Q: I have a backyard and no vegetable garden. Could you help me build a vegetable garden? What would that involve? What would it cost?
A: Its great that you have yard space and are interested in turning it into a vegetable garden. It is truly exciting to learn how many people in this city are interested in growing their own food.
We would love to be able to visit and provide consultations with the many san francisco residents who have expressed interest. However, because of limited resources we have to focus on this years specific mission. This year the Victory Gardens Project will focus on the installation and support of backyard gardens for 15 families that represent the ethnic, socioeconomic, geographical, spatial diversity of the city. We will be accepting applications on a rolling basis. The application is available on our website: www.sfvictorygardens.org. Please do consider applying.
Also we are working on organizing the victory garden starter kit to offer for sale at a relatively low cost to the other interested gardeners. that we are not able to choose. When the kit is ready it will be posted on the website with prices and instructions. If you would like to get started sooner, all of the items that comprise the starter kit are pictured on the website under the "starter kit" heading. the items can be found at local plant and hardware stores and with a little research are pretty simple to put together.
Q: I am interested in the Victory Gardens project and i would like to volunteer. Are there any opportunities to lend a hand?
A: Thanks for your willingness to participate. There will be opportunities to get involved with the backyard garden installations, the city hall gardens, and other projects in the future. If you join the mailing list through our website and indicate that you would like to receive notices of volunteer opportunities, we will contact you when they arise.
Q: What kinds of food plants would grow well in my garden?
A: This completely depends on the micro-climate and conditions of your growing space. How much sun, wind, rain, fog and winter frost you get. How deep your soil is? What are the qualities of your soil. These are all questions to answer for your garden before researching specifically what crops to plant. If you live in a cool-to-moderate micro-climate and get at least four full hours of sun a day you will probably have success with spinach, arugula, bok choy, cabbage, carrots, all kinds of greens like collards, kale mustard, chard, potatoes, peas, radishes, garlic, onions and leeks, perennial herbs (thyme, mint, oregano etc.), annual herbs (parsley, cilantro, chervil). If you live in a sunnier, warmer micro-climate you will be able to grow all of the above and may also be able to grow successful tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other heat-loving veggies. As a general rule leafy green vegetables need less sun and warmth than fruiting plants. If you want to grow fruiting food plants but live in a cooler area you may consider heat trapping techniques such as cold frames and greenhouses that could assist you in growing these warm climate crops. If light is an issue consider the use of mirrors to catch and reflect extra light into your garden. If you don't think that you get even four hours of sunlight consider looking up, towards a roof top gardening or container gardening on a porch that gets more light .
An indispensable resource is a book called Golden Gate Gardening - a complete guide to year-round food gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area & Coastal California---by Pam Pierce. This is a thorough resource that includes easy-to-use charts on what to plant when according to your location.
Q: Do you have any resources available for the general public?
A: The Victory Garden Project will be offering six public education classes for the general public from june to december. The classes will cover topics like soil fertility, composting, fruit tree planting and care, how to build a raised bed, how to double dig an in-ground bed, how to set up a drip irrigation system, basic information on food plants and their optimal growing conditions. The Garden for the Environment also offers classes on similar topics every saturday of the year. Visit their website for information (www.thegardenfortheenvironment.org) We are also building a demonstration garden. It is only 300sq ft. (15ft x20ft) but demonstrates how much food can be produced in a small space utilizing different gardening techniques. The in-progress demonstration garden is located at the Garden for the Environment at 7th and Lawton in the Sunset district. You are welcome to stop by at any time to see its progress and take some inspiration for your gardening endeavors.
Q. I live in the East Bay and i am interested backyard food gardening. Can i apply for a Victory Garden?
A: This year the Victory Gardens will be focusing on building gardens in San Francisco. We will not be working in the East Bay.
Some similar, established organizations and resources in your area:
-- City Slickers Farms (www.cityslickerfarms.org) Among other things, they install backyard food gardens for people in west oakland.
-- Spiral Gardens (www.spiralgardens.org) Their program is a bit different but has some similar elements
-- The Ecology Center (www.ecologycenter.org/bcgc/ ) Located in Berkeley, they support food gardening in a variety of ways
-- The Berkeley Food Policy Council website has a list of all the community gardens in berkeley (www.bpfp.org/CommunityGardens)