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New FOTGH Projects

January 17, 2010
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Over winter break slow, but steady progress has been made on several projects discussed at FOTGH meetings in the past resulting in more volunteer opportunities:

I. Landscaping around the New Greenhouse will eventually represent plant communities from Earth’s five   Mediterranean climate zones. With a lot of help from volunteer, Mischa Kornievsky, installation of the first area devoted to plants of South Africa is nearing completion and emphasizes the incredibly diverse Fynbos shrublands of the west, but with a few representatives of the Afromontane Forest, and eastern South African plant communities as well. This site is just to the west of the Head House with a zig-zag path that leads to the top of the slope. The SFSU Bio. Dept. GH has one of the most unique and extensive collections of fynbos plants outside South Africa, most with collection data.

A fynbos slope along the Sleeping Beauty Hiking Trail in So. Africa Protea cynaroides, Sleeping Beauty Trail
Klattia stokoei is in cultivation at SFSU and nowhere else in the entire world along with Nivenia inaequalis!

It is a joy to be planting them in an area with perfect conditions for their growth (acidic, sandy, low nutrient soil, and cool nights with added precipitation from fog). We need volunteers to help with clearing, mulching, weeding, and planting, as well as generating text for labels. With more area brought under horticultural control, we can expand planting to include our holdings from Australia, Chile, and the Mediterranean proper.

II. The largest area will be devoted to California native plants. Dr. Tom Parker is contributing plants produced by his seed bank studies of coastal California including many manzanitas (Arctostaphylos species). Volunterrs Lauren Gellespie, and Mandana Alaudini have helped with propagating plants for the site as well as potting up the plants from Dr. Parker. We need a lot more help with the California planting. There is an urgent need for weeding and mulching, as well as plant propagation. Appeals will be made to the SF branch of the California Native Plant Society, but the weeding of Oxalis pes-caprae needs immediate attention.

III. The idea has been suggested to turn the enclosure within the Science Building GH into a “Plant Shop” where priced plants would be kept available for sale any time staff or volunteers are available to handle transactions. There’s no reason soil, pots, fertilizer, etc. could not be kept there for sale as well.  I think this could be very beneficial to plant sale income. We need a small team interested in helping to turn this space into an inviting sales display room. The plants now inside will need to be moved, the floor weeded and cleaned, and plants groomed and priced. A large sign over the doorway is needed and inside the room smaller informational signs for the basic types of plants: succulents, carnivorous plants, etc.,would be helpful.

IV. It has been one of my goals to recruit community volunteers experienced in growing unusual plants to act as growers for sale plants. We welcomed our first recruit this month, Carlos Rendón, an extremely accomplished grower who has volunteered many years for UC Berkeley Botanical Garden and still does volunteer with the SF Botanical Garden. He will be working Tuesday afternoons and initially focussing on Lapageria rosea and Vireya Rhododendrons. He will make an excellent mentor for any student interested in growing!

V. Mandana Alaudini has been making very good use of Freecycle and has arranged the donation of materials for 2 large work tables and a wheelbarrow for moving mulch. If FOTGH comes up with a donation wish list, Mandana will try to find the listed items. She needs help in the form of short list of people with a car or truck to pick up donated items when needed. Also she now receives weekly donations of containers and plants from Trader Joe’s and we need help in processing these donations.

VI. It’s an unfortunate fact that the New GH does not include any green building features and we would like to change that. The first modification could be installing cisterns to hold rainwater from the GH roof. The Urban Farmer Store sells kits that use recycled industrial containers and has offered us a discount. But it might also be possible to obtain the same industrial containers and make required modifications ourselves. Other options needing more research include solar panels and/or bird-safe wind turbines to supply some portion of the large amount of energy used by the GH lights. And what a benefit to students to be able to see such systems in use and learn about them! We need a small team to look into these ideas.

FOTGH will soon be choosing the day of the week for meetings during Spring Semester. Please respond to the survey when you receive it so that we choose a day and time you can attend. If you don’t receive a survey, contact Alex Busuttil: alex.busuttil@gmail.com

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mikhail Kornievsky permalink
    February 3, 2010 10:31 pm

    all of these are great ideas! i look forward to helping with them. go green!

  2. kasey asberry permalink
    February 5, 2010 3:01 pm

    Please find the simple form I created to log volunteer hours here:

    http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?formkey=dHBVV3FqNFJkRE9lWnh6UnQzRS04ZXc6MA

    Once you’ve approved the content we can embed it in the FOGH website and encourage people to use it.

    Should there be different items in the pulldown menu, for example?

    kasey

  3. Renie Byrne permalink
    March 30, 2010 10:05 am

    Hello,
    My husband and I went to te SF Flower and Garden show last weekend and saw a beautiful plant, Nivenia stenosiphon. We asked where we could get one and they suggested we contact the SFSU Greenhouse. Can you give us any information on this plant and where we might buy one?

    Thank you,
    Renie Byrne

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