Category Archives: Sustainability

Biochar Workshop

Biochar Stove Building at Veggielution – November 2014

We pulled our resurces and enrolled a few folk to build a biochar stove for Veggielution Community Farm in San Jose. We had two metal barrels to work with, plus a store purchased chimney, an old cookie can and a couple other odds and ends. The result: full barrel load TLUD biochar stove and a kiln! See below for details and make sure to join us next time!

Cutting metal drum 1/3 length wise, with the shorter end having the bottom of the barrel. The shorter end will be part of the TLUD stove, and the left over 2/3 barrel ring is the poor man’s kiln!

Assembled barrels making bulk of the TLUD (top lift up draft) stove, after one of the barrels is cut.

This TLUD will have handles for easier handling. These are attached at the bottom of the stove, for emptying the char out.

Lunch break – delicious food courtesy of Veggielution. Char talk never stops…

Making the sparc arrestor from an old cookie can – it was just the perfect size!

The chimney with stove arrestor assembled.

TLUD at work!

We made only a little bit of char – only partially loaded the stove due to time constraints.

Biochar Workshop

We had a full room at the biochar workshop at Veggielution!

Back row listening attentively…

Paul Taylor demonstrating Champion stove.

Demonstration of a stove made from cans.

Back in the lecture room.

Thank you all for coming! We have learned at lot!


Grafting Party

Grafting Party – 28th of April 2013

It was a great, hot and instructive day with John talking about all the different benefits to grafting and demonstrating many grafting techniques, including rind and bark grafting on citrus. It was a pleasure to watch a pro at work and we are much better prepared to graft at home. Thank you John! Sally brought with her a couple potted rootstock apples that were grafted at the workshop and shared with participants – much appreciated!

Lunch under the canopies with John introducing the world of grafting.

Cleft graft demonstration.

Budding knife.

It’s great to have an attentive audience…

John demonstrating a rind graft.

John making a T graft (upside down…).

Finished T graft on citrus.

We all learned a lot and enjoyed it tremendously at the same time! Hope to have many more gatherings around gardening and sustainability!

Heirloom Tomato Plant Sale and Swap

Cupertino Earth Day – 6th of April 2013

It is always very rewarding to spread the love of heirloom tomatoes that come fresh off the vine in your garden! Thank you all for visiting our booth this year!

Sawako and Amy holding the fort.

And what is this? A companion plant – borage, good for increasing pollination as it attracts bees and the beautifull, small, dark blue flowers are edible. Just toss them in your salad!

She also likes lettuce, not just tomatoes!

Another young customer. It is awesome to see kids interested in growing plants!

Beautifull art work done by the kids just in front of our booth! See you there next year!

Biochar Workshop

The final product: a small biochar stove, made of 1 gallon paint can, #10 can and a tall quart can (often used for tomato juice). The stove is in pyrolysis mode – flame is from burning gasses.

After a few hours of lecture, everyone was eager to get a hands on experience of building the stoves.

Hard at work…

Making the big stove.

The big, 55 gallon stove is ready for firing! Made of 55 gallon drum and an 8” diameter, 5′ long pipe.

Adding fuel.

Mixing for even distribution.

Restrictor on.

Chimney on.

It is working! Wood chips, wood pellets and straw were used as feedstock.

Assembling little stove.

It works too!

Many small stoves were made and were all burning without smoke. Here they are visible at different stages of the burn process. We used wood chips mixed with wood pellets as fuel in the small stoves.

Thank you all for coming! It was so much fun!

Special thanks go to:

Presenter: Paul Taylor, PhD;

Host: Eric Fulda, Director of Charles Street Gardens;


Eco Village Tour

Aquaponics at San Mateo Eco Village – 10th June 2012

Below are some photos from visiting San Mateo Eco Village.

The tour begins…
Overview of the San Mateo Eco Village garden.
Pipes for the aquaponics system. There are three distinct flow cuircuts, all colour coded. The system rotates between them automatically.
Pipes going to the outside fish pond – empty at the time of visit.
Inside the Aquaponics greenhouse. Small fish pond is in front of Sanda, in the ground. Behind are grow beds.
Another view of the inside pond with koy, as farming tilapia in Northern Caliornia is only allowed in established, large scale fisheries. Can we vote on that?
Grow beds.
Back outside – chicken coop.
Resting by the water on a hot, summer day was really pleasant.

Grafting Party

Grafting Party – 25th March 2012

There are many great reasons to graft fruit trees, from extending the harvest season, to easier fruit tree pollination, enjoying more varieties and creating more disease resistant trees. Our participants ranged from novices to several experienced horticulturists. Everyone had a chance to try grafting and many interesting questions were asked and answered.

We were very fortunate to have John Valenzuela lead the workshop and to get a glimpse at the enormous knowledge he has regarding horticulture and advanced grafting techniques. We would also like to thank Greensteader’s board member Robert Wieckowski for both sponsoring and hosting the event. Below are some photos from the event.

Workshop – learning different types of grafting techniques. Starting with cleft grafts.
Onto a larger tree!
Graft location – sun exposure, out of the way, within hand picking reach.
Proper technique for cutting the scion – the hand that is holding the scion moves, the knife remains stationary, to avoid any injuries and create even cuts.
This scion is now ready for bark grafting.
Finished bark graft, with temporary label.

Winter Seed Exchange

SeedExchange – 25th February 2012

We had more folk come out to our Seed Exchange this year, which made for a very pleasurable event.  The weather cooperated, we had a sea of seeds to choose from and even some starts, like Ammi Visnaga, Flat Leaf Parsley and more.

Found it!

Overview – many seeds and conversations to choose from!

Different view.

Spreading the love of gardening!

And it grows in my container garden!

Come join us next time!!!