USF Garden Project

Compost Workshop Report (9/26/08)
November 6, 2008, 6:52 pm
Filed under: Activities

This week, Amy from Garden for the Environment came to talk to us about composting basics. She started by telling us some general facts about waste and composting; about 6-7 lbs of waster are produced by a person in one day. Also, it is best to model urban composting piles after the froest floor, which is full of layered organic matter. However, in the forest, it takes nearly 100 years to create a healyth 1 inch of soil. Then, Amy described the composting progress, which includes green matter, brown matter, moisture, air, and a minimum of 1 cubic yard of space. Green matter is high in nitrogen, while brown materials are crunchy and dried out. The best ratio for a compost pile is 3 parts brown to every 1 part green. As the compost pile matures, it gives off heat, the composting materials shrink, and begin to attract bacteria and other organisms. There are three different types of composting: passive, pit/trench, and active/hot composting. The first, passive composting, is basically putting anything and everything into a pile and waiting for it to rot. Pit, or trench, composting is achieved when a hole is dug in the ground, green and brown matter are put into the hole, and then covered with 8 inches to 1 foot of mud. The last type of composting, active composting, requires a specific temperature value to be reached in order to be successful. For three consecutive days, the pile must reach between 130 and 140 degrees. 


Amy then discussed the different materials that can and cannot be composted. Materials that can be composted include: eggshells, fruits, vegetables, rice, green and brown materials, manure from a non-meat eating creature,  non-glossy cardcoard, and fish. Meat, eggs, oil, dairy, bones, nonorganic matter, noxious weeds, and plants that have died from disease cannot be composted. Amy noted that during rainy months the compost can be covered with a lid. Also, compost piles should be comprised of alternating layers of brown and green materials, and the uppermost layer should be made of brown materials. Lastly, she informed us that red wigglers are the best worms for composting piles.

-Kathryn Jeanfreau


Dearborne Community Garden
April 18, 2008, 7:26 am
Filed under: Activities, trips, Uncategorized | Tags:

Last semester, we visited the Dearborn Community Garden. Pam Peirce, author of Golden Gate Gardening and Wildly Successful Plants: Northern California, gave us background on her and also gave us a tour of the garden. Pam Pierce has her own blog – Please check it out. It’s pretty cool…

We also saw some amazing murals in the Mission. Take a look and if you like what you see, comment! Also check out the Flickr set we have for this trip: Dearborn and the Murals

Work Party
April 4, 2008, 7:40 am
Filed under: Activities | Tags:

weeding party 3

Originally uploaded by USF Garden Project

Hey all,

We, the Garden Project, invite you to our Work Party on Saturday, April 12 from 11am – 4pm. Snacks and drinks will be provided, so drop by whenever you can, and bring your own cup (if you have one).  Also, wear your grungy clothes and if you have tools, bring them!

Please R.S.V.P. by Wednesday, April 9th so that we know how much food to make. Send your response to and if you need directions to the garden, please email us.

Hope to see you there!

Dearborn Community Garden
March 6, 2008, 12:06 am
Filed under: Activities, organic gardening

First I like to say that I’m really pleased that I had a chance to meet someone that has published a book before. That was the closest I’ve ever been to meeting someone famous. Maybe she’s not but, she has been published and is a very smart lady, and I really admire that about her. The famous Pam Peirce, at lease through me eyes.

I really liked it that she started it off with her young childhood, she mentioned that she grew up gardening. She also mentioned that she had accomplished many things, which was very impressive. The one thing that really stuck out was that she mentioned she had a vision and after that vision she set out to accomplish it or make something happen with the community. She mentioned that people need to come together and talk about the vision, and then organize it. Seems like we are in that stage of in visioning our garden our community and trying to make something out of it. We are doing everything that she has followed.

She gave us a lot of history with the organizations she worked with and what role she played in them. Another interesting statement she pointed out was that when people make a community and there are people in charge or maybe a president and it comes the time to elect a new president, it’s not always the best choice to put someone in charge from within the group. I thought that was pretty interesting because people always seem to think this way and probably it has to deal with a comfort. I learned that communities are hard to establish and to maintain. I also learned that the longest day of the year is June twenty-first. But the best time for plants to grow in San Francisco is during the month of September. Fun Facts, and the garden was very beautifully divided.
-Valeria Vital

Santa Cruz Field Trip
March 4, 2008, 1:54 am
Filed under: Activities, organic gardening

October 24, 2007

Two vehicles containing all the Garden Projecters and our professors left USF on Friday, October 19, 2007, around 1:45 p.m. We headed to Santa Cruz to see UCSC’s farm. There we met Derone who gave us a tour and even showed them his own patch of land.

Down Garden was 1.5 acres and plenty of growth going on. One great method for getting rid of the coddling moth, an insect that hangs around apples, was to use pheromone technology. It causes mating disruption so that the female can’t lay her eggs in the apples. The food grown at UCSC was given to apprentices, farmers on campus, and to a CSA (community supported agriculture). Down Garden had bed ends, trellises, a worm box, a learning center, rows, and so much more. For their water distribution, they used spigots, headers, and an underground set of tubes. The flowers that they grew were beautiful and were made into bouquets and sold.

Derone’s farm was 1/4 acre and he certainly made the most of it. He had a scarlet runner bean teepee, a pumpkin patch with scarecrows, kale, bok choi, a walnut tree, figs, chickens, corn used for popping, and a whole bunch of other stuff. He also had some suggestions as to what we should plant such as teas, lemon verbena, kale or plants that grow year-round, carrots, lettuce, potatoes (plants that take 70 – 100 days to grow), and definitely have at least one part vegetables. He told us that gardens are a celebration and we should think about a picnic area, holding student-specific events, having a shade structure such as a gazebo or plexi-glass, and an info board.

Later that night, we went to Free Wheelin’ farm and met Amy. She gave us a box of goods which we used to create our fabulous dinner. Saturday, after a delicious breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and juice, we made our way over to Pie Ranch. There we worked the land by picking strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, getting eggs from the chickens, taking the staples and tarp off rows, and airing out the pumpkins. We then got a tour of the old house and broke for lunch which, again, was amazing.

I feel that this trip was very productive since we were all bonding and really got some see some great farms. My favorite was UCSC’s one since it had such a good feel to it and I loved the way they used all their resources. The views for the places visited were breathtaking. As always, thank you for this trip and the experience.

-Nalini Bholanauth

Botanical Gardens Write-Up
February 27, 2008, 7:29 pm
Filed under: Activities, organic gardening

Botanical Gardens

Our visit to the San Francisco Botanical Gardens taught me both about the Botanical Gardens itself and much about the intricacies of seed-saving. Even though at times what the curator had to say about seeds seemed a bit more intricate and in-depth than I was prepared for, overall it was a good overview of what we will need to know to collect, store, and plant our own seeds.

Much of what the curator told us about the Botanical Gardens could be directly applied to our own garden. He said how July and August had no sun at all, only fog. The Botanical Garden grows very little food, perhaps because its main purpose is to educate, or perhaps because it is very difficult to grow most food in San Francisco. The curator stressed the importance of sun for many plants. He said that in the case of tomato plants, one-half the sun would yield one-half the amount of tomatoes. He said that here in San Francisco we are in a Mediterranean climate, and this climate is many other places, including Chili. He said that the types of plant that grow here are also seen in places like Chili, where the environmental aspects are similar.

The curator stressed the importance of seed saving, since so many types of plants are disappearing. For example, in Chili, much of the land is being turned into grazing land for McDonald’s cattle and diversity is being gravely threatened. The curator gave a large amount of information about seeds. I became aware as a result of his talk of how each seed needs to be treated differently. I was not aware that each seed requires such unique circumstances. For example, some seeds must remain wet at all times or they will die. Also, some seeds need the nitric oxide in smoke to germinate. I thought it was interesting what the curator said about 90% of the battle with seeds is keeping them sterile. The other 9% is keeping them safe from snails and slugs, 1% keeping them safe from larger creatures. The main piece of information that I retained from this presentation is that we will need to thoroughly research each seed that we want to collect and store if we wish to be successful seed-savers.
-Austin Clark

Visit to “Garden for the Environment”
February 27, 2008, 7:27 pm
Filed under: Activities, organic gardening

September 12, 2007

After a long bus ride along the MUNI route 43, our class arrived at the location of the “Garden for the Environment”. We were welcomed by Blair who soon indulged us in a very informative, picturesque, and fragrant tour of the small quarter of an acre garden. We were told about the history of the garden, the education that took place there, different methods of composting, the benefits of raised beds, the different landmarks in the garden, how to start a beehive, and several more interesting and important things vital to a garden’s success.

“Garden for the Environment” began seventeen years ago, as a non-profit organization, for the purpose of educating the local residents how to garden with less water. Now it has evolved to include organic and compost education. Throughout the tour, Blair mentioned several ways to do composting. He said that 35% of what goes to the landfill can be composted, so composting is a serious component in the goal to have San Francisco as a zero-waste city. One way to compost is to have compost bins which speed up the decomposition process of plants. Using worms, specifically the red wiggler, speeds up the process even more and produces very rich compost full of nutrients.

Another way to compost is to have huge free standing compost piles consisting both of what Blair called ‘greens’, which are high in nitrogen food scraps, manure, coffee grounds, and ‘browns’, which are higher in carbon such as twigs and straw. The free standing compost piles and compost bins are both called ‘hot compost’ which means they get really hot because they decompose so quickly. Other than compost, another thing I found interesting were the raised beds.

Raised beds are beneficial in several ways. For one, they can be filled with soil that you know is good for the plants and the plant roots have enough room to grow (say, 2 feet). Another thing is that because a lot care-taking of plants puts a lot of stress on the worker’s or gardener’s back, so it is nice to have raised beds so they could stand up and work. Blair also told us about what kind of wood to buy. One of the raised beds we saw was covered in straw, which serves as mulch, a heating component, keeps down weeds, and retains the moisture in the soil. Another cool thing we saw was a half-open miniature green house were varieties of tomatoes were growing. The benefit of the open green house was that it didn’t get too hot, enabled the plants to get pollinated and also to allow people to pick the tomatoes. The larger green house we saw was to grow starters in a safer environment.

The “Garden for the Environment” had a few different sections focused for certain things. For instance, there was a whole section devoted to the natural plants of that specific San Francisco area in order to preserve the same plants that were here for hundreds of years. They also don’t need to maintain them because they were fine before us humans. There was also a nice little section with logs seats and benches for classes and talks. On the hill were several apple trees and other plants. Blair told us that we could tell if an apple was ripe by pressing it with our thumb and if we heard a ‘snap’ sound. Most of the apples and other sweet things are harvested and given either to the Product House near the garden or to the teachers and donors of the garden. Yet another fun thing we saw was a Honey bee hive. Basically it was just a box on the hill with trays for the bees to make the honey comb in and tons of bees. Blair said that they produced over 60 pounds of honey in just a few months.

After we were done with the awesome tour of “Garden for the Environment”, Blair invited us to do some weeding. We helped weed blackberries (both Himalayan and local) and a grass that seemed to pop out of every plant. The whole fieldtrip was lots of fun and I definitely learned a lot about maintaining a garden and several hints on how to make it successful.
-Gopika Misri