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Top 8 “MOST BANG FOR YOUR BUCK” Picks for Your Garden

April 29th, 2010

We plant edible garden’s because we want produce, but sometimes it is difficult to pick what to grow. How do you know what edibles are really prolific? With this list we try to take a little out of the guessing game!

Based on last summer’s crops, UC Davis Good Life Garden gardener Arlene Kennedy has chosen the varieties she felt gave us the “MOST BANG FOR OUR BUCK,” and these days, that is what we need! Here is her list in no particular order:


  • Basil ‘Super Sweet Chen’
  • Armenian Cucumber
  • Lemon Cucumber
  • Eggplant ‘Snowy’
  • Chili Pepper ‘Serrano’
  • Squash ‘Dark Star Zucchini’
  • Squash ‘Reve Scallopini’
  • Tomato ‘Chadwick Cherry’

We wish we could tell you where to secure these varieties locally! If you know or have your own “Most Bang For Your Buck” picks, please let us know by commenting on this post!

Happy harvesting!


Great Gardening Resource: CALIFORNIA GARDENING Advice to Grow By

April 28th, 2010

Starting and maintaining a productive edible home garden is not easy! It takes time and patience because something unexpected always throws a wrench into the most well-laid plans.

Where do you go for help? Here is a fantastic resource to answer a huge variety of your gardening questions for those of you who live and garden in California: California Gardening–Advice to Grow By. On this site you will find tons of useful information ranging from “Gardening Basics” to “Poisonous Plants.” There’s even a link to to help you find a local master gardener as well as a list of upcoming classes and events.

This site is a service of the University of California Cooperative Extension. (If you don’t live in California, just google your state name, “gardening” and “cooperative extension.” The plethora of information they offer will blow your mind!)


Lemon Tree UPDATE!

April 27th, 2010

Remember last week when I told you about our poor, little lemon tree? (If not, here is the link.) Well, unbeknown to me, the problem of our weak and unhealthy tree had already been solved by garden supervisor Ed Nordstrom! (That’s what happens when I don’t run blog entries by him first!)

Last year sometime this lemon tree was transplanted from a different location in the garden. Transplanting is always tricky, because what ends up happening usually is that a lot of the root mass gets left behind which makes it difficult for the tree to support its former self. That’s what happened here.

The way you can combat this difficulty is to prune it back HARD after transplanting! That way the tree doesn’t have to support the size that it once was. Makes sense, right? Well, since we didn’t prune it hard right of the bat, and the tree was obviously struggling, Ed decided to make one last ditch effort to save the tree. This last February he pruned it back HARD! (See how much smaller the tree is?)

The good news is that the pruning seems to have done the job! Doesn’t our eureka lemon tree look so much happier now? It’s pushing out dark green leaves and I bet the little guy gives us more than one lemon this year!


Blog Recommendation Monday: READ BETWEEN THE LIMES!

April 26th, 2010

First of all..great name, right? The author Carri describes herself as “…an organic gardener, lifetime farm girl, lover of all things citrus and anything green, limoncello fanatic, just enjoying a different world through my daughter’s eyes. I like to use bad grammar, cuss words, and poor quality photos- it’s kinda my ‘thang.” What’s not to like with an intro like that?

Secondly, I just love the tone and the content. Check it out here: Read Between the Limes. It is so nice to read about one’s real life gardening experiences and experiments! It’s not always easy (See her entry about growing artichokes in her front yard: We’re Having Babies.), and it’s not always pretty (See her entry: My Ugly Garden.).

Best of luck to your new baby artichokes and wishing you continued success with the rest of your garden! We appreciate your support and interest!

Below is a photo of the artichoke plant (also known as the “big blue weed” by passersby) growing in Carri’s front yard.

Below is a photo of the nasturtium flowers Carri has incorporated in her family meals. Nice!


Including Flowers in Your Vegetable Garden

April 22nd, 2010

If you have a small plot, sometimes you just plain don’t want to give up the space to plant flowers for the sake of a few blossoms, but you should try it out this season! They don’t really need much space and the benefits of having them there for the purposes of attracting pollinators and beneficial insects may just amplify the production of the common edibles that you do grow. Plus, it’s just nice to diversify your garden texture, design and color.

Below are some of the flowers we grow to mix things up a little; some of them are even edible!

It is quite drought tolerant and known for attracting butterflies. In the middle ages, before the use of hops in beer, yarrow was used to flavor beer.



RUDBEKIA (Black-Eyed Susan) These can grow between 18 and 36 inches high in full sun and will tolerate dray conditions. Let the bloom dry out on the plant and after the petals fall off, pick the seen head. Running your thumbnail along the seedpod will give you tiny rudbekia seeds.

These are profuse bloomers if constantly deadheaded. It is edible and known as “poor man’s saffron” because its color and mild peppery taste make it an inexpensive alternative for the Spanish condiment.


Struggling Lemon Tree

April 21st, 2010

Sometimes it takes time for fruit trees to establish themselves. I know that most of our fruit trees look much healthier and happier this spring than last spring. The ground that they were planted in had been severely compacted for the construction of the surrounding Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. It would be struggle for anything to establish itself in that type of of soil despite our best attempts to amend and break up the earth. Not to mention we had some really cold days and nights this winter which didn’t help the cause.

Our Eureka Lemon tree continues to fight a good fight and actually produced a lemon this season! (Looks kinda funny, right?) Garden Supervisor Ed Nordstrom let me know that they would be amending the soil with iron to help this tree along and explained that that deficiency, among other things, is one of the causes of this tree’s yellow leaves.


Crimson & Clover!

April 20th, 2010

Why have we chosen to plant a portion of the garden with crimson clover and not something edible? Crimson clover is planted in the garden as a cover crop. Cover crops are an essential part of any vegetable garden and perform and number of different tasks:

  • Produce nitrogen which helps bring a natural balance back to the soil post harvest
  • Attracts beneficial insects
  • Aids in soil erosion
  • Adds organic matter back to the soil
  • Looks nice too, don’t you think?

Corn is especially hard on soil, and if you are familiar with last summer’s garden, then you know we had corn planted here in the past. (See last August’s entry.) The crimson clover will help restore the nutrients lost growing corn last summer so we can grow more this summer. It’s easy and looks fantastically lush!!


They weren’t kidding about the clover part! You can see where a creature, we’re guessing a bunny, chomped off the baby red flowers back in February! Do you see the headless stalks? I bet they tasted great!


Aren’t the fuzzy red flowers beautiful?