All posts by GreenSteaders

Come to Seed Exchange!

It is that time of the year to share our garden’s bounty.   We are going to have our semi annual Seed Exchange on the 17th of Septembert, from 2 till 4pm at the usual Cannery Park in Sunnyvale.  As it is harvest time, we will be sampling food from our gardens – mostly heirloom tomatoes.  Please bring along any of your favourite varieties for tasting.  Sharing is the theme!

What did you grow this Summer?  What are you planting now?  Come and share your gardening story.  I will have the usual lemonade and simple munchies, plus tomatoes from my garden.

Plant Sale and Swap

We are going to be at the City of Cupertino’s Earth Day event as it is our tradition.  The event is held on 22nd of April, Saturday, from 11am till 3pm at the city plaza (by Library and City Hall).

We will be selling heirloom tomato plants and also have various starts for swapping with fellow gardeners.  Come and say Hi!

Here is a list of tomatoes on hand and how many we currently have:

Ananas Noir 2
Aunt Ruby’s German Green 1
Aussie 3
Beauty King 4
Black & Brown Boar 1
Black Prince 2
Brandysweet Plum 2
Chadwick’s Cherry 4
Cherokee Chocolate 1
Cherokee Purple 4
Cuor di Bue 4
Isis Candy 9
Japanese Black Trifelle 8
Jersey Devil 3
Lollipop 1
Matt’s Wild Cherry 4
Marvel Striped 4
Mortgage Lifter 2
Neves Azorean 4
Omar’s Lebanese 4
Pink Brandywine 3
Red Brandywine 4
Rosalie’s Early Orange 2
San Marzano 6
Thessaloniki 3
Striped Roman 1

All plants are in 4 inch pots and we are selling them for $3.50 each.

We will also have a Champion Biochar Stove on display!  Don’t miss the opportunity to check it out in person.  We will be selling it at the event at a discount.

Winter Seed Exchange – it didn’t rain on us!

Thank you all for coming to the Winter Seed exchange.  The rain forecast certainly impacted turnout but it was great to see some familiar faces.  I was too busy swapping seeds or otherwise talking and having fun to take many photos, so here are just a few.

See you next time around!

Our next event will be selling tomato seedlings at the Cupertino Earth Day Event on the 22nd of April 2017 at the City Hall Plaza.  Hope to see you there!

Time for Seed Exchange

It’s that time of the year to meet at the tiny Cannery Park for our bi-annual Seed Exchange.  We will be meeting on Saturday, March 4th, 2 – 4 pm at: W California Ave and Pajaro Ave, Sunnyvale, CA, 94086.  Look for people at a table with seed packets – it’s a very small park, you can’t miss us.  Bring any seeds, scions, or starts you cherish and want to share, or just a good attitude and a desire to garden talk.  It’s always good to meet and learn from fellow gardeners, so come along and join us!  I will provide the usual: coin envelopes for seed sharing, pencils, snacks and drinks.

If anyone has 6 pack seedling containers, please consider bringing them along – we will use them for our annual plant sale at the city of Cupertino’s Earth Day event, that’s scheduled for April 22nd this year.

Lastly, for all the new gardeners: since this is the season of purchasing seeds for planting, if you are concerned about supporting or not supporting GMO related companies, read this article about Territorial, Johnny’s and others:  I found it interesting to learn that as of June 2012, Johnny’s is an employee owned company!  Some of the GMO free seed companies are at

Hope to see you at the exchange!

End of Summer Seed Exchange!

Thank you all for coming to our semi annual Seed Exchange.  We had ample tomatoes to taste, with some varieties repeated from different growers – interesting to see how location makes a difference.  It’s all in your soil!  (And I need to work on improving mine. 😉  Here are a few of the tomato varieties we sampled:

And more varieties:


The Indigo Apple had actually an interesting flavour.  I would not choose it if I had a limited space, but it’s certainly interesting enough to grow as a display and curiosity item.  You can see hints of blueberry blue on its skin in the photo above.

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While most of us carefully save seeds in separate containers, label them and let them ferment a little, others like to be surprised with what they grow.  It makes for an interesting art piece.  😉

We swapped some seeds and I’ll be curious to try new variety of carrots.  If you like what you see, come and join us next time around – in February 2017!

Come to End of Summer Seed Exchange!

It may be a little late for starting your Winter garden at the end of August but the climate here is so forgiving, we should be still all right.  We are going to have our semi annual Seed Exchange on the 27th of August, from 2 till 4pm at the usual Cannery Park in Sunnyvale.  Please come along and share your seeds or starts, or edible weeds, as may be!  I’m eating a lot of Purslane this year, as it is popping everywhere in my backyard.  Let’s see what other people grew this Summer and what they are planting for winter; let’s learn from each other.

This year has proven to be pretty good for tomatoes so far and hopefully it will hold true till the end of August.  We should have a nice heirloom tomato sampling at the exchange, so please bring a few of your favourite varieties for tasting or anything that did well in your garden.  Sharing is the theme!  I will have the usual lemonade and simple munchies.

Seed Exchange

Our semi annual seed exchange brought together some veteran gardeners and newbies alike.  You can swap seeds for heirloom or simply open pollinated plants – those that will stay true to its type, once you save seeds.  Almost all of the yummy tomato varieties we grow and swap are open pollinated.

 We all had fun swapping seeds and gardening advice, and stories.

We provide coin envelopes for seed sharing and light snacks.  Everyone brings seeds, or at least appetite to learn and try growing some tasty food in their gardens.  Hope you join us next time!

Biochar Workshop at Veggielution

This was a very informative and fun event showcasing a 55 gal TLUD, cylindrical and pyramid kilns.

The below featured pyramid kiln is made from 4′ x 4′ metal sheets.  It produces 20 cubic feet (about 250lb) of biochar in one, continuous operation.  It has a draining hole in the bottom with a pipe and a ball valve ending that fits regular garden hose.  When bottom quenched it produces smoke water that’s beneficial for the plants, but specifically for germinating seeds.

Starting fire in this pyramid kiln needs to be done towards the top, otherwise there is air flow at the bottom of the kiln.  Hence we built a nice structure and put some kindling at the top.  Once first layer of wood started turning white, it was time to add another.  When burning fully, there was almost no smoke – pyramid kiln is designed to circulate smoke back into the fire, for drastic reduction in pollution.  Another clean burning device to produce biochar!

Starting fire in a cylindrical kiln.  This kiln is not designed for clean burning and produces quite a lot of smoke.

Another clean burning device – a TLUD cooking stove, designed by an American scientist and produced in India.  You can see there is no visible smoke coming from it.  It is used in India and other countries as an indoor cooking device, reducing smoke related health issues (lungs cancer).

End product form the pyramid kiln – beautiful char!

Singing Frogs Farm Tour

We got an opportunity to visit a cutting edge of sustainabilitty – Singing Frogs Farm! It took some persistence but it was soooo well worth it. I would recommend it to anyone on a small scale farm or to backyard gardeners serious about growing their own food.

Getting to know new farm animals… This is Charlie, an aged llama, surprised to see us. 😉

Now for the real matter: dense planting, no sprays of any kind, 4 to 7 harvests a year!!!
How is this possible?

Very rich soil that’s teaming with life! Currently about 1/4 inch of compost is applied before each planting. At the outset it was about 2 inches.

Soil is always covered – planting within hours of harvest. If not possible cover the soil with a breathable blanket. Also, the hedge of perennials was planted first on the farm – to keep the pests at bay.

Almost everything is started in flats, one seed per cell – creates strong plants that can outcompete weeds. Nothing is thinned – waste of time (even when in case of beets or allium they plant 3 seeds to a cell).

The potting mix is 1:2 potting soil to compost. This approach to planting creates strong, long roots.

Compost pile on site – nothing is chopped! Blanket over compost for keeping rats close to food source – this way you can easily find and trap them! Learn more about blankets they use from the horse’s mouth.

This blog is a short, short version – information was flowing constantly for the two hours we were there. We hope to be back some day to deepen our understanding.
For now, way good bye to Charlie and his master, Paul. We have learned a lot, thank you!