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Seed-Starting 101: Transplanting and Troubleshooting

This is part six of a six-part series on seed starting. Part one can be read here. Part two is here. Part three is here. Part four is here. Part five is here.

While the forecast calls for a brief return to a wintery chill the next few days, the calendar is progressing headlong into spring, and the earliest daffodils–along with the just-unfurling green buds on the dreaded and omnipresent multiflora rose–are here. Soon, the earth will warm, and your seedlings will eagerly sink their bound roots into the big, living universe of your own garden’s soil. Read more

Get Your Shovels Ready! Join the 350 Garden Challenge

All across the nation people are converting their front and backyards, vacant lots, and other spaces into thriving and productive food gardens. To help encourage new gardeners along this verdant path, The 350 Garden Challenge will bring thousands together over a a single weekend, May 15-16, to transform 350+ Sonoma County landscapes into bountiful gardens. The goal is to save water, link local food production and carbon savings, grow food and habitat, promote greywater, and encourage lawn to food transformations. The project is inspired in part by the 350.org international campaign to find and implement solutions to climate change. Read more

The Spring Garden

After hiding indoors all winter, nothing beats the brisk chill of the early spring in my rooftop garden. Cleaning up the dead branches left from the year before, turning the compost, the sweet smell of worm poop in the air as I work amendments into the cool soil. But most exiting are the first green fronds that have begun to emerge — perennials and even volunteers — and the protected annuals springing forth from the previous fall planting. Read more

An Inexpensive Way to Start Seeds (VIDEO)

Spring time is here and the time is nigh to get growing. Every sunny day that comes makes me more eager to plant. But first, I must finishing drawing up plans, gather materials and build raised beds. I must organize help to bring up those 1000 lbs of soil to the roof, in a building with no elevators. I look forward to these tasks; though they will be difficult, I will be happy to get dirty and work hard.

Our plan includes a roof garden made up of fruit, vegetables and native flowers that can serve as an oasis in the city for me and my neighbors. I started my seedlings under the kitchen table in my apartment a few weeks ago in order to give my plants a head start on the growing season. For my indoor growing, I used the system the team of seasoned growers at retrovore.com put together (shown in the video below, hosted by Retrovore’s Kerry Trueman) to start my squash, swiss chard, sunflowers, tomatoes, broccoli and Brussel sprouts. (Check out their site for a lot of other great books and help for people new to gardening.) Read more

Jam for Now

Last year we built a fortress, created to deter deer, raccoons, skunks, squirrels, and wild pigs from our own little slice of edible possibility. Today we are in the middle of planting our spring garden in this enclosure, now just a blank, dark dirt slate of bumpy rows and discarded piles of weeds. Shaping the earth is like frosting a chocolate cake, at least to this baker’s mind, and has inspired my next birthday party creation. Right now, though, it is time to focus on what plants will grow.  Read more

Southern Sustainability

Last month I reconnected with my southern roots and traveled to my hometown, Atlanta, Georgia for a week’s immersion into the current developments around the local food movement and school garden education, particularly with my family’s organization, Seeds of Nutrition. My trip, however, was filled with much more than a visit to a few school gardens. I would soon be surprised by the South’s progress in the sustainable food movement. Read more

The Victory Garden is Planted!

After 10 days of incredible action—sod removal, bed and ground preparation, installation of irrigation lines and fencing, the building of a fantastic soap box—the lawn in front of San Francisco’s City Hall was transformed into the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden. It was a perfect planting day as 150 volunteers helped moved nearly 4,000 plants into their new homes. Teams divided into zones with their leaders and peacefully planted lettuce, tomatoes, beans, herbs, flowers and so much more. Good thoughts and prayers (including those from the next-door religious meeting) were had by all. Together, we built a “garden of communities,” as Victory Garden Manager John Bela calls it. Bela and Willow Rosenthal, founder of City Slicker Farms, in West Oakland, where the seedlings were started, joined Slow Food Nation Executive Director Anya Fernald and Founder Alice Waters to welcome Mayor Gavin Newsom to the garden. Read more

Victory Garden Watch: Day 10

As the founder of City Slicker Farms, a non-profit urban agriculture organization in West Oakland, my mission in life has been to bring “slow food” to the least served. Ten years ago as an aspiring farmer it didn’t seem exciting to me to grow more beautiful specialty vegetables for rich people. I didn’t think it was fair that good food was limited to those who could pay farmer’s market prices. At City Slicker Farms we have developed ways to subsidize the price of the organic foods we grow so that we can offer sliding-scale prices and free organic backyard gardens to those who lack funds. Read more