Winter Solstice 2013

Solstice II

The Northern Hemisphere's sun has now sagged to its lowest position in the southern sky and begins its return northward, bringing us the promise of incrementally longer days as it goes. It's no wonder that aggrarian societies of the past picked out this time of the year for feasting and celebration--enjoying the fruits of the harvest with family and friends in the hopes of future harvests to come, beyond the cold, dark winter ahead.

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

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The year's first Napa Cabbage harvest, dedicated to the Kimchi crock!

The shortest day of the year found us out in one of our cabbage patches harvesting Napa for Kimchi. In our estimation, freshly harvested Napa is unlike those you buy in a supermarket, or even local produce stand--it's far crunchier, juicier and delicately flavored--more reminiscient of Roma lettuce than cabbage. Chinese chicken salad ahead!

This has been one of the coldest and driest Fall/Winters in Eastbay memory, but we continue with our best winter garden ever--paying the higher water bills as we go. If conditions don't swing back to normal, we are on target for a severe drought!

AutmnLeafSRBeans100ppi 400x347Above, a vibrant Sweetgum leaf rests upon some of our dried Scarlet Runner Beans, harvested in the late fall. We've become big fans of this versatile bean and hope to grow many more next year.

On a lighter note, our Rutabaga patch has been supplying us with many huge roots for holiday feasting, and this year we're also making sure to avail ourselves of the nutritious greens, instead of consigning them to the compost pile. Rutabaga greens are almost indistinguishable from turnip greens in flavor and texture, and make a substantial and satisfying addition to the dinner table when prepared as a pot herb. We do them up with a little bacon for flavor, garlic, olive oil and a touch of vinegar. Plenty of fiber, vitamin C, and a lot of those other beneficial phytochemicals found in the Brassicas to be had here.

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One of our first Rutabaga mini-harvests--these huge roots are enough to serve a dozen people.


The end of the calendar year coincides with the beginning of the California Calochortus growing season. Normally, the fall and winter rains wake up our sleeping bulbs, but this year we need to use city water for that purpose. All our bulbs are now back into cultivation, and already we can see many returning friends in the guise of tender green shoots. We eagerly look forward to some first-time bloomers this spring.

Late December is also the time of year that we like to sow Calochortus seed. This year we're hoping to start more desert species (C. nuttalli, C. bruneaunis, C. aureus, C. kennedyi), and some C. venustus varieties from southern Cal, as well as many of our old favorites. Last year was a landmark year for flowers in our collection, and we hope for an even more productive springtime ahead. See our photo gallery from last spring.