Growing Clothes

Sep 6, 2010

by Harriett Burt, Contra Costa Master Gardener.  

A few days ago, the two warmest mornings of the Summer of 2010 saw me moving 4” starts into one gallon cans for sale at the CCMG Autumn Garden event.  I'd put it off, being too busy during the many mild days of early August.  As I stood amidst three dozen one-gallon containers, a garbage can of potting soil, a watering can and a plastic container of granular fertilizer, I reflected on the champion propagators of our local world – the people who LOVE doing this and do it so well -- sometimes even introducing new plants into our wider world with their skill.

Obviously, I was thinking of Kathy Echols of DVC and how much we and all local gardeners will miss her when she retires in December.  And of course, former Master Gardener Norma Riccobuono at Markham Arboretum.  Among our own Master Gardeners, there's Lee Bressette (2009) and Helen Erickson (2008), not to mention Muriel Hilliard (2008) and George Hatch (2001), and just about every MG member of Pleasant Hill Garden Study Club.  All those folks and many others among us could stick a coat hanger in the ground and grow clothes.

I do suspect George is in it for the cookies, as he uses those clear plastic tubs you get at Costco, Trader Joes and Safeway that are full of fattening baked goodies.  Muriel also swears by those tubs, but to look at her, one assumes the grandchildren get most of the cookies.

But for me, while it is an interesting and often rewarding activity, it is sort of like bocce ball – I will be inconsistently productive, as always. The theme in my potting shed is “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere”, not as Liza Minnelli belts it, but as Charles Darwin growls it. 

As I moved about three dozen plants up, I noticed that some, particularly my Salvia mexicana “Limelight” and Salvia gesneriiflora “Tequila”, looked like 18” palm trees.  Lee says that only plants in good shape will be accepted on October 1 for the sale.  I told mine they better darn well send up some side shoots pretty fast or they weren't even going to be competitive for Miss Congeniality at Lee's beauty pageant.

Speaking of the Fall Event, our first time ever Autumn Garden Sale, many treasures have been donated for sale by MGs and their friends and relatives.  Master Gardener “teamsters” recently brought a large number of great items for the sale to our staging area.  Chair Mary Lu Burchard said "Yesterday was a good time with lots of great stuff dropped off".

The event will be held at the Contra Costa Times parking lot near the Our Garden site on Saturday, October 2, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will feature lots of garden-related tools, books, decorative items, and plants for sale.  We'll also have demonstrations and talks, such as Class of 2003 Roxy Wolosenko's Wise Water Use in the Garden and Class of 1997 Bethallyn Black's Mulch Ado About Nothing.  And, absolutely free, we'll hold guided tours of Our Garden!