Skip to main content

In difficult times - we GROW

Morley, Hubert. Your victory garden counts more than ever!, poster, 1945; [Washington D.C.]. ( accessed March 17, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library,; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.
Dear Friends,

As the reality of our situation continues to set it (COVID-19, social distancing, shelter-in-place, tp hoarding),  a garden may be a useful place to shed anxiety, get fresh air and maybe even grow some extra food.   If you have a spot outside, the recent rain and intermittent sunshine make this a great time to start some herbs and summer vegetables.  A small pot in a kitchen window can grow basil, rosemary or oregano to add to tomato sauces and soups.  You may find the online resources below helpful and/or interesting:

This is the online home of Peaceful Valley nursery - which is located in Grass Valley, CA.  They have a great selection of products for organic farming and a deep library of how-to videos for assistance.  You might consider them for  bulk purchases of organic soil amendments like kelp/blood/feather/bone meal, calcium, azomite or other trace minerals.

This is the site for Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  Based in Missouri,  they do have a store location in Petaluma.  If you've never really considered the benefits of heirloom seeds, this would be a great time to learn - and seed orders ship for free.

Have you heard about "No Dig" gardening?  It's worth the time to learn more about this compost-intensive approach to organic gardening.  

Here's a great book if you want to gain insight into why you shouldn't use chemical fertilizers and should adopt No Dig gardening.  It's a deep dive into soil biology.

Hope that you have many opportunities to get your hands dirty over the coming months.  We'll all get through this together.  

-Bill S.


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