Tom’s Garden

Growing by the Bay

Month: October 2017

Gabion Retaining Walls

<em>Rising Cairn</em>, by <a href="">Celeste Roberge</a>. Welded galvanized steel and granite, 58" x 54" x 43". Collection: Runnymede Sculpture Farm, Woodside, California.

Rising Cairn, by Celeste Roberge. Welded galvanized steel and granite, 58″ x 54″ x 43″. Collection: Runnymede Sculpture Farm, Woodside, California.

Recently I posted on my Facebook timeline a photo of gabion materials I had ordered to replace a concrete retaining wall that had failed. Some people were unfamiliar with gabions and asked to know more about this ancient construction technique.

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Saint George's Distillery, Alameda.

San Francisco Bay wind patterns

San Francisco Bay Area wind patterns

UPDATE, Oct. 2017. The best resource for current wind patterns now seems to be sailflow. A detail of a screen capture from the site is shown above.

The USGS webpage referenced below from the original publication of this post in 2007 has been discontinued “due to lack of support and redirection of research efforts”—which seems a shame. The site now redirects to a San Jose Meteorology department page. As of today that site does not seem to be functioning. I hope that this information gets back up online soon. We could certainly use it in view of this season’s devastating fires. If anyone knows of better resources, please leave info in the comments.

For air quality information, air now is better than spare the air.

Original post from Oct. 2007:

san francisco bay area wind patternsHere’s an unusual and interesting resource. The U.S. Geological Survey has a website that shows current wind conditions around the San Francisco Bay Area (they are considering a predictive model as well). There are two or three visualizations available, including the very cool flash “streaklines” (which unfotunately I can’t display here, and which might not work on some systems).

In the visualization above, the arrow size indicates exact speed (in knots, which are equal to 1.15 mph or 1.85 kph), while the color shows a certain range of speed. Speeds are at 10 meters and directions from true north. You can see that this morning there were strong winds blowing toward the Golden Gate from Marin, across midpeninsula, and at Mount Diablo.


Homemade tarragon vinegar

Tarragon vinegar.

Tarragon vinegar after application of boiling vinegar.

Tarragon vinegar is a staple of French cuisine. (French chefs often combine it with mustard.) “I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism,” James Beard said, “I might manage if there were enough tarragon around.”

It’s easily made. I took a sprig of French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus var. sativa) from the garden and placed it in a sterilized bottle. Then I submersed it in boiling white wine vinegar. Let cool and cap. If you are using fresh French tarragon from the garden the result will be excellent — wonderful in salad dressings but also great even for things like deglazing skillets.

For best results, store in a dark place for a couple of weeks to allow the tarragon oils to infuse.


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