A Film Opening (I think I'm In It)

The San Francisco premier of Antonio Roman-Alcala's film Search of Good Food will be this week at the Recology Company Headquarters, 900 7th Street, near Townsend and Berry Streets. It's an exporation of where our food comes from. Antonio interviewed me for the film, about the history of food movements in the Bay Area, and assures me that he left some of the interview in the final cut.

The film will be part of a double feature, with The Greenhorns, which is about organic farmers who are just starting to farm.

The event is free, though donations are gladly accepted. On both Thursday, May 19th and Friday, May 20, the event begins at 6, with "food and hanging out." In Search of Good Food will be shown at 7, followed by filmmaker discussion, and then The Greenhorns at 8. 

Food, beverages, and popcorn courtesy of Bi-Rite Market.

You can read more about Roman-Alcala's film at insearchofgoodfood.org.


Garden Photo Class About to Begin

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Only a week left before a new garden photography class will begin at UC Berkeley Extension in San Francisco. Taught by Horticultural Photographer David Goldberg, who shot the images in Wildly Successful Plants, this class will definitely help you improve your shots of flowers and gardens. It consists of 10 classes, 4 of which will be practice shoots in private or public gardens. (One shoot will be in the newly restored gardens of Alcatraz, where students will be allowed into some garden areas off limits to the public. Ferry fare will be waived for the class.)

This class will meet 10 times, from March 19th through May 21. Sessions in the classroom will be taught at the South of Market Extension Building, on Third Street near SF MOMA, with validated off-street parking.

This class is a steal when you compare the price of one-day or half-day shoots offered at other venues. Register soon to assure space.

You read the course description on the extension website http://extension.berkeley.edu/cat/course127.html, and you can enroll online.

To see more photos by the instructor, go to www.davidgoldbergphotography.com. To ask the instructor questions, you can email him at dg.photos@att.net.


Master Gardener Garden Tour June 26th, 2010


Thought you'd like to know about an upcoming garden tour and plant sale that the SF and San Mateo Master Gardeners are having. I have seen one garden on this tour and photos of another. Lots of food gardening in those two gardens. One has chickens, the other has nice native plant landscaping. Should be a great tour, and there will be workshops led by Master Gardeners too! I will be in Scott's Valley on that day, giving a talk at a Garden Fair, so I can't go, but it sounds wonderful. Check it out.

Educational Garden Tour

Explore several stunning Woodside estates that inspire with their creativity, beauty, and sustainability. In each garden, Master Gardeners will lead educational mini-seminars on container gardening, caring for oaks, composting, year-round vegetable gardening, keeping chickens, growing natives, and more.

Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 the day of the tour. For details or to buy tickets, visit www.MasterGardenerTour.org or call (650)738-0208.

Proceeds benefit the UCCE Master Gardeners of San Mateo & San Francisco Counties, providing home gardeners with free garden and pest information to promote sustainable gardening.

"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.