Finding Golden Gate Gardening in December 2007
Dad has passed away; his banana tree lives on

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 ( 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.


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Hi Roy,

Yes, we could have gophers, certainly, but I haven't seen any plants pulled under at all, while I have seen quite a few that have been eaten from below. Nor have I seen any gopher mounds. Well, we shall see! I will be planting celeriac, fennel and parsnips in a month or so, both in the lined and the neighboring unlined bed.

Roy Stahl

A comment on Celeriac and Gophers
I don't have rats, maybe a few field mice, but I have lots of gophers. A year ago I had a beautiful celeriac that I patiently waited to harvest. About the time I was thinking "Now is the time." I noticed the plant had wilted slightly. I grabbed the stalk to pull it out and the top half gently came out of the ground without effort. It was definately a gopher and upon further investigation I found that he had gone over the garden wall to avoid the chicken wire that is at the bottom of my raised bed. I found that gophers pull most plants under and sometime you just see where they have been. But with this one celeriac, it chewed on it from the bottom up, sounding similar to your experience.

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