Planting Justice Dominates Front Yard

Andrew Builds the Best Bamboo Structures

We started with a giant piece of grass and built this puppy in one day.  Go to http://www.plantingjustice.org to get your lawn done up!

Bridgets Front Yard - So Grassy

 

Sheet Mulch - We managed to scavenge 12 windsurfing shipping boxes from the Marina. Thanks Windsurfers!

 

9 Yards of compost Please

 

The Team + Accapulco Rocks

It's Hot in Out Here

 

ONE DAY!

 

Straw Mulch to hold moisture, decompose and provide habitat for spiders!

We came back 90 Days Later to Check up on Things!

 

Scarlet Runner Bean Teepee Forts

 

Big Boys

 

We dominated this lawn

 

More Projects To Come!

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Full Transformation

I’ll be uploading some of the gardens I helped design and implement with Planting Justice last Spring.  There are some really inspiring transformations.  This particular project was in Hercules, CA.  We built this annual garden, perennial food forest and grape arbor in three days!   Check it out!

 

Before we started

 

Plants!

 

We put in an asparagus patch, strawberry field, bean poles, tomatoes and over 20 fruit trees!

 

Mulching

We started by mulching paths and building a small retaining wall.

Annuals in the front

 

Finished First Section

 

Irrigation system and straw mulch

 

Gavin!

 

Setting Posts with Andrew

 

Kiwi and Grape Arbor

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Spring Parking Lot Garden!

It’s nearly summer.  Spring in the Bay Area has been a turbulent mix of quasi-tropical sun days and torrential down pour.  The rainy spring has been great for the Sierra snow pack, the young bare root trees planted this winter and the general environmental health of California.  The bees have finally started bringing in honey and I’m getting jealous at the size of some of my neighbors tomato plants.  I’ve been working hard in the courtyard and parking lot of my warehouse, to create a Spring/Summer garden.  Here is a short photo tour of what I’ve been up to!

Courtyard list of characters:  two beehives, tandom bike, scrap wood, bamboo, roses, redwood siding planters, dream catchers, compost bin, trash can…..

Our Courtyard

The left/north side of the courtyard gets the most southern exposure, so I decided to plant some tomatillo’s and Pepino’s.

Sunny Side of Courtyard

Pepino Dulce (Solanum muricatum) are native to South America and produce a delicious sweet melon.  Max at People’s Grocery raised these in the green houses.  Hopefully the courtyard in Oakland will be hot enough!

Pepino Dulce (Solanum muricatum)

The final fruit look delicious!

Pepino Dulce

In the corner of the courtyard we’ve go New Zealand Spinach in large Safeway container, some cucumbers along the fence and a wild strawbery from oregon in an old gaudy planter.  New Zealand Spinach is a perennial green that will spread if you let it.  Ideally I would have planted this in larger bed, but I’m determined to keep leafy greens in soil thats been tested for lead.

New Zealand Spinach

Spinach close up.

New Zealand Spinach (Tetragonia tetragonioides)

hljkhljkh

Recently Planted Brassica (I think it's a Brocoli?? Damn)

The Bee Hives.  One of them swarmed last week and landed across the street on to the same pear tree branch that it swarmed to last year.  Weird bee intuition.

Da Bees

Outside we built a raised bed along the fence from redwood burls and stumps.  This was our main garden last year.

The Parking Lot

Some pretty Brassica Close ups

Lacinato Kale

More Kale (we eat a lot of it)

The Sea Kale below is a portuguese perennial collard that Max grew at People’s Grocery.

Sea Kale (Crambe maritima)

A goji berry in a big pot.  Might need more cool temps.  We will see.  Got this little bad boy along with some other great/rare perennials from Anders and the Merritt Landscape Hort Plant Sale!!

Goji Berry (Lycium Barbarum)

A pine box planter I found on the street.  A polyculture including tomatos, kale, lettuce, beets and carrots.

Pine Box Polyculture

Beauty Lechuga

Beauty Lettuce

Our fence soon to be covered with Scarlet Runner Beans

Nasturtium Barb Wire

Oca ready to be moved into a bigger pot.  This is a root crop from Peru that grows well in the Bay Area.

Oca (Oxalis tuberosa)

Ice Cream Bean Tree (Inga edulis) is a sub-tropics/tropical plant that might work in the Bay.  The large bean tubers have a vanilla flavored cotton candy fiber that you can eat!

Ice Cream Bean Tree (Inga edulis)

Parking Lot Nursery

Parking Lot Nursery

Roof Top Nursery

Roof Top Nursery

Thats all folks.

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Goldman Environmental Awards!

Hello Everyone.  It’s been quite a while since the last CitySown post, so let me get you updated.  In the past two weeks I’ve: started working for Planting Justice doing permaculture design and implementation, been to New York City and back, watched a fruiting banana plant in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, picked up some oca and mashua roots, planted a few dozen trees, ordered 12 bee hives, sold 60 pounds of honey…. Spring time is definitely here.  And it’s about to thunderstorm in Oakland.  Crazy.

I was fortunate to attend the Goldman Environmental Awards at the San Fransisco Opera House this evening.  The Goldman Foundation selects six incredible grass roots environmental heroes to honor each year from each of the six habitable continents.  Watching the planet earth style short video segments that introduce the awards ceremony, I found myself in an odd critical state of mind.  Why spend all this money on a ceremony.  Why all the pomp and circumstance.  Why the big show….  Then when the show actually started I was absolutely blown away…  mostly by one individual.

Humberto Ríos Labrada

Humberto Ríos Labrada has worked tirelessly in Cuba to diversify crop usage.  A graduate student while the Soviet Block was disintegrating, he recognized that indigenous farming knowledge could be promulgated and enhanced to counter growing trends in sugar cane monocropping.  After the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba partitioned small blocks of land to farming collectives.  Labrada pioneered “seed fairs” or seed swaps to encourage farmers to share knowledge and diversify their seed usage.  It’s working.  50,000 farmers are now involved in Labrada’s agricultural biodiversity work.  Check out this video for more information on this inspiring human being.

Labrada gave a passionate speech, with my favorite quote of the night: “Agriculture…. is art.”  I think it’s important to remember that designing productive spaces is a creative art form, not a rigid calculation.  Thanks Labrada.  Congrats.

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Underground Food

The SF Underground Farmers Market :

Wow…  Over a thousand people visited the market last month.  On my left: Boris was selling homemade Demi-Glaze on my right: Treat Street Granola.  Over forty vendors from the Bay Area, ranging from wild boar buns to sourdough bread, the warehouse was packed with food producers and food lovers.  A close friend in Colorado is starting a Denver/Boulder version of the West Coast phenomenon, hopefully this kind of experience will spread East.  It has been especially encouraging to see how many new vendors sprout up at each new market.  Check out these pictures from the market and then start one in your city:

Raw Oakland Honey

The market is set up as a food club where patrons can “donate” cash for food items.  Finding a legitimate farmers market spot is no spring chicken.  Most Farmers markets require commercial kitchens, certifications, multi-year commitments and more.  That’s if they even let you in.  “Sorry there is already a honey vendor.”

HONEY HONEY HONEY

Check out all these Hungry People:

Crazy town!

Going to need a bigger spot next time for this little dino egg.  Started in an empty Victorian living room where I was selling honey out of a bathroom.  Now it’s a colossal monster vehicle.  Seriously think about setting something like this up any place where people like to eat food.

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Mulberry = Angel Food

Fruitless Mulberry

Mulberry!

I really wish our cities were littered with Mulberry trees.  Wait….  they are. Unfortunately most of the mulberry trees planted in Western urban areas do not bear any fruit.  Ornamental, but sterile, these fruitless trees not only take up important growing space, but cause serious bouts of berry craving.

As the super stars: pear, apple, plum, peach and apricot attract fruit growers across the U.S. with their juicy round fruit, mulberries are somewhat of a wallflower in the West.  Unfortunately, mulberries are not widely cultivated as a commercial crop because the berries are so fragile and hard to transport. I’ve only found a handful of fruiting mulberry trees in the Bay Area, compared to the hundreds and hundreds of lemon trees… too bad.

The mulberry situation improves the farther East you head.  The Red Mulberry tree (Morus rubra) is native to eastern North America, ranging from Vermont to Florida and as far west as South Dakota. Mulberries were an important food staple for Native American tribes, but today mulberry trees are far less prevalent.

Mulberry Fruit

Mulberry trees have been are incredibly important in Chinese culture.  The white mulberry (Morus alba) was cultivated 4000 years ago for silk worm production.  In Chinese medicine the fruit is used to treat greying hair.  The leaves are antibacterial and are used to treat eye infections and flu.  Tinctures from the bark are used to treat a number of common ailments, notably toothaches.

Mulberry!

Look at this berry!!

The largest mulberries come from Black Persian Mulberry trees (Morus nigra) which in California typically fruit in July. These berries can  be four inches long and when timed right taste great.  They do have an intense acidic/tart taste coupled with high levels of sugar.  Most people absolutely love them.

The Morus alba mulberry tree is allegedly as good as the Black Persian berry.  Look for “Oscars” and “Pakistan” varietals.

Mulberry trees are self-fertile and prefer well-drained soil.  They should be planted in a sunny spot where they have plenty of room to grow.  They will reach height 30 to 40 feet over the years.  It takes a while for the tree to get established and you probably won’t be eating mulberries for five or more years. Delayed gratification.  Everyone in your neighborhood will love you after 15 years when the tree reaches full production level.

More information about mulberry trees.  Information about which varieties test the best!  Burnt Ridge is a great nursery to order a Mulberry tree from or check out Spiral Gardens in the East Bay.

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Planting Justice and CitySown Team Up!

Exciting news!!

Planting Justice and CitySown are teaming up this Spring to grow plants.  This is an exciting collaboration and large shift in CitySown’s purpose:

Tree Tomato or Tamarillo

Imagine a table of tomato starts…  On the wooden table is a small placard describing Planting Justice a local non-profit that grew these particular varieties.  Large placards rate the plants’ edibility, medicinal value and give detailed growing instructions.  There are many varieties of tomatoes that fruit well in the bay area.  On the ground near the legs of the table is a flat of tomato trees for sale.

As a board member of Planting Justice and a full believer in the organization’s mission and business structure, we will be using my roof top nursery to produce starts for Planting Justice.  We will be starting to sell to local nurseries in the Bay Area.  CitySown will still list free available plants for local gardeners, but the site will primarily function as an informational hub for urban permaculturalists.

Two roof-tops are better than one!

Check out Planting Justice’s first rooftop garden

Look out for more information about this partnership soon!

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