Classes + Events

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A Generous Inheritance: Growing to Seed

Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, $31

logo10In the last twenty years, we have witnessed a devastating loss of genetic diversity in food crops and the disappearance of many plant varieties specifically adapted to local growing regions. Yet we can all play a part in stopping and reversing this discouraging trend by learning how to save seeds! This class will discuss common crops, their plant families and reproduction cycles, out-crossing and self-crossing crops, testing seed viability and storing seeds for maximum lifespan and vigor. We will also introduce basic methods for planning and planting for seed saving as well as techniques for gathering and processing seeds from common garden plants.

Class taught by Rachel Britten, Coordinator of the Mini-Farm.

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It Takes a Village to Raise a Radish: Companion Planting & Rotation

Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, $31

logo15Plants grow better together! Scientists have shown that richer plant diversity can significantly increase the productivity of natural ecosystems. By taking a closer look at the special talents and needs of plants as well as their structural differences and growing patterns, we can design gardens full of interwoven, supportive plant relationships. Sweet alyssum repels aphids from brassicas. Beans replenish the soil for bigger, higher-yielding eggplants. In this class, we will talk about companion planting, individual plant and family relationships, inter-planting, and crop rotation for effective nutrient management and disease control.

Class taught by Rachel Britten, Coordinator of the Mini-Farm at the Golden Rule Community in Willits, CA.

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Growing Great Tomatoes

Saturday, March 15, 2014 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, $31

Learn which tomatoes have really great flavor and reliable production and are able to hold up under regular garden conditions. You will learn excellent trellising methods, soil preparation, what NOT to do, and how to avoid the brown crispy foliage blues so a bountiful harvest will be yours until frost. Tomatoes featured are the result of Nancy’s twenty-five years of hands-on tomato research.

Taught by Nancy Garrison who is the founder of, past coordinator of, and now retired from the Master Gardener Program of the U.C. Coop. Extension in Santa Clara County. She has a consulting company, All Things Edible, wherein she helps folks create their own Gardens of Eden. Class is held at 687 Arastradero Road.

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One Man’s Trash Will Grow My Food: Compost for the Home Gardener

Saturday March 8th  2:00PM to 4:00PM

logo13Composting is the ultimate form of recycling, converting spent and unused plant materials into a rich amendment for the soil. Rich compost will support a whole new generation of plant growth next season and contributes resources that will remain in the soil for thousands of years! In this class, we will focus on building a compost pile that most efficiently converts the nutrients and soil organic matter in the starting materials into nutrients and organic matter in your soil. We will also look at compromises and alternative techniques that are appropriate in specific situations.

Class taught by Matt Drewno, the Manager of the Green-Belt Mini-Farm in Mendocino.

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Organic Matter: Mother Nature’s Secret Ingredient

Saturday, March 8, 2014 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, $31

logo12The subsidence of the San Joaquin Valley—the “largest human alteration of the Earth’s surface,” according to the United States Geological Survey—has been caused in large part by the loss of organic matter from the soil. Organic matter, that complex synthesis of all that has lived and does live in the soil, is a precious and finite resource that is crucial to healthy microbial life in the soil, effective nutrient retention and cycling, water capture and retention, and many other life processes in the soil. We will learn about protecting and replenishing this precious resource in our backyards and in agricultural soils.

Class taught by Matt Drewno, Manager of the Green-Belt Mini-Farm in Mendocino, CA.

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Bountiful Blueberries

Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, $31

logo11xAnd other small fruits. You will learn how to select, plant, and maintain different types of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and other small fruits for the home garden. Nancy will cover her favorite delectables such as blueberries, Chilean guavas, mulberries, lemon guava, raspberries and blackberries. Included in the instruction will be special soil preparations, best varieties for the Peninsula and South Bay, and trellising techniques for raspberries and blackberries.

Taught by Nancy Garrison who has a vast knowledge of growing these fruits locally based on years of research with the University of California Cooperative Extension and in her home garden.

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A Good Beginning: Growing from Seed

Saturday, February 22, 2014 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, $31

logo10Excitement as you approach your growing pots – tiny green leaves have emerged from the cool dark dirt! The seeds you planted have sprung to life. Starting your own seedlings has many benefits for the home gardener. Growing from seed is more cost-effective than buying seedlings, and there are many more vegetable crops and varieties to choose from. Gardeners can have their pick of thousands of rare heirlooms including varieties particularly adapted to their climate and growing needs. We will discuss techniques for starting seedlings, edibles with specific starting needs, tips for caring for seedlings, and best practices for transplanting.

Taught by Zuzanna Drozdz, Manager of the Palo Alto Common Ground

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From the Ground Up: Backyard Soil Care

Saturday, February 22, 2014 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM, $31

The ideal growing soil is light and loose, has a wellbalanced supply of nutrients, and is rich with organic matter. Learn how to transform your native soil into a fertile growing bed using natural processes. We will discuss soil testing, nutrient management using compost and organic fertilizer, and deep soil preparation through double-digging. Deeply prepared beds catch and retain more water, give plants more root space to grow in search of nutrients, and encourage good soil structure development. We will also discuss the sustainability and appropriate uses of alternative soil preparation techniques including using green manure, sheet mulching, and when to dig and not to dig.

Taught by Zuzanna Drozdz, Manager of the Palo Alto Common Ground Garden.

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“I’ve Got A Life” Garden

Saturday, February 15th   10:30 to 12:30  $31

logo8You’re busy. Everyone’s busy. Growing a vegetable garden, too? It can be done. Discover how you can maintain a thriving edible garden in less time and with less labor than you might imagine. Learn the little tricks for using your time and energy wisely, tips for preparing the garden, tending the plants and/or harvesting. And, perhaps most importantly, learn when you can simply stand aside and let the garden grow itself. Taught by Tony Kienitz, a garden writer, Master Vegetablarian, and Common Ground Staff Member.

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Early Bird Gets the Cantaloupe: Garden Planning Workshop

Saturday, February 8, 2014 from 10:30 AM to 3:30 PM, $50

During California‘s rainy winter we can prepare for a spring and summer of delicious fruits and vegetables by making a garden plan. We have to consider the strengths and challenges of our growing space, our local climate, access to sunlight, and the soil’s overall health. We need to be honest with ourselves about the time and resources we have to dedicate to our gardens. Planning is the key to success in maximizing production, improved soil health, and continual harvests. In the afternoon, we will split into groups and create garden plans for up to 200 sq ft of growing space. Materials to bring: a drawing of your growing space including dimensions and orientation relative to North, a calculator, and a copy of the 8th edition of How to Grow More Vegetables (available at Common Ground).

Taught by Eric Buteyn, Manager of the Ecology Action Headquarters Farm in Willits, CA.