Skip to main content

Growing is ON! Spring Gardening Guide

 What better way to follow an atmospheric river than with our Spring Gardening Guide

Click here for local gardening inspiration
With seed companies experiencing 5x the normal order volume in some cases, more people are heading out into the garden during this terrible pandemic.  The garden is a magical place where we are witness to nature's inherent drive for life.  In only a few steps we enter an entirely different world of plants, insects, birds, fungi, bacteria...and maybe a mammal or two.  There's no better break from what is increasingly a digital world.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a bright light on the inequities in our food system.  Poorer neighborhoods are often described as food deserts..."nothing but fast food & liquor stores" as Ron Finley describes.  Diets with little fiber or nutrients lead to preventable diseases like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.  And COVID-19 is most deadly to people struggling with these health conditions.  The link between death and food has never been more apparent.

Long lines at food distribution sites, like the Samaritan House here in San Mateo, are keeping our struggling neighbors from going hungry.  We owe a great deal of gratitude to Samaritan House and the 2nd Harvest Food Bank for rising to the challenge caused by this unprecedented pandemic.  But we must go beyond providing a quantity of food to providing access to a quality of food that is locally grown and nutrient dense.

Our small project, the We GROW for the Pharmacy project,  provides an additional way for members of the community to help our less fortunate neighbors.  Monetary donations and volunteering will always be the priority - and if you'd like to learn more about how you can help - please click here.  

But unlike the experience of making a monetary donation, many local gardeners who donate to the Food Pharmacy through our project feel a closer connection to the actual recipients who benefit from their harvest.  Living and growing in an optimal microclimate that allows year-round harvests - San Mateo gardeners can directly help nourish and improve the health of their neighbors.  To say that's rewarding is an understatement.

The other existential crisis - climate change - can be addressed locally by turning your food & yard waste into compost -  and feeding compost to your soil to grow plants.  The hobby of gardening is actually an effective way to sequester carbon - which helps to reduce global warming.  This doesn't just apply to farmers in rural America - it applies to us here in the Bay Area as well.  The soil in our yards and in our parks is what we will leave to future generations.  Even though we've paved over most of the land here and for years sprayed toxic herbicides to try to achieve a socially acceptable, manicured aesthetic - distancing ourselves from soil and nature results in a ecosystem that is slowly dying.  Isn't growing a better legacy?

To taste an heirloom tomato is to never want any other tomato again.  The sweetness of freshly picked fruit.  The smell & taste of fresh herbs.  These should be available to everyone.  Imagine the health consequences!  Plant some basil this spring.  If you've never tried just out-of-the-ground leeks - plant some, you won't be disappointed.  A few radishes and some Little Gem lettuce make for a tasty salad.  

If you do grow some food this spring, please consider planting a little extra to share with the Food Pharmacy.

Happy Growing!

-Bill S.
Founder, GROW San Mateo



Popular posts from this blog

Peaches and more

Yesterday we handed out the sweetest of peaches thanks to a generous donation from Circle Foot Permaculture .   Along with the quarts of peaches, we also provided Samaritan House Food Pharmacy clients a handout with nutritional information on peaches - how they impact your blood sugar - and a recipe for a Roasted Peach Parfait.  Here are links to the handout: Nutritional Spotlight: Peaches (English) Nutritional Spotlight: Peaches (Spanish) It all seems somewhat routine at this point:  gather donations of locally grown produce quickly pull together helpful nutritional information based on the week's donations In retrospect, this is the culmination of 3 years of effort to create a network of local gardeners, foragers and volunteers - with a goal of becoming a reliable source of fresh produce for lower income families struggling with diabetes and other health disorders.    While it has been known for some time that eating fruits & vegetables can positively impact a person's he

The December Garden

Snap Peas (& a garden gnome!) Beresford Park Community Garden December 15, 2021 It's hard to describe just how good the winter gardening is in San Mateo.  While most gardens across the country have long gone into a frosty hibernation - we're, at long last,  getting the rain we've been without for the last 9 months or more.  It's finally time to turn off the irrigation systems and let Mother Nature do her thing.  The new moisture is creating a full-on nutrient soup that flows through our soil, fueling an explosion of activity within the soil food web.   Fungal activity is pushing mushrooms to the surface.  Our favorite spring flowers of nasturtium, poppies, sweat peas, borage and yarrow are in a race to establish their growing territory.  And, thankfully, the newly moist soil makes pulling up oxalis, mallow and bindweed sprouts a bit easier. As you would expect, plants thriving now in the garden were initially planted out in the fall.  Those crowns of cauliflower and

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