained out just as quickly since the soil isn't anywhere near saturated. Amazing how a long drink springs the landscape to life: my sullen Arctostaphylos suddenly greened up again, and today I noticed the first Narcissus tips poking out of the soil. (Of course, the weeds and winged termites germinated too.) My timing in planting spinach and lettuces just days before the rains was impeccable, and the well-watered sprouts are now basking in the autumn sun. The local Lepidopterae wasted no time in depositing eggs on the broccoli transplants, so we're checking daily for little green worms. As the nights get colder and longer, our tomatoes will slow and finally stop ripening, so I'd guess we're about two weeks from ripping those out before they look nasty... a few extra fruits isn't worth the unsightly tangle of necrotic vines. Other "to do" items before the rainy season really sets in: clean out the rain gutters; install rain barrels; check drains for blocks or leaks; reduce irrigation schedules; clean, oil and shelter garden tools; stack and cover firewood. Those colorful, seductive seed catalogs are about to start arriving in droves; just remember, it's fine to make a wish list, but don't order a thing until you know where it will go in the garden! (Check with me next spring to see whether I've taken my own advice.) I'm sure there's more, much more, to be done... what's your favorite fall-to-winter garden routine?