Like many, our San Mateo / San Francisco Master Gardeners have successfully shifted to virtual operation, hosting 17 online workshops to date! Our Helpline also remains busier than ever working remotely since the middle of March. It has been a year of many challenges and we are learning and bettering our programs along the way!
Our MG Demonstration Gardens remain one of the few"in-person" activities that our volunteers may currently participate in. The care and maintenance of these gardens is an ongoing task requiring many volunteer hours and dedication to sustain. All volunteers who participate must complete safety training and abide by all required safety protocols. We have (5) demonstration gardens that our Master Gardeners presently maintain; (4) are teaching and research gardens, and the fifth, our newest, is an educational habitat garden.
San Carlos Habitat Garden- San Carlos (newest!)
MG Melissa with new educational sign
Habitat Pollinator Garden in Bloom
This 8,000 square foot demo garden represents a partnership with the City of San Carlos. Started in late 2019, with one full season to develop, it is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year. Located in the San Carlos town center, it is surrounded by the library, city hall, police and dog park, thousands of people see this public space every year.
The garden provides habitat and food for native fauna, and is a serene space for people to relax, de-stress, and learn more about growing native and low-water plants. We regularly get questions and comments from the public during our weekly workday and have a large group of very committed volunteers.
The garden has remained open throughout the pandemic, due to it's public location. And, being a large space, it enables us to maintain a socially safe, masked distance with no sharing of tools while we work. Once we are able to have in-person presentations we plan to hold a variety of classes and talks on the myriad themes that this demonstration garden may offer.
Elkus Ranch Research Garden - Half Moon Bay
Last of the Elkus tomatoes
Cardoon in its' 3rd season
This is a quiet time at the Elkus Research Garden as we conduct fall clean-up of beds and plan next year projects. Crop beds have been refreshed with compost, cover crops planted and covered with straw. Encroaching willows and wild blackberry cut back, felled trees turned into fencing and firewood, and invertebrate barriers monitored and repaired as needed. Maintaining our gardens is a never-ending task and COVID-19 has changed the way everything is done. Our dedicated volunteers have all completed UC ANR safety training, wearing masks, and keeping six-foot min. apart in the garden. We are fortunate to have such a large, beautiful space to work in which makes it easy to comply with social distancing and remain safe. The conversation and human interaction is so important as there is so much isolation the rest of each week for many of us.
Our next big endeavor will be to sanitize the greenhouse and planting trays for herb growing for our 2021 Spring Garden Market, the logistics of which are currently under discussion.
Fair Oaks Demonstration Garden - Redwood City
MG's Nick & Liz tend brussel sprouts at Fair Oaks
Maggie harvesting Fair Oaks beans
Throughout the fall, Master Gardeners have been continuing their work at the Fair Oaks Adult Activity Center demonstration garden. Volunteers plant numerous cool-season vegetables and regularly maintain the ornamental plants. In addition, a cover crop is revitalizing the soil in the raised beds that are planted throughout the year.
Current crops in production include onions, leeks, shallots, garlic, ginger, beets, daikon radishes, fava beans and Brussels sprouts. Harvested produce, approximately 54 pounds since early fall, is included in the grab-and-go lunch bags provided at the center.
Gardening Education Center (GEC) – San Mateo Co. Event Center
GEC clearing cover crop
GEC fall harvest
Master Gardeners were allowed access to the GEC garden in July and much progress has been made since then by small teams of dedicated MG’s. Previous cover crops were chopped and dropped and more cover crops were seeded. Our bioreactor compost
was made into an extract and distributed throughout. Raised beds have produced great edibles and strawberries. And, we are still winning the battle in our Bermuda Grass Mitigation Trial
and hope to develop this field next year.
Veteran’s Memorial Senior Center (VMSC) – Redwood City
VMSC raised bed composting
The Veterans' Memorial Senior Center (VMSC) provides inclusive programs that enhance the older population in Redwood City, focusing on health and wellness. The demonstration garden where our Master Gardeners work provides food for the kitchen that serves that population as well as providing a means for the public to see how to grow food. In the garden we educate the public by demonstrating good gardening practices like cover cropping, crop rotation and sheet mulching in addition to teaching the particularly challenged members of the Redwood City community (including work with Kainos
). During COVID we have slowed down a bit and cannot offer our produce to the kitchen nor to the public. However, we continue our good gardening practices and await the day that we are once more open to sharing what we are growing. We work and share smiles with all! (under the masks). Terry headed the team doing sheet mulching in raised beds. We videoed the process and are putting a short video together.
VMSC pumpkin centerpieces
Suzanne, Barbara, and Naomi produced 103 Thanksgiving succulent pumpkins for RWC Seniors who get a free meal delivered every Monday - Friday. About 500 succulents were donated by Master Gardener Debbie Wartenberg from her garden. RWC Staff personally delivered the meals on Thanksgiving Day.
Bruce Utecht, VMSC Community Services Manager, gave us the following feedback:
"I wanted to let you know the pumpkin/succulent center pieces were loved by everyone! The seniors were so thankful and some of them even cried because they felt that peopled truly cared about them."