The idea of sharing one’s harvest with friends and neighbors is a happy one. In principle, it feels like a Norman Rockwell painting, or an episode of Sesame Street. In practice, however, it can look very different.
San Francisco Gardening
There are many, many good reasons to live in San Francisco. It is a city of neighborhoods that feels friendly, accepting. It is physically gorgeous, a city of hills and water, with every peak looking out on either the San Francisco Bay or the Pacific Ocean.
Food is diverse and fabulous in San Francisco, with restaurants of every possible ethnicity. The beach is large and sandy, Golden Gate Park full of museums, and bike paths. But nobody ever moved to San Francisco for its vegetable gardening potential.
Fog and Ocean Breezes
It is said that San Francisco has a Mediterranean climate. And it is, generally. Summers are warm and dry, winters cooler and wetter. But unlike famed Mediterranean cities like Rome or Saint Tropez, it is rarely sunny enough in summer to be called hot.
My neighborhood, the Outer Richmond, is by the Pacific, so perhaps my microclimate has more fog and ocean breezes than others. But I hear the song of foghorns almost every night and wake to the fresh, cool air. Even during the heart of the day, the temperature rarely gets warm enough to consider a dip in the ocean.
What this means in my garden is that crops requiring hours of hot sun simply don’t do well. I plant tomatoes every year and some years are better than others. But I never have a large enough harvest to consider sharing. Nor do my neighbors.
Some crops like the cool, foggy climate. Zucchini is one of them. Since zucchini also tends to run to bumper crops, many of us Outer Richmond gardeners end up with zucchini to share. It doesn’t surprise me that, as I am running out of the house with a basket full of zucchini to hand out to neighbors, I run into the lady who lives next door who is just returned from handing out zucchini up and down the street. She still holds a dozen or so she couldn’t get rid of and offers them to me.