Who writes this stuff?

I’m Greg Alder, a Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension in San Diego County, where I’ve extended the gardening journey I started about ten years ago when I lived in a rural village in Lesotho, Africa, as a Peace Corps teacher. Of course, there it wasn’t called gardening. Growing your food was just another part of daily life. But I found it challenging and fascinating, even to the point of adding some flowers in front of my house.



That was then. When I returned to live in Southern California, I realized that some of what I had learned in Africa wasn’t applicable here. Gardening is local, as they say. For example, in Lesotho you sowed almost all vegetables in the spring. It is a mountainous country with snow in the winter — yes, snow in Africa. Yet in Southern California I eventually learned that though the best time to sow peppers may be in the spring, the best time to sow broccoli is in late summer, the best time to sow lettuce is in early fall, and the best time to plant potatoes is in late winter.

Southern California is not only unlike Lesotho, but unlike most of the rest of the United States, and these characteristics of climate are only the beginning of what makes gardening here different — and what makes gardening here beg for its own sources of information.

The goal of The Yard Posts

Hence this blog. I certainly don’t know it all yet, but here in The Yard Posts I do my best to share what I have learned in order to make your learning curve shorter. The goal of the blog is straightforward: to help people in Southern California grow food at home. To this end, I post about experiences in my own yard (“yard posts”), as well as hard facts and research that align with those experiences. I’m committed to never talking about what I don’t know.

But it’s not all science. We gardeners need inspiration, ideas, commiseration, philosophy. So I also post a photo of my son holding a giant purple sweet potato, or a photo of seven tomato hornworms picked off of a single tomato plant, or a deliberation on the pros and cons of investing in a tank to collect rainwater from your roof.

Why aim to help people grow food at home, by the way? At home, you can grow cleaner and tastier fruits and vegetables than you can buy even from the organic aisle at the most expensive grocery store. Food gardens make for beautiful yards. There are a thousand more reasons, but I’m a father of two young boys, and when I see them gorging on strawberries out there or asking if they can uproot one more carrot to eat, please, Dad — I need no additional reasons to know that it’s a worthy cause.


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