Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Down and Dirty


Exciting new things are always happening here at Amyitis. It seems that, with each week, we're faced with a new challenge, a new experiment, and a new opportunity. Stepping back to admire the growth of this project is truly inspiring and motivational. This week we were inspired and motivated by the show of support we received from our volunteers. Joel, Sierra, and Dillon came out on Tuesday to help us with our biggest job yet; moving 8 cubic yards of soil mix into the new raised beds at one of our gardens. It was a tricky project with only the use of 5-gallon buckets and tarps to move all of that soil through a tight (and very clean) carriage house and two doorways.  Scheduling this project has been tricky as well. We have fully welcomed the much needed rain but it sure makes a muddy muddy mess out of a huge and heavy pile of planting mix. Trying to dance around volunteers schedules and make peace with the weather for long enough to get it done wasn't easy but ended up working perfectly. We had to cancel the soil move a couple times before we just had to go for it. Even though it rained throughout the day, we were able to keep things dry enough to get the job done. And while we suspected that it would be really difficult without sufficient help, we now know that we couldn't have done it without them.  As the pictures below will illustrate, we had a lot fun doing it too.

Now that our second garden is ready for planting, we'll be able to start planting some of the seedlings we've had growing in our grow room. They are continuing to grow healthy and tall but it is clear that they are ready to spread out their roots. So far we've started five heirloom tomato varieties, lipstick peppers, red butter lettuce (MFS for those that care), calendula, Athena cucumbers, and several varieties of patty pan and flying saucer squash. It is also nearly time for some direct seeding now that we're gaining considerable sunlight with each passing day. We've already moved some butter lettuce seedlings to a cold frame we built last week. In the coming week we'll be making the plans for how to make the most productive use out of our new space.
Enjoy some of the pictures below from this week's soil project as well as another peak at our grow table as it moves along.
The Destination
Almost there
Proud ladies
Dirty Dirty Dillon

Link of the week:
With the fear that I might spoil some grand surprise, I have been hesitant to announce a prideful secret: Amyitis is the subject of a documentary film now underway!  And yes, theyand their gear braved the rain to film us move all that soil.  Alex Beckstead and Joelle Jaffe of 4SP Films have started filming our trials and triumphs throughout a full growing season for the subject of their latest documentary.  Alex and Joelle most recently produced Paperback Dreams, the story of two independent Bay Area bookstores trying to make ends meet in the digital age.  Paperback dreams, which aired on PBS,  is a thoughtful and in depth film that is a perfect fit for anyone interested in the future of literacy and the ever burgeoning history of the San Francisco Bay area.  Paperback Dreams just might help inspire you to save your local bookstore as well as whet your chops for the in-depth look at the life of Amyitis.  Find out how to watch and buy the movie at  

We don't know if they have a title yet or a release date, but you can be assured we'll keep you posted.  We have some title ideas of our own, but we wouldn't dare yet release such nuggets of gold.  

Happy Gardening, 


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Well, David is off on another epic West Coast journey, this time driving from Fairbanks, Alaska back down to San Francisco.  He'll be retracing some of his bike trip route, this time in the cab of a pickup truck, and starting waaay farther north. He and our good friend Chris have been battling some subzero temperatures in the Yukon, but all in all, having a great adventure. 
Meanwhile, I have been tending to the seedlings and keeping things going here at Amyitis. Growing in California is still somewhat strange to me- we've had such warm weather, I just want to put things in the ground, but I realize that I have to be patient as (hopefully) those winter rains might still come. The seedlings are doing so well in the basement grow lab that we started. The tomatoes have sprouted and the cukes and zucchinis are already a few inches tall.
Last weekend, to make some more room for these burgeoning plants, my good friend Caitlin and I built a tiny cold frame in our garden. We transplanted all the lettuce that we had seeded in an open tray into cells of their own, gave them some water, and then set them in the cold frame that we had placed in the sunny part of the garden. Unfortunately, at this time of year that garden doesn't get a whole lot of direct sunlight due to the angle of the sun and how it hits all the surrounding buildings. The lettuce seedlings are hanging in there, but look a little jolted from their adjustment from 14 hours of light a day to maybe two or so hours of direct sun.  But the little cold frame is keeping them moist and toasty and Caitlin and I were quite proud of our little building. I dream of a big cold frame, that I can actually stand in and do my seeding and watering, but this one works just fine for now.