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

August 28th, 2009

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.

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Basil Harvest–There’s still more! A Lot More!

August 28th, 2009

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!

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Join us for a basil picking party this Thursday!

August 25th, 2009

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.

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Red Velvet Okra and Love Lies Bleeding

August 24th, 2009

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.

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Cantaloupes from Food Science & Technology Students

August 21st, 2009

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.

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We’re on TV! We’re on TV!

August 20th, 2009

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!

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Green Bean Seed Saving

August 20th, 2009

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!

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