I have been away from my daily practice of writing for far too long!
It is remarkable to me how the past couple of weeks have just filled up. Between Urban Adamah, COCHS, learning about urban planning and community design, recertifying as a wilderness first responder, and just generally having good times (like roaming with good friends down Mission Street in San Francisco, serenading random folks and stores with the sweet sounds of guitar, mandolin, fiddle and harmonica), there’s been nary a moment to spare to keep up with the blog – and yet so much to share!
As I have in the past, I think I may have to defer to the highlight method, so as to not overwhelm anyone with unwieldy amounts of text.
Highlight Numero Uno: Getting Bedder and Bedder
We have so many beds now! We had a veritable bed building bonanza last week. This is product of one day’s focused labor:
Here, Than demonstrates his flawless pneumatic stapling technique, helping stabilize our hardware cloth with salvaged pallet boards (donning the latest in farming/lumberjack fashion no less):
And here Than is again demonstrating appropriate snacking techniques with one of our stalwart regulars, Gilad:
Highlight Numero Dos: Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’
Rainwater catchment – ingredients: large bin that can hold water; rain.
To be honest, I’m not sure if these are meant for rainwater catchment, or if they’ll be used to hold soil and plants, but apparently Sid and our director of education Casey sourced these bad boys, and had some serious fun rolling them down the street. Urban farming or hootenanny? You decide.
Highlight Numero Tres: Grafting
Despite the deep cuts on my fingers now totaling two (one from slicing burlap, the other from grafting), I have to say: learning to fuse one tree to another – definitely one of the cooler things I’ve learned in my life. Just the idea that we can take a new limb from our favorite apple tree and attach it to another tree of a different variety, or to a wholly new rootstock, is incredible to me.
Who first figured out you could do this? Was it by accident? Or was there someone who just decided one day that they were going to try to fuse part of one tree onto another? Even as I was writing this paragraph, my curiosity overcame me, and I decided to look it up. Apparently, people in China were grafting by 1560 BC (at least, perhaps earlier!), and both Aristotle and Theophrastus wrote about grafting in ancient Greece. Just another incredible reminder that so many of the truths we turn back to today are ones folks had figured out long before our time. At the end of the day, not too much has changed about what makes plants grow.
Quick lessons learned from grafting: 1) Anyone can do it. Seriously (and there’s plenty of tutorials online/on YouTube); 2) You’ll want a grafting knife, which is special in that it has only one beveled edge (i.e. is sharpened/slanted only on one side); and 3) You want to think of it like tree surgery, and constantly keep your tools sanitized with alcohol. Otherwise, you risk spreading a fungal infection between various grafts.
There’s of course much more I could share, and mayhaps I will dive in a bit more over the course of the week, as I’m committed to working full time for COCHS while another colleague is out of the office. Until soon,
All my truest love,
P.S. Old tubs make great beds. ’tis the beauty of urban farming: