Monday, January 4, 2021


Coop Gardens : A Plot to Save the World

As we launch into 2021, I look forward to continuing my work as a volunteer with Coop Gardens (Cooperative Gardens Commission), which I joined in April of last year. The organization was formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the goal of distributing free garden seeds to those most in need.

Who knew what this sudden and overwhelming global emergency would bring in the next months? 

You can learn more about Coop Gardens and download their brand new report here

Some of the ways I tried to support local organizations are below:

Me and Berto planting seedlings I grew, at the Day Workers Center in Mountain View, CA

Not everyone has the luxury of land in which to grow their own food garden, so I propagated seedlings to plant at the Day Workers Center. They provide such valuable services for day laborers, including meals twice daily. 

Seeds packaged and ready to deliver to La Mesa Verde, San Jose, CA

La Mesa Verde runs a wonderful and inspiring program that installs  raised beds for vegetable gardens in the homes of people in need, and provide training for new gardeners- find them on YouTube and see their videos in Spanish and English here.

                                                                        Photos: Patricia Larenas, Urban Artichoke

Monday, August 31, 2020

Saving Seeds from Your Garden

Learn how to save seeds from your vegetable garden in this series
for beginning seed savers.


I'll be giving two presentations on the art and science of saving seeds via Zoom, through the Mountain View Public Library . 

 See the descriptions below:

You must register separately for each, part I and part II. See the links below:

Seed Saving Basics, Part I: Thursday, September 17, 5pm- 6:30pm

Description: This talk is an introduction to the art and science of saving your own seeds. Learn the basic techniques for saving seeds from popular annual vegetable garden plants. Covered in part I: why we save seeds, the basic botany of flowers and pollination, saving pure seed and when to worry about species crossing.Vegetables discussed: lettuce, tomatoes, beans (includes peas), and peppers. Storing seeds will also be discussed.

Register for Part I: September 17, Part I


Seed Saving Basics Part II : Thursday, September 24, 5pm- 6:30pm

Description: this talk is a continuation of Part I, and will cover saving seeds from cucumbers and squashes, and biennial crops, such as brassicas (kale, broccoli etc) and carrots. If time allows popular herbs such as sweet basil and cilantro will be discussed. Plus simple ways to test the viability of your stored seeds (germination testing).

Resources for learning more about saving seeds and plant propagation will be provided.

Register for Part II: September 24, Part II

Lettuce seeds ready for harvesting
Lettuce seeds 

Photo credits: Patricia Larenas

Monday, May 25, 2020

Saving Seeds is an Essential Activity

In this time of the pandemic and sheltering-in-place, I'm abundantly grateful that I have a seed saving habit. As the pandemic began to make inroads in Silicon Valley, I had the sudden urgent desire to plant as many edibles as I could, and to reclaim some of the nooks and cranies of our yard that host ornamental plants instead of edible ones. 

I wasn't alone.

The rush to order seeds seemed to be a global reflex that caused seed companies to be quickly overwhelmed with orders: so much that it caused several of the large seed suppliers to temporarily close their online stores in order to keep up with the demand. If you are a gardener you know that the season marches forward and some crops need to be started in a certain window of time.

Therefore, I rushed to my seed collection and got growing without delay. I had most of the varieties I wanted to grow, and I was able to share extra seeds with others.

I'm even more committed now to saving seeds- it's essential, and even when we appear to be in times of stability, changes can occur at a frightening speed.

Save seeds. Sow them. Grow them. Repeat.

Small amounts of seed in coin envelopes for sharing

Pole beans can easily be grown in a sunny small space, even in the front yard!
Photos: Patricia Larenas