Friday, June 6, 2014

GGNRA propagation nursery with Betty Young - part II

In my first post about the Presidio Native Plant Nursery,  I wrote about the seed preparation and fern propagation areas we saw on our tour with director Betty Young. Now we go into the greenhouse and shade house areas to see how plants are grown for restoration projects.

This photo of the Presidio Native Plant Nursery really says it all. 


Quite a few seed flats in the greenhouse. Some seeds are sown direct into the cone-tainers.

Regret: I have not yet listened to the recording I made of the things Betty told us as we walked around - which included the composition of the various media used. I may do a separate post all about that when I get a free morning to process all that info. I do recall that they are working on using peat-free media but are not quite there yet.

Use of peat - not good for the earth. Peat bogs sequester carbon and are not renewable at the rate the peat is removed, no matter what the peat industry might say. You can use peat-free compost instead.

Here is an interesting article about Marney Blair and the amazing composting program at the nursery.


Heating below the flats - but Betty said they don't often use it.


Betty is showing us some healthy iris propagules


Here is another area in the wonderful greenhouse, full of cone-tainers


At most, propagules are transplanted once - from flats to cone-tainers. It's better not to disturb their roots. The conetainers give the roots lots of depth to grow into.

For horticultural propagation we use seed flats, liners, four inch liners, and gallon pots. But for restoration, the plants don't have to impress a customer or look good (or look good right away). They are planted when very small.

I followed this practice in planting out the rushes and sedges recently on our property. It's more of a garden than a restoration, though I'm using local natives.

I'm taking a "weed and wait then propagate what's natively growing there" approach farther away from our home, where there is less disruption of the natural environment. Closer I get to the house, more latitude I take. Within the golden rule of not planting invasives or anything that will have sex with local natives!


Healthy propagules!



Then it's off to the shade house to grow out or be held until needed in the field.


These are baby buckeye trees. 

I recently taught my two-year-old granddaughter to recognize buckeyes in bloom as we drive along our country roads. I was hoping she would surprise her mother by pointing them out to her — and it worked!


This is a display in the "Pot Palace" where containers of all kinds are cleaned. You can see the names of the different containers.

Everything in this nursery is so incredibly well organized. It feels like a happy place to work in as a volunteer. If you live near the Presidio in San Francisco you might like to join in.


Water catchment. Another activity of the nursery is creating compost tea and I believe this water is used. 


Then it's out to the field to plant. Look at these rain clothes for the workers. Pretty spiffy.

And all the work tools you might need. Did I mention this place is well organized??

What an amazing place. So many volunteers and interns work at the nurseries and in the field to make this all possible.

Our propagation group members are so grateful to Betty Young for giving us a great tour and sharing so much fascinating information.

Another day I hope I to visit the restoration areas themselves. And if I do - I'll be sure to write about it here.