Let's Garden! APRIL 2016 Workshops at GFE
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Tomorrow Saturday, April 2nd, 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

There are so many plants that thrive in our coastal California climate without much water. Learn what to plant and how to design a beautiful garden that saves our precious resources. Come get inspired in this free SFPUC-sponsored workshop!

Tomorrow Saturday, April 2nd 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

Saturday, May 7th 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

Feed your plants, feed your soil. Learn how to make your own backyard compost in this hands-on introductory class for all ages. Close the waste loop in your own home and make nature's best fertilizer with things you have on hand.
GROW YOUR OWN FOOD THIS APRIL: Monthly Vegetable Gardening
Saturday, April 9th, 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

Saturday, May 14th 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

Warmer soil and longer days are a backyard gardeners dream. Learn what to plant this month, and what seeds to start so you can cook from your garden all summer long.
Saturday, April 9th, 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

A healthy and balanced garden is the key to keeping your pests and diseases in check. IPM expert Suzanne Bontempo is leading this free SFPUC sponsored class on how to battle what's bugging you without nasty pesticides. 

ASK THE EXPERTS: Organic Gardening 
Saturday, April 16th, 2016 | 1pm - 3pm

Join us for an afternoon tour in our teaching and demonstration garden. Learn from one of our garden educators how we keep our space healthy and thriving without the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers.

Saturday, April 23rd, 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

Learn what you can do to help your garden survive our dormant dry season. We have Heidi from Sloat Garden Center here to teach you what to plant, how to water, and best tricks for beating summer heat. This free class is sponsored by the SFPUC!


Saturday, April 30th, 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

Part I of our beekeeping workshop just got more exciting: class participants will help GFE resident beekeepers install a brand new hive! Join us for this very special workshop that will teach you the basics of beekeeping. Part II & Part III open for registration as well.

Saturday, May 7th, 2016 | 10am - 12:00noon

Get your hands dirty! Soil is the biggest factor in your garden - but it's so mysterious. Learn how to tell what kind of soil you have, why it matters, and what you can do to ensure healthy soil to feed your garden. We don't offer this class often, so don't miss out!

ASK THE EXPERTS: Gardening in a Drought 
Saturday, May 7th, 2016 | 1pm - 3pm

We live in a unique, summer-dry climate and it's time our gardens thrive, bloom and look beautiful even in drought conditions. Join us and garden expert Ellyn Shea as she gives a SFPUC sponsored tour of our beautiful water-wise demonstration gardens. 


Install your own water-saving system!
The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is now accepting applications for the residential Laundry-to-Landscape (L2L) Graywater Program.  The L2L Graywater Program provides a discounted L2L graywater kit, free installation training, an optional in-home consultation with a graywater expert, and a copy of the Graywater Design Manual for Outdoor Irrigation
Program participants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
  • Single-family or two-unit residential building
  • Clothes washer located at or above the landscape grade
  • Landscape that is flat or down-sloping away from the clothes washer
Click here for more information about the L2L Graywater Program including program guidelines and application.

The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission is now accepting applications for the Rainwater Harvesting Program, which has expanded to include discounts on larger capacity cisterns. 

Residents, businesses, and schools may receive a $100 discount on a rain barrel (limit 2 per customer) or a $350 discount on a cistern (limit 1 per account). For more information about the Rainwater Harvesting Program including program guidelines and application, visit sfwater.org rainwater.
How to Set Up A Hive | Managing a Healthy Beehive | Honey Extraction

Our 2016 Urban Beekeeping Workshop series starts this month!

Learn how to keep your own backyard bees in this three part series. Follow bees from hive to harvest in this clas taught by GFE beekeeper Paul Koski.

We are thrilled to announce that during the Part I workshop April 30th, we be installing a brand new hive at GFE! Don't miss this incredible opportunity to help settle bees into their new home and appreciate the magic of these small but vital pollinators.

PART I: How to Set Up a Hive April 30th
PART II: Managing a Healthy Beehive June 25th
PART III: Honey Extraction September 24th

*You are not required to take all three classes to participate in the series!
Thursday April 28th | 1pm - 4pm| Hall of Flowers in San Francisco

Celebrate and leverage what's possible with place-friendly fandscapes that reconnect and regenerate people, communities, and their watersheds!

Re-Envisioning Sustainability with Brad Lancaster
Hosted by Bay-Friendly Landscaping and Gardening Coalition
Thursday, April 28th, 1pm - 4pm
Hall of Flowers, San Francisco County Fair Building

More information and tickets available here.

After a slow growing winter, our vegetable beds have bounced back and are vigorous. We have bunches of asparagus each week, rows of radishes and little scarlet runner bean greens have dug themselves out for spring. Before Than left to start his own farm, he seeded a large bed of arugula that is now the softest and most bright kind of carpeting. After long garden days we just want to lie down and take a nap!

Follow us @gardenfortheenvironment on Instagram to see what else we're growing this spring.
Cookbooks for Gardeners

One of my favorite spring time rituals is to pour over cookbooks and dream of my perfect summer garden. Green beans will wind up the old ladder in the yard, we'll drop bags of zucchini off on neighbor's doorsteps when we can't eat anymore, and everywhere you look sunflowers, herbs and radishes will greet you. In reality our cat digs up starts and sometimes we forget to water enough and dry days wipe out our leafy greens. Some years the tree on the south side got a bit bigger over the winter and has taken a prime sunny spot and reduced it to shade. Inevitably come July I'll wonder where the time has gone and realize the window has passed on planting some of my favorite things. 

But despite setbacks and unrealistic expectations, there's something so dreamy about early spring and the great hopefulness you get towards your garden. Things may not be perfect, but trying to plant a little more, or do a little better than the year before, is for me one of the great joys of gardening. It's a big experiment to see what works, what doesn't, and what you can cook in your kitchen that you grew with your own two hands.

Last year, I took home a napa cabbage start from GFE and grew a giant, gleaming head in my own backyard. I couldn't believe it, couldn't believe something so big and nutritious and beautiful had started off as a tiny seed, and that somehow it was able to thrive and grow in my soil. I felt awesome and invincible and like it was this incredible victory. It was a great success, and while there were countless failures that year as well, these ups and downs and small victories are what make this process so fun.

This time of year I pull a few of my favorite cookbooks off the shelf and read them before bed, dreaming of what I'll grow this year. Every chef writes, "a dish is only as good as its ingredients", and plucking something from your ground into your kitchen is the freshest and best ingredient you can find. Grow what you can and cook it. Your beans having a bumper year? Learn what to do with them. Have lots of borage and not much else? Do as the Italians and make soup! 

Here are three of my favorite cookbooks to help me get inspired to up my backyard gardening game.

Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters

Alice Waters is one of the biggest vocal advocates for local food, and nothing is more local that your own backyard. This book is organized by vegetable from A --> Z so when my artichokes start producing I know where to turn for perfect recipe after perfect recipe. 

Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison

Deborah Madison is the queen of vegetarian cooking (quite literally, she opened Greens Restaurant here in San Francisco) and her latest book, Vegetable Literacy, is an ode to growing your own food. The book is divided up by plant family and includes lots of information about how best to grow things and then how to cook them. She lives in New Mexico so while her climate is somewhat different than ours, much of the information carries over. Reading this book makes me want to work on my back door herb garden.

The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Ok, so I dont live in England and don't own a good pair of wellies, but this book is so darn practical and dreamy that nothing inspires my spring planning more then River Cottage. The first 90 pages are devoted to gardening, and soil, and compost (see why I like it?), how to design a garden space and even organic pest control. This is before the section on raising your own livestock if you're going to go full tilt farm. The pictures are escapist and reading this makes me want to chuck my computer off the desk and stick my hands in the dirt.
Learn how to Grow Your Own Food every month here at GFE!
Ernest Hemingway was writing of Paris in the 1920's in his now famous introduction to '
A Moveable Feast.'  True. Yet, on a recent trip to Anza Borrego State Park,
it occurred to me that gardening can be, as well, a moveable feast. 

A gardeners inclination for botanical observation (also called a love for plants) is a joyful
tool to carry while traveling. Knowing a little about plants can offer you an onramp
to understanding a new place, most obviously its climate. Desert plants tell you
with no uncertain thorns that they are, don't you forget it, desert plants. 

So when you pack for your next trip, don't forget to pack you gardeners eye. 
If I may appropriate Hemingway's opening for my open purposes I'd say, 
if you are lucky enough to have become a gardener, then wherever you go for the rest of your life
it stays with you, for gardening is a moveable feast.

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 © 2016 Garden for the Environment 

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