Welcome to 7th Street Farms!



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Welcome to 7th Street Farms, an adventure in urban farming! It's now late October 2012--The Autumnal Equinox is well past, and the days are getting shorter. The sun droops more and more into the southern sky letting us know that the longest night of the year is fast approaching.

Our ravaged Tomato vines have been cleared away, making room for winter offerings, but they've left us much to remember them by: Quarts and Quarts of Jalapeno Salsa, Spaghetti Sauce, and Green Tomato Salsa--to say nothing of the plain old Health Kickers we jarred-up for use in soups and stews.

The Wintergreen are deep green and bushy, splashed here and there with pregnant red berries. I look forward to my first holiday sip of Wintergreen Tea.

It was unusually cool in the East Bay Area this summer, and the autumn and winter rains have recently begun. The weather pros, such as they are, speak of a possible El Niño winter ahead, with the liklihood of heavy rains. Bring them on!

Soon our Calochortuses will "wake up" and send their green chutes upward to begin another season of growth and glorious flowers. Meanwhile, a multitude of Brassicas are coming up to provide our table with Bok Choy, Mustard, Rutabagas, Collards, and Cabbage. All Praise to the LORD of the Harvest!

Welcome to 7th Street Farms: 2013

C. venustus CC 19-02cluster 100ppi400x637s

Above: A cluster of Calochortus venustus glow in light of a late April morning.

Welcome to 7th Street Farms, an on-going adventure in urban farming! Spring 2013 has sprung in the East Bay. And a very dry Spring it has been. Don't want to use the D-word (drought), but it looks like that's what we have to look forward to.

LATE APRIL: Knee-deep in Calochortus Season!! As the above picture attests, we now have an abundance of blooming Calochortus on hand here on the "Farm." All the Globe Lilies have bloomed, and the Tall Mariposa Lilies are presently taking the stage: venustus, superbus, luteus and leichtlinii are all struttin' their stuff at 7th Street Farms. Only C. argillosus--the Johnny-come-lately of the Bay Area Calochortuses--has yet to flower. More below...

Food: Our Dinosaur Kale has begun to go to seed on us--after providing us with a great deal of food for soups, and pot greens. We hope to save some seed for germinating in the late summer. Our Purple Collard Trees have gone nuts!--we can't keep up with their production. We also found out that they need to be well-staked or else they get so top-heavy, that they fall over.

This year we've decided to grow Scarlet Runner Beans. We found an old box spring--sans springs--to use as an improvised trellis for them to grow on. As April wanes our bean vines have now climbed about 4 feet up our Bed-Trellis. "Excuse me...Where are my beans???" Gettin' impatient here...

Our first attempt at growing Fava Beans has been fairly successful. We need to get out and start harvesting those humongous beans. Now for a nice kidney and a fine Chianti... [jk]

Diablo Globe Lily100ppi500x384s Calochortus amoenus 100ppi500x370s

Left: C. pulchellus--the Diablo Globy Lily;  Right: C. amoenus--the Purple Fairy Lantern of the Sierra Foothills.

More Calochortus. . .

In spite of the fact that the winter rains have been somewhat disappointing so far here in the San Francisco Bay Area, our summer-sleeping friends in the world of Calochortus have not let us down at 7th Street Farms. Our Mount Diablo Globe Lilies were the first to send forth a flower bud this season, followed quickly thereafter by the Yellow Cat's Ears, the Diogenes' Lanterns, and the Purple Fairly Lanterns. Recently, the Subalpine Mariposa Lilies (C. leichtlinii) and the White Globe Lilies began to bloom, followed this week by the Butterfly Mairposa, Superb Mariposa, and Yellow Mariposa Lilies. This Spring's colorful fiesta is now fully under way!

March 15: The Ides of March have brought us a great many yellow C. monophyllus (Yellow Cat's Ear) blooms on our plants, the foliage of which has proven to be attractive in its own right.

Easter: All the Globe Lilies have budded and three species have early blooms. Pictures coming...

April 5: April Showers have sprinkled on our flowers!!! We really need the rain! See the picture!

April 24: Calochortus venustus blooms--Butterfly Mariposa Lilies--are exploding all over the place! Check out our new Calochortus Image Gallery, which we will update daily as the season unfolds.


Six varieties of tomato plants are now settling in for the fruitful summer ahead. Our principal crop will be the high-lycopene Health Kicker, but this year we're checking out another high lycopene variety: the open pollinated Crimson Sprinter. We'll see how this tomato fares in the not-so-warm summers of the Bay Area. The Italian Heirloom, and a Mexican Cherry Tomato are also of interest to us this season, among others. Harvest time will be upon us before we know it--I can already smell their intoxicating perfume like a pleasant olfactory halucination in the kitchen of my mind.

Praise God from whom all Blessings flow!

Praise Him ye creatures here below!

Praise Him above ye heavenly host!

Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost!



Summer 2013


Welcome to 7th Street Farms, an on-going adventure in urban farming!

Summer! Here in the Eastbay we're saying goodbye to long spring days as the Summer Solstice starts to beat a retreat into the past. The days of summer get progressively shorter as the sun moves ever southward--but while they do so, we're able to enjoy this fruits of this blessed season.

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Late July: Above are some of the season's first tomatoes fresh off the vine. To the far left are our old standard Health Kickers; in the middle are some hefty Big Mamas; and the large, deep red example on the far right is a meaty and sweet Amish Paste--this variety is by far our best tasting tomato to date.


This year we wanted to expand our tomato horizons, so we germinated several 'new' varieties of seed. Over the coming season we hope to report how they did in Eastbay cultivation.

    • Health Kick  This is our old, reliable, high-lycopene, & heavy producing hybrid from Burpee seeds, which we have grown for several years now. Our plants are getting stocky and are setting fruit. We really love these tomatoes!
    • Big Mama  Another Burpee hybrid. We're trying these Mamas out for the 1st time this year. So far, our plants are tall and leggy with several large fruit set already.
    • Amish Paste  These are an open-polinated variety we purchased from Seed Savers Exchange. In form, these plants are almost indistinguishable from the Big Mamas--so far. Another new arrival to our beds.
    • Italian Heirloom  This open-polinated variety also comes to us from Seed Savers Exchange. They are purported to be a large, tasty and productive Tom. We shall see...
    • Crimson Sprinter  Here's yet another 1st timer in our garden. Developed in the Northern Tier by Prarie Road Organic Seed, this open-polinated, high-lycopene variety has already impressed us in terms of plant form and hardiness. Let's see what the fruit are like...


Seed Pod City  We had a great Calochortus season this year, with several plants blooming in earnest for the first time--most notably our White Sierra Globe Lilies (C. albus), and the Yellow Cat's Ears (C. monophyllus). Now all that's left of this spring's lovely display are drying seed pods, concealing their genetic treasures inside.  We should be ready to ship seed orders in late August.

Check out this season's Calochortus Image Gallery.

Bulbs  Our Calochortus bulbs need to dry out and rest through the summer. We should be shipping them starting in mid to late October.

Our Seed and Bulb Ordering pages will update in August.

Scarlet Runner Beans

The Scarlet Runner Bean: New World Bean & Old World Favorite

Summer 2013

Scarlet Runner Bean

We had heard that a perfect bean to grow in the cooler summers of the San Francisco Bay region was the Scarlet Runner Bean. Probably one of the oldest cultivated New World beans--Aztecs had been growing it before Cortez arrived--Phaseolus coccineus, has never really caught on in American vegetable gardens. The English and French have been growing them for years as a food item, but in America they are most popular as a flower. That has been slowly changing. This productive climber is a perennial, with edible bean pods and foliage. Some have even taking to eating its starchy root (but we've heard that this might not be advisable).

At 7th Street, we have a small corner of our lot which gets a good deal of morning and afternoon sunshine--but mostly against a fence. A perfect place for the perfect bean--now all we needed was a trellis. Let the bean climb up into the sun!

Following the lead of our church friend, Brother Leo, we grabbed an old box-spring (the modern kind without the spring) someone had indecorously left amongst a pile of refuse in front of a local apartment building. Stripping off the material covering exposed a skeleton of wood perfect for a trellis. We added some tomato wire, to give the bean tendrils something to easily hold on to, and we were good to go.

We sowed our beans back in March when the weather was still quite cool, and by the end of April we had vines almost 4 feet high on our trellis. Not long after, our plants began to put forth stems clustered with myriads of vermillion pea-like flowers, which at first were rather short lived. In late May, however, we started seeing signs of bean growth.

If left to themselves, these beans can grow pods in excess of a foot long, but they are best eaten when they are between 1/2 and 5/8 of an inch wide. In form, they are rather flat, and reminiscient of an Italian green bean. Crunchy and sweet when eaten raw, they also have a delightful bean flavor when lightly stir fried, Chinese style, or sautéed in olive oil--with garlic? Of course!!!

If all goes well, we should be eating fresh green beans until the first frost (November?), and we might even get some dried beans for baking. Stay tuned...

Below Left: Our Box-Spring Trellis; Below Right: What happens when you let a Scarlet Runner Bean stay on the vine too long.

trellis 6May2013 100ppi350x660s Scarlet Runner Bean 18June2013 100ppi550x315s