Larry wrote a comment after my last entry about the fact that he has been waiting for some weeks for a copy of Golden Gate Gardening from Amazon.com. I called the publisher today (Sasquatch Books) and they told me that the book is definitely in print and in stock. The problem seems to be a new owner for their distributor. Books are being moved from one warehouse to another in a different state, and so are in limbo. The problem will be solved by early January. Sorry.
Although books aren't flowing into the Bay Area as they should be at the moment, I know there are plenty of them already in Bay Area stores. If you are having trouble finding the book, try local bookstores and nurseries. The San Francisco Sloat Nursery (www.sloatgarden.com) has a few, and they can send them to their stores in other cities. Flowercraft Garden Center in San Francisco (www.flowercraftgc.com) is also well stocked.
The book would make a great holiday gift for anyone gardening in the Bay Area or from Mendocino to Monterey, since right at the end of the year is a great time in our area to be starting some seedlings for planting. Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, Florence fennel, and celeriac are the seeds I'll be sowing in the Christmas to New Year week or with my spring class in mid January. In February, I will be sowing radish, peas, mizuna, arugula, fava beans, carrots, beets, and a few other crops directly in the ground.
The Florence fennel and celeriac that we start inside early in the year will be part of an experiment to see if we can avoid damage by a most annoying garden pest. These crops and others at the college garden have been falling prey to some rodent. It has been eating off the roots, leaving the plant standing. When you pick up the plant, it has a gnawed base. Could be a gopher, but I suspect a rat, since I never see the aboveground mounds of a gopher and gophers are more likely to pull the whole plant into their tunnel.
We have taken action. Students removed the soil to a depth of 18 inches from one of our raised beds. In the fall, we lined it with 1/4 inch mesh galvenized fencing (also known as hardware cloth). In February, we will plant that bed and the neighboring, unlined bed with Florence fennel, celeriac, parsnip, leeks, and parsley, all favorites of whatever is eating the roots. Then we shall see if the lining will stop the damage. When we emptied the soil out of this bed, we found a tunnel entering from the side of the bed that was wide enough to stick an arm in up to the elbow. It was just under the wood of the frame. Stay tuned to see if we can outsmart the critter this year!