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Blog Recommendation Monday

April 20th, 2010

First of all, I know today is Tuesday, but doesn’t blog recommendation Monday sound so much better? The name has inspired me to share a blog or two that I enjoy, on topics I think you might enjoy on Mondays…maybe not every Monday, but I’ll try! There are so many gardeners, enthusiasts, photographers, artists, ‘locavores,’ farmers, sustainable agriculture experts, etc. out there that write on topics I know I could not begin to cover!

So, for the debut of ‘Blog Recommendation Monday’ I give you– Chuck, the author, came to my attention via Carri at Read Between the Limes (another fun read and deserving of its own ‘Recommendation Monday’). Thank you to both of them for coming to the UC Davis Good Life Garden and talking, tweeting and writing about their experiences. Here is a link to his DO NOT MISS slideshow and posting about the garden.

Here are a couple of my faves:

I love how perfect her sweatshirt looks against our crimson clover!

I’m going to miss our Winter/Fall edibles like the chard and kale seen here:

Chuck from posted some really wonderful photographs that we are lucky to have of our Winter/Spring plantings. He takes a lot of very inspirational photographs of various types of gardens, landscapes, arboretums, nurseries, cemeteries…the list goes on. Long story short, not only does he offer lots of eye candy, his blog includes links to many useful resources for gardeners and enthusiasts alike.

Thank you Chuck and another thank you to Chuck’s readers whose enthusiastic responses to our garden inspire us!



April 16th, 2010

Last year Sierra Nevada Brewing donated the Chinook and Cascade varieties of hops to the UC Davis Good Life Garden to grow in our “Malting and Brewing” demonstration bed.

Hops are a hardy climbing perennial vines that can grow 20-25 feet in a season. We are currently in the process of building a make shift trellis for the vines right now, but it is a race against time as a couple weeks ago they showed no signs of life and now are rapidly crawling up the blue stakes our garden supervisor Ed Nordstrom installed last week!

In beer making the brewer essentially extracts the sugars from barley malt from the hop flowers and then ferments them. The hops, with their bitter oils are used to counter of the sweetness of the fermented malt. Hops are also used as a natural preservative – beer with hops keeps fresher longer.

From what I understand these vines have been known to grow a foot in a day under ideal conditions. They will die back to the crown each fall and hop back again each spring!

BEFORE (A better before photo would just show a brown stump which is what this looked like a couple weeks ago!):


I just love the texture that the leaves have, don’t you?



April 15th, 2010

A couple weeks ago UC Davis Good Life Garden gardener Arlene Kennedy planted two secret messages using radish seeds, one on either side of our pea trellis in the home garden demonstration bed. Now, just in time for UC Davis Picnic Day, that message has been revealed!

This is what it looked like before:

Here is the message on the east side of the trellis…”UC DAVIS AGGIES”

Here is the message on the west side of the trellis: “GRO AGS!” along with a mustang head made of radish seedlings. Isn’t she a great artist as well as gardener?


Massive Fennel Bulbs!

April 14th, 2010

We’ve let our fennel go! We planted this fennel last fall! Although it is kind of hard to tell from these photos, these bulbs are really quite large and have started to grow sprout entirely new fennel bulbs! They have not yet started to flower, but when they do, the flowers will provide a nice habitat for bees and butterflies and eventually allow the fennel to self-propagate.

Fennel fun fact: Fennel is a carminative, also known as carminativum (plural carminativa), which is an herb or preparation that either prevents formation of gas in the gastrointestinal tract, or facilitates the expulsion of said gas, thereby combating flatulence.

Here are some tips from eHow on growing the perennial fennel! Did you know that fennel, “Does not play well with others?” The eHow article recommends that you avoid growing fennel near tomatoes, beans and cabbage plants because the fennel interferes with their growth. On the flip side coriander tends to interfere with fennel’s growth. We’ve got our fennel growing with beets and both are doing great!


How Do You Enjoy the UC Davis Good Life Garden?

April 12th, 2010

Many thanks to our first guest blogger, nutritional biology graduate student, Rebecca Tryon Her writing will also be featured in Davis Life Magazine in a new column entitled “Mindful Self Indulgence” beginning with the May 1, 2010 issue.

You can also keep up to date with her thoughtful insights via her own blog Off White Living where she gives her readers a peak into the trials and tribulations involved in ridding her body of a self-described addiction to sugar and flour while still enjoying a good burger!

Rudbekia aka Black-Eyed Susan photo courtesy of Rebecca Tryon.

I happened upon the Good Life Garden last September when I had a seminar class in the RMI building. What a wonderful surprise. As an inspiring gardener and lover of all things veggie, I am always impressed by a garden that weaves natural beauty with function. The Good Life Garden does just that. I recall several afternoons when I’d take my lunch in the garden or go to do some reading, as it was comforting to simply sit in the garden and find some peace amidst my first year of grad school. The garden is always in bloom and it’s been fun to see what changes as the seasons change. It’s a subtle education in seasonal eating.

Naturally, my curiosity about this garden grew. Who tends this garden? Who gets to eat all this great produce? Why doesn’t my garden look anything like this? After asking around a bit I learned that the garden does in fact allow folks to pick the herbs and produce on designated picking days and I was impressed by this. Not only is this garden really lovely to look at and a nice sanctuary to enjoy, it’s also an edible extravaganza for those who become friends of the garden. How cool. I found the garden website and love the interesting recipes, the colorful web display that certainly matches the look of the garden itself.

As a grad student in nutrition and also a huge advocate of community wellness, I see this garden as an example of how it is possible to educate, feed, and inspire people to invite better healthy into their lives. The fact that the garden is also a destination spot for events is also a clever way to provide an aesthetic venue for that also sends a message about health and eating natural foods without being overt.

Unfortunately my own garden did not sustain itself this past year (I just don’t have a green thumb – yet!) but I still get constant reassurance that it is possible to have a thriving garden every time I head to the Good Life Garden. These days I’m happening over there a few times a month to to eat lunch, check out what’s in bloom, attend an event, or take some photos. It’s such a blessing that we have this resource right here on campus and that anybody can enjoy it free of charge. Thanks to the staff who maintain the garden, what a gift you provide!


Apple Tree Trellis–SPRING UPDATE!

April 8th, 2010

Last August we blogged about our Fuji apple tree trellis. Incorporating trellis systems into your edible garden is a great way to grow fruit trees with limited space. (You’ll find some great resources in the previously mentioned blog entry.)

Despite the wonderful trellis and quality tree, last year’s Fuji apple crop was a little disappointing. (We got one apple!) But as you experienced gardeners know, these things take time! Our fruit trees, after having a year a half in the ground are looking happier than ever and pushing out the blooms to prove it.

Below are some photos of what our apple tree looked like a couple days ago! Our crack team of gardeners continues to train the tree to the trellis. Doesn’t it look great and look at all those blossoms! This harvest season we’ll be able to look back at our one apple season with a chuckle!


Shungiku Greens: Get to Know Them!

April 7th, 2010

If you want an easy to grow, majorly prolific, beautiful green to grow in your garden, plant shungiku greens. You will not be disappointed! Ours are just starting to flower now with beautiful, edible yellow blossoms and guess what! The greens still taste great!

Below you will find a little information about shungiku greens from our Web site:

Chrysanthemum coronarium

Also known as chrysanthemum greens, shungiku produces attractive edible leaves and adds bright colors to your garden with its orange, cream, and yellow flowers that are also edible. The tender greens have a unique and zesty flavor. Harvest at 4-6 inches for fresh use or braising. Lovely 1-3 inch flowers make a nice addition to mixed salad greens, or can be used as an edible garnish.

Here are some quick tips on growing greens from the Organic Gardening Newsletter.

Here is a photo of what our shungiku bed looked like in February:

This is what it looked like a few days ago:

Every single one of those leaves is delicious and edible! No need to buy greens at the grocery store or farmer’s market when you’ve got these growing in your garden!

Here is a photo of those deliciously beautiful flowers!