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Summer fog makes August feel like March

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Mid-summer is cool and foggy in Berkeley, and particularly so where we live at the top of the hill.  We have been waking each morning to a backyard thick with fog that hangs in the air until well past noon and returns in the evening around 6pm.  This cool, damp, cloudy summer season means that our garden plants grow and ripen more slowly than one would normally expect in July.  Even so, the crops are continuing to grow and we are able to nibble the tasty produce that is ready to harvest now.

In the last two weeks, we picked about 10 pounds of Meyer lemons to use in the kitchen, and made some lemon sorbet for family and friends to enjoy.  Our Bearss and Thai/kieffer lime trees are also continuing to produce limes, and we harvested fruit from both trees recently.

Our blackberry and olallieberry bushes are slowing down now but still provide a few cups of berries each week. The ever-bearing raspberry bushes are past their first peak, but are preparing for a second berry crop that should be ready in the next few weeks.

Our young plum and pluot trees are continuing to do well.  We harvested 16 more plums from our Santa Rosa plum tree in the second half of July (not bad for its first year of production) and just harvested a handful of fruit from the Dapple Dandy and Flavor Queen pluot trees over the last few days.  We are happy to have had a taste of the fruit from each tree in its third year of growth, and look forward to next year when the trees will be more mature.

This is also a good season for our herb crops.  Thyme, basil, cilantro, parsley, tarragon, mint, rosemary, and others are all lush and green right now.  They often lure us down to the backyard as we are preparing dinner, and their fragrant leaves frequently become part of our evening meals. 

Our scarlet runner bean plants came back from their dormant roots 3 weeks ago, and have grown incredibly quickly to about 8 feet tall, covering the children's bamboo "teepee playhouse" with wide green leaves and bright red flowers.  The first tiny beans are beginning to appear on the vines.  I think we should have enough to make a dinner side dish in a few more weeks!

Anise swallowtail caterpillars have also been enjoying our fennel plants.  My children collected 15 caterpillars from our 4 tiny fennel plants and brought them inside to nurture them and protect them from spiders and other predators.  They have grown fat and most have already made chrysalises.  They should be ready to release as butterflies in the next few weeks.

All opinions expressed are my own.
Copyright 2007 Sharon Danks