Creative Plant Staking
Rains Bring Spring in Fall

Warm Fall Nights in San Francisco

San Francisco is having a warm spell, our last of the summer warm period, when the ocean has warmed up and the fog bank is staying away. The wind on our street is blowing the urban debris from east to west, instead of the usual west to east. The nights are even warm, which is quite rare. (That song about a warm summer night in San Francisco is about the exception, not the rule.) Last night I was helping students make compost into the dusk in only a tee shirt with a flannel shirt over it and I was quite comfortable.

The warm period is running a bit late this year, after an early rain left us sure that we would have no more summer. Now I am rooting for the warmth and wishing for cold and rain simultaneously. If it would rain, the leafminers would stop molesting my Swiss chard, and I could transplant kale, arugula, and other fall and winter greens without worrying that they will wilt in the sun. But if it stays warm, my late-planted annual mallow will soon be covered with silky pink or white blooms and the cucumbers will go on bearing for a few more weeks.

The good news is that there will be benefits in either course of the weather. So I am out tending the plants, using the balmy nights to hunt the young snails that have grown from this summer's breeding, harvesting small but delicious cucumbers, and taking what comes.

The apples ripened in mid-October, exactly on schedule. It's a small harvest this year, but as sweet and crunchy as ever, with no sign of the apple scab that I had last year. That is because, though we had late rains this past spring, they stopped before our tree bloomed and leafed out. (The first year we moved in, I was sure the poor tree was dead, since it had bare limbs until well into April, but we are used to its late blooming ways now.) Last year's scab problem occured because the rains came weekly through June and caught us by surprise. I thought they were all over, and kept thinking so until it was too late to spray sulfur. Ah, how these warm days bring out the fragrance of the apples! I have been reading about new ways the food industry uses to preserve apples for out-of-season sale, while I am savoring my in-season apples.

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