Skip to main content

Los Prados hospitality

Big thank you to Kyoko, Dave & Esra and other members of the Los Prados Community Garden for hosting a Master Gardener talk by Neil Heckman this morning.  There's been a lot of talk lately about how to bring more community into the San Mateo community gardens and this was a great example.  An informal count of 25 participants were on-hand to get practical advice from Neil.  There seem to be more improvements happening at Los Prados between every visit - and GROW San Mateo will soon be leading the project to install a 3 bin compost setup at the garden (hopefully soon - stay tuned!).

Here are a few of Neil's tips from my notebook:

  • Important to think about crop rotation by dividing your plot into 3 different zones and planning ahead
  • Planting a cover crop in the fall helps to ready the soil for next year's garden
  • Try not to water in the sun, as the water droplets act as tiny magnifying glasses that can burn leaves
  • For fertilizer, try an emulsion of fish & bat guano (sold in most home improvement stores) by adding into a water can
  • Spring = nitrogen for leaf growth; Fall = potassium for fruit yield.  Phosphorus for roots.
  • Good source of nitrogen: alfalfa pellets (sold at feed stores)
  • Yellow leaves:  whole leaf yellow = needs nitrogen; tips yellow = not enough potassium
  • Plants bolt when they don't have enough water
  • For Cilantro, let it go to flower, then simply shake the plant once the seeds have dried - yielding self-seeding plants next year
  • Best to transplant: tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi
  • Use Easter as a milestone to start growing transplants to be ready once the soil warms up enough


Popular posts from this blog

#LeavetheLeaves - Do nothing and help the climate

With signs of the climate emergency now in constant view - you may be asking yourself: "What can I do to make a difference?  Choices in consumption are obvious examples - with a view towards the fossil fuels involved, ie. what we eat (fertilizers, pesticides, mass farming), how we get from one place to another (ie. gas fuel) and the energy we use to power our homes.   Another opportunity is right outside the front door. The suburban lawn was something we invented in the 1950's as tracts of homes sprouted up by the thousands.  Someone thought it would be appropriate if homeowners had lush, green grass in their yards - and the rest is history.  Billions of dollars are spent each year on lawn maintenance - and importantly for us in San Mateo, CA - millions of gallons of water are also used to keep them alive.  Lawns are the largest crop in the U.S. and produce nothing, other than an outdated aesthetic - yet the majority of residential water usage is sent into the air through spri

Turn your lawn into a garden!

With the pandemic keeping us socially distanced and largely at home, you may be thinking about transforming your outdoor space into a garden.  Having gone through this in 2014, I thought I'd share some practical advice to hopefully save you some time and effort. Sheet mulch complete (July 2014) Six years later (August 2020) Tip #1: Don't dig...mulch! Your first instinct may be to start digging, but there's a better way - it's called "sheet mulching".  You basically use cardboard, compost and wood chips and make a lasagna of organic material on top of your old lawn.  In essence, you compost the old lawn under layers of organic material.  Here's a photo of our sheet mulch in progress: Sheet mulch in progress.  Notice the new material is simply placed on top of the old (brown) grass The white powder is a combination of gypsum & azomite, which puts minerals back into the soil that have been gradually leached away over time.  The dark brown is compost.  The

Getting Started: Wine Barrel Planters

Gardening in a small, urban space requires a bit of creativity.  Our challenges are many: buildings & trees frequently block sunlight;  various critters like to snack on new seedlings and just ripe fruits & vegetables; and here in San Mateo, irrigation is a must.  To increase your probability of gardening success, consider adding recycled wine barrels into your urban garden.    Having tried many types of growing containers over the years, the wine barrel has made it to the top of my list.  My galvanized tubs always seemed to need more water than wooden barrels - perhaps due to the different heating/cool properties of the metal vs. wood?  Aesthetically, a recycled barrel looks like it's been there for years - which I love.  And the smell!  There is no comparison. Cost is definitely a consideration.  A wine barrel at Home Depot is $40 whereas a 35 gallon galvanized tub is $55.  You might say that growing in the ground is $0.00 - but in some locations, the extra 18 inches off