"How-To Night" Next Wednesday

You may have noticed that I am doing a "How-To Night" on Wednesday, April 14th (see calendar in previous post). Perhaps you wondered what that could mean.

Here's the scoop. There's a popular San Francisco monthly event called "Ask a Scientist" at a South of Market restaurant. People go to eat and then listen to a scientist explain something. Well, the same person who began that series, Juliana Gallin, has now begun a second series, called "How To Night" at the Bazaar Cafe, 5927 California Street (at 21st Ave.) in San Francisco. (She says that this is the cafe that originally hosted the "Ask a Scientist" series.)

The event is free, though making an evening of it by ordering something to eat or drink is encouraged. You can learn more about the cafe at their web-site: www.bazaarcafe.com. or by calling them at 415-831-5620. You can read the short history of the How-To series at www.julianagallin.com/howto. (She is looking for more people who might like to teach some skill in a classor who have a request for a class to teach something.)

So come on over next Wednesday night and let me help you get started growing vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers in San Francisco's cool (cold?) and foggy summers--and through the rest of the year too! I will bring the new Golden Gate Gardening to sell and will be happy to autograph copies.

Meanwhile, in the garden, it goes on being spring. I have been shooting my tree peony, which didn't bloom last year, and has only one flower this year--but what a flower! When I was a child we had a long row of regular peonies between our front yard and that of the neighbors. They bloomed in late May. One of the most beautiful of flowers, I think.

San Francisco doesn't get enough winter chill for regular peonies, but it does for tree peonies!So here are the teasers (the opening bud).

 

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More next week when it's fully open. Also, my potatoes are up, and I will shoot them before and after I fill in the trenches around them.  


Afterward: Book Party at Flora Grubb

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Thought you'd enjoy seeing a few photos from the book party held at Flora Grubb on Sunday, February 28th. It was a big happy crowd, mingling among the palm trees and munching on sushi. I now feel the book is well and properly launched, though there are many talks, book signings, and radio appearances to come. Plants 015 copy 72 Flora Grubb staff served punch, ice tea and wine, and generally helped with the party. Thanks to all for coming and for helping out!
I gave a short presentation, thanking some people who helped research the current edition. Below is a photo of me with the ones who were present. They all got books, though some had received theirs already.

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The people in this photo, left to right, are Malcolm Hillan, Lisa Gerhard, Sue Zaslaw, Bracey Tiede, Pam Peirce, David Goldberg, and Christina Johnson. 

 

My little talk follows:  

Thank you very much for coming to my party. Writing a book is such hard work, and often such lonely work. A book party is a wonderful antidote.

Thank you also for reading Golden Gate Gardening.

It makes me very happy when I hear that someone has used the book to grow food, to have fun gardening, to eat better because of what they grew or what they learned.

It took many people to make this book a reality, from inspirers to informants, to the many people who have asked me questions over the years, to the publisher, Sasquatch Books, which provided an editor, copy editor, proofreader, and designer. These are listed in the acknowledgements, which are updated for this edition.

I’d especially like to thank today 11 people who helped immensely in the preparation of this new edition and present them with copies of the book.

    If you would step forward when I say your name, I would much appreciate it. I will start with Bracy Tiede (who was present), who pulled together a team of Master Gardeners from Santa Clara County to help produce a planting calendar appropriate for that region. Other team members were Karen Schaffer, Susan Zaslaw (present), Carole Frost, the current Cooperative Extension Advisor for Urban Agriculture in Santa Clara County, and Nancy Garrison, who retired from that post. I want to especially thank Nancy for all of her work over the years testing varieties and planting times.

Next I would like to thank Sue Phelan, a gardening teacher from Walnut Creek, in Contra Costa county, for her help with the planting calendar for that region.

     Two of my coworkers at City College of SF provided valuable help. Pat Morgan, the department’s Nursery Specialist, researched new information on pesticide active ingredients and reviewed what I wrote about pesticides. Malcolm Hillan (present), colleague on the teaching faculty reviewed the water and soils chapters and helped as I tried to make then as useful as possible and cover current issues and practices.

Lisa Gerhard (present), garden designer and arborist, has been my student, my employer, the pruner of my apple tree and designer of my garden. She also helped extensively with the fruit chapter of this edition of GGG. She sat with me as we came up with a new outline for the chapter itself, and also used the internet and phone interviews to decide which varieties to add and which to drop in this edition.

Christina Johnson (present) helped by determining which seed suppliers currently carry the older as well as the newly included crop varieties. This was painstaking work, which I’m sure required her professional proofreader’s sharp eyes.

Finally, I want to thank my husband, David Goldberg (present) for updating the seed catalog listings and the Resources for Gardeners Appendix—also a time consuming and exacting process. I offered David a book, but he says he has read it, more than once, and at several stages, and, in addition, has several boxes of it stored under his work table in his study, should he wish to look again.

These thank you’s tell you something about what is new in this edition. The book has been reworked throughout to make it more useful. I’ve taken good advice from readers to improve its usefulness, in clarity, points included, order in which material is presented. I have expanded information on using the garden all year with a minimum of time spent in the cold, rain, and early dark of winter. I have added information, in the two additional calendars, and throughout, to make the book more useful to those who live in the next inland tier of the Bay Area. I have added varieties I’ve tested over the past 10 years, less-toxic pesticides that have recently been released, added recipes, added new information on management of vertebrate pests, and have almost completely rewritten the last chapter of the book, the one called Cooking from the Garden.

   I’ve observed that getting the food from the garden to the table is often a challenge, and have made sure to include harvesting and use tips with all of the crops. The last chapter includes tips for making sure the food you grow gets eaten, but I’ve also set forth a call for developing a regional garden cuisine, one that draws on the foods we grow best, in the seasons we can produce them, and calls on the cuisine traditions of the people of many cultures who inhabit our region. There is California Cuisine, I know, but this will be a cuisine like no other, a unique cuisine developed from urban agriculture in a place that has not had agriculture for that long, that reflects our place in the way that traditional cuisines developed in their places throughout the world.

I wanted briefly to add that in addition to its direct goals of helping people understand the climate of our region, grow food in it, and use that food to eat better, I have had two larger philosophical goals in writing this book.   

In our current culture, we often hear ourselves referred to as “consumers” not just when the subject is “people as buyers of the products being discussed” but as if the term were descriptive of our essences as human beings. I don’t think this is a positive or useful way to think about ourselves. I hope that gardening is a way to become the opposite of consumers “producers,” and that this will become a crack in the dominant paradigm, an inspiration to look at oneself in a new way.  I think that many people buy stuff in the hope that it will be transformational, only to find they are the same person with more stuff. Gardening is an activity that can be done for very little cash, and that often does transform the gardener. The garden creates the gardener as much as the other way around.

   Second, and perhaps the larger issue that leads to the previous unfortunate situation, is that I believe our culture gives disproportionate power to large corporations. They are considered individuals, like you or me, and yet wield vast legal, political, and economic power they can use to influence what we think. Much has been written recently about the power of big agriculture, of big food corporations, and how the result has been a food supply that does not support good health. As my daughter says, and I think many people would agree “I don’t want to have to think about what I eat,” but thought is required to eat a healthy diet given the food choices that jump out at us from corporate ads. Gardening is, again, a crack in that paradigm. We may not grow all that we eat, or even a significant amount of it, but growing even a little of it lets us see what we can do to feed ourselves and see more clearly the reality of whole foods. This makes the corporate food blitz that much less powerful, and hopefully, helps to crack it open, leading to such wonderful directions as the Michelle Obama’s push to improve what we feed our children.

But we don’t need to ponder the bigger issues to have fun gardening, do we? All I have to say, in closing, is: Garden On!


Lessons from Old Gardens

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We've been travelling some this summer so I have not been blogging as often, but will now have many photos and much information to share. These photos are from our trip to Pacific Grove, California, which is next door to Monterey. It began as a Victorian retreat for various Christian groups, mainly Protestant, I think. Many of the original tiny vacation homes have been preserved, and many of the plants are the old ones I wrote about in my book Wildly Successful Plants: Northern California. These are the California heirloom plants that survive in old gardens. The photo at left, from a Pacific Grove garden, uses scented geraniums, Impatiens sodeni or poor man's rhododendron, an aeonium (bottom left) and an Agave attenuata (bottom right).

The photo below shows a nice blue-purple cineraria along with a purple-leaved aeonium and a Mexican daisy that are spilling prettily over a retaining wall. I do love those cinerarias! (We were in the Midwest recently, where there are many purple coneflowers, but I don't think they are nearly as pretty as our purple daisies, cineraria.)

I am speaking on the subject of "Lessons from Old Gardens" at the Alameda County Master Gardeners Fall Gardening Seminar, at Merritt College, in Oakland, on Saturday, October 24th. I plan to talk about the plants in my book Wildly Successful plants, as ones that have shown their willingness to grow well in regional gardens, and which point the way to other, more recently available plants that will also thrive. (The seminar consists of a day of classes. It is not very expensive to attend and always interesting. They will be putting out a schedule soon and I will post a link to it when they do.) 

In the Midwest, I saw all the classic perennials, the ones recommended by books on perennials written for the rest of the country. Nice to remember them. I gave them a nod and a smile, but it's good to be back in California, where different plants thrive and winter is as colorful as summer.  

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CCSF Plant Sale Soon--Tomatoes!

The plant sale at CCSF is coming up soon. It is to be on May 7th, 11-3. While they will have plenty of ornamentals, and spring flower arrangements, the news is that this year there will be lots of vegetable seedlings, particularly tomatoes. The are all early tomato varieties, suitable for growing in SF or nearby. A few of them are ones that I want people to try, to see if they will resist the disease tomato late blight. These are ones that someone writing on the web claimed didn't get the disease in their gardens, so if you have seen this disease, you might like to try them.

The sale is in the Department of Environmental Horticulture and Floristry, on the north end of the campus, on Judson between Gennessee and Foerster. Thursday May 7th only, 11-3.

The tomatoes that may be late blight resistant are: 'Legend' (medium-sized fruit, bred for resistance, but may not resist the strain we have, from Territorial Seed Co.), 'Koralik' (cherry-sized, from Territorial Seed Co.) 'Tommy Toe' (cherry tomato, from Totally Tomatoes), 'Juliet' (grape-shaped tomato, from Totally Tomatoes), 'Matt's Wild Cherry', from Seeds of Change), currant tomato (wild variety, tiny fruit, from Totally Tomatoes, I think, but available several places. Currant tomatoes are available as red, yellow, or white. We are groiwing white ones).

I I wrote about this disease several blog posts back, with a link to a site with photos. The name of the post was "Have you seen this tomato disease?" You can use the search feature to find it.)

There are also many other varieties, including Early Girl, Stupice, Chocolate Cherry, Roma, Sungold, Old German, etc.

 


Subscribing to this blog: Notifixious

The other day I added a feature that lets you subscribe to this blog. Scroll down and look on the right to find it. You can subscribe by email or several other systems. Let me know how it works for you.

Also, hope you noticed the Lijit search feature that's been in place for a long time. You can use it look for particular topics in my blog. I often blog about the same plants or plant pests over time, so this lets you pull all the posts on one subject together and read through them. 

I have to work in my garden this week. So much to do. Spray the apple tree with canola oil dormant oil again to combat woolly apple aphid, prune the hedge, plant some tigridia bulbs, repair the brick patio where the fence builders damaged it. A little sunshine, the cold wind has let up, so it's time to go at it! Hope you have time to work on your garden, and have a garden to work on. (Or, if not, consider volunteering on Alcatraz. The gardens there are glorious, and it is a spectacular place to be gardening. You can find out how at http://www.parksconservancy.org/calendar/index.asp?event=194.) Or look for a community garden. You can find a list through the web site of SFGRO, http://www.sfgro.org that tells you where they are and whether they have room.

Incidentally, there will be an event to celebrate the publication of the book Cracks in the Asphalt, a photo-illustrated guide to selected community gardens in San Francisco, on Thursday evening, March 26, 7 pm, at Get Lost Travel Books,1825 Market (between Valencia and Guerrero, corner of Pearl). Author Alex Hatch will be there, and Jude Kosky of SFGRO. It is a nice, small book, with maps and interesting facts about the neighborhoods around the gardens. A tour guide, if you will.


Slow Food Nation--Victory Garden

Slow Food Nation weekend is underway in San Francisco. I plan to be at several events.The Victory Garden has become lush and beautiful, so I wanted to show some pictures. These were taken last Sunday morning, August 23. If you want to know more about Slow Food Nation Events, see their website at www.slowfoodnation.org

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The sight of vegetables flourishing in front of San Francisco's City Hall is astonishing and joyful. Since the July 12 plantout the plants have grown dramatically. There is a tower of blooming scarlet runner beans, corn, tomatoes, greens of all kinds and small beds of native flowers.  


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There was once a farm here. Italian American farmers worked in several parts of San Francisco in the 1800s, and one farm was on the future site of City Hall.

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The garden is in the place where once there was a pond, more recently a stetch of lawn. It will be the site of the Slow Food Nation Marketplace today through Sunday August 31st, and then will remain until September 21. After that? Don't know. I hear rumblings about it being moved to a different location.




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Prefer flowers? Several plantings of flowers show some lovely combinations.







2008 August 071 copy 72 And of course there is a compost pile, surrounded with the same rice straw bales as the rest of the garden beds. All in all the garden is a wonderful sight. Hope you get to see it!


Year-Round Vegetable Gardening--a Talk

On Saturday July 12, I will be giving a talk on Year-Round Vegetable Gardening at the  30th Street Senior Services Garden at 225 30th Street near Church. It is at 10 AM. There will also be Master Gardeners available for a Plant Clinic.

The Garden at the Center is truly wonderful. If you come, you have to take the elevator just to the right of the front door to the third floor, and then walk to the back of the building. It isn't a roof garden, but a large, in-ground garden, filled with vegetables and ornamentals. Come see.

Come learn how to eat from a small urban garden year-round. The talk will be useful for both beginners and experienced food gardeners. I will also have copies of both Golden Gate GArdening and Wildly Successful plants available for sale and signing.


Garden Photography Class

0299697r01019_copy2 Time to announce that David Goldberg, the professional Landscape and Garden Photographer, who took the photos in my book Wildly Successful Plants: Northern California, will be teaching this spring at UC Berkeley Extension. The class is called Horticultural Photography, and will take place at the SF campus, Saturdays, starting March 29th. David is not only an excellent photographer, but also a clear and helpful teacher who will help you make a quantum leap into taking better photographs with your digital or film SLR. You may want to do that just for enjoyment, but if you are planning or already in a landscape career, you will want to know how to take the best possible shots to use for marketing or to enter competitions. To learn more about the class, check out www.gardenphotographyclass.typepad.com. You can also see lots of David's photographs on his website at www.davidgoldbergphotography.com, and can send him any questions you may have about the class.


Basic Gardening Class Starts January 19th

The spring semester at City College of San Francisco starts in January and I will be teaching a full semester class on basic gardening. It starts on Saturday, January 19th, at 9 AM and meets 9-12 on Saturdays that aren't part of holiday weekends through about the third week of May.

You can learn more about the class on the website of the college (www.ccsf.edu). It is called Garden Practice, or 101, in the department of Environmental Horticulture and Floristry. This is a gardening class for beginners. We cover all the basic topics, including tips on growing different kinds of ornamental and edible plants, and plant selection.

October_07_085_copy As part of the class, during lab, which is from 11-12 we will be starting seedlings in the department greenhouses and working in the demonstration garden. There are vegetables, flowers, and an herb garden. We will also be building a hot compost pile and tending a redworm compost bin. The class includes hands-on instruction in basic pruning of woody plants, too. (The flower in the photo is 'Alaska' nasturtium, which serves a dual purpose--it's pretty and you can eat both the leaves and the flowers.)

The construction class is building a fine, sturdy trellis this fall, which will become the focus of a new planting of edible and ornamental plants from the Central and South American highlands. The trellis will support a couple of chayote squash vines. Have you ever seen one? They will climb 30 feet given the chance, so we are putting the trellis at a distance from other structures so we can contain this monster. (I'll put photos on this blog, too, as this planting gets underway.)

City College is just west of the Ocean/Geneva exit of 280, easily accessible from that freeway. Take the Ocean part of the exit, west to Phelan, turn right at Judson (at the north end of the campus). The horticulture department is in a ranch-style classroom building behind a garden.

You can register for the class online. (If you haven't ever taken a class at CCSF you have to apply first, but this is not a lengthy process.) The default enrollment puts you in the class for a letter grade (which most people find inspires them to learn the most). You can also take the class Pass/Fail. To do this, you need to change from the default enrollment. You can also do that online. If you do this, please print out a copy of the form stating you did it and bring it to class, so I can see it.

Several readers of this blog have now turned up at workshops and classes I have taught. It has been fun to meet and be able to share gardening information.


Year-Round Vegetable Gardening--Nov. 17

I'll be giving a talk on Year Round Vegetable Gardening on November 17, 12 Noon to 1:30 PM at Ploughshares Nursery in Alameda. You can learn more at www.ploughsharesnursery.com or call them at (510) 898-7811.

Want to have fresh food from your garden all year long? You can certainly do that in the Bay Area, and I will tell you how. Even a very small space can produce enough to enliven your winter and early spring meals. I will be bringing a winter gardening calendar and some recipes to help you use your harvest. I'll also have copies of Golden Gate Gardening and Wildly Successful Plants for purchase and signing.

Ploughshares Nursery is a nonprofit set up to teach job skills to at-risk individuals. They sell, among other things, food crop plants and native plants. They are located at 2701 Main Street. Check out their website for more information.

Alameda Island, just off of the coast of Oakland, accessible by bridges. is really interesting to explore, with bookstores, coffee houses and restaurants. The town has a small-town feel to it, with detached houses and nice gardens. You might enjoy coming to hear my talk and then exploring the town a bit.