So far in 2012, in San Jose, CA, this winter has yielded much lower rainfall totals than normal which is always a concern for so many reasons. The most obvious reason is a concern that we are in for a drought-ridden summer or an extremely late spring allowing cold wet weather to hang around much longer than normal, similarly to 2011. The past two years, 2010 and 2011, have been extremely rough on tomato growing enthusiasts, gardeners, and farmers in the SF Bay Area due to incredibly poor weather. 2010 and 2011 spring and summer were both unusually cold and wet leading to an unseasonably cool summer; moreover, with weather that consistently bad, tomato growing in San Jose, CA has been challenging to say the least.
I am very hopeful that we will have an average summer and fall in San Jose, CA; moreover, average is daytime weather consistently in the upper 70’s and usually reaching the mid 80’s for at least two weeks out of every month during the summer, with the occasional week of daytime temperatures reaching a consistent mid 90’s range. This means that the night time temperatures never drop below 62 degrees and usually hover in the upper 60’s which is perfect tomato, eggplant, and chili pepper growing weather. I have recently taken to calling my heirloom tomatoes, rare eggplants, and uncommon chili peppers the “Divas of summer.” I call them all Divas because they require such exacting growing conditions: require a very specific temperature range, demand a diet of superior quality ingredients, and only organically acceptable amendments are expected; however, I have learned that if you take care of the soil, the soil will take care of the plants, and the plants will take care of the people.
I decided to set aside my weather concerns and in January of this year, I started buying sustainably harvested heart redwood to begin building my dream raised garden beds for my front yard. I had a vague idea of how much I might invest in the raw wood and hardware to construct four 4 x 12 foot boxes; however, I was way off. Having never done anything like this in my past and not having any local role models or mentors that had experience with suburban farming, I quickly realized that I would need a lot of start up capital to fully fund this organic dream of mine. One thousand dollars, one month of construction work, a lot of help from my apprentices and my neighbor; my ideal raised redwood garden beds came together and Yummy Tummy Farms took another evolutionary step towards it’s fruition.
Here is a picture of a close up of one of the redwood raised beds including a close up of the native soil shortly after being loosened and turned; furthermore, I incorporated minimal amendments, to allow a close inspection of the quality of the native soil. Aside from way way too many rocks, I am blessed to have native soil mostly consisting of clay loam and through a professional soil test, I learned exactly what my soil was lacking. The first picture documents the native soil double dug to two feet deep and ready to receive the prescribed compost, fertilizer, and micro-nutrients. The second picture is a wide angle shot of my front yard that captures all four raised redwood garden beds completely constructed and ready for soil amendments.