Tuesday, December 4, 2007

End-of-the-year garden deadline approaching

With less than a month left before the end of the year, I wanted to remind everyone that gardeners who aren't planning on actively gardening during the winter need to prepare their plots for the season by December 31.

I stopped by the garden over the weekend to do some work on my plot -- mostly weeding and preparing it for a partial sheet mulching. Over the past month, a number of people have sheet mulched their plots, which will help improve the quality of the soil while keeping weeds in check. Others have cleared their plots and planted winter crops. But I noticed that there are about a dozen plots that are covered in weeds at the moment.

A couple of years ago, we amended the garden agreement to require all gardeners who aren't planning on gardening during the rainy months to prepare their plot for the winter by sheet mulching or growing a cover crop. Before we made this change, the vast majority of plots were neglected during the winter and overgrown with weeds.

This was shortly after the garden was saved from development and it just seemed like a shame that the garden went unused for many months out of the year after so much time and energy went into saving it. Since that time, many people have been sheet mulching during the winter, which has greatly improved the soil in the garden. And others have taken advantage of our ability to garden year-round in San Francisco and have experimented with different winter crops.

One of the other reasons we've gotten more strict about enforcing this rule is that the waiting list for getting a plot at the garden has grown tremendously in recent years. We currently have twenty people who are waiting to get a plot at our garden.

It's hard to believe it's December already, but winter is just around the corner. Please make arrangments to prepare your plot for the winter by December 31 if you aren't planning on actively gardening in the coming months. Gardeners who don't make arrangements by the end of the year will have to give up their plots to someone on the waiting list.

Please let me know if you have any questions. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Some ideas for winter gardening

For those of you looking for ideas for winter gardening, I wanted to pass along some resources. Check out Golden Gate Gardening, Pam Pierce's guide to year-round gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area. We've got two copies of this helpful book on the shelf in the tool shed.

It includes some good suggestions for crops to grow during the winter months: artichokes, fava beans, garlic, and peas all do well in the winter. Cabbage and lettuce are also good winter crops, although you may have better luck with starter plants than with seeds at this point in the season. Broccoli and brussel sprouts will also grow during the winter, but do better when they are started in late summer so that they are half grown before the coldest part of the year.

Lynette Evans, who writes a weekly gardening column in the San Francisco Chronicle also recently suggested mustard greens and camarosa strawberries for winter planting.

Sheet mulching instructions: If you are planning on sheet mulching your plot, you'll find the instructions on this simple technique for controlling weeds and improving your soil posted on the blog. I'll also post a hard copy on the toolshed bulletin board for easy access from the garden.

Winter gardening workshop: If you missed our workshop on preparing your plot for the winter, you can participate in another one being offered by Garden for Environment on Saturday, November 10, from 10am to 1pm. Topics will include mulching, cover cropping, pest control practices, weeding tips, and a crop selection appropriate for the Bay Area Winter months. The workshop will take place at the GFE garden located at 7th Ave and Lawton Street in SF. To pre-register, call 415-731-5627. There is a $5 suggested donation.

Use it or Lose it: We currently have 15 people on our waiting list for garden plots. If you're not planning on gardening this winter, be sure to take steps to prepare your plot for the season by the end of the year. Plots that aren't prepared for the winter by the end of the year or that aren't being actively used, will be made available to those on the waiting list.

Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fall Fun & Music at the Garden!

We had another gorgeous sunny day at the garden on Saturday, which made for a perfect time to get together to learn about sheet mulching for the winter and to enjoy some music and good food on the back patio.

Special thanks to Brent for leading the sheet mulching demonstration.
If you missed the workshop, check out the step-by-step instructions we've posted on the blog (this link can always be found under "Garden Administration" in the top right column). Thanks to Wendy and Kelsy for helping out with the demo!

You'll find all the materials you'll need for sheet mulching back by the toolsheed and compost bin. If you are not planning on gardening during the winter, sheet mulching is a great way to keep weeds from over-running your plot while improving your soil for the springtime.

After the workshop, we took a break to enjoy a potluck lunch (including some delicious orzo salad made by Bridget and borscht by Anna as well as some yummy blackberry desserts) and then the open-mic got underway. John got us started with a poetry reading and then we heard musical performances by Rick, Zo, Kenne, Bridget, Robert, and Kim. Ian once again stole the show with "Do you know the muffin man?" Thanks to all the performers and everyone who helped out, including Gabriel for making our stylish scarecrow!

Check out more photos from the event in the photo archive.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Workshop & Music Coming up on Saturday (10/27)

If you're planning on taking a break from gardening during the rainy winter months, be sure to come out to this Saturday's workshop on preparing your plot for the season. We'll get started at 11am and Brent Patterson will lead a workshop on sheet mulching, cover crops, as well as some important composting reminders.

Here's the poop on Saturday's workshop: On Sunday, Brent and I drove out to a horse stable near Fort Funston and picked up some donated manure for this Saturday's workshop. We also bought a couple of bails of straw and have been collecting cardboard as well. These are the supplies you'll need to sheet mulch your plot, which is an excellent way to keep weeds in check during the winter and to improve your soil.

One important thing to keep in mind about sheet mulching is that you don't have to sheet mulch your entire plot. Brent will demonstrate how to sheet mulch around existing plants that you want to keep in place. If you are planning on sheet mulching your plot on Saturday, you should give your plot a good soaking of water beforehand.

Another option for preparing your plot for the winter is growing a cover crop. If you're interested in trying a cover crop this winter, we'll provide the seeds and show you how to get started. Cover crops add nitrogen to the soil and also produce plant material that can later be added to the compost for building more soil

Potluck and music after the workshop: At 1pm we'll finish up the workshop and take a break for a potluck. Bring a dish to share with fellow gardeners and enjoy another music open-mic event beginning at that same time.

Zo is organizing the open-mic, which goes until 4pm. If you're a musician interested in peforming or if you know someone who might want to play, please give Zo a call: 845-1489

One final note: Please remember that gardeners who aren’t actively gardening during the winter or who fail to prepare their plot for the winter by the end of the year will have to give up their plots.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Apples are ripe and ready for picking

Earlier this week, I picked an apple from the smaller apple tree in the front of the garden to see if the fruit had ripened yet. I was happy to find out that the apples are crisp and delicious!

All fruit at Page Street is available to members of the garden. Feel free to use the fruit picker on the long pole by the toolshed to pick an apple. Just position the padded basket of the fruit picker beneath one of the apples. Tap the branch and the apple should land in the basket. I'll also pick a few and leave them on top of the compost bin.

There aren't that many apples in the tree, so please just take one so everyone gets a chance to enjoy them.

Unfortunately, we didn't get a good crop of apples this year on the tree in the very front of the garden. The apple and plum trees tend to produce fruit in cycles, and it looks like this was an off year for the front apple tree.

I'm hoping to get the City to do some additional pruning on the apple and cherry trees again before the end of the year. I'll keep you posted about that effort.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Planning for winter and more music in the garden

One of the great things about gardening in the San Francisco is being able to grow vegetables and other plants year-round. That's why gardeners at Page Street are encouraged to use their plots throughout the year. But if you are not planning on gardening during the rainy winter months, you are required by the garden agreement to prepare your plot for the season.

There are a few events coming up this month that will help you make plans for the winter. If you are interested in learning more about year-round gardening, check out a special "Fall & Winter Gardening" workshop sponsored by the UC Cooperative Extension Service on Saturday, October 20, at Merritt College in Oakland. This workshop features a number of interesting topics, including "Extending Your Growing Season with Winter Crops," led by Pam Pierce, authjor of Golden Gate Gardening. The deadline for signing up for this workshop is October 12.

If you are not planning on gardening during the winter, be sure to attend our workshop on preparing your plot for the season on Saturday, October 27, from 11am-1pm. Brent Patterson, who heads up our compost team, will do a demonstration on sheet mulching. This is an excellent way of keeping weeds in check, improving nutrient content and water retention in soil, and encouraging favorable microbial activity and worms in your plot. It's also very easy to do.

In addition to the sheet mulching lesson, Brent will instruct gardeners on planting winter cover crops for their plots. Cover crops add nitrogen to the soil and also produce plant material that can later be added to the compost for building more soil.

Please keep in mind that gardeners who aren’t actively gardening during the winter or who fail to prepare their plot for the winter by the end of the year will have to give up their plots.

Music in the Garden: Saturday, October 27, 1-4pm

After the workshop is done at 1pm, we'll take a break to enjoy a potluck lunch and another open-mic music event. Music in the garden will continue until about 4pm. If you are interested in performing or know someone who might be, please call Zo at 845-1489. More details to come.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Food & Fun at the Garden Barbecue!

Our annual summer barbecue was lots of fun thanks to a beautiful sunny day, good eats from the grill, and musical performances on the back patio.

Special thanks to John and Stephanie for getting food for the barbecue and working the grill (with help from Kenne). Corrine was a big help with set-up and Chancellor and Gabriel lent a hand with clean-up. Lynn came through with bubbles and chalk drawing for the kids and did a great job encouraging neighbors to check out the garden. And a big round of applause for all the musicians: Zo, Rick, Kim, & Robert! Thanks to everyone who came and brought food -- especially all the yummy desserts!

We had so much fun that we're thinking of organizing another music event sometime in October. We need volunteers to help out. If you'd like to get involved, please contact Michael at mccam@covad.net or at 902-9537.

Check out more photos from the garden party at http://pagestreetgardenphotos.blogspot.com/

Monday, September 10, 2007

BBQ on Saturday, 9/15: Bring a potluck dish

Our garden barbecue and picnic is coming up this Saturday, September 15 (noon until 4pm)! Hopefully we'll have sunnier weather than this past weekend so we can enjoy a fun time together in the garden.

Gardeners Stephanie Adrakatas and John Krull have once again volunteered to pick up burgers and hot dogs (including veggie versions) for the event and will be in charge of the barbecue. Feel free to bring other items for the grill. Gardeners are asked to add to the potluck picnic spread by bringing a side dish or dessert to share. I'm planning on brings an orzo salad and some raspberry squares!

We're still looking for musicians to perform during the open-mic. If you are a musician interested in playing, please contact Zo at 845-1489. Or if know someone who might be interested in performing, please help spread the word.

We're also planning on having some fun things for kids: bubbles, chalk drawing on the sidewalk, balloons, and other fun garden games.

I need some volunteers to help with set-up and clean up. Please contact me at 902-9537 if you can lend a hand. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone on Saturday. See you then!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Performers Needed for Garden BBQ on the 15th

Our summer barbecue is coming up on Saturday, September 15, and we're looking for musicians and others interested in performing during our afternoon open mic. Last year, we had a number of musicians and even a magician take turns showing off their talents on our mini-stage by the back patio. Zo is now recruiting neighborhood performers for this year's show. If you are a musician or have some other talent you'd like to share, contact Zo at 845-1489. See you on the 15th!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Water is back on at the garden

Hi folks,

As of Thursday morning the 2 water spigets (1 old one and 1 new one) have running water. The new spiget is located in the back of the garden by the compost bins. When Michael returns this weekend, i'm sure we will have a new hose installed.

The project went smoothly.. and the new backflow apparatus behind the bench isn't as bulky as we feared. So that's a good thing.

Hope you'all are enjoying this beautiful august weather!!

Cheers, Gabriel

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Water has been disconnected at the garden

I'm heading out of town shortly, but I wanted to post a quick update about the plumbing project. I was just informed today that the water in the garden has to be disconnected while the new backflow unit is being installed.

I'm very sorry about this inconvenience, but I'm hoping the project will be completed in one week as promised. In the meantime, Gabriel is going to make arrangements with Stephanie next door to fill up three trash cans with water so that you can fill up the water can to irrigate your plots.

I wasn't able to speak to the plumbing crew this afternoon, but it appears that they were able to make a good connection with the water main in the front of the garden. I hope that means that they won't need to dig beyond the already rather large hole in the ground in the front of the garden.

Please be careful around the project site while all this work is being done. And please excuse the mess. It's probably a good idea to refrain from bringing children into the garden until this project is completed.

I'll be back on Friday evening. If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, please contact Zo at 845-1489.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Plumbing project gets underway on August 21

I just got word that the City Plumbing Department is planning on starting its work to add a second hose bib to the back of the garden on Tuesday (8/21). The contractor is planning on either setting the water line on top of the soil along the east side of the garden, or setting it below ground along the center pathway of the garden.

The City also will install a backflow preventer unit behind the bench in the front of the garden. This device is required to bring our irrigation system up to code and will prevent water from siphoning back into the City's water main and contaminating the water supply.

Assuming there are no surprises during the work, the project should be finished in one week. There is some concern that the water line coming in from the street is very old and rusted, which may mean that a section of the existing water line leading to the water main will need to be replaced. This would obviously take longer to complete. I'll be sure to keep you informed as the work progresses and I learn more.

I'm heading out of town on Tuesday night until the evening of August 24. If you have any questions or concerns while I'm gone, you can contact Zo at 845-1489.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunny Summer Work Day!

Last Saturday’s work day at the garden was a big success thanks to a good turnout and sunny skies, which made for a really beautiful day. As planned, we weeded the footpaths behind garden plots and all of the common area gardens. We also stained the wooden bench at the front of the garden, began repairs of some of the damaged garden plots, and cleared out the vegetation growing on the outside of the back fence. A good portion of the weeds that were cleared from the garden were the dreaded “sticky weed” that is so invasive. We bagged it all up for pick-up by the city rather than mixing it in our compost bins to avoid contamination of our compost.

After a couple of hours of work, we took a break for refreshments and a brief meeting. Here’s the run-down on what we discussed:

New hose connection for back of garden: It looks like the city will be installing a new hose bib for the back of the garden to make it easier for watering. This project will begin sometime around August 27. The city is planning on laying galvanized pipe above ground connected to the front faucet that will go behind the plots on the east side of the garden. The pipe will extend to the back of the garden to a new second hose bib and hose located right behind the compost bins.

At the same time, the city will be installing a backflow preventer unit, which will be located in the front of the garden behind the bench. This device prevents water from siphoning back into the city's water main and contaminating the water supply. The backflow preventer is required to bring the garden’s irrigation system up to city code.

To prepare for this work, we need to make sure that the space behind the plots on the east side of the garden is cleared to make room for the surface mounted pipe leading to the hose bib in the back of the garden. If you have a plot on the east side of the garden, please be sure to clear out the space behind your plot as soon as possible.

Garden security: Unfortunately, we found out that the lower apartment facing Lily Street on the east side of the garden was burglarized recently. The burglary took place a day after the garden gate was discovered open, and rope and a rope ladder were found inside the garden near the middle fence. Please be sure to always lock the front gate and tool shed when you are the last to leave the garden. After closing the lock, be sure to spin the combination and pull the lock to make sure that it is secure.

Rat in the garden: We had a report recently of a rat in the garden and there were a few more sightings during last Saturday’s work day. We discussed the fact that it is not uncommon to see rats in the city, although it is a bit unusual to see them during the daytime. A couple of gardeners suggested using traps to catch the rat(s), but others expressed safety concerns about doing so. We decided to take steps to make sure that we are not doing anything that might attract rats. We’ll make sure the garden is kept weeded, secure the trash cans, and look into whether food scraps in the compost should be avoided. Let’s keep an eye on things and see whether additional steps may be needed.

Garden Barbecue: We scheduled our annual garden barbecue for Saturday, September 15, from noon to 4pm. We’ll use garden funds to buy drinks and burgers and hot dogs (including veggie versions) for the grill. Gardeners are asked to bring a side dish to share. Zo will organize a group of musicians to perform on the back patio. If you’re a musician and would like to perform (or know someone who might be interested), please contact Zo at 864-1209. Lynn is looking into organizing activities for kids. We need more volunteers to help pull this event together. Please contact Michael at 902-9537 if you’d like to lend a hand.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Summer Work Day: Saturday, August 11

Please mark your calendars and make plans to come out to our summer work day on Saturday, August 11, from 10:30am to 1:30pm. We'll spend a few hours on garden chores, including: weeding the common area gardens and behind garden plots; clearing out the weeds and other vegetation that has grown outside the back fence; staining the bench; and completing the demonstration garden trellis up front.

Around 12:30pm, we'll break for a brief meeting to share updates and make plans for our September garden party. Hope to see you on the 11th!