Towse: views from the hill

August 26, 2009

Farmers’ market tomatoes in my future

Filed under: gardening,life — Towse @ 7:11 pm

Last year we watched the tomatoes ripen on a neighbor’s deck and I thought, ho. Hadn’t realized we got enough sun and warmth here to grow tomatoes but maybe I could add some tomatoes to the mix of herbs and flowers I currently grow on the deck.

The die was cast when we were in a nursery and saw six-packs of begonias that had volunteer tomatoes growing in them. Two six-packs of begonias. Three “free” tomato plants. The two tomato cages were picked up for free on the sidewalk down by Union and Cadell Place where someone had left five for first-takers. I bought pots. Pots are reusable. I bought bags of potting mix. Also reusable. I potted my tomato plants and began the adventure.

Net cost $0 except for the cost of water.

One pot’s contents turned out to be cherry tomatoes. So far I’ve got two cherry tomatoes off the plant. Something four-footed seems to get to the tomatoes before I feel they’re ripe enough.

The two plants with large tomatoes? So far all of the tomatoes have met the fate of this one.


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Sometimes the entire almost-ripe tomato disappears overnight. Sometimes just part of it, but the rest disappears soon enough.

We’re talking either roof rats — possible, although they’ve been nowhere to be seen for four years, since the cat moved in — or raccoons — more possible because they know their way up five stories of spiral metal stairs. The Guy says it could also be parrots, nibbling during the day and we just don’t check the tomatoes before we go to bed. Whoever is doing this, boy, do they make a mess, spattering tomato juices on the wall behind the pots.

No deck-grown tomatoes next year. Farmers’ market at the Ferry Building will be my tomato source instead.

Was worth a try.

July 10, 2007

San Francisco Botanical Garden – Plant Sales

Filed under: gardening,San Francisco — Towse @ 5:59 pm

San Francisco Botanical Garden – Plant Sales

This Saturday (July 14) 10:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Garden nursery. The July sale will focus on “shrubs and salvias.”

Next month’s (Aug 11) will focus on “shade plants.”

Don’t want to drive and park? (Who does?) The N-Judah will take you from downtown and drop you at 9th and Judah. From there it’s a short walk into the Park. The Garden’s to your left as you go inside the gate at 9th & Lincoln.

June 7, 2007

Drop on by with your 5-gallon bucket: Compost program comes full circle Saturday

Filed under: environmentalism,gardening,life,San Francisco — Towse @ 4:39 pm

Live in San Francisco? Don’t put your compostables in your green bin? You should. Don’t have a green bin? Ask and it shall be delivered!

More information on San Francisco’s composting program.

And look! what happens to all those kitchen bits and garden bits and bones and wood and stuff. COMPOST! That’s right, and once a year you can stop on by and get some for free. (Even if you don’t recycle your compostables. …)

Compost program comes full circle Saturday

You’re allowed up to two 5-gallon buckets’ full.

Saturday 9 Jun 2007 8 a.m. to noon

– City Dump (S.F. Recycling and Disposal) at 401 Tunnel Ave. (Take your hazardous waste down while you’re at it.)

– John McLaren Park, at the parking lot of the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater, at John F. Shelley Drive and Mansell Street.

– West Sunset Playground, at Quintara Street and 40th Avenue

– Herbst Road (runs along the east side of the zoo) and Zoo Road.


The raw materials, about 300 tons a day from San Francisco and Oakland, arrive at the plant near Vacaville in large trucks. (San Francisco’s 2,100 restaurants contribute a large part of the San Francisco materials, including everything from broccoli to fish bones, and their compostable paper waste as well.)

300 tons A DAY! How cool is that?

Reed encourages us all to use our green bins for yard trimmings or food scraps we don’t compost ourselves. You can purchase special biodegradable plastic bags to hold food scraps, but Reed says he’d just as soon you put them in paper bags, milk cartons or other food boxes. Fold over the tops.

Except that that’s something we can’t do because compostables are soggy and the bottom would fall out of any paper bag before we got it down the steps to the nearest green bin. (That bin actually “belongs,” I think, to the publishing house at the bottom of the steps, but they don’t seem to mind and always have room to spare.)

How about the City making it easier for folks like us to do this green bin thing? They want higher participation, but ’tain’t easy for some of us.

Here’s our current operation.

  • Large glass measuring bowl with handle on kitchen counter. Stuff goes in that.
  • After meals, dump stuff from measuring bowl into menudo pot lined with plastic grocery bag. Pot is stashed on the floor at far end of kitchen (not that we have far to go) next to the other recyclables &c. Put lid back on pot to minimize funky smells.
  • When menudo pot gets a certain amount of compostables in it or gets too funky, put grocery bag into even bigger (and more leak-proof) shopping bag (a bright garish giveaway bag from Pier 39) and schlep it down the steps to the green bin along with the yard clipping bits (this time of year mostly consisting of dropped unripened figs that scatter across the walking path and snaky vines trimmed back from the fire escape) that we’ve stashed in the garish bag.
  • Empty grocery bag in green bin. Empty yard clippings from garish bag. Roll up grocery bag and put in garish bag.
  • Hike back up steps.

Rinse. Repeat.

Where do our other recyclables go? The garbage collectors come down the steps and pick up the garbage here twice a week (bless them…), but they don’t deal with recyclables.

Twice a week, we haul the recyclables up to the blue recycle bin located where the steps meet Montgomery. We share that bin with neighbors and the closer it is to pickup day, the fuller the bin is — sometimes too full and then we have to take our recyclables back home and haul them up again after the bin is emptied.

Why don’t we put a green bin up there, you ask? Why? Because “there might be some pushback” as a neighbor nearby who shares the blue bin said.

The folks living on Montgomery are cranky enough about the blue recycle bin. No kumbayah moments here: One set of neighbors moves the bin away from their side of the steps because they don’t like the noise of people putting stuff in the bin and they don’t like the noise of it being picked up. Over to the other side! and let those folks deal with the noise. The neighbors on the other side move the bin back. Sometimes it winds up on the flat area halfway up to Montgomery.

Can’t we all just get along? (and recycle? and all that good-for-all-of-us stuff?)

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