The New Building

There was an old, old single story, single car garage at The Ranch. It was a mess, the roof fell in years ago and the dampness caused the walls to buckle and fall. It defines imploded.   But, storage space being in such high demand in the “urban core”….it  housed old skis, kayaks, bikes, building material, recycling…tons of stuff.

The roofless garage.

The roofless garage.



Ask me in a year if we really needed to save this?...

Ask me in a year if we really needed to save this?…




So after much nagging and badgering…not my favorite; most of the detritus of apartment living is gone. I suspect that I will find some of what was there stashed in available corners, under staircases, etc.

Detritus Maximus

Detritus Maximus

What will come in place of this nasty old storage/garage space will be a gallery (very small) and workshop (also very small) and two tiny living studios…pictures to come…

May 2015 I await the Building Permit…submitted in February!  Oh well, I guess they’re really really busy down at Building and Planning….

Spring 2015

It’s April and  our  2015 farm garden is just beginning after a winter mulch.  A new irrigation system now being installed,  water savings is what we hope to accomplish.  Lots of people are giving up home farming to save water this year…We’re doing the irrigation system and will irrigate minimally at night.  We also will recycle as much household water as possible.

Early spring 2015 crop of collards.

Early spring 2015 crop of collards.

This site, betweeen 1430 32nd St. and 1404-06 32nd Street,  is the site of a planned new building.  I have filed for a building permit and expect to start construction sometime in the late summer, early fall.  The proposed new building is a two unit building and will house a small gallery and workshop on the ground floor, two small living units about.  Another iteration  of the “Shop House” idea….

Soon the locale of a new building...2015 project to come...

Soon the locale of a new building…2015 project to come…

Add this to the Doohickory category...thank you Julian  Hodges.

Add this to the Doohickory category…thank you Julian Hodges.

Yes we have bananas…in Oakland.  Amazing but true…this plant will die once the bananas emerge…it’s a wonderful spectacle the fruiting process, very dramatic.

Bananas in Oakland!...yes, we have a microclimate!

Bananas in Oakland!…yes, we have a microclimate!

Peter's Honey...fig. Figs are upright on their branches until they are ripe and drop down, heavy with sugar.

Peter’s Honey…fig.
Figs are upright on their branches until they are ripe and drop down, heavy with sugar.

We lost three hives in 2014 but the remaining hives are going strong.

We lost three hives in 2014 but the remaining hives are going strong.

Site of many a party....

Site of many a party….

New Toys at The Ranch!!!

We now have our very own Extractor!…surely making possible more honey processing FASTER.  The old equipment was pretty sad and we had to drive miles to rent it…So now we have our own set up and look forward to being able to process and provide honey to more folks…faster.  We’ve been the happy recipients  of a whole lot of bee keeping equipment.  As people loose enthusiasm for the process, they have found a happy home for their often slightly used equipment.  It’s a lot of work and if you don’t have a lot of hands to help, it can be discouraging.  We have found making a party of the harvest (and other less enchanting chores) is a good way to get lessen the burden and spread the joy.

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The 22nd Annual July 4th Rock and Roll and BBQ







DSC_0021Well Mother…we did it again!…It was a really fun party…lots of good food and music.  We only do this once a year but we’ve got it down!…and of course, even with lots of help, it takes a year to forget how much work it can be…However, THANKS to all who made this another great event.

The Rummies....once more played their hearts out!  Of course, we all know all the words.

The Rummies….once more played their hearts out! Of course, we all know all the words.


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The Garden

The winter’s cardboard mulch has been removed from the growing beds and we’ve cultivated and planted for the summer. The tomatoes are in the ground and supported by yet another support experiment. However, this one looks like a winner.

This is the 22nd year we’ve been working on this garden…gardens.  Each year the soil gets better and we learn from our mistakes.  In truth…ours our probably the most expensive tomatoes in the universe…but we love ’em and we love doing the work.

If you are reading this and going to be around Oakland July 4th…come on down and see for yourself…we will have the 22nd annual July 4th Rock and Roll and BBQ…right here at The Ranch at Dogtown.



Spring 2014


Hot Peppers.....!!!

Hot Peppers…..!!!

We planted five fruit trees last year...
We planted five fruit trees last year…


Onions as borders

Onions as borders

We use cardboard as a pathway mulch to separate our planting beds

We use cardboard as a pathway mulch to separate our planting beds

Honey Label


Here is the beautiful new label for our wonderful honey.  Sue Kearney, from Magnolias West (, designed it for us.  Thanks, Sue!

We will receive four new queens/colonies on April 13, 2013.  If you are interested in hives/honey, come join us while we move the newcomers into their new homes.  We start at 1:30pm and it should take about 2 hours for this operation.  The newcomes come in a box and will have to be “moved” to their new homes.

Fall Garden

The summer garden was great, especially the tomatoes!

The Russian Krim Tomato…best of breed in our garden!

Now, as winter approaches, we have put to bed some of the plots.  They have been covered with cardboard and weighted down  so that the soil can rest  in preparation for next spring’s plantings.  The cardboard will decompose and enrich the soil while keeping the weeds at bay.  The  cardboard/paper should be several (4-6) inches deep…so, save your old newspapers/magazines and layer them on…before March 1st and we’ll need the rain to make this system really work.

Dormant beds resting for spring

The “Dormitory”

Gardens One, Two and Three  have been planted with winter crops  — peas, chard, kales, broccoli, lettuces–that will provide good eating while we wait for spring.  Garden Three has beans climbing up their string supports.  What a great job on the construction!  And in the Greenhouses we have….?????

Back garden with its plastic greenhouses

Here are some beautiful peas using the garden umbrella skeleton for support.  They look really robust and healthy.

The apples Also were delicious this year.  We didn’t get to the pressing, though.  Well, there’s always next year.  For some reason, no one got to these beauties high in the tree.

High-hanging Fruit


Honey Harvest

Hello All:  We will do an extraction of three hives on May 20th…11:00am to 1:00…Newcomers and beginning beekeepers welcome.  Potluck lunch following…Last harvest produced some 200 lbs. of honey…the bees have been very busy this spring and it looks like another bumper crop.  Give me a call at 510-655-2319 or email at the address below if you plan on joining us…email me

What To Do With Abundant Plums

Hi All:  We’ve got a whole lot of little purple plums…an easy way of using them follows

Plum Pie

Filling….pick enough to fill a 4 quart pan/pot.  Clean them and cook with 2 cups of water…cook slowly until the plums get all mushy.  Cool the whole mess and strain it thru a collander.  You should have 4 cups of fruit mash.  Bring three cups of this to a slow boil for 3-5 minutes, dissolve 4 envelopes of Knox Gelatin in the warm mixture, add the remaining cup of cool fruit, add two cups of sugar and cook for another 10 minutes until you are sure the sugar is dissolved. Pour into a crust (chocolate graham cracker/store bought) and top with whipped cream/creme fresh…You can spice up the fruit mash with ….rum/cinnamin/lemon…?  Also, you can use more sugar if you like…I like it somewhat tart…You can use this same method with other stone fruits….try it!  Happy Gardening/Farming