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Holiday Herb Harvest at the UC Davis Good LIfe Garden!

December 14th, 2009

There’s never enough time, especially this time of year! Take a break from the stresses of the holiday season and join us in the UC Davis Good Life Garden for another free herb harvest!

WHEN: Thursday, December 17
TIME: Anytime between 9:30 AM and 2 PM
WHERE: UC Davis Good Life Garden (In the courtyard of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science)


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)

Below are a couple great ideas on how you can use the herbs from our garden to make some fast and easy gifts for that special gourmand in your life!

HOW TO: Making Rosemary Salt

HOW TO: Making Herbed Butter


Microclimates: Your garden may have more than one!

December 10th, 2009
Considering the unseasonably low temperatures we’ve been experiencing lately, Ed Nordstrom, UC Davis Good Life Garden Supervisor, wanted to remind our readers how various microclimates within your yard can impact plant vitality.

Not sure what a microclimate is? It is just a fancy name for a piece of land that is subject to experiencing multiple climates. For example, in an urban garden, the concrete and asphalt that absorbs the sun’s energy will radiate heat into the surrounding air and warm the garden’s environment. Lack of protection or care to combat from this kind of severe heat can threaten a plant’s well being.

Cold microclimates are also potentially dangerous, and can occur when plants are located near a body of water. The ground in these areas tends to be much cooler for longer periods of time than ground located just steps away. Being aware of your yard’s potential for microclimates should influence what plants you place in your garden and where.

Sometimes, like us, you just learn the hard way. The Good Life Garden is surrounded by UC Davis’ Food Science and Sensory buildings which create a wind tunnel running through a part of the garden. We have our nasturtium planted in two places in the garden–these are great winter plants because they can survive low temperatures, but, at the same time, they are a soft leaf plant which is very sensitive to wind.

One of our nasturtium plants is located in a wind tunnel created by the separation of the RMI North building and the Food Science Sensory building (shown in the upper left photo) The other nasturtium plant location is protected by the corner created by the RMI North and RMI South buildings (upper right picture). The two lower photos on the left and right show how the nasturtium plants are reacting to their two different microclimates, the left photo shows the nasturtium affected by the wind tunnel while the photo on the right shows the nasturtium that is protected and thriving. These photos show how easily such little things, like a protecting wall, can have a great effect on a garden and how they create microclimates.

As gardeners we are far from perfect! We thought you’d like to know how are plants are affected by the weather just like everyone else and hope you picked up some tips to help your plants ride out the rest of this chilly season.


Get Ready to Fight the Frost

December 8th, 2009

This week no one can escape the cold, but your citrus doesn’t have to suffer! To protect your citrus trees from mother nature wrap them in anything from a paper bag to a bed sheet. Pictured here are our orange trees wrapped in burlap. Your goal during the cold temperatures is to retain the plant’s heat or to provide it with an outside heat source. Not sold on the tarp look for your front lawn? Make it festive and wrap Christmas lights around the trunk and stems of the plant to warm the leaves at night.

There are some other great ways to prevent this from happening next winter as well; try planting your trees close together or up against a wall on the south-facing side of your house. Another trick to preventing cold damage is to plant your trees on a higher surface or at the top of a slope because cold winds tend to travel downhill and collect at lower points.