Wednesday at a Time

Wednesday at a Time

“One day at a time” is a slogan used by many ambitious people, such as athletes, business entrepreneurs, and politicians. It conveys the wisdom of breaking up a difficult or prolonged task into manageable parts. At Garden for the Environment this phrase takes on a special meaning. On Wednesday every week, a dedicated group of volunteers and interns show up by ten in the morning and for the next four hours, we break into crews to weed, prune, compost, and fertilize.

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Garden / Guardian

Garden / Guardian

The word “garden,” like the word “yard,” comes from ancient linguistic roots meaning an enclosed space. The garden is a protected place, set apart from current dangers. Garden for the Environment, and the many other community gardening projects here in San Francisco, create space for people to belong to nature rather than just long for nature. And by guarding nature and our connection to her, perhaps we can open wider the garden of our hearts.

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Solstice Musing on Stewardship

Solstice Musing on Stewardship

Gardens like GFE nourish people who are hungry. I'm not talking about dinner, but about our soul hungers; for the wild, for rich living dirt, for crazy beauty. Our culture restricts us more and more to two dimensions ("sent from my iPad"), but a garden can expand us back into ourselves, the smell of crushed thyme, the bright cries of a flock of bushtits in the butterfly bush, the rhythm of lifting and turning living soil.

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An Outdoor Education

An Outdoor Education

Late June and early July means Summer Sprouts is blooming in the garden. The Summer Sprouts are high school and middle school youth who come to learn outdoors for three weeks of garden-based programs, and they are blooming brightly. The youth are learning leadership skills, biking, building compost piles, and eating huge salads and kale dishes from our veggie beds. They are making new friends, and learning about plant care.

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Yikes!

Yikes!

For me, every year there’s a moment in May when the garden is suddenly just too much. All the irrigation has to be troubleshot and turned on after winter. All the weeds are as high as an elephant’s eye. All the winter crops suddenly bolt so all the vegetable beds have to be turned over and planted for summer. All the spring blooming ornamentals need deadheading, while the cool season annuals are already finished and need to be composted. Yikes!

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What We're Hungry For

What We're Hungry For

Why do I care about flowering plants? If I were a bee or a hummingbird, I’d have a practical answer. These would be my food plants. And as an organic gardener, I can give a practical answer, too. The flowering borders around GFE stabilize soil, build the water table, add organic matter to our soil, attract pollinators, and beneficial insects. The list goes on.

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The Nutritious Solitude of Gardening

The Nutritious Solitude of Gardening

Gardening is an odd combination of solitude and company. Many of us do the actual work of gardening alone for hours. This is when gardening books and garden writers become important allies. The best books scold and strategize as well as inspire and encourage. They remind us of what is possible as well as saying “I told you so.” They become good friends, whose humorous critique and encouragement are as useful as any other garden tool.

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What's in a Name?

What's in a Name?

The names of plants are important. So you want a sage in your garden. Do you want one that is eight feet tall and drought tolerant with bright red winter flowers? Or do you want a plant that stays four inches tall, likes shade and moist soil, rewarding you with blue summer flowers? Or do you mean the culinary herb that is used in Tuscan bean soup, Salvia officinalis?

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