Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thoughts, prayers, love and care can bring a smile to a sweet child's heart...

Katie Grace, Ava, and Savanha
at Clayton Downtown Park in January 2009

If you are thinking of Katie Grace today, send a greeting card through Lucile Packard Children's Hospital website. If you write it before noon, she will receive it today!

Please click HERE to Send a Greeting Card.

Palo Alto, CA 94304
(650) 497-8000

Monday, May 25, 2009

Katie Grace Is In The Hospital. We are sad today...

Katie Grace and Snuggle Bug

Our sweet friend, Katie Grace Groebner has been admitted to the hospital again. We are sad today. Prayers and thoughts with those we love. Please read what Katie Grace's Mom has sent to friends:

"Hi All,

Just a little note and request. Katie Grace has been admitted again to Lucile Packard Children s hospital. She has been doing so much in the Relay for Organs R Us and Bay to Breakers walk, along with school and dance she has kept going.

Her lungs on the other hand have developed a little weak point. The doctors are at odds as to what they are finding in her X-Rays but they all agree that there is something and are taking all precautions. Some think it is pneumonia others think it is an infection of sort. Either way they all agree that she needs antibiotics and observation.

Her Pulmonary Hypertension needs to be addressed if she has anything in her lungs. We are glad they are being proactive and taking all precautions. pneumonia is not something we can take for granted in her condition. We will be going for another chest x-ray.

Here's my request; Please pray that it is just viral and not pneumonia so that she can get out of here and be home playing with her doll house like normal.

Thank you,
Kathy Groebner (mom of Katie Grace 6 PHer)
In Gods Hands"

Please include Katie Grace in your thoughts today. Take time to learn about Pulmonary Hypertension, Organs R Us, and this precious young girl who is living with a very rare and very serious disease.

Click HERE to read related articles about Katie Grace Groebner.

Click HERE to read Katie Grace's Caring Bridge Website.

Click HERE to read about Organs R Us.

Click HERE to read about Pulmonary Hypertension.

Click HERE to learn about The Taylor Family Foundation, a wonderful, local non-profit that brings dreams and hope to children with disabilities, Camp Arroyo in Livermore.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Weed Out The Hybrid Seeds...

I enjoy reading and learning about non-hybrid seeds. Ultimately, I wish to grow only heirlooms, or open-pollinated seeds in my garden. Because many seed companies have patents on their hybrid seed, it makes the consumer dependent upon repurchasing seeds year after year from the vendor.

I am teaching my daughter how to grow her own seed collection. We have a lovely garden suitcase and hope to fill it with interesting heirlooms from around the world.

If you order some of the free seed catalogs I have mentioned in previous articles, you can learn all about hybrid and heirloom seeds. Knowledge is worth it's weight in gold. Here are a few more useful websites with very good information about the importance of purchasing non-hybrid seeds.

In order for families to be completely self-sufficient in their gardens, seed saving should be introduced in the early stages of planting. Seed saving is nothing new. Afterall, our ancestors never had the luxury of shopping a local garden center to purchase a dozen different hybrid cord seeds. They treated Mother Earth with respect and saved seeds from her gracious gifts of bountiful harvests.

Use non-hybrid seeds and save big bucks in this year's garden
By Jackie Clay

The Importance of Non-Hybrid Seeds

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Hopes Are Planted In Friendship's Garden Where Dreams Blossom Into Priceless Treasures...

Children's Community Garden In Concord
Donated seedlings growing in the garden.

Brian and his little brother, Angel.
May 17, 2009

Donated seedlings are growing mid-May 2009.

“In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.”
-Abram L. Urban

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Monument Community Gardens Action Team...

This is a wonderful community garden growing in the Monument area. Monument Community Gardens Action Team needs our help! Please visit their website. Learn how simple it is to grow your very own fresh, nutritious rolling vegetable garden.

I'm involved in several community gardens throughout Concord and still seeking volunteers for my seedling donation project. Please CLICK HERE to learn about my seedling donation project. If you wish to help...the community benefits.

Thank you Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm and Christmas Trees...

Plant Nursery Now Open!

Today, Ava and I visited the Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm and Christmas Trees. The Farmers, Sharon and Cara are so super sweet. I met them for the first time last Saturday at the Pleasant Hill Farmers' Market. Sharon and Cara invited us to the farm to pick up lovely tomato seedlings for donation!

By the way, their farm is currently open for Plant Sales on Wednesdays and some Saturdays, 10am-2pm. They sell all sorts of flowers, vegetable and herb seedlings. Stop on by, its a cute little farm, easy access and great to know in our own backyard. Please CLICK HERE for Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm and Christmas Tree's website.

Ava Gardener's Playground...

Welcome to our Garden...on May 19, 2009

Here's a fun article about planting corn, beans and squash together. There's tried and true agricultural history to it! Great project for children. Don't miss out...summer's just around the corner.

Creating a Three Sisters Garden

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Calling All Parents, Educators, Schools, Church and Civic Groups...

I encourage any parent, educator, school or church group to order a copy of this free catalog. Hey, if you have a friend or relative that may not even have a computer, give them the toll free telephone number: 888-762-7333.

If I had a class of students, I would send the list of FREE SEED CATALOGS home so parents can order for summer reading. This is free education at it's best, in my humble opinion. Click HERE for my previous article on FREE SEED CATALOGS.

Seeds of Change is an all organic farm based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their catalog is one of the absolute best I have read - 107 colorful pages of vibrant photos. A range of fruits, vegetables, and herbs from across the world and many heirlooms from our native ancestors. Page 39 lists 11 types of Basil with gorgeous thumbnail images all on one page: Aromatto, Cardinal, Cinnamon, Fino Verde, Genovese Sweet, Greek, Holy, Lemon, Lettuce Leaf, Lime, and Opal Purple Variegated. It makes me want to grow each one of them!

If we can inspire children (and adults) to learn about nutrition, biodiversity and self-sustaining agriculture, perhaps they will learn to make more intelligent food choices and promote healthier living. I have read the catalog in it's entirety, and all that Seeds of Change writes about I believe and hope future generations will come to understand how wonderful growing our own organic food and saving seed truly is. My daugher Ava understood what a seed was long before her second birthday. It is never too early to give the gift of gardening to our babies.

Let us also teach our children what an heirloom vegetable is, how to save seeds, and which seeds can even be saved! More than likely, you'll never grow a watermelon from one you buy at the grocery store. They're hybrids designed for shipping and mass production. Many of the seed companies have patents on their hybrid seeds. It is best to buy non-hybrid seeds if you intend to save seed from an old-time favorite and bring it back to life in your garden year after year. We're growing beautiful, sweet, heirloom Navajo watermelons again this year.

A few of my favorites to teach seed saving to children are Nasturtiums and Sunflowers. They grow fast and produce lots of seeds. You can find those at any local garden center. If you like, I will be happy to share some with you too. Get started today. I just picked 50 Nasturtiums seeds from my garden this morning!

Check out Seeds of Change website. There are healthy fundraising ideas, grant applications for seed donations and other interesting ideas.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Meet Major Pam Gardner of The Salvation Army

Another eventful day in the life of a fruit harvester and gatherer. A heartfelt "Thank You" to the generous farmers at the Walnut Creek and Martinez Farmers' Markets who donated Fresh Produce To Feed The Hungry. God Bless the Farmers who labored to harvest this beautiful bounty. They too must support their own families, driving from far as Fresno to bring their harvest to market. Please visit the Farmers' Markets and support these humble farmers.

Amazing and dedicated Salvation Army staff and volunteers opened their doors Sunday evening to receive my truck load of freshly harvested produce donations.

On the far left of this photo is Major Pam Gardner. She is an inspirational woman in her own right, a humble and selfless servant unto others. God Bless The Salvation Army with their Food Pantry and endless outreach in our community!

“Hunger is a problem for the urban poor and the rural poor. Nobody should go to bed hungry.” David Englin

Photo Left to Right: Major Pam Gardner, Eleanor Pritchard, Susan Van Brocklin, Stella Cade, Anne Arnold

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Garden Fresh Celery and Fava Beans!

Friday night, a kind-hearted gardener gave me the tip on some freshly harvested celery and fava beans.

Saturday morning, The Salvation Army staff member Susan came through again! I called Miss Susan at her home. (Bless her heart.) We rushed over with a carload of celery, fava beans, and last night's Clayton lemons to the food pantry all before Susan and children were off to an afternoon ball game! Another successful adventure to bring local, fresh, nutritious produce to the hands of the hungry. All because warm spirits are working together in service to our community!

“Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.” Buddha

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tomatoes? At the Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm & Christmas Trees...

Today, while shopping the Pleasant Hill Farmers' Market I met a new vendor - Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm and Christmas Trees. I've known about this "pumpkin farm" for years. To my surprise, they sell tomato plants too! Rather, they are practically giving them away. The sale at the Market today was Buy One Get One Free. Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm & Christmas Trees will be at the Walnut Creek Farmers' Market tomorrow Sunday, May 17th and future dates in the season. Well worth the fun of shopping the market and taking home some beautiful plants. Click HERE for other event dates.

The farmers, Sharon and Cara are a joy to speak with. They are selling high quality tomato, vegetable and flower seedlings. I purchased six Brandywine and Amana Orange Heirloom tomatoes for my family - and for my Grow a Row For The Hungry gardening project. I'm about 10 varieties in on my tomato growing addiction! Last year, I had over 40 varieties growing, so I'm striving to be more conservative this year. :)

Upon arriving home, I jumped right on the internet to check out Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm and Christmas Tree's website. To my disappointment, our family missed their Spring Science Program. I sure hope they have another fun-filled family event scheduled soon. This place looks like a lot of fun. They are just a stone's throw away from where we live. It would be so easy to take Ava for a morning train ride or chance to dig in the worms at one of their science related events!

I encourage you to check their website often for events and news. Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm & Christmas Trees is a true local gem, only minutes from the downtown area of Clayton. They are a real farm, with live animals and nice folks working the farm. Keep it bookmarked for future reference. I know I am.

Clayton Valley Pumpkin Farm & Christmas Trees
1060 Pine Lane, Clayton, CA 94517-9706
(corner of Pine Lane and Marsh Creek Road)
PHONE: (925) 672-5198 EMAIL:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Home Composting Is Easy, Even Oscar Can Do It!

The best way to amend poor soil is to start your very own garden compost! Toss nutrient rich kitchen scraps into the compost pile, instead of into the garbage can. Be kind to Mother Earth, and reduce waste. The Environmental Protection Agency has great composting information on their website.

There are many Bay Area Workshops on how easy home composting really is. Even if you live in an apartment, a small worm box can do the job! The City of Martinez sponsors a worksop on Wednesday, June 10, 2009, and others throughout the year. Click HERE for additional schedule dates and other city locations.
The Central Contra Costa Solid Waste Authority (CCCSWA) sponsors an upcoming class on Saturday, May 23, 2009 at Crow Canyon Gardens in San Ramon, and other locations throughout the year. Click HERE for the 2009 schedule. All classes are FREE of charge!

Excellent rebates are available to CCCSWA customers who purchase composting or vermicomposting bins through the CCCSWA. I spoke with Ashley at the CCCSWA and she told me about the rebates. She was very knowledgeable about their composting programs, helpful and pleasant to speak with. Give her a telephone call, at (925) 906-1801 or email: Ashley@wastediversion.org with questions.

"We have two different types. We sell the Norseman Earth Machine and the Smith and Hawkin BioStack (one of the most popular bins). The BioStack is normally around $130.00. We sell this bin, with shipping and tax included, for $53.04. The Norseman sells for $39.00, and can be picked up at the Walnut Creek Recycling Center."

Oscar the Grouch says:
"Please don't throw banana peels in the garbage. Thank you."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pleasant Hill Instructional Garden

A very thoughtful person invited me to harvest Snap peas for donation to the food banks. Hooray, how exciting! In my process of searching google for garden location, etc...I clicked on some unrelated, yet fascinating information from the Pleasant Hill Instructional Garden.

I never knew this place existed. It appears to be located near the Mount Diablo Adult Education entrance, behind the Pleasant Hill Main Library. Pleasant Hill Insructional Garden is a 4000 square feet demonstration garden for water conservation and habitat restoration. I can't wait for some free time to check it out. I love volunteering, and I love viewing neighborhood gardens.

Please check out their website. They seem very dedicated to preserving and planting native species of plants. They also have a "wish list" of items, plants and volunteer opportunities to help in their garden. Perhaps our fellow Claycord.com gardening friends may have something to donate to this great cause! Visit...learn...take away some inspiring ideas!

What Sunshine Is To Flowers...

“What sunshine is to flowers,
smiles are to humanity.
These are but trifles, to be sure;
but scattered along life's pathway,
the good they do is inconceivable.”
-Joseph Addison

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Give the children an opportunity to make garden.

Children's Community Garden In Concord
Photo taken April 21, 2009
Donated seedlings growing in the garden.

"Give the children an opportunity to make garden.
Let them grow what they will.
It matters less that they grow good plants
than that they try for themselves.”
-Liberty Hyde Bailey

Kind hearts are the gardens...

Children's Community Garden In Concord
Photo taken April 21, 2009
Donated seedlings growing in the garden.

“Kind hearts are the gardens, kind thoughts are the roots,
and words are the flowers, kind deeds are the fruits.
Take care of your garden and keep out the weeds,
fill it with sunshine, kind words and kind deeds."
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Monday, May 11, 2009

Orchard Supply Hardware $10.00 Coupon

Contra Costa Times Newspaper,
Monday May 11, 2009 page A6.

Orchard Supply Hardware
$10.00 off any purchase of $50.00 or more.

Also found a few deals on the internet,
though I'm not sure about validity of internet coupons, authenticity, etc.:

$10 off $30 Coupon good until May 31st:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

P.S. Picked some loquats too!

Almost forgot to mention. After leaving the Martinez Farmers' Market...I found a loquat tree. Look how unbelievably easy to reach and pick fruit from this tree. Most of the 4,500+ pounds of fruit I've harvested since February has been from trees that are low to the ground, within easy reach.

I'll check back in a few weeks when the fruit is ripe.

Another Sunday, Another truck load of produce...

I wasn't exactly planning on fruit harvesting or searching for donated produce on Mother's Day. What is more fun than doing something I truly love on my special day?

Long day, long story short, I collected a truckfull of produce from two very generous farmers at the Martinez Farmers' Market. Sad they were unable to sell their produce for a profit; they have families to feed too! Yet, the Farmers were kind enough to donate to those less fortunate.

If you read my blog from last week, you already know I have the home telephone numbers of the Salvation Army Food Pantry Staff. Ruth & Susan came through again tonight! The truckload of produce was successfully delivered to The Salvation Army in Concord this afternoon. Tomorrow morning, food pantry clients will receive a cornucopia of freshly harvested healthy produce!

A few boxes of zucchini and other items were held back and my friend Hugh will deliver to the Monument Crisis Center tomorrow morning.

Today was a very joyful Mother's Day. I shall end the day with a tribute to one of history's most remarkable Mothers. Good night, sleep tight, and God Bless.

“What I do you cannot do; but what you do, I cannot do. The needs are great, and none of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful.”
-Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Happy Mother's Day Grandmas! Darling Gifts for Grandmas...

These are some of our favorite books. Ava loves her Grandmas, and Grandmas love these darling little books. Sure to melt Grandma's heart!
Grandma and Me, Karen Katz.
I love you Grandma, Jillian Harker and Kristina Stephenson.
Good Granny Bad Granny, Mary McHugh and Patricia Storms.

Clifford's Happy Mother's Day...

Mommy's Little Girl...

Mommy's Little Girl
by Ronne Randall
Kristina Khrin

Ava and I love reading this book together.

Are You My Mother, by P.D. Eastman

Dear Mommy,

Happy Mother's Day.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Itsy Bitsy Spider...California Poison Action Hotline

I'm out gardening in the backyard...and itsy bitsy spider is a Black Widow! "This is serious!" as the Wonder Pets would say. So I do a google search for Black Widow spider. Yes, I confirmed what we've got living on the side of the house! Red belly, big, black and poisonous! What should I do with it? Kill it, or try to donate to Lindsay Wildlife Museum?

Meanwhile, I came across this resourceful website. They have a lot of interesting information on their website, even about spiders! I already have the Poison Action Line magnets I picked up from my doctor's office.

Any California resident can order these magnets, brochures, other supplies FREE OF CHARGE. Everyone should have a fridge magnet, telephone sticker, and speed dial on your cell phone. You never know when emergencies happen! For nature lovers - they even offer a free Poisonous Plant Poster. Check it out.

California Poison Action Line: 1-800-222-1222

Better yet, if you work in an office, order these FREE MATERIALS in bulk from the California Poison Action Hotline. Some of the best things in life are free (for now). Take advantage and be safe!

Half Price Books...Sweet Deal for Mother's Day!

I found a great little bookstore at the Todos Santos Plaza in Concord. Half Price Books. I've known it was a bookstore for many years, yet have never walked in.

Thursday night to my delight, I had a few hours to browse and buy! Half Price Books has some amazing deals, and very friendly staff. Scott at the Farmers' Market Booth was giving out 15% coupons and free book bags. What a deal! Rachel at the store was very helpful, patient and nice.

They don't just sell books. They have a terrific stationery selection, high quality notecard gift sets, journals, photo albums and surprising - many gift card sets were made in the USA.

Half Price Books has a sweet deal for Mother's Day. Expires tomorrow, but you can even order online. A free $5.00 coupon when you purchase a $25.00 gift card. Plus, if you have the Farmers' Market coupon to spend later - that's an additional 15% off! Gotta know how to work the coupons!
Half Price Books, 1935 Mount Diablo St Concord, CA 94520 - (925) 288-9060

Friday, May 8, 2009

An Apple A Day...

An apple a day is out of reach for more than 36 million Americans. Click HERE to read the March 17, 2009 article written by the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano.

Check out the Food Bank's Blog. Food Bank has a website, but they write a separate blog too!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

40 Days, 5 Cents, Fresh On The Table...

Our delicious, nutritious garden fresh lunch. Disclaimer: Carrots and peas take a bit longer than 40 days. Seriously though, salad is super simple to grow. Any small container in the shade this time of year will serve a few salads sooner than you can say - Super Simple Salad five times fast!

Micro Greens are a gourmet treat, and can be served fresh in only 10 days.

French Breakfast Radishes are a thrill for toddlers to pull from the ground. Plant dozens, and save a few for pretty flowers as they go to seed in the hotter weather.

Chard can be planted thickly to harvest as baby greens for an added healthy addition to other salad greens. It also grows just fine in a small container garden.

Today Is A Gift...

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift; that's why they call it the present."

- Eleanor Roosevelt

For my friend Hugh, thanks for your help and inspiration today!

A Remarkable Woman With A Vision...Alice Waters

This is a phenomenal story of The Edible Schoolyard, by Alice Waters.
An outstanding tale of inspiration, vision, and success,
in our own backyard of Berkeley, California.
Certainly, we can bring something like this to Concord!
Anyone up to the task?

Thursday...Enjoy this beautiful day with loved ones

Enjoy this warm spring day and shop the outdoor Farmers' Market in Concord.

It's Thursday, and the Market is open from 4-8pm.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Good things are happening in a little garden in a low-income area of Concord...

Children's Community Garden in Concord
Donated seedlings growing in the garden April 21, 2009

Written by my dear friend "K". She is the original volunteer who "adopted" this community in Concord.

"The garden sprouted last year when a volunteer gave children free seeds and a few plants. The children dug holes in rock hard soil and planted their garden. A few “Charlie Brown Christmas Tree” looking plants grew, the children harvested a few tomatoes, and they were thrilled! The little garden sparked the interest of two adults in the neighborhood. This year, with the help of those two adults and the same volunteer, the community garden will grow larger and healthier.

The volunteer found another volunteer to roto-till an area approximately 12’ x 20’ in the rock hard earth. Soil and nutrients have been added, and more volunteers have come forward to donate plants and seeds: tomatoes, peas, squash, melons, lettuce, spinach, peppers, cilantro, beans, eggplant, corn, strawberries and more. On a warm Sunday in April, together the adults and children in the neighborhood planted a beautiful garden."

Grow a Row for The Hungry Caterpillar

If you see one of these...please, please let it live.
Parsley caterpillars turn into beautiful Swallowtail Butterflies.
Better yet, Grow a Row for The Hungry Caterpillar.
Parsley is their gourmet treat!
Our caterpillar friend lived in our garden in May 2008.