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.
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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.
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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.
Our energetic volunteers are helping us to double dig the last of our beds. Now that the rains have begun we will direct-sow winter cover crops into some and transplant winter wheat, favas, rye, and barley into others. Planting grains is a relaxing and meditative task. We use a dibble board to press in dowels for the 5″ spaced holes, and then hand transplant the little grass seedlings. Our leeks will be planted out next week, now that they are as thick as pencils. Garlic cloves will also be separated and planted pointy-side up, at a shallow depth.
We have already gotten to harvest some fall crops: the sprouting broccoli, red kale, and bok choi. We will wait until spring to harvest the copenhagen cabbage and napa cabbage when it has made nice large heads.
The range of seeds we plant gets smaller as the days get colder. Lettuce is one that can still be propagated. As well as the volunteers, the snails and slugs also love it…. We plan to grow enough for all our visitors.
Get your seeds from Bountiful Gardens, and plant your winter garden! Keeping the garden planted during the rainy season will prevent soil erosion, and nutrients from leaching out of the garden. Even if you don’t harvest the crops to eat, at the end of winter you will have biomass for the compost pile.