June is a busy month for the summer sustainable garden. Many of our favorite summer crops are heavy feeders and divas when it comes to soil tilthe. So, we double dig their beds- this includes zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, melons, peppers, and the like. This month we’ve planted a number of these crops, and also transplanted our popcorn bed, which will be interplanted with locally bred and adapted Petaluma Goldrush Beans- and started chard, lettuce, and more basil for the shadier side of the bed. We learned that basil likes a bit of shade in the afternoon and hates wind! Its large delicate leaved quickly desiccated in the windy spot we planted it over a month ago. We’ve also been battling gophers for our onions, tree squirrels for our apricots, and ground squirrels for our rye grain. Aphids have taken a shine to our cabbage. We’ve managed to catch all the gophers causing trouble for the moment, and we’ve been washing our cabbage’s leaves of aphids, but plan to try spraying a salt-free soapy solution (perhaps a grey-water system safe soap) to get the remainder. After this month, we’ll be slowing our pace and tending to the crops we have.
This month we finally planted our tomatoes (everyone’s favorite!). In one bed we put in Cherry Chadwicks to save for seed to sell as a fund raiser. In the other bed we put in rich tasting full size Brandywines and Cherokee Purples. We will check to see if the pollen of the flowers of these are enclosed like the chadwicks so that cross-pollination will not be an issue. More lettuce, beets, potatoes, and beans were also transplanted. Soon we’ll be planting cantaloupe-type melons and lemon cucumbers.
We enjoyed harvesting the rest of our onions and leeks. 6th grade school groups loved cutting down the dried wheat and barley. Still to harvest of the winter crops are: garlic, rutabagas, and rye. Right now we are planting ‘full speed ahead’ as the summer heat rears its intense head and we prepare for the Edible Garden Tour July 8.
Check out the crop calendar above for a full list of plantings that will do well in our area this month.
Now is the busiest time for planting our ‘flagship’ veggies- all of the ones we get excited about picking up at the farmers markets, getting in our CSA boxes, or best of all, ripening on the vine in our very own gardens! At Common Ground Garden the grains are maturing and beginning to harden (rye being the last to mature), as the tomatoes and zucchini are just going into their respective beds. Our sunflowers have grown high enough to escape the slug onslaught, and our basil is looking small but plump beneath the sunflower canopy. Soon we’ll be planting our cucumbers, beets, and beginning to plant summer grains like amaranth. Wish us luck! And stop by to see it all at its peak during our Edible Garden Tour.
Still need seeds? Get your open pollinated heirlooms from Bountiful Gardens this year!
The last two months have been really busy keeping up with our tight early planting schedule. We planted crops with our youth groups: potatoes, favas, peas. With our adult volunteers, we started tons of flats: quinoa, lettuce, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, basil, and planted cilantro and dill directly into a bed. We transplanted out many early starts into the garden: sprouting broccoli, quinoa, sunflowers (for the ‘Great Sunflower Project’). This week, we’ll be planting onions, lettuce, and cabbage.
As the New Year begins at CGG, we take valuable time to reflect on both where we have been and where we want to go. Last semester showed a slowdown in our youth garden classes, but this spring they are beginning again with new fervor. We have doubled the number of middle school classes we hold in our garden, while holding our number of preschool and high school classes steady. As a result, we welcome around 250 students from local schools into our garden for classes each month. Common Ground Garden enjoys the unique privilege of being located within walking distance of almost 3,000 students, aged pre K-12 th grade. This allows us to work closely with Young Life Preschool, Terman Middle School, and Gunn High School to run monthly garden classes for students of all ages.
In addition to our regular classes with these three schools, we offer field trips to all schools in the San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. We work hard to make our field trips financially accessible to all. Thanks to a grant from Palo Alto Holiday Fund, we offer free field trips to qualifying Title 1 schools. This year, we hope to focus our lessons to include more material on nutrition and sustainable food production. The prevalence of fast food in our society is a huge detriment to the health of our most vulnerable populations, including children and typically marginalized communities. Without a taste for, or access to fresh local foods, the health of our community is in danger. Currently, 75% of all money spent on healthcare in America goes to prevent chronic, preventable diseases. More than half of that money is spent treating the long-term effects of a poor diet.* Our educational programs this year will take action to address this nutritional crisis in America.
With our high school classes from Gunn, we already focus on grain production and cooking food that has been grown, harvested, and processed in the garden. We will expand on this program, and also introduce it to the middle school groups. By the end of the semester, we aim to have each student try a fresh vegetable they haven’t had before, and understand the process through which grains are processed and packaged for the grocery store. When students think of flour, we want them to picture harvesting, threshing, and milling stalks of wheat – not a white substance that appears magically in the baking aisle. By emphasizing healthy foods and a true understanding of where they come from, we hope to improve the overall health of our 250 regular students.