Let's Garden! SEPTEMBER 2015 Workshops at GFE
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Please note we will be closed tomorrow, Saturday September 5th, for the long weekend. We will be back in the garden Wednesday, September 9th for regular volunteer hours. Enjoy!
Saturday, September 12th, 2015 10am-12:00noon

Saturday, October 3rd 2015, 10am - 12:00noon

Compost helps soil retain water and nutrients, making it the secret weapon in a garden struggling with drought. Learn how to make your own black gold in this hands on workshop!
Saturday, October 3rd 2015, 10am - 12:00noon

With El Nino supposedly on its way, prepare your garden and install rain barrels to catch all that water! Rain barrels are an essential and easy solution to an increasingly parched state, and thanks to the SFPUC you can learn how to incorporate this system at your own home.

Month by Month Vegetable Gardening with Carey
Saturday, October 10th, 2015 10am-12:00noon

Saturday, November 14th, 2015 10am - 12:00noon

Fall gardens thrive here in San Francisco. Learn what to plant now that will feed you and your family through the winter.
ASK THE EXPERTS: Gardening in a Drought
Saturday, October 10th 2015, 1pm

Come take a tour through the GFE demonstration gardens with a local plant expert, and learn how we have designed our garden to thrive without a lot of water. The SFPUC is sponsoring this opportunity to ask a gardener all your burning water wise gardening questions!

ASK THE EXPERTS: Organic Gardening Tour
Saturday, October 17th 2015, 1pm

Our entire half acre garden is maintained without any pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. Come take a walk through our garden and learn how we keep our plants, and our environment, healthy and thriving. This tour is sponsored by the SFPUC

Saturday, October 24th 2015, 10am-12:00noon

Learn how to grow delicious edibles in a sustainable way. This class, sponsored by the SFPUC, will talk you through saving resources, while supporting a beautiful and productive vegetable garden.


Lots of cool, FREE, classes!
Garden for the Environment Field Trip Interns needed 
Tuesdays & Thursdays | 9am - 1pm | Mid September - Thanksgiving 

32 classrooms of lucky students visit our garden every year, to spend a morning outside and learn from Nicole Brisebois, our talented Youth Programs Manager. 4th & 5th graders learn about the importance of saving water, and how native plants provide habitat for creatures and allow rainwater to replenish our water table.

Want to learn how to be an amazing garden educator like Nicole? We're now accepting interns that will work directly with our youth program, leading garden stations and participating in field trips. Email Nicole for more info on the program.
College credit & a transportation stipend provided.
Saturday, September 12th | 11:30sm - 5pm
SF County Fair Building | Golden Gate Park | FREE

The SF Recreation and Parks Department is hosting an all day event to celebrate urban agriculture in San Francisco.

Your very own Garden for the Environment is presenting three gardening workshops and there is a whole host of other activities. Novella Carpenter will give a keynote address and 18 Reasons will end the day with a Pie Happy Hour.

If you want to stay late into the evening, 18 Reasons will be hosting their annual Barn Dance, where GFE members receive a discount on admission (email us for coupon code).
Tell the Urban Agriculture Program more about how you garden!

The Urban Agriculture Program at RPD is asking all gardeners and urban agriculture enthusiasts in San Francisco to fill out this quick survey over the next month.  The survey will help gather a snapshot of urban agriculture practitioners and supporters across San Francisco.

Please encourage your networks and gardeners to fill this out so the City can have as accurate a picture as possible.  

Where does our obsession with this kind of landscaping even come from?
99% Invisible | Lawn Order

Lawn's are undeniably a distinctive part of the American landscape, and something many homeowners highly value. In California, there are marketing campaigns to encourage people to turn off irrigation, and embrace their brown lawns. In some parts of the country, people have been jailed, YES jailed, for failing to upkeep their lawns. 99% Invisible, a podcast out of Oakland, tackles our obsession with lawns and dives into the history of how these unnatural landscapes became so intertwined with the idea of the American Dream. You'll never think about lawns the same way again.
Are you low-flow? | SFPUC Drought Trivia

The SFPUC put a somewhat shocking pie chart up on their Instagram this week. Did you know that toilets are responsible for the most indoor water use? Most people blame showers for the heaviest water use in their house, but in fact it's toilets! We use them often, and unless you've upgraded to a low flow model, its using multiple gallons with each flush. Upgrade your toilet! This simple trick can make a big impact.

Urban Sprouts 10-Year Celebration | Saturday October 10th | 1pm - 4pm

For 10 years Urban Sprouts has been bringing gardening and cooking to under served communities and now they want to celebrate. Come check out their amazing flagship school garden at June Jordan School for Equity, where chickens roam freely, students care for their fruit tree orchard, and their large greenhouse is home to hundreds of baby plants. This family friendly event will have crafts, delicious hand crafted food and a silent auction to support 10 more years of gardening. RSVP here!

We're on Instagram! | @gardenfortheenvironment

Our Instagram account is a great way to keep up with all the garden work, water wise plants, and seasonal vegetables happening in our 1/2 acre.

Late summer is a busy time of year for us at GFE - and we wouldn't have it any other way. This marks the beginning of our intensive teaching season - training Get Up! students, youth, and garden educators. We are lucky enough to partner with the Corps members of Education Outside, who work in local schools to bring science education to outdoor classrooms. Corps members maintain school gardens, and teach standards-based curriculum to kids all over San Francisco. Here, GFE Garden Manager Hilary shares her over 30-years of garden knowledge as part of a two-week bootcamp.
Sautéed Squash Stems

I've been thinking a lot about sustainability recently, as I continue to do my part to save water and ponder a future where serious conservation becomes the norm. I feel a shifting tide, where after years of plenty and bounty and consumption, we need to stop in our tracks and rethink how we live.

As a cook, I think about this in my kitchen, and as a food producer I think about it in my garden. Many of us love our NY strip steaks but snub our noses at the less desirable animal parts - a product of producing that beloved steak. I'm a butcher's daughter, and soon to be butcher's wife, so will probably not completely remove meat from my diet. But thinking about the whole animal, not just the prime cuts, is one way to make a practice less wasteful and more sustainable.

But, this doesn't just apply to our consumption of animals. As vegetable eaters, we often just want the "prime cuts". When I worked at the farmers market, I would produce boxes and boxes of green waste, trimming off delicious and succulent broccoli stems and leaves, since people only wanted to buy the tight florets. Cauliflower plants are a giant thing of beauty that take months to grow to size, yet we only eat the very most center of the plant and seem happy to discard the rest. As we think about a shift towards the "whole animal", we should be thinking about the "whole plant" as well.

Which is why I was astounded and completely in awe when a volunteer last Wednesday was thrilled to take home a bag of bright green zucchini stems. Sandy, an educator and cook with a group of volunteers we host from Access SFUSD, couldn't believe we considered composting our zucchini stems as we cleaned up our vegetable beds. Sauteed in olive oil and garlic, she says these stems make a perfect stir fry to go along with rice.

I haven't tried this recipe yet, but couldn't help but pass it along. I have a feeling you could play with flavors and seasonings here so that the possibilities are endless. I'm making a commitment to living a bit more like Sandy who has inspired me with her whole plant approach, and perhaps if we all do, the amount of food we already produce will be enough to go around.

Sandy's Sautéed Zucchini Stems
Since I haven't make this recipe yet, I'm just going to list ingredients and method and let you play with proportions. But my mind is already spinning with possibilities!

Olive oil or coconut oil
Chopped garlic
Optional additions: minced ginger; chopped dried chili peppers; ground meat
Optional seasonings: drizzle with sesame oil; soy sauce; hot chili oil

Take the zucchini stems and handle with a bit of caution - they are covered in spiky, fine hairs. Take a vegetable peeler and peel the stems to remove these hairs, just like you would a carrot. Chop the stems into 1/2"-1" long batons. 

Heat oil in a wok or large pan over high heat. Add garlic and sauté until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add stems and a pinch of salt and stir fry until tender. If you want softer stalks, or to cook faster, put a lid on the pan. Serve with rice.
Beyond the Border by Hilary Gordon, GFE's Garden Manager

These are the dog days of summer.  The gardens are dry and dusty, the street trees are stressing, plants all over town look flaccid and dull and hopeless.  On the days when the city air is clear of smoke, we can try to forget how bad fire season is in the wild lands this year.  But don't give up!
Sturdy, established fruit trees are ripening their crops of apples and figs. Well-planned water-wise gardens are blooming with lion's tail, lantana, yarrow, and verbena.  Gardens planned for habitat are buzzing and fluttering with a variety of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.
Although it's been a long time since it rained, and it probably will still be dry until the end of October, the days are shortening and the soil temperatures are moderating.  Dews and fogs are sometimes moistening the evening or morning garden. Some summer-dry plants are perking up or even beginning to bloom in anticipation of the coming rainy season.
For gardeners from other climates, or for gardens planned with plants from other climates, this can be a discouraging time of year.  Instead of enjoying a lush summer, summer in California is the deep, dormant time for climate appropriate plants.  They are shut down in survival mode as the annual dry season climaxes.  But it will rain again, and when other parts of the country are deeply dormant, in December and January, our plants will be growing and blooming enthusiastically in the mild and juicy winter rains. 
So don't give up!
Right now is the ideal time to plan and prepare your next year's garden!  The perfect planting time for summer-dry plants is coming up at the end of October while the soils are still warm and the first rains normally come. 
So right now is the perfect time to take out that lawn, or bed of thirsty summer annuals,  and prepare to replace it with plants which won't need much summer water next year.  Remove plants which haven't looked good or stayed healthy with this year's cutbacks in summer irrigation....this is our new normal, folks.  It's time to replace plants that rely on regular summer irrigation.

When you remove inappropriate plantings, it opens up space in the garden.  Now you can create a new look!  Strikingly modern, wild tropical color combos, natural English cottage garden, neat Italianate gravel and hedges, Japanese dwarf conifers with scattered boulders, you can choose any type of design you prefer.  Just choose the plants from the generous palette of summer-dry plants.  You don't have to have cactuses and succulents, unless you want to.  You can create a beautiful garden in any style using summer-dry plants.
You can develop your new planting plan, and research and order the plants.  You can prepare the soil.  And then you will be ready when that perfect planting time comes, just as the first rains of the year begin, usually right around Halloween.
There are so many beautiful and appealing plants which don't need much summer water.  Many of them are demonstrated at the GFE.  Come on by and have a look!  Or come to one of our classes, and learn what you need to know in order to have a gorgeous garden next year with even less water than you used this year.
A perennial (literally) showstopper at the GFE is Lavatera, or Tree Mallow. 
An excellent plant for our region it is, oddly enough, in the same plant family as another more well-known mallow.  Marshmallow.  That's right, the sweet confection which pairs so well with graham cracker and chocolate.  Marshmallow was originally a medicinal confection made from the plant Marsh Mallow or Althaea officinalis.  While these Mallows share a common ancestry, skip the hot coco for Lavatory and just enjoy it in the garden.  Where, after all, Lavatera is so lovely.     

Garden for the Environment teaches youth and adults in San Francisco to garden organically. Founded in 1990, GFE provides hands-on education to 2,000 youth and adults each year at its ½ acre organic teaching garden. 

The Garden for the Environment is a non-profit Park Partner of the San Francisco Parks Alliance. We are supported by donations from gardeners like you, workshop fees, and with support from public and private foundations and the City and County of San Francisco.

Copyright © 2015 Garden for the Environment 

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