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Saturday, May 24, 2008

A New Look for An Alameda Garden

If you dropped by this site in the last few days, you may have caught this blog in the middle of a major redesign. What can I say? It was time for a change and I was lucky enough to catch a web designer friend with a little time to spare. Thank you, Mareev!

There are still a few changes to come, but the new look is now pretty much in place. Let me know what you think!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Where Organic Gardening and Meditation Meet

Don't miss the New York Times article today about Wendy Johnson, one of the founders of the organic garden and farm project at the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center across the bay near Muir Beach. Johnson is one of the pioneers of organic gardening in the U.S. as well as a Buddhist meditation teacher. As the article points out, long before Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver wrote about mindful eating and growing and the relationship between the two, Johnson was living it, growing organic produce for the famous Greens restaurant in San Francisco. I've just received a copy of her new book, Gardening at the Dragon's Gate, and will be reviewing it here next week.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Wrapping Up Propagation Month

After taking a couple days off from the trials and tribulations of trying to propagate something different every day, I thought I'd post some conclusions I've come to:
  1. Of all the different seed-growing methods I tried, one stood out as a clear favorite. If you're going to plant anywhere but directly in the ground, then soil blocks are definitely the way to go. Jiffy plugs suck. They really do. Forget about them. And sowing in flats is convenient for storing on a greenhouse shelf, but it makes transplanting the seedlings more time-consuming and traumatic for all the little roots. Seed blocks on the other hand make transplanting a breeze, plus you can control the soil mix, plus you don't have to worry about having a bunch of little pots or cell-packs laying around. More control, less stuff, happy seedlings. What's not to like?
  2. It really does seem that just about all of my seed-starting adventures would have been greatly helped if I'd had a heating mat or two. Heat can really make seeds pop.
  3. Those gel-rooting cups I tried to root salvia and catmint cuttings in? Don't waste your money. Every one of the cuttings got funky, and even though the package says you can just take out a cutting that isn't rooting and put in a new one, there's no point in putting a fresh cutting into what's supposed to be a sterile gel when it's obviously contaminated.
  4. Actually, I had a hard time with almost all of the cuttings I tried to root and I think the problem is that they just weren't staying hydrated enough. It's just so much easier to root cuttings with a mist house. I did some searching on the Internet and found a couple of sites describing small mist houses that people built for under $100 using a set of shelves, some plastic sheeting, and some inexpensive misters and a timer. I'd like to try putting something like that together one of these days.
  5. There are a couple things I didn't get around to doing that I still hope to get done. One is to air-layer the camellia at the side of my house (or maybe the really pretty white one at my friend Mark's house). The other is to do some budding on my cherry tree.
  6. Lastly, I have to say that I had a lot of fun doing all this propagating and I look forward to doing it again next year.
I'm afraid that May, however, will have to be Weeding Month. That I'm not looking forward to.

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