Posts from the ‘urban garden’ Category

Great weekly purchase at Full Circle Farm today


The Heirloom Expo – Part 2

Missouri Farmers

Meeting the farmers & gardeners at the Expo was a really neat experience.  In my experience, folks who are heavily immersed in growing plants tend to be connected to nature in their surroundings and are the most giving and sharing people.  They care mostly about high quality returns while sticking to their budgets and utilizing the most efficient & practical ways to get their results.

I attended only 3 talks  on the second day of the Expo.  I learned quite a lot.

Biointensive Farming – John Jeavons

John Jeavons’s talk’s highlights were about curbing eminent rising costs of food and possible famine by farming your own food in small compact sections of land.    This, by their model can be achieved by Biointensive Farming.  A major benefit to gardening in compact spaces is the minimization of loss of soil.  By signing up for his classes, one can also learn how to compost and create nutritious soil as well.

Urban Homesteading

I really enjoyed this talk about urban homesteading.  They really stressed connecting your community through urban farming and sharing your harvest.  Eric has an edible lawn and it attracts lots of attention.  Here are the links to their websites & books:

Gardening resources

Petaluma Urban Homestead
Weed Cuisine
Urban goats justice league

Books by the Panel
The Urban Homestead (Eric Knutzen)

Urban Homesteading by (Rachel Kaplan)

Percy Schmeiser

Percy Schmeiser

Percy Schmeiser’s talk was so moving, I even teared up at the end.  Please watch the movie below to see for yourself the evils of Monsanto.


GMO’s were introduced in 1996.

4x more toxic chemicals are being used pre GMOs were introduced.

Monsanto has created a culture of fear amongst farmers.

Percy has been sued 5x by Monsanto.

He is a Canola farmer.
Percy’s case with Monsanto was the 1st case in the world where patent could control a living thing.

Percy Schmeiser’s farm got contaminated with Monsanto seeds through wind and nature.  50 years of R&D Percy had developed had been ruined by Monsanto but trial judge ruled against Percy.  The ruling stated that when the Monsanto seed landed on Percy’s farm and contaminated it, Monsanto had won the right to all of his crops and the profits on the sale of those crops.

Who owns life?

Monsanto has created a system of farmers reporting on each other for a prize.  Very much like the red scare.

GMO plants will effect organic plants in the same family because of pollination.

Terminator gene: makes harvested seeds sterile thus making the farmer purchase seeds every year.

Plus selling chemical to go with the GMO seed they made.

Monsanto used to be the largest chemical company in the world, now it’s the largest seed company in the world.

Cheater gene: plant can not produce seeds till plant is sprayed with chemicals.  Then Terminator gene kicks in to make seeds sterile.

Pharma plants: grown in open and wild and can pollinate with other plants.  What if a pregnant woman eats a plant with contraceptive genes?

Can not have all organic, conventional, and GMOs.  They all become GMOs.  No such thing as containment.

Canola used to be 90 cents/acre and now it is $60 per acre.  And there is less variety.

Monsanto controls seed dealers to disallow which farmers to sell to.

Labeling: Vote Yes on Prop 37!  So you can make an educated choice if you want to ingest a GMO product.

Full Circle Farm Heirloom Tomato Tasting and U Pick Tomato Event

Wonderful Full Circle Farm Volunteer adding up my bill

I attended the annual Heirloom Tomato Tasting at Full Circle Farm for the second time last friday.  I was able to drag my friends Anna, Nancy, and Rebekah over.  They quite enjoyed the variety of tomatoes.  I believe there were at least 30 if not 40 kinds of tomatoes sliced up and offered for our tasting pleasure.  My favorite was the Lime Green Salad tomato.  There is a strong flavor of lime in it.

I gotta say, this is seriously the BEST deal in town amongst all heirloom tomato tastings.  Usually the prices in San Jose for a similar event can range from $50-100.  $100 being Sent Sovi’s tomato themed dinner, so not exactly comparable, but this is still an excellent way to find out what your favorite heirloom varieties are.

Lime Green Salad Tomato

Tomato Table – See Rebekah on the right side!

Anna Tasting Tomatoes

Nancy tasting

Nancy and Anna chatting

Two days later, FCF had a U Pick tomato event where you could pick the tomatoes you had enjoyed at the tasting.  It was so much fun!  I bought 6 lbs of tomatoes for $9! What a deal!

Picking tomatoes

Fresh off the vine!

All 9 lbs of heirloom tomatoes

Eco Lands at Outside Lands 2012

Two weekends ago, I got to go to Outside Lands and watched some pretty amazing bands like Sigur Ros, Jack White, the Kills, Skrillex, Justice, Washed Out, fun.

There were lots of little themed areas, one being Eco Lands.  This section of the festival presented San Francisco’s sustainable green themed non profits.  I got to meet all three of them!

The Free Farm

At the Free Farm, I learned how to make an origami baby planter to start seeds with newspaper.  I’ve got to say, out of all the organizations, I was most moved by The Free Farm and what they do.  I wish we had a similar organization in San Jose.


The Free Farm is an urban farm founded in January 2010, by a constellation of non-profit organizations in San Francisco. We are located on a 1/3 acre lot on the corner of Gough and Eddy Streets on a parcel loaned to us by St. Paulus Lutheran Church. Since April of 2010 we have grown and given away over 3 1/4 tons of fresh organic produce, plus convened gardening and urban homesteading workshops, and hosted community, school, and religious groups.


Yes, I’m wearing a silver jacket and pink jeans.  It was the Skrillex day!

Free Farm showing me how to make a seed pot out of newspaper

Friends of the Urban Forest

I’ve seen FUF’s trees all over town.  I had known about them before I met them at Outside Lands.  They gave me a free seed bomb.  How nice!  🙂 They were teaching composting classes, which was really cool.  I wanted to stay for one, but Stevie Wonder was calling (all the way on the other side of the park), so I had to take off.  Just as I was taking off, a young bloke came and asked me (I don’t know why me…) what is composting and why is it necessary.  So I gave him a quick explanation about how it’s nature’s fertilizer and compost enriched soil is much better for the environment than store bought chemical fertilizers.

Mission Statement Friends of the Urban Forest’s mission is to promote a larger, healthier urban forest as part of San Francisco’s green infrastructure through community planting, tree care, education, and advocacy.

Urban Sprouts


By cultivating school gardens in San Francisco’s under-served neighborhoods, Urban Sprouts partners with youth and their families to build eco-literacy, equity, wellness, and community.

They sound very similar to CNGF and ELSEE here in San Jose.

Flowers blooming all over on this San Jose Roof Garden

Aloinopsis luckhoffii Flower

Echeveria Halbingeri Flower

Kalanchoe Humilis Flower

Echinofossulocactus Multicostatus Flower

Dudleya Saxosa Flower

Armeria Maritima White Flowers

Reusing plastic food containers to grow plants

I’ve been trying out using the clear plastic veggie containers (specifically the grape tomato box from Trader Joes and the tomatoes on the vine box from Costco) to start my seedlings.  They are shallow, and have holes at the bottoms already.  They have been working perfectly.  I’ve started seeds of the California Poppy, Cilantro, and Purslane so far.  CA Poppy is taking the lead!

California Poppy and Cilantro in reused plastic containers

Two TJ's and one Costco veggie container

The benefits of Beneficial Instects are visually apparent

I have been promoting planting flowers to attract beneficial insects since I attended the Master Gardener’s class .  Since moving to my apartment in August of 2011, I got involved with California Native Garden Foundation and learned the endless benefits planting Natives.  I purchased a Dudleya from CNGF that is a succulent with beautiful yellow flowers.  I split the plant into its two clusters.  I kept one cluster for myself and gave the other cluster to my boyfriend Henrik as part of a beautiful succulent arrangement.  He still gets lots of compliments from his friends over the arrangement.  I should state at this point that Henrik only has one other plant on his patio and that is the African Daisy.  And his plant’ is in a winter slumber at the moment with no flowers.  So basically he has no plants on his patio to attract Beneficial’s on his patio in the Fall/Winter period.  Well it’s been 2 months since we’ve had our Dudleyas and here are the results:

Bottom line: I haven’t had to use any pest control sprays of any kind on my patio this year!  The Neem Oil pesticide I had bought a year ago was promptly gifted to Henrik to control his Aphid infestation on the Dudleya.

New Years Even Resolutions for the Garden

  1. Continue to spread awareness through California Native Garden Foundation as Board Member and Treasurer. (continuously drop it in my conversations when I meet new people)
  2. Start composting.    (started as of Jan 1st)
  3. Start growing vegetables on the roof.  More specifically tomatoes and cucumbers.
  4. Expand my California native plant collection so as to attract “native” beneficial insects.  One specific flower I plan to have is the California Poppy.  (purchased the CA Poppy seeds on January 10th)
  5. Fertilize my vanda orchid (weekly weakly).  I’ve been slacking off on this and haven’t been able to get my vanda to bloom since I purchased it in mid 2011.

*Updates in Green

The Garden of Good and Beetles

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Rummaging for Rose Hips in Downtown San Jose

We haven’t quite reached the end of summer even though it’s already almost November and everyone’s asking me what are my plans for Thanksgiving.

The Victorian house I live in is surrounded by lots of well established roses which had their rose petals fall already.  This week I looked up at the rose bushes and saw these beautifully vibrant colored rose hips.  So I did what any horticulture blogger would do!  I harvested some of them.  I will get my neighbors involved if I like the outcome.  After I collected them, I asked my buddy Mark for recommendations on how to use the rose hips.  I consider him to be an expert in this field as he is English and has experience with growing roses.  His reccomendation was to brew the tea with dried rose hips or fresh ones.  After smelling the fresh rose hips, I have decided to let them dry out first.

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