Growing Weed in the Garden with Johanna Silver

Cultivating Place


Joanna. Silver is a gardener. Writer and editor formerly the Gordon Editor at Sunset magazine. She is a regular contributor to Martha Stewart Living. Better homes and gardens and the San Francisco Chronicle the author of the old dry garden on the garden and legacy of famed California plants woman. Ruth Bancroft this week. Joanna joins us to talk about her newest book growing weed in the garden. A no fuss seed to stash guide to outdoor cannabis cultivation out now from Abrahams press cannabis in California has been legal for medical use since nineteen ninety-six and in November of Two Thousand Sixteen California. Voters approved the adults use of Marijuana Act to legalize the recreational use of cannabis the use sale and possession of cannabis over a certain level of THC remains illegal under federal US law that said according to a recent report on NPR thirty three US states currently allow for some form of sale and consumption of marijuana and of those more than twenty states have designated the cannabis industry as essential during the corona virus outbreak from her shelter in place with her young family in Berkeley California. Joanna joins us today to shine a brighter light on the often confusing. Growing we'd as Gardiner's welcome Joanna. Thank you so nice to be here back with you. The last time we spoke we were speaking primarily about your first book the Bold Dry Garden and this new book is something of a An adventurous kind of Tangent. Or like offshoot from your original. Garden writing work. I want to start though with your current relationship to plants and the garden world both personal and Professional Joanna. What do you do everyday tell listeners? More about who you are and what you're up to. It is so nice to be talking to you again even just anticipating the conversation that I would be having with. You got me just like thinking about life and anyway thank you. Just thank you for having me. Thank you for making all the room to talk to people about about exactly this. Their relationship to plants I am home now as you know. All non-essential workers are and I am doing the very essential work of raising my son who turns three in July and In a non pandemic situation spends most of his day in a share So we gardened some But it was more like gardening light and now that we're home together. I am gardening heavy and doing with him I salt. I was already going to have a vegetable garden this year. I was already scaling back on the. We'd I'm only really growing at this year to continue to write about it It's a it's a really fun plant to grow et Cetera et CETERA. But I really have this urge to grow fruits and vegetables with my son and so even though that was already going to happen I dug up to maybe like eight by eight feet by thirty inch. Beds right in the middle of our meadow grass to with him to create more space. So as I talked to you he's asleep. There's dirt all over my hands and I'm feeling really really connected to the hard honest Labor of garden creation and it feels so good so good and you. You touched on a couple of things already right there. One being the fact that many of us are home as quote unquote non essential and yet in this moment so many people have turned back to activities and connections that are so essential like our own attachment and connection to how you survive how we make our out. We make our lives not just livings. And that is in raising our families and cultivating art pieces of land. So okay I'M GONNA I'M GONNA have a go back just a little bit before we dig into the structure of the book in in some of these levels on which you got intrigued. Many listeners will remember the bull dry garden. But just for those who. Don't give us a little background on you. Where where were the people? And the places and the plants that grew into a person who would wanna be a person that wrote about gardens and gardening with her son as a matter of both principle and practicality so I got my start farming in college after traveling so really interested in food and food security. I had a very meandering path and ended up in the editorial Test Garden at Sunset Magazine. Back in the Menlo Park days through to the Oakland and New Test Garden in Sonoma's county days and went from outdoors at the magazine to indoors. Writing and editing and timber press reached out to me looking for a bay area writer to write this book idea that they had about Ruth Bancroft S- Garden cactus in dry garden in Walnut Creek California and I pitched myself because I was young and ambitious and so I wrote a book about. Ruth's life and Roots Gardens. She just passed away actually also twenty early twenty eighteen late twenty seventeen at the age of one hundred nine And so just a couple of years before that. I wrote this book about her life and her garden. I think the fun one of the fun things for me as a gardener and garden communicator journalist person is seeing so many come back to gardening and recognize it as this essential thing that it is and that you and I and kind of die. Hard gardeners have has always known. And we've been advocating for now. You also indicated in this first question this sort of interesting Almost conflicted feeling about growing weed. And I think it's a perfect segue into the conversation for us on this on this program. People have been telling me that I should do an episode on weed for the longest time. Because as you note in your introduction to the book it's one of the largest crops in California and many many people are interested in it and it has this deep historical ritualistic medicinal blige intimate like wait and Gravitas to it but that is so blurred by the the other baggage that comes with it that I have stayed away from it until now because I was so compelled by yearbook and the way that you handled that year and maybe it was a little bit more of researching documenting and writing about this project. You took on as a as an assignment not necessarily a personal passion but an assignment and So we really kind of want to get into that the I just WanNa say by the way that your documentation of life at home with your To almost three-year-old Garden intern as you call him on. Instagram has been in total pleasure to watch in. Its true sort of honesty. Raw dirty fingered honesty. Thank you. It's been. It's been a massive creative outlet for me. Yeah Yeah Okay so. Tell us about this book. Why this book how did it happen? What made you decide to take on writing a book about growing weed in twenty seventeen? I had a baby and I was headed back to work You know six ish months later back to Sunset Magazine Garden editor where I thought I'd have the job for the rest of my life Kathy Brazil before me held the position for forty years and I was all set to go back. It was the week before. Maternity leave was over and the place was bought by private equity in lost my job I felt desperate to keep writing and working and reached out to everyone. I've ever written for asking for assignments Just to keep going to feel some forward momentum and a former editor in chief of the magazine. Kitty Morgan Worked at the Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle and I reached out to her until I wanted to write for her you know. The chronicle does garden design edible gardening whatever and She said you have a new baby. I bet you don't have time to do lunch But I may be called her bluff and I was like I totally have time to do lunch and met her for lunch and she. It was right before recreational use went legal and including recreational growing in California. And she was like I have this whole other idea for you. I want you to grow wheat in your backyard and documented as a gardener. I think at that time everyone like it was coming but it still felt even more taboo than it does now. We were all sort of figuring out how to talk about how he felt about cannabis being something that we can talk about and And so I told her I didn't know where to get seeds. And she said emphatically. That's your opening line and it was supposed to be for this part the separate website run by the Co Chronicle called Green State Which has since been folded into the magazine or into the newspaper and it actually got got lost its funding for a while but kitty was so dedicated to me that they ran the series in the food and wine section on Sundays and I worked through this ten part series for them on growing lead in my backyard as a gardener starting from knowing nothing to having a big crash course in the plant yet everything about the naming and needing to forge new contacts. I had I was starting from zero other than my years of experience being garden writer And a gardener no for sunset.

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