Tuesday night’s meeting was a great one! Not only did I get to get out of the house after a crummy, rainy, shut-in day with the kids, I got to talk gardening with some very wise women! Everyone brought their favorite gardening books along with any other community info they had. Some books that our members recommend are:
The Backyard Homestead, Carleen Madigan
Golden Gate Gardening, Pam Pierce
Turtle Tree: Biodinamic Seed Initiative
How to Grow More Vegetables, John Jeavons
Square Foot Gardening
First, the best news — our official “frost date” in the Silicon Valley was February 23rd. That means that we can begin planting with a reasonable expectation that our little seedlings won’t freeze overnight before establishing themselves. This is just a guideline, however, so don’t hold me accountable if you go on a planting escapade this weekend and we have a cold snap! Many of us have started our seedlings indoors and will begin “hardening them off,” or, adjusting them to the great outdoors, in 4-6 weeks or so. If you don’t want to bother with seedlings, organic starts are available at several local nurseries and are safe to plant in the ground after the first week or two of April.
Everyone had some great ideas to share. Jessica W. has had really positive experience with a local program in San Jose called “La Mesa Verde.” This is a non-profit organization that will assist San Jose residents in establishing their own organic vegetable gardens in their front or back yards. Not only will they come out to consult with you on your prospective plot, this organization’s volunteers (including the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County) will help you build raised beds, irrigate and plan your garden for the season. They provide free classes to grow your knowledge of gardening along with your vegetables. Throughout the season, a Master Gardener will check in with your garden to monitor progress/problems. I think that this is a wonderful way to bring home gardening back into the community’s focus — especially among those of us who believe organic produce to be beyond our budgets. This FREE program (can you believe it?) is limited to 100 families, so if you or someone you know is interested in participating, please contact them at (408) 278-2160.
Another wealth of resources in our community is the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County. Click on the link to find some interesting — and free — classes surrounding gardening and sustainability.
A favorite spot of mine is Common Grounds Garden Supply and Education Center in Palo Alto. This is the little shop that supports the Common Grounds Research Garden at Stanford. They have a fantastic selection of heirloom, open-pollinated seeds and starts as well as books, supplies and a very knowledgeable and helpful staff. Click on the link for their schedule of classes and events.
I managed to finish building the Salad Table (click for construction plans) I had hoped to demonstrate on Monday night in about 4 hours. I think that the salad table and pots are great options if you want to grow just a little something but don’t have space or time to allot to a full-fledged garden. I think that it will be well worth the minimal effort it took to build and I really am looking forward to having a beautiful and easy to access plot of greens right outside my kitchen door. Check out the University of Maryland Professor who designed the table showing Martha how it’s done on this video.
If you would like some ongoing help with your garden planning and maintenance, check out www.groveg.com. They have a free trial period during which you may use their software to plan out your garden and get tips on planting.
We spent the evening exchanging resources, ideas and seeds. Our gardening goals for the season ranged from the simple “I wanna grow stuff” to the ambitious “retro-fitting the front yard for veggies.” No matter where we are in our gardening path, I hope that we all get the reward of at least one yummy veggie by summer’s end. Please post any tips or questions you encounter on the email loop as they come up. Thanks to Kimberly N. for bringing seeds to exchange I had been wishing I had bought this year. I am excited about mini persian pickles and sweet peppers. It was great to see faces that we know through the email loop but had never met in person. We hope that you can all make it to a meeting soon!