On Veteran’s Day, a wonderful group of 25 girl scouts, aged between 10-16, came to the garden and helped us to plant around 30 native plants in a new ‘native bed’ at the back of the garden. They donated the funds we used to purchase the plants (from Yerba Buena Nursery in Half Moon Bay). At a follow-up meeting, the girls were asked for one word to describe the experience and they replied: “Fun, Enlightening, Interesting, and Hard Work”. We started the session by explaining why native plants are important (habitat and fodder for our endangered pollinators, help to form a drought tolerant ecosystem, and so on) and then we got to work clearing the area, digging holes, planting, and finally mulching to suppress weeds. The new bed will need to be watered sporadically during the coming year’s dry season, but will be left to its own devices afterwards.
Charlotte Kadifa, a Palo Alto Girl Scout SALT member wrote this piece to summarize the experience:
“The fourth annual Palo Alto Girl Scouts’ Service Day was held on Veterans’ Day, November 11th. Service Day is organized by our high school scouts’ Service and Leadership Team (SALT), of which I am a member. SALT partnered with six nonprofit organizations to provide volunteer opportunities on Veterans’ Day for 160 Girls Scouts ranging in age from 6 to 16 years old.
“For the second year, Common Ground Garden was one of the nonprofits with which we collaborated. In addition to SALT members, three troops of scouts (a total of 25 girls) volunteered at Common Ground Garden. Senior Troop 60648, Cadette Troop 60310, and Junior Troop 60518 spent the morning planting a native plant garden. The native plants were purchased for Common Ground by a grant to SALT from Silicon Valley Bank. Girl Scouts provided the “girl power” to plant them!
“On arriving at the garden, Emily and Paul explained to us how native plants are not only drought resistant but also help the environment by efficiently sequestering carbon.
“They taught us how to break up the hardened soil with a fork and dig with the spade shovel. The Junior Scouts hauled mulch by wheelbarrow for the new garden. The Cadette and Senior Scouts dug the holes for the five-dozen new plants at the designated locations in the garden bed. Older scouts and younger scouts partnered to add compost, place the plants in the new holes, and spread mulch around each plant. Six of us had the challenge of planting a three-foot-tall bush with spikey leaves that poked through jeans and work gloves. We handled it with the utmost care!
“Interspersed with the physical exertion, there were plenty of moments for examining rolly pollies, admiring the variety of shapes and colors of leaves and blossoms, and basking in the beauty and peacefulness of the shaded gardens.
“At the end of the morning, we all initialed a wooden plaque to commemorate our contribution to the project. It was very gratifying work to create a native plant garden that will be long lasting and provide educational opportunities for the greater community that Common Ground Garden serves.”
We at Common Ground Garden are very grateful to everyone who was involved in the project! So far, all of the plants are thriving 🙂
December is a time to regroup and reflect, both on the year past and the year ahead. We are spending a lot of time planning out our coming year in the garden. As you can see, this month’s planting calendar is pretty sparse. The only thing we are putting in the ground this month is the hardy rutabaga (AKA neeps or swedes). We have finished pruning our fruit trees and re-potting and amending perennials. Next month we’ll be learning to plant bare root fruit trees, and after that learning to graft new varieties to the ones we have. Winter seems to be more for the trees than the veggies.
You can still donate and support our mission to teach our community to grow healthy food, soil, and people in a truly sustainable way! Support our youth in learning to regenerate the land while feeding themselves at the same time.
Consider educating the next generation to give a sustainable future for our world.
You can support this mission by donating to Common Ground Garden Today.
At Common Ground Garden, we pursue our goal in a grassroots way: educating students and adults about growing their own food. When you give to Common Ground, you allow us to continue teaching our community and growing food and healthy people in our Bay Area garden. Want to see all the ways that your contributions make a difference? Check out our Giving page.
Throughout 2015 and 2016, we’ve regularly worked with eleven local classrooms, teaching classes about sustainability either at Common Ground or in their school gardens. Field trip groups also come to Common Ground, learning everything from soil preservation to seed saving. Adult classes and workshops are held many weekends with topics about beekeeping, fruit tree grafting, and how to grow a garden year round. Volunteering opportunities allow scouts, high school students, and people from all different ages and backgrounds to learn hands-on how to grow their own food with the least negative impact on the world.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to us last year, and throughout this year, supporting our education programs and keeping us alive as a demonstration of growing food truly sustainably. We couldn’t keep digging without our donors.
As you are thinking of giving a tax-deductible donation, please consider supporting Common Ground’s work.
This class is part of the ‘Grafting’ series, including ‘Scions: Selecting Fruit Tree Varietals for Successive Ripening’ (this class) and ‘Early Spring Fruit Tree Grafting’ (2/4/2017) Purchase tickets for both together and save over 15%! This class will get you ready to graft onto your own fruit tree, which is included in the price of the 2/4 class.
Join Jesse Imbach and James Lalikos for a wide-ranging survey class on how to select different varietals of your favorite fruits so that they ripen throughout the year. Here is a preview of the class from the teachers:
The climate of the Bay Area is very unusual. According to codeminders, there are three spots in Portugal, two in France, and one each in Spain and China that share similar conditions. Our long, dry summers and short, moderate winters allow we residents of “The Valley of the Hearts Delight” to grow a huge variety of fruits throughout the year.
Fruit from all over the world can be grown here. In many instances, we’re on the edge of what the plant prefers climatically – most cherry varietals need a little more chill than we have, while bananas will need protection from the frost – but with a little care and some careful selection, we can grow both!
Varietals of the most popular types of fruit have been developed to take advantage of our extended growing season. For example, there are apples, peaches, and plum hybrids that ripen from the end of May through November. If you love peaches, why not graft together a tree that will give you a few peaches a week over five months? Many fig varieties, as well as Dorsett and Gravenstein apples, can produce two crops per year. Citrus varieties provide fruit year-round in our climate.
This class will include five sections:
Jesse Imbach is a member of the California and Santa Clara Valley Rare Fruit Growers Associations. His modest home is taken over with experimental grafted trees and rare fruit varieties from around the world.
James Lalikos is a member of the California Rare Fruit Growers Association, a mechanical engineer, and prototype designer, who has been whittling twigs and splicing plants together since he was a child. He’s currently working on converting a collection of old flowering pear trees into every-variety-pear trees using scions from the germplasm collection at Filoli and planning out a large aquaponic installation in his front yard.
The two of them are also working to plant a fruit forest in the hills above Los Gatos. The goal is to have several hundred varieties of fruit available for hybridizing across twenty-eight acres.
We’ve enjoyed several good storms so far this fall. The trees are pruned. All of our winter crops are in and the soil is now evenly moist; we hope to keep it this way until many of the crops are done growing late spring. Now is the time for weeding: this is especially true of the alliums (onions, leeks, garlic) that need it until they are well established. Next week, we will prick out our winter lettuce, and two weeks later we’ll transplant it and some carrots. Also, we will be planting 30 native plants in the back of the garden, supported by a local girl scout troop. With the wet soil, and (hopefully) more rains on the way, now is the perfect time to put in natives.
If you haven’t gotten started on your winter garden yet, and you’re not feeling super energetic, not to worry! This is a great time to start planting fava beans! Just push the seeds into the soil on 8″ centers.
Want to get winter seeds and a few natives to attract the pollinators? Check out Bountiful Gardens’ selection.