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Friday, August 28, 2009

Vandalism in the Garden--Does Anyone Out There Know Anything?

What you see here is a photo of a 10 foot high tripod with "Emperor" Scarlett Runner Beans climbing on it. The vine was a sight to be seen, "...a mountain of lush green foliage covered in bright red flowers," in the words of our gardener Arlene.

Sometime between August 21 and August 23, the structure was tipped over, ripping the plants out the ground and knocking down a neighboring tomato plant.

They were so happy there; it's such a shame we won't be able to enjoy them any longer this season. If anyone out there has any information about it, please let us know. Meanwhile, Scarlett Runners, RIP.

Basil Harvest--There's still more! A Lot More!

Thank you to everyone who could make it out to our first annual basil harvest! It was a success, but there is still lots more basil to be enjoyed, so, if you weren't able to join us yesterday, or you did and you want more basil, join us AGAIN!

Stop by the garden this Thursday, September 3 anytime between 9:30 AM and 2 PM to harvest two different types of basil - the Super Sweet Chen and/or Large Leaf Purple varieties.

If you are interested, Please RSVP to goodlifegarden@ucdavis.edu so we know how many people will be attending. Directions to the garden can be found here.

The harvest is free; we just need you to bring the following items:
  • scissors or pruning shears
  • a bag to hold the basil
  • wet paper towels to put in the bag with the basil (if you don't have a refrigerator to keep the basil in for the day)
BE SURE TO WASH THE BASIL WELL BEFORE ENJOYING ITS FRESH TASTE!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Join us for a basil picking party this Thursday!

Come join us at the Good Life Garden this Thursday, August 27 anytime between 9:30AM and 2PM to harvest two different types of basil - the Super Sweet Chen and Large Leaf Purple varieties. You can come visit the garden anytime during those hours; in order to harvest enough basil to make pesto (about 2 cups' worth) you will probably only need ten minutes or so. In the photo below you can see the Super Sweet Chen (left) planted with ageratum and zinnias.

If you are interested, Please RSVP to goodlifegarden@ucdavis.edu so we know how many people will be attending. Directions to the garden can be found here.

The party is free; we just need you to bring the following items:
  • scissors or pruning shears
  • a bag to hold the basil
  • wet paper towels to put in the bag with the basil (if you don't have a refrigerator to keep the basil in for the day)
BE SURE TO WASH THE BASIL WELL BEFORE ENJOYING ITS FRESH TASTE!

Our gardener Arlene will be there all day to answer your questions about basil and the harvesting process, as well as to direct you to the correct plants. (We have one variety of basil, called Fino Verde, that should not be harvested as the plants are too small.) We also ask that no one remove entire plants or remove more than half of the leaves.

Wondering what to do with all the fresh basil? Here is our garden supervisor Ed Nordstrom's pesto recipe:

1/2 c. olive oil
2 c. packed basil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 c. parmesan cheese
toasted pine nuts to taste
lemon juice or Fruit Fresh (ascorbic acid) to retain color and freshness

Blend the oil, basil and garlic in a blender or food processor. Check the consistency and add more basil or olive oil as needed. Add parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts. The cheese will thicken the pesto, so allow for the change in consistency. While toasting the pine nuts, also be aware that the high oil content of the nuts may cause them to burn quickly, so watch them carefully.

Fruit-Fresh is a product you can buy that contains Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and citric acid, which will preserve the color and freshness of fruits and vegetables, and will keep your pesto from browning. Alternatively you can use lemon juice to help retain color.

The Large Leaf Purple basil is also available for harvest on Thursday.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Red Velvet Okra and Love Lies Bleeding

The stunning red velvet okra is the variety featured this season. Not only are the pods scarlet; the stems are also the same rich color, lending the plant a majestic look that would stand out in any garden.

Not a fan of okra due to the texture? The slimy texture is a result of its mucilage, which is a mixture of carbohydrate molecules and proteins that help plaints retain water. The slimy nature of the mucilage is utilized as a thickener in soups and stews such as gumbo, but can also be minimized if fried or baked.

Learn more about the history of okra, its uses and nutritional value on our website.

Some other plants that are currently in bloom and yielding fruits or vegetables are melons, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, pomegranates and corn. Many different varieties of flowers are also in full bloom. View a slideshow of the latest plants here.

In the photo below you can see the "love lies bleeding" in the foreground and the scarlet runner bean plant behind it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cantaloupes from Food Science & Technology Students

Today our gardener, Arlene Kennedy, was approached by students from the Food Science & Technology department who were looking to find homes for some cantaloupes. They are developing a robot that can field test cantaloupes to determine whether or not they are ripe. We don't if these passed the test, where they were grown, or how, but we have reserved five for any local reader that wants to drop by the UC Davis Grounds Office to pick one up. We are located northeast of Mrak Hall and south of the Art Annex.

Reserve your cantaloupe now by emailing us at: goodlifegarden@ucdavis.edu. This offer ends Friday, August 21, 2009 at 4 PM.

IMPORTANT for all melon eaters! You should wash melons thoroughly with warm soapy water before preparing them because microbes that linger on the surface may cause food poisoning upon introduction to the fruits’ flesh. Look here for more information on melons.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We're on TV! We're on TV!

Recently, a local television news station in Sacramento came to the UC Davis Good Life Garden to learn more about how some of the plantings here tie to the education Viticulture & Enology students receive at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and just what it means when someone says, "Did you pick up the berry notes in that wine?" Watch the clip here! Kudos to our gardener, Arlene Kennedy, for doing such a great job!

Green Bean Seed Saving

The Seeds of Change brand bush beans we planted this season lived up to their 'bountiful' variety name. So much so that our gardener, Arlene Kennedy, has chosen to save the seeds for future planting. She is drying the pods on the vine, removing the seeds, then placing them in an air tight container for storage in a cool, dry place.

Sign up for the UC Davis Good Life Garden newsletter on the home page of our website for up-to-date information on all the "Growings-On" in our garden!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Corn and Cover Crops

Much of the garden summer crop is now in full bloom, including the colorful variety triple play corn that we are featuring this season. Because corn depletes a high amount of nutrients from soil, it is a good idea to rotate a cover crop into your garden - the cover crop is an organic way to replenish nitrogen.

Here you can see our gardeners discussing plans for the fall; they are going to plant red clover after the corn has been harvested. Red clover is an extremely effective cover crop and also yields lovely scarlet flowers!

Pictured here is the triple play corn. This variety of corn is mainly used for decorative purposes, although it can be eaten if picked early when the corn is still white and sweet.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Quick How-to Compost Video

Check out this super easy way of creating a compost bin in your backyard! We found this video on Sunset Magazine's website, its less than two minutes in length and totally worth it. Compost is just decomposed organic matter at its various states and can be used as fertilizer or mulch because it will return nutrients to the soil. This then saves you money because you dont have to buy fertilizer or nearly as many trash bags since you can throw most of your kitchen waste into your compost. All in all, compost is good for your wallet and for your garden-- who doesnt love that!

Stay tuned after the first video is over and learn how to make an inexpensive, efficient compost bin out of chicken wire!

Sign up for the UC Davis Good Life Garden newsletter on the home page of our website for up-to-date information on all the "Growings-On" in our garden!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beautiful gardens, less water

We love the Sacramento Master Gardeners' website; especially the Fair Oaks Horticulture Center's water-efficient landscape garden. Check out photos of the beautiful space that incorporates not only water-efficient plants, but also drip irrigation, swales to capture water, and permeable concrete walks and patios.

The Horticulture Center has two more workshops this year - including one about composting and an open garden day that will also include information about water conservation. Check the schedule here.

The website also has an extensive list of garden-related sites. A great resource!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Must Have Garden!

Are you interested in growing your own vegetable garden, but do you not have space in your yard? The Experimental College at UC Davis has the solution - they rent 200 square foot plots for just $25 per year. The rental fee includes water, tools, mulch, manure, and gardening advice, and renters can even plant perennials such as fruit and nut trees. Gardeners can also do volunteer work around the garden or at the Davis Farmer's Market to earn credit toward the rent on their plots.

Visit the Experimental College Garden website for more information about rentals and how to apply.

Garden Pollination Guide

Done all the reading you can on good gardening practices and still can't get your garden to go from the ground to your table? Take five mintues to read this article put out by Vera Stader, UC Davis Master Gardener from Tuolumne County, which talks about the importance of pollination--another one of those topics not always considered when planting a garden. Her tips might just give your garden some life.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

UC Davis Researchers Prove Fresh Fruit in the Fridge Keeps Longer


See this video, orginially on the HowStuffWorks' website, about how UC Davis researchers prove that fresh fruit can last up to nine days longer and not lose any of its nutritional value when stored in the fridge!

Sign up for the UC Davis Good Life Garden newsletter on the home page of our website for up-to-date information on all the "Growings-On" in our garden!

Apple Tree Trellis

It is possible to have an orchard of fruit trees in your backyard if you keep the trees small. At the UC Davis Good Life Garden we trained a Fuji apple tree to grow on a trellis. See the photo to the left.

Here is a how-to link with information on developing your own trellis support system for apple trees.

Our fruit tree was donated by a local nursery, Dave Wilson Nursery. Check out their website for a veritable plethora of information for home gardeners interested in growing backyard orchards.

Sign up for the UC Davis Good Life Garden newsletter on the home page of our website for up-to-date information on all the "Growings-On" in our garden!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Grilled Bread Recipe--Simple and Amazing!

Thank you to the chefs from A Healthy Kitchen located in Sacramento for letting us know about this amazing and simple recipe for grilled bread.

-Slice a crusty peasant bread round
-Toast on the BBQ to your desired level of brown
-Rub with cut garlic cloves (cut side down)
-Add sliced avocado
-Drizzle with olive oil
-Sprinkle with salt

It is amazing!

The chefs teach very useful classes out of the Sacramento Food Coop.


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