GGNRA propagation nursery for local restoration. Now THAT'S a proper propagation nursery!

In the Presidio of San Francisco near Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco,

nestled among the former military housing, sits an amazing restoration nursery.
You can see its shade house on the right.
It propagates local native plants for the Golden Gate Regional Recreation area

Five of our CNPS propagation group recently took a field trip to the Presidio Native Plant Nursery, one of the six (I think) propagation nurseries run by the redoubtable Betty Young. These nurseries propagate plants for restoration projects in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which includes the Presidio and natural areas north and south of Golden Gate Bridge.

Unlike propagation for horticulture, restoration propagation is done by seed where possible, to ensure biodiversity. Seeds are collected from many different plants, fifty or so if possible, and the resulting plants are planted in the same sub-watershed as the parent plants.

First we visited the seed preparation area. So organized, with equipment so clean and useable.

A wonderful device for separating chaff from seed. 

Here's the motor for the device.

These intriguing pieces of home-made equipment are for rubbing seeds to separate the seed from the seed head and chaff

Wonderful screens of different sizes, again to get the seeds clean.

And of course colanders and sieves and so on

Seeds are placed in envelopes carefully coded for species and watershed, and other information, and sealed in air-tight containers, with silicone (in that tub on the top-right) to keep things super dry

Betty Young, Director of the nurseries, shows us the large fridge where cleaned seeds are stored until ready to grow.

Then we moved on to the seed sowing side of things.

Seeds that need to be stratified (breaking dormancy with cold to mimic winter) are stored in this fridge
Seed mix is prepared from perlite and so on stored in those wonderful white bins on rollers.

The nursery also propagates ferns, which is a tricky proposition. In the fern propagation area, Betty described the hygienic measures taken to avoid fungus.

The fern spores are sealed into small plastic cups in a sterile planting medium moistened with distilled water.

Then placed under grow-lights.
They may stay under the grow-lights for two years, going through the intermediate life-stage of a fern. Then when small ferns emerge, they are planted. Made me want to have a go!

We passed by notice boards and maps showing who is doing what.

This board listed tasks for each area of the nursery.

This one listed plants (using 4-letter codes) ready for planting in the different sub-watershed areas
Various watershed maps. Some areas are smaller than the sub-watershed areas. Restoration is very area specific!

Betty told us that all seeds that are not used are taken to the location where they were collected and scattered. So everything is returned.

Then it was on to the greenhouses and shade house areas, and I'll cover that in the next post. Enough excitement for one night. I'll never look at my little messy greenhouse/potting shed the same way after all this. And I'll certainly be tidying up and organizing!