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Planting, Maintenance, Prevention: October

October 6th, 2011
This blog is the second of a four-part series on Planting, Maintenance, and Prevention tips for the months of September, October, November and December. We’ve compiled the information from a two different articles, both written by Kathy Tomas-Rico, Solano County Master Gardener, in the newsletter, Seeds for Thought. Click here to see the original article and stay tuned for the rest of the post for this series!


Continue to set out edible seedlings, like onions or garlic for next year’s harvest. Sow annual seeds, like wildflowers, in a sunny spot for the best show in spring.

Sweet Pea

If you’re interested in ornamental varieties, plant anything that is not frost-sensitive, including sweet peas, ground covers, shrubs, trees, vines, perennials and natives.


Keep control of slugs and snails with bait containing iron phosphate, which is safer on edible crops and around children, pets and wildlife. Don’t forget about your lawn! October is the time to dethatch, aerate and fertilize your grass.

Veggie Bed

For vegetable beds, double-dig them by loosing the soil to a depth of 24 inches and adding compost.


If the rain has begun, check for areas of standing water because this is where mosquitoes will hang out. If no rain yet, continue to irrigate.

Lemon Tree

Keep tidying to reduce the debris that harbors insects and disease over winter. Apply copper or other recommended controls if you see brown rot or citrus blast on your citrus trees.


After attending our basil harvest, make a Caprese salad!

September 30th, 2011

Special thanks to Kate Hutchinson, owner of Ciocolat Extraordinary Desserts, for this article.

At Ciocolat we love working with basil.  We incorporate the fresh herb into many of our Italian-inspired dishes.

If you’d like to experience locally grown basil all year around-try freezing!  We recommend a summer purchase from the Farmer’s Market, or harvesting it on a community harvest day from the Good Life Garden.  Make your favorite pesto sauce, let it cool, and then freeze the sauce in an ice cube tray.  This will give you individual portions of pesto that can be used in your pasta dishes all year long.

Visiting the Good Life Garden in the summer is a great way to experience the flavor differences in the many varieties of basil grown there.

One can do just about anything to basil for fabulous taste results.  We chop basil to include in our pesto mayonnaise, use it as a condiment on our bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, sautee it for our tortellini sauce, and chiffonade the herb for our panzanella salad.

To experience the true flavor of basil, we recommend making a Caprese salad.  This salad calls for using either whole leaves of basil, or if you prefer a less leafy salad, chopped basil.

In Italy this salad is served as an antipasto or appetizer. You will achieve the best flavor if you purchase your ingredients from a Farmer’s Market, or pick your ingredients from the Good Life Garden.  Freshness is key to a great Caprese salad.

Caprese salad photo from Ciocolat

Caprese Salad


sliced fresh mozzarella
sliced fresh tomatoes
sliced or whole basil leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper
Kalamata olives


Alternate tomato slices, and fresh mozzarella slices on the plate and arrange basil and olives on top.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil.



Last chance FREE basil harvest!

September 28th, 2011

herb harvest flyer

Don’t miss the end of the season FREE basil herb harvest at the Good Life Garden!   Basil will be removed after this harvest to make room for our fall plants, so get your Ziploc bags ready!

WHEN: Friday, September 30
TIME: Anytime between 9 AM and 2 PM
WHERE: UC Davis Good Life Garden – in the courtyard of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.  click here for directions.

Please 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)


Penultimate plant sale of 2011!

September 12th, 2011

Support our friends at the Arboretum and don’t miss the upcoming fall plant sale!

Gruss an aachen

Gruss an Aachen floribunda rose is the featured Arboretum All-Star at this fall’s plant sales. Ellen Zagory/Courtesy photo

What: UC Davis Arboretum’s 75th anniversary Plant Faire and Sale

When: Saturday, Sept. 24; member sale 9 to 11 a.m., public sale 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Arboretum Teaching Nursery, Garrod Drive, UC Davis.  Click here for directions.

Anyone interested in plants and gardening will want to attend the biggest and best plant sale in the Central Valley at the UC Davis Arboretum on Saturday, Sept. 24.

This year’s Plant Faire and Sale is a celebration of the Arboretum’s 75th anniversary, and will feature hundreds of varieties of great plants for Central Valley gardens, including the Arboretum All-Stars and house plants and exotics from the Botanical Conservatory.

There will be a members-only sale from 9 to 11 a.m. with live music and free children’s activities, and a public sale from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Anyone may join or renew at the door for early admission and a 10 percent member discount. New members get a free plant.

Arboretum staff members and volunteers will be available to provide expert advice on choosing the best plants for shoppers’ garden conditions.

As part of the 75th anniversary celebration, the sale will feature 75 favorite plants of Arboretum staff, members and volunteers. Special signs will highlight these plants, with quotes from the dedicated gardeners describing what it is that they love about their selected plants, why they grow them and the special uses they have found for them.

The sale will take place at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, across from the School of Veterinary Medicine on the UC Davis campus. Free parking is available in Visitor Lot 55 across from the nursery. For more information visit or call (530) 752-4880.

The UC Davis Arboretum was founded in 1936 to strengthen the biological sciences at the university. From its modest beginnings as a small collection of trees and shrubs planted by students and watered with buckets, the Arboretum has developed into a vibrant living museum with 100 acres of gardens, and a documented collection of more than 60,000 plants representing almost 2,500 species and varieties.  It now has a rich menu of public programs that also support research and teaching on campus and promote sustainable landscapes throughout the state.

Arboretum staffers are planning a year of festivities to celebrate its 75th anniversary and to thank the members, donors, volunteers and other supporters who keep the Arboretum growing.

Click here for more information about other upcoming events.


Planting, Maintenance, Prevention: September

September 6th, 2011
This blog will be the first of a four-part series of Planting, Maintenance, Prevention tips for the months of September, October, November and December. We’ve compiled the information from a two different articles, both written by Kathy Tomas-Rico, Solano County Master Gardener, in the newsletter, Seeds for Thought. Click here to see the original article and stay tuned for the rest of the post for this series!

Now is the time to seed delicate salad greens such as arugula, chard, kale, lettuce and mustard. Other vegetables to consider include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, or spinach. Don’t forget about beets, carrots, leeks, onions, and peas, radishes, and turnips, which can also be planted now.

Purple Coneflower with a visitor!

Looking for some fall color? Try blooming perennials such as asters, chrysanthemums, gaillardia, gloriosa daisy, Japanese anemone, lion’s tail, purple coneflower and salvia. For some instant color consider calendula, forget-me-nots, pansies, primrose, sweet peas, or violas which are annuals that are to be planted at the end of the September.


If summer heat persists, keep up the watering schedule until the rainy season begins. Also keep deadheading annuals to keep the blooms coming. Keep up the slow, deep watering of citrus trees.


If you still have tomatoes that are producing, keep on pickin’! Dig or pull any plants that have finished producing or have become diseased. Add only healthy plants to your compost pile.


As the leaves and fruit start to fall, they may harbor disease and can attract nasty yellow jackets. Don’t let debris pile up!

Red Spider Mite

Little red spidery things on your plants may start to show up but you don’t want them. Red spider mites can be kept at bay with insecticidal soap, sulfur or an early-evening spray of horticultural oil.


Basil Harvest!

August 31st, 2011

We are harvesting!  


On Wednesday, September 7th from 10am to 1pm we are inviting any and all to come and harvest fresh basil from our garden. The basil varieties ready for harvest are fino verde, red Rubin, and super sweet chen.  

We suggest that all harvestors bring:  

  • Pair of scissors 
  • Bag 
  • Wet paper towel (to wrap the ends of the basil with)

And our gardener, Pat, will be at the garden to answer any of your questions! We can’t wait to see you there!  

Try some of these pesto recipes:  

Give pesto a kick with some jalapenos!


Spicy Jalapeno Pesto (from Giada De Laurentiis, Click here to see her original recipe) 

Servings: 4-6  


  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (2 inch long) red or green jalapeno pepper, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups Asiago cheese
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces baby spinach
  • 3 ounces arugula
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Directions: In a food processor, combine the walnuts, garlic, jalapeno, cheese, salt and pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth. Add the spinach and arugula and process until blended. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil.     

Basic Basil


Fresh Basil Pesto (from, Click here to see the original recipe)  

Yields 1 cup  


  • 2 cups of fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions: Combine basil with pine or walnuts and pulse a few times in a food processor. Add garlic and pulse a few more times. Slowly add the olive oil in a stream with the food processor running. Add grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you try either of these recipes, let us know how they turned out!!


The Fungus is Among Us!

August 30th, 2011

In the 2009 edition of The Yolo Gardener, Linda Parsons, Yolo County Master Gardener, wrote the article “Foiling the Fungus Fairy”. Click here to read the full article or continue on to see our shortened version.

Black Spot

Seeing spots? White, black or rust colored blotches or lesions usually means fungus has arrived!


For diseases to occur, plant pathogens must come in contact with a susceptible host plant. Therefore pathogens can be past on to plants through transplants, soil, humans, animals, insects, infested seeds and wind or water. The most common garden fungus diseases are powdery mildew, black spot, rust and sooty mold. They are most problematic during the spring and fall seasons due to temperatures and humidity fluctuations.

Powdery Mildew

Follow these easy steps to avoid fungus attacks:

  1. Select high quality plants and seeds. Select plants with healthy looking leaves and strong stems.
  2. Do not plant too early. Plant growth may be slowed by cold temperatures which makes them more susceptible to attack by disease-causing organisms and insects.
  3. Rotate crops. Grow your crops in different parts of your garden each year, be sure not to rotate crops with those in the same plant family.
  4. Avoid over-crowding the plants. Crowding plants creates a moist, humid environment that is favorable to diseases.
  5. Water early in the day. Plants that remain wet throughout the night are more susceptible to disease.
  6. Remove diseased leaves, flowers, and fruits as soon as they are noticed. Disease is easily spread by wind, rain and overhead watering.
  7. Mulch! Mulch prevents soil that may harbor disease-causing organisms from splashing on to plants.
  8. Fertilize carefully. Avoid over-fertilizing because too much nitrogen promote tender, fast growth, which is susceptible to attack by fungi.
  9. Keep insects and insect damage to a minimum. Insect wounds provide entry points for disease-causing organisms.
  10. Practice good gardening sanitation. Always start with a clean planting site.
Sooty Mold