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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ed Nordstrom, Congratulations on Your Retirement! You Will Be Missed!



Join us in thanking Ed for all his efforts by posting a comment on this blog post!

Tomorrow is the first free herb (mostly lavender) harvest of 2010. That got us thinking how much we enjoy the campus and community participation at these events! If you have had a chance to attend, don't you think it's great? Not only do you have a chance to enjoy the outdoors and the inspirational landscape at the UC Davis Good Life Garden, but you walk away with something special grown right here on campus that you can enjoy with your next meal...plus, it's free!

I wish I'd thought of it, but we have garden supervisor, Ed Nordstrom to thank for getting these free harvests off the ground. He is a passionate gardener and foodie who I would describe as secretly NOT a curmudgeon! (It took me a while to figure that out!) Thank you Ed!

Although we didn't get to work with you long on Good Life Garden related projects, we really enjoyed it. Life is definitely not going to be the same here without you. We wish you lots of interesting and fun new adventures in your retirement!

Join us in thanking Ed for all his efforts by posting a comment on this blog post!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

FREE Lavender Harvest: Thursday, July 1 from 9:30 AM - 2 PM


Just in time for Independence Day! FREE LAVENDER GIVE-AWAY Thursday, July 1st from 9:30 AM - 2 PM.

Join us at the Good Life Garden this Thursday, July 1st, anytime between 9:30AM and 2PM to gather some lavender! We also have a few other herbs that may be available to harvest on request. Some lavender will already be cut and ready to take home, and some will need to be harvested. Be sure to come prepared with a cutting instrument in case all of the trimmed lavender has been taken!

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 on our website: http://www.goodlifegarden.ucdavis.edu/location

The give-away is free to attend; we just need you to bring the following items:

* scissors or pruning shears
* a bag to hold your herbs
* wet paper towels to put in the bag with the herbs (if you don't have a refrigerator to keep them in for the day)
* water to drink (because it's going to be hot!)

BE SURE TO WASH ALL HERBS WELL BEFORE ENJOYING THEIR FRESH TASTE!

Our gardener Arlene will be there all day to answer your questions about the different herbs and the harvesting process, as well as to direct you to the correct plants. We ask that no one remove entire plants or remove more than half of the leaves or flowers from any particular plant.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blog Recommendation Monday: IN MY KITCHEN GARDEN




Today we bring you a very interesting blog from "Farmgirl Susan" who writes the delightful blog, "In My Kitchen Garden: The Sporadic Garden Journal of a Lousy Record Keeper." Isn't that a great title? She really isn't lousy at all either! She has been writing this blog since 2006!

Susan gave up a small bakery cafe in California to write about 2 blog articles a month about a girl with no farming or gardening background wingin' it on a farm in Missouri. She has a storytellers description of her garden, her animals, the welcome and not-so-welcome insects, and all of their daily interactions on her farm. Her blog offers great, close up photos that show how mesmerizing nature's natural beauty can be, and in cased you missed what the photo was focusing on she starts almost every blog with "Realization of the Day."

Well Farmgirl Susan, on this Monday, our Realization of the Day is that your blog is awesome!

Take a look at some of her photos and headlines that we think you will all enjoy reading more!


This photo is from her "How to Transplant Sweet Pepper Seedlings, The Extended Verison"

And this one is from "How to Attract Pollinators to Your Kitchen Garden"

To see more click on the link: http://inmykitchengarden.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Transplanting tips: TIME OF DAY MATTERS!

Yesterday during a visit to take some photos Arlene pointed out to me that some of our amaranth seedlings weren't doing so well. (See photo below.)

The amaranth was originally planted in one bed, but needed to move to another. Some Arlene transplanted mid-day when it was very sunny day and warm out. Those seedlings, as you can see from the photo above, are distressed and wilted. On the other hand, the seedlings which she transplanted on a cool and cloudy day are thriving. (See photo below.)

When I asked her why this was she explained that in her experience strong sun and wind can be very hard on new transplants, and, despite her careful and plentiful watering, they could not recover from the stress. However, those amaranth plants that she had re-planted during a cooler, cloudier day were looking much healthier.


I tried to find some information online and there wasn’t much about this the best times of day to perform your garden transplants, though there were plenty of resources on how to reduce transplant shock in general.

For an article courtesy of the University of California division of Agriculture and Natural Resources titled, 'Using Transplants in Vegetable Production,' click here.

What do you think? Post a comment to let us know about your preferred planting weather!

WEBSITE WEDNESDAY: University of California Integrated Pest Management

Keeping your edible garden free of bad bugs can be difficult, especially if you are not even sure what type of pest is the problem! This common issue brings us to today's 'Website Wednesday' recommendation--The University of California Integrated Pest Management (UCIPM) website specific to 'Pests in Gardens and Landscapes--Vegetable and Melons.'

In February this year our gardener Arlene encountered this pest who'd taken up residence on the flip side of a cabbage leaf. We knew it was some kind of moth based on the pupae. Then we found this entry on the IPM website describing the color of the pupae by following the links associated with cabbage pests: "Pupae are green with faint yellow lines down the back and sides; there is no spun cocoon. The cabbageworm is active throughout the year in California." Voila! We have a cabbageworm and now know the best way to manage them is by handpicking. Now that was easy!



It's not always that easy, but regardless this website is awesome! You can delve deep, really deep into the various types of pest that may be affecting your garden. In addition tons of tips for identification, UCIPM also provides tips on various types of management. The UCIPM website is not just about pests either, it also provides cultivation tips and techniques, weather data, and top-notch publications useful for any home gardener!

Do you have any pests that you are having a difficult time identifying? Post a photo on our Facebook page under 'Fan Photos.'

Monday, June 21, 2010

Blog Recommendation Monday: GROW BETTER VEGGIES by LOVE APPLE FARMS

This week's blog recommendation Monday goes to Cynthia Sandberg's Love Apple Farm blog entitled Grow Better Veggies: A Biodynamic Quest for Vegetable Perfection. The blog is tremendous, especially if you are interested in biodynamic gardening. Honestly, I've heard of it and it sounds great, but I don't think I could tell what exactly that means other than, it's organic gardening turned up, way up!

If you want to learn more about their biodynamic practices here is a link to their primer, About Biodynamic Agriculture. In a nutshell, it's about balancing the interrelationship of the soil, plants, and animals in a closed, self-nourishing system. According to their blog, "The approach also attempts to consider celestial influences on soil and plant development..."

Above is a photo of gardeners preparing the soil with what the 'father' of biodynamic agriculture, Rudolf Steiner, calls Prep 500 (also called horn manure). This is a humus mixture prepared by filling the horn of a cow with cow manure and burying it in the ground in the autumn. It is left to decompose during the winter and recovered the following spring. A small amount is mixed with water for an hour, and then applied to the ground in the fall, at dusk.
They must be doing something right because Love Apple Farm has an exclusive produce supply arrangement with Manresa, a Los Gatos, California restaurant designed to showcase the inventive cuisine of executive chef, David Kinch who was recently awarded 'Best Chef: Pacific' by the James Beard Foundation.

Love Apple Farms, according to its website, is currently on the move! They were previously located in Ben Lomand and are now moving to Santa Cruz. Not only do they grow amazing vegetables, they also offer a variety of classes throughout the year, as well as private tours.

Doesn't that sound wonderful? Have you ever been to Love Apple Farms or to Manresa? If so, what did you think? We think they are both worth a trip to the South Bay and wish them continued success with their endeavors!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Another Olive Tree Update!

A few months ago we reported on the status of some olive trees in our grove that were failing to thrive after their being transplanted to the UC Davis Good Life Garden in September of 2008. Their issues were the result of a percolation problem. What is that you ask? Well, essentially it means that water cannot penetrate or "percolate" into the ground where plants or, in this case, trees are growing; the cause of this issue came as a result of all the soil compaction that occurred during the construction of the surrounding buildings at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. To read more about this issue click here.

A few days ago we replaced three of the original trees, but have included a much better drainage system; incorporating a layer of crushed rock over drainage tubes covered with amended soil will hopefully provide a more comfortable growing environment for these historic campus trees. (See a photo of the start of this process below.) Our Grounds and Landscape Services crew will continue to monitor the situation and support the trees health in their new homes.



According to UC Davis Director of Grounds and Landscape Services, Sal Genito, who I spoke with about the project this morning, "The key to good plant growth is great drainage." He also mentioned the tell-tale sign of a plant struggling with percolation issues, "The soil smells rotten, like eggs, due to a build up of bacteria that can't escape."


Photo above: A flat bed trailer transports the trees to their new location from a historic campus owned grove in Woodland, California.

Photo below: A crane lifts one of the olive trees off the flat bed trailer and into its new location complete with necessary drainage.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tomato Planting 101

Want your tomato plants to look they're being grown by a pro? Follow these simple tips that Brad Gates from Wild Boar farms was nice enough to share with Arlene.

When you are ready to plant your tomato starts, remove the lowermost four branches of the plant. Dig a hole deep enough to cover the areas where the removed branches were. The small nodes leftover from where the removed branches were will become roots, and planting it deep in the soil will encourage root growth. This technique will also make your fully grown staked tomatoes look neat and less bushy.

Here is a great article about how to prune and care for tomatoes that goes into much more detail: http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/pruning-tomatoes.aspx

Pictured below are the tomato plants Wild Boar Farms gave to us. We can't wait to taste them! Check out their website: http://www.wildboarfarms.com/index_1.html, and see our earlier blog post to learn more about them and the tomato plants they so generously donated!

The new plants are sprouting!

I went out to the garden today and everything looks lovely! All of the new summer plants Arlene started from seed are beginning to sprout - the Kentucky wonder pole beans, dark star zucchini, arava and sharlyn melons, bush beans and cosmos are all taking off. The Cherokee purple tomatoes have even begun to bloom!

The hops also look very happy and the hidcote blue lavender in particular is stunning. The alyssum also looks much happier since a sprinkler head problem has been fixed. Check out the rainbow of colors we have right now. I'm so glad summer is finally here!

Kentucky wonder pole beans greet the sun


the angel red pomegranates are blooming


the purple alyssum is doing well after fixing the sprinkler head


the brilliant pink of the rosa prostrata is a bright addition to the wine aroma garden


the Cherokee purple tomato is the first to bloom



The humming of bees is audible if you visit the hidcote lavender bed


the chinook and cascade hops are thriving (apart from the one that was ripped out of the ground by vandals!)

Want to see more photos? We've finally updated our flickr page so check out the progress of our plants this year: http://www.flickr.com/photos/goodlifegarden/sets/ We still have a few more sets to upload too, so be sure to check back soon!
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