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San Francisco garden is a learning place.

If you're new to gardening, whether in an urban setting or not, you can learn much from an outdoor horticultural "classroom" developed by the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners. SLUG, a nonprofit organization that encourages the use of urban spaces for gardening, has recently recycled a scrap of untended water department land at Seventh Avenue and Lawton Street (just west of UCSF). The place has now become a lesson-packed demonstration garden.

Amble through the 10,000-square-foot garden at your own pace; detailed signs inform you, planting by planting, as you go. You're also welcome to join a guided group tour or attend free workshops on specific horticultural techniques; there's a composting workshop from 10 to noon on November 10. Neophytes can learn the basics in an experience-tested environment, and more seasoned gardeners can also pick up valuable tips. (Do you veterans know, for example, which materials for compost containers have been found to be most resistant to rodents? Or which type of composting structure is best for a windy site?)

Different areas have different purposes

A central gazebo serves as information kiosk. It's stocked with free handouts that relate to specific sections of the garden: a drip-irrigated bed of low-water-use plants, vegetable plantings and edible ornamentals, and an array of five different composting setups-including an earthworm farm-which make fertilizer from prunings, thinnings, and vegetable trimmings and other kitchen waste.

You'll also learn how to use a double-dug bed (the best way to cultivate root crops such as carrots and turnips), a table bed (wheelchair-accessible, and a great convenience for anyone who's uncomfortable kneeling or bending over for long periods), and a "hot bed" (raised so soil can store warmth better than ground-level plots, a boon to heat lovers like tomatoes and eggplant).

Don't miss the do-it-yourself greenhouse structure at the garden's north end: you'll see how a gravel-lined trench and $30 worth of PVC pipe and vinyl sheeting can create a place to give tender seedlings a head start before transplanting.

For more details or to arrange a guided visit, call SLUG at (415) 468-01 10. The demonstration garden is served by San Francisco Muni buses 34, 43, and 66, and there's usually street parking in the immediate area.
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1990
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