Resources for Urban Gardening in San Francisco?

Ever since I moved here I’ve been looking for resources about growing seasons, plants that grow well here, what are all these crazy succulent varieties I’ve been seeing growing everywhere (!), where to get free city compost or leaf mulch, where to buy the best seeds, where to find the best plant supplies, where are the best community gardens and land plots, etc. There are certainly a lot of great initiatives here, but I haven’t found a good blog or resources focused solely on this issue, so I’ll try to amalgamate some of the things I find along my way here on BrokeLab (which will be seeing a redesign soon!)

Here are a smattering of the things I’ve found in my meager search so far:

1. Plant it Earth –  (in my new ‘hood) seems to focus mainly on hydroponics & indoor grow light situations. Has quite a few basics and some fun houseplants in stock. Friendly staff, no one seemed to have resources, web based or otherwise, on what to plant in San Francisco.

2. Sunset’s climate/growing zones. Classic, but not horribly helpful if you’re looking to grow food – their growing recommendations based on zone seem more geared toward full on gardens and landscaping – the type where you’re planning a long term garden, ornamental project or you own your own property. Great, we can all dream, but I’m guessing long term shrubbery, ornamentals, etc. are not the territory most aspiring urban gardeners (and renters) are treading. 

3. Free Compost in SF – Yelp Thread.  This offers some ideas then degenerates somewhat but reiterates my main point – where is the compost being made with our food scraps? We’ve been diligently collecting our banana peels and coffee grounds every week, but SF Environment’s webpage, while notifying us of the new compost collection initiative, doesn’t seem to have any information on where the food scraps go and what happens to them. It would awesome if you could get them back in the form of safe, clean, foodbased compost! Googling “SF Compost” brought me to many vociferously argued news comment pages debating whether the “old” free compost (pre-2010) contains toxic metals from the sludge it was made from (aka – HUMAN POOP). Anyway, I’ll amalgamate & repost this topic soon.


There are obviously a number of cool organizations & resources out there – SPUR, Streetsblog, the Hayes Valley Farm initiative – I’ll check them out and post here if there are any good resources on urban gardening, space usage, etcetera.

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