Fruit Growing Resources

Here are my recommendations for sources of information on growing fruit and nuts in San Francisco and the Greater Bay Area. Also search this blog for info on citrus HLB disease and on wooly apple aphid, both problems for which you should keep a lookout: 

Golden Gate Gardener: Third Edition, Pam Pairce, Sasquatch Books, 2010. The chapter on fruit is a good primer on selection of fruit-bearing plants for Bay Area gardens, with a discussion of microclimate adaptation and summaries of the care and possible problems involved in growing specific fruits. Suggested varieties included.

ANR University of California Publication 8261 Selecting Fruit, Nut, and Berry Crops for Home Gardens in San Mateo and San Francisco Counties, by K. S. Jones and Laurence R. Costello.

Grow a Little Fruit Tree, Ann Ralph, Storey Publishing, 2104  This is my favorite book for current and prospective fruit tree owners. She covers choosing, planting, harvesting, pests, but most importantly, pruning. The most important information in the book is how to make the first cut and prune the tree in the early years to create trees that you can harvest without having to use a ladder. The illustrations are attractive and useful. 

California Rare Fruit Growers: This California-wide organization has local chapters that often give workshops or hold scion exchanges. They are on the web at Especially useful is the fruit facts Wiki,, which includes fact sheets for many kinds of fruits, especially subtropical ones. They also now have  YouTube programs, at


Overwintering Vegetable Crops: Seed Sources

California gardeners who live in mild winter climates (all but the Sierra foothills and mountains), can grow overwintering types of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. We may also be looking for varieties of some other crops that grow well in our winter months. For example, some lettuce varieties handle cold better than others. In addition, if you live in a coastal part of California, you will want to locate vegetable varieties that will thrive in cool summers. For the widest choice of varieties, you can start them from seed.  In my book Golden Gate Gardening, I have described many of the best overwintering and cool-tolerant varieties, given sources for seed, and included a chapter explaining when and how to start seedlings. Following is a short list of some of our best mail order seed companies for regionally adapted varieties, and two local stores that sell seed from some of these otherwise mail order companies.

Yr frost 0299697-R01-008 copyOverwintering 'Purple Sprouting' Broccoli

Bountiful Gardens  Bountiful Gardens Web Site

Kitazawa Seed Company  Kitazawa Web Site

Niichols Garden Nursery   Nichols Web Site

Territorial Seed Company  Territorial Web Site

Two East Bay stores offer seeds from some of these seed companies:

Pollinate Farm and Garden, 2727 Fruitvale Avenue, Oakland, 510-686-3493

Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, 1310 McGee Avenue, Berkeley, 510-526-4704



"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: or by calling them at 415-831-5620. You can read the short history of the How-To series at (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).


2010 March 001 copy
2010 March 008 copy
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

Plants 003 copy 72 

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.

Pam Peirce event 040 72
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!