Benicia/Vallejo Urban Farm Tour

My friend Barbara and I had an excellent time at the Urban Farm Tour event this past Sunday. This event was organized by the Institute of Urban Homesteading, the same outfit that organized the tour our garden was included in last year. I am always eager to see what other suburban and city farmers are up to - after all, there are as many types of gardens as there are gardeners - and I always learn something. We toured four gardens, one of them a community effort, the rest private. We were supposed to see one more farm but it looked mostly like a large-livestock operation, which didn't interest us much (I personally believe cows should have pasture and room to roam! but not everyone agrees with me).  The gardens were each lovely in their own way, and it was fun to hear the history of each yard and enjoy the accomplishments of the owners. Because make no mistake, completely changing your yard from conventional to farm is a LOT of work. 

Here are some shots I took of the day. I didn't take many photos because, well, privacy. By far my favorite place to visit was Dog Island Farm, which is mildly famous around here for their year-long experiment of not going to the grocery store at all. The farmers blogged about it and got some press. They're super nice people with a lovely farm, and we loved it there and learned a lot from them. 

 a ladybug on some celery at the Benicia Community Farm

a ladybug on some celery at the Benicia Community Farm

 a carrot umbel at a private Benicia residence

a carrot umbel at a private Benicia residence

 Immature mulberries at Dog Island

Immature mulberries at Dog Island

 One of the friendly Tom turkeys at Dog Island

One of the friendly Tom turkeys at Dog Island

I'm looking forward to the next tour on tap, which is in Berkeley, and there are 8 gardens on the bill. Wonder if I'll make it to all of them? That's in June, and I'm sure tickets are still available, if you'd like to join me. 

Spent some time this afternoon trimming up the tomatoes (we've got lots of fruit on the plants already) - I've decided to trim off lower branches, allowing light and air in to the bottom of the plant (I'd also like to keep some semblance of control in those beds), repairing/reseeding the winter squash bed as Joe the dog dug it up (argh), and braiding garlic. I've only made six braids of six bulbs each, so I still have a long way to go. 

I decided to make smaller braids this year - that way I can share with more people.

The hops are flowering! I guess I didn't expect that, or thought that the cones were somehow the flower, I don't know. Anyway, they are very small and fuzzy, and so far I don't notice a lot of pollinator activity - I hope that ramps up.

 Those are gourd trellises on the wall behind the hops

Those are gourd trellises on the wall behind the hops

All else is well and growing.