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Thank You Wild Boar Farms for the Outrageous Tomatoes!

May 28th, 2010

Yesterday Arlene planted the tomatoes donated to our garden from Wild Boar Farms. They are located just down the road (I-80W) in Suisun Valley. Thank you so much to Wild Boar Farms farmer Brad Gates (pictured above) for sending us the following tweet that got the ball rolling:

@goodlifegarden can I offer you some tomato plants for trial?? Locally bred and dressed to impress.

The answer of course was yes AND thank you, but then I started to dig a little deeper into that background of Wild Boar Farms. Was it a good fit for our garden? But the question, really should have been, is our garden really good enough for them!

Check out these endorsements from a couple folks you may have heard of like the staff of Alice Waters at Chez Panisse who had this to say:

“Wild Boar Farm’s Tomatoes are Beautiful and Flavorful. They’re Tomatoes You’ll Never Forget.”

AND Michael Pollan

“I grew a half dozen different Wild Boar varieties in my Berkeley garden in 2009 and they performed exceptionally well– vigorous plants, with some unusual colors and shapes and excellent flavor.”

Not bad, huh? We are really excited to see how they do here! Below is a list of the varieties that we have planted, and, where possible, links to their website where you can buy the seeds.

Pink Berkeley Tie Dye
Large Barred Boar
Black & Brown Boar
Boar King

Next year they will hopefully have starts available for larger public consumption. This year the 2,000 plants they had available sold in two days! Check out a photo of these lovlies and their rainbow of color below!

But, like Brad says, “You may buy a tomato once just because it looks cool, but you won’t keep buying it unless it tastes great too.” At Wild Boar Farms looks aren’t enough it’s all about the taste, and these tomatoes have at all!


Container Gardening Question?

May 27th, 2010

We received a question from one of our readers about the safety of gardening in containers and which container material is the best, but we don’t have answer. Does our audience have any information to share on the topic? Any advice would be much appreciated! See our reader’s question below.


I have a very important question and think UCDavis may be the best place to get an answer….

Is it safe to grow vegetables in plastic containers, such as the “plastic” clay colored pots sold at nurseries, and the black gallon or more containers that many plants are sold in? If drinking water from plastic bottles can be dangerous, can this practice be also?
…and how about clay type pots…. how does one know if they contain lead, and if so does in end up in the plants grown in them?
I have been using containers – to grow tomatoes and peppers- for several reasons, mainly to avoid ground critters…but many other folks use them to grow plants on their patios. If using such containers is a heath hazard, it would be kind of you to let us all know.


I wish we had an answer from the UC Davis archives, but I was not able to find one! I am sorry we couldn’t be more help! You may want to locate a one of your local Master Gardeners and ask them as well. I know that their are quite a few that read our blog, so stay tuned here too!


Phyto… what?

May 26th, 2010

Does this look familiar?

If any plants in your garden have this appearance and you’re wondering what it is, then your plants probably have a bad case of phytophthora – a slow-moving but hard-to-combat fungus-like rot that can wipe out entire beds. Originally classified as a fungus, it is actually now considered an oomycetes, which grows in warm, moist soil and basically causes the plant to rot from the inside out.

According to the UC Integrated Pest Management website, the pathogen initially makes plants look like they are suffering from drought, and plants will wilt and die quickly with the first warm weather of the season. Leaves can also turn dull green or yellow.

So what are you supposed to do to combat this annoying disease, which took out some of our purple sage? The best thing to do is to make sure the area has good drainage and don’t over-water. Once it has infected an area, try not to spread the soil or plants to other areas, and you can also try rotating in more resistant plants that require less water or are acid-loving. Be sure not to plant things like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers or pole beans in areas previously affected because those plants are particularly susceptible. Other alternatives are solarization (covering the area to warm it up enough to sterilize the soil) or fungicides.

In this particular instance we removed the sage and planted basil. The basil is a short-lived crop and will be removed in the fall anyway, so we are hoping that the phtyophthera will not move fast enough to affect the new plants.

For more information about phytophthora, visit the UC IPM website.


Pretty plants!

May 24th, 2010

While walking through the garden with Arlene the other day there were two particular plants that stood out to me for some reason, and I wanted to do a little mini-feature on them. No, they aren’t edible, but they sure are lovely to look at, and would add nice color to any garden – edible or otherwise!

The first one was santolina, specifically Santolina chamaecyparissus, also known as cotton lavender or gray santolina. It’s a beautiful little evergreen shrub that requires little water and explodes with little yellow or white flowers. Arlene likened them to a “star-filled sky.” Can’t go wrong there!The second plant that caught my eye was the Rudbeckia. These flowers are thriving and have had a bit of a success story at well. One of the beds got waterlogged from runoff lawn irrigation, and all the Rudbeckia died. Arlene improved the drainage in the bed, and the Rudbeckia came back and are now flourishing! Arlene said that she has found the key with Rudbeckia is good drainage and full sun, and recommends using them in raised beds as raised beds tend to have better drainage.
Another cheerful flower that would brighten anyone’s garden!


Summer is almost here!

May 21st, 2010

I visited Arlene yesterday and got an update about all of the exciting new plants going in next week! Check out the array of seeds we’ll be planting.

These are just the new varieties that are different from last summer’s crops. Pictured above are sugar pumpkins, martian jewels and sugar pearl corn, elephant head and Hopi red dye amaranth, and Kentucky wonder pole beans. Apparently last year the pole beans, though they had pretty flowers, didn’t produce very well due to the heat. According to the Master Gardener website, the pollen of many different pole bean varieties dies at temperatures of 90 degrees and above, and they recommended the Kentucky wonder and blue lake varieties specifically for this area.

The scarlet runner pole beans didn’t produce very well either, but the flowers were so pretty that we are going to plant them again! Check out how beautiful the plant was last year:
Some of the other plants we’ll be adding are tomatoes, squash, melons, bush beans, cucumbers, eggplant and chillis. Yum! Check out the “garden” section of the Good Life Garden website to see all of the different veggies and flowers going in soon, and click on the images to learn more about the specific varieties!


We’re Listed on’s Gardening Blog Page!

May 17th, 2010

For “Blog Recommendation Monday” we bring you so many gardening blogs from all over that you won’t know what hit you! We bring you the gardening page:


Above is a photo of a regal looking blue jay on top of one of a garden trellis. We’re not sure why we thought this photo was appropriate for today’s entry other than he or she is on top of the trellis, and the UC Davis Good Life Garden is now listed on It’s a stretch, we know!

What the heck is Well…from one newbie to another (my apologies for waking up to this cool site so recently), this is the place where you can go to find out “what is happening now” on a variety of topics…like gardening. And, when it comes to gardening, UC Davis Good Life Garden is now listed with other really interesting, informative and educational garden bloggers!! We are so excited! You have to scroll all the way to the bottom, but there we are!

Check out all of the sites, you will definitely be bookmarking quite a few for future reference! If and when you do, let us know which you like!


BEFORE and AFTER: Transition Time!

May 13th, 2010

Doesn’t everyone just love before & after photos? I know I do, so that’s what we’re bringing you today! We are transitioning to our spring/summer edibles in the garden right now! It is a little barren, but we are laying the ‘ground’ work for a prolific season of yummy produce by amending the soil with compost and Renovate Plus from Earthworks.

Next on our calendar, Arlene will be planting the produce we grow from seed and finally, on May 25, she, along with other UC Davis groundskeepers, will plant the starts we grow at a local nursery as well as the tomatoes that Wild Boar Farms has generously donated!

For now, here are some before and after photos for you to enjoy! Do you have any before and after photos you’d like to share? If so, please post them on our Facebook page!

BEFORE: In the before photo Arlene has just started harvesting the winter produce.

AFTER: This is what it looks like today! Slightly more barren, right?

BEFORE: This is a shot of what our artichokes looked like at the beginning of March.

AFTER: We have pruned the artichokes down to their roots. They will grow back next year! (This one already has started growing back! (Don’t you love that ladybug on it!)) Over the spring/summer season okra will be planted here.

BEFORE: Here is our crimson clover patch at the height of its bloom! We planted the clover here to reintroduce the nutrients lost after growing corn in this area last summer.

AFTER: The clover was cut down and tilled back into the earth. This area is again ready to grow corn!