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 You can also see lots of David's photographs on his website at, 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 ( 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 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.

A Talk in Orinda: Mediterranean Garden Society

I'll be giving a public lecture and slide show for the Mediterranean Garden Society on Saturday, October 27th, 1:30 pm, at the Orinda Public Library, 24 Orinda Way, in Orinda, CA. I'll have books for sale and signing after the talk.

My topic will be the history and culture of the plants I wrote about in the book Wildly Successful Plants. I consider these plants regional garden treasures--easy to grow, drought tolerant, mostly deer resistant, and beautiful. They include annuals, bulbs, perennials, succulents, and shrubs. Many are from mediterranean climate areas of the world, though some are from other (often surprising) places.

You can read more about my talk, and find a link to a Google map, at (the page of the Northern California Branch of the Mediterranean Garden Society). If you live nearby, hope you can come and say hello.

If you come to this talk, you can also learn more about the MGS, which is an international group formed to study and enjoy plants of the world's mediterranean climates. See their informative website at They'll be having an international conference next year in Monterey, CA. Stay tuned for more information about that.

Fall and Winter Gardening Seminar

It is time again for the annual "Fall and Winter Gardening In the Bay Area" all-day seminar sponsored by the Alameda County Master Gardeners. It is always a fun and informative event, celebrating our climate in which fall is often as much of a beginning as spring. I often give one of the workshops, as I will this year, and am always glad when I am not teaching elsewhere part of the day so I can be there all day and hear some of the other workshops.

This event is on October 20th, from 8:30 3:30 P.M. at Merritt College, in Oakland and costs $30.00 + $10.00 if you want a box lunch. There are 3 sessions, each with 3 different workshop choices. I will be speaking at 1:30 this year, on the topic Extending Your Growing Season with Winter Crops. Others will be speaking on such topics as Orchid Growing, Citrus, Waterwise Gardening, Fall Ornamental Gardening Tips. There will also be books for sale (including mine) and a plant sale. To learn more about the day, or to register, you can download the brochure by going to

School Garden Workshop September 15th

If you are involved in any way in a school garden in San Francisco, and it needs resources, there are lots of opportunities available. I wrote about some of them in my SF Chronicle column on September 5th, which you can read at You may also want to go to the program: Kids in Gardens: School Gardening, Saturday, September 15th, 10AM to Noon. It is being held at the Garden For the Environment, at 7th Avenue and Lawton, and is cosponsored by the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance. You will get ideas for building the garden, integrating it into the school, or improving it and will leave with a packet of activities that relate the garden to various school subjects. Learn about resources you can tap into. It costs $15, kids free, preregistration required. You can read about this workshop and about the GFE at their website Click on the events tab to find information. Or you can call them at (415) 731-5627. Get those kids out in the garden! It is good for them.

Class on Mediterranean Food Gardening

My summer school class at City College of San Francisco is over. It is always intense, for me as well as for the students, since it meets 2 nights a week, 5 hours a night, and I'm afraid that it and the Chronicle column together, along with keeping my gardens intact, have kept me from writing in my blog. Now I am off to se my dad again, so will have a new report on his bananas. Then back to a couple of weeks of time off from teaching.

My next public class will be at Common Ground garden store ( on the morning of August 25th. It will be about how to relate to the mediterranean climate of the Bay Area to produce the best mix of year round crops and use them well. Some food and agriculture history, some climatology, lots of practical tips, a calendar, slides of locally grown crops, and some recipes. It is 10:30-12:30 and costs $25. Call them at (650) 493-6072 to preregister. It's a nice garden store too, worth checking out. It's a good source for all kinds of organic fertilizers, many sold in bulk.

I will be teaching a one unit, 6-week class at City College of San Francisco this fall, but it is full. It will be on soil prep, compost, and raising vegetables and herbs in fall and winter. If you miss it, I think I will be offering it again next fall, so try again. It usually starts the Saturday after Labor Day.

Summer & Fall Classes

Summer is coming up and I will be teaching OH50, which is the intro to Horticulture for those considering a carreer in horticulture at City College of San Francisco this summer. It begins on June 12th, ends on July 26th, and meets every Tuesday and Thursday night inbetween from 5 to 10 PM. The first part of each evening's class is a lab in which we practice basic horticultural skiills. It is an accelerated class in summer, since it meets twice a week instead of the once a week it meets in the regular school year, so it's kind of intense, but come on over if you want to get a start in horticulture. You can read more about the course and the program at It is in the department of Environmental Horticulture and Floristry.

In the fall, starting the Saturday after Labor day, I will be teaching 111E one of my 3 6-week classes on vegetable and herb gardening. The topics of 111E are soil prep, compost (including worm composting) and the fall and winter crops we can grow. The class meets 9-1 on Saturdays and includes a lab in our demo garden. The dates are September 8 through October 13.

In spring, I probably will be teaching 101, called Garden Practices, which is a beginning gardening class for nonmajors. We cover all the basic topics, including tips on growing different kinds of ornamental and edible plants, and plant selection. It also meets on Saturdays, from 9-12. (The spring semester is not yet scheduled, so this is only a tentative plan.)

Still Room in My Spring Classes

There are still a few spaces in both of my spring Vegetable and Herb gardening classes at City College of San Francisco. If they fill before you can enroll, just come to the first class, since there are often a few cancellations and you can enroll on that day. Send me an email and let me know you are interested.

And, for more info about the classes, see the December 8th entry and also go to

Spring Gardening Classes at City College

The new spring catalog for City College of San Francisco is available, with a full list of horticulture classes offered.

I will be teaching two Saturday morning classes on growing Vegetables and Herbs. Each class is 6 weeks long, and meets from 9 to 1 on Saturdays. From 11 to 1 we have lab, for which we have a big garden and greenhouses. In these fun, practical, thoughtful classes, you will learn what you need to know to grow food in a small or larger garden. We also share recipes and learn how to harvest and prepare food from a garden.

The first class, 111F, runs from February 3 through March 1, and will cover buying seeds and plants, starting from seed or transplanting, salad and root crops, and edible flowers. The second class, 111G, is from April 14 through May 19. In it you will learn how to grow summer crops, as well as how to identify and manage pests by using integrated pest management.

(These classes are two parts of a three-part series. The final class of the series will be offered in the fall. It covers soil preparation, composting, styles of gardening, and the fall/winter garden crops.)

The catalog recommends gardening experience or a basic gardening class as prerequisites for my classes. This doesn't mean you have to have taken a basic gardening class, just that you have enough experience or info that I can jump to the details of the crops without leaving you far behind. If you have been gardening or reading Golden Gate Gardening for a while, that should do it. (We use GGG as the textbook, with plenty of supplemental handouts.)

Check out the City College web site under Environmental Horticulture and Floristry at for other offerings. The tree care class, which isn't offered very often, will be given next spring, as well as plant propagation and the usual ornamental plant I.D. classes, landscape construction, floristry classes, and many others.