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After attending our basil harvest, make a Caprese salad!

September 30th, 2011

Special thanks to Kate Hutchinson, owner of Ciocolat Extraordinary Desserts, for this article.

At Ciocolat we love working with basil.  We incorporate the fresh herb into many of our Italian-inspired dishes.

If you’d like to experience locally grown basil all year around-try freezing!  We recommend a summer purchase from the Farmer’s Market, or harvesting it on a community harvest day from the Good Life Garden.  Make your favorite pesto sauce, let it cool, and then freeze the sauce in an ice cube tray.  This will give you individual portions of pesto that can be used in your pasta dishes all year long.

Visiting the Good Life Garden in the summer is a great way to experience the flavor differences in the many varieties of basil grown there.

One can do just about anything to basil for fabulous taste results.  We chop basil to include in our pesto mayonnaise, use it as a condiment on our bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, sautee it for our tortellini sauce, and chiffonade the herb for our panzanella salad.

To experience the true flavor of basil, we recommend making a Caprese salad.  This salad calls for using either whole leaves of basil, or if you prefer a less leafy salad, chopped basil.

In Italy this salad is served as an antipasto or appetizer. You will achieve the best flavor if you purchase your ingredients from a Farmer’s Market, or pick your ingredients from the Good Life Garden.  Freshness is key to a great Caprese salad.

Caprese salad photo from Ciocolat

Caprese Salad


sliced fresh mozzarella
sliced fresh tomatoes
sliced or whole basil leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper
Kalamata olives


Alternate tomato slices, and fresh mozzarella slices on the plate and arrange basil and olives on top.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil.



Last chance FREE basil harvest!

September 28th, 2011

herb harvest flyer

Don’t miss the end of the season FREE basil herb harvest at the Good Life Garden!   Basil will be removed after this harvest to make room for our fall plants, so get your Ziploc bags ready!

WHEN: Friday, September 30
TIME: Anytime between 9 AM and 2 PM
WHERE: UC Davis Good Life Garden – in the courtyard of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.  click here for directions.

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)


Penultimate plant sale of 2011!

September 12th, 2011

Support our friends at the Arboretum and don’t miss the upcoming fall plant sale!

Gruss an aachen

Gruss an Aachen floribunda rose is the featured Arboretum All-Star at this fall’s plant sales. Ellen Zagory/Courtesy photo

What: UC Davis Arboretum’s 75th anniversary Plant Faire and Sale

When: Saturday, Sept. 24; member sale 9 to 11 a.m., public sale 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Where: Arboretum Teaching Nursery, Garrod Drive, UC Davis.  Click here for directions.

Anyone interested in plants and gardening will want to attend the biggest and best plant sale in the Central Valley at the UC Davis Arboretum on Saturday, Sept. 24.

This year’s Plant Faire and Sale is a celebration of the Arboretum’s 75th anniversary, and will feature hundreds of varieties of great plants for Central Valley gardens, including the Arboretum All-Stars and house plants and exotics from the Botanical Conservatory.

There will be a members-only sale from 9 to 11 a.m. with live music and free children’s activities, and a public sale from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Anyone may join or renew at the door for early admission and a 10 percent member discount. New members get a free plant.

Arboretum staff members and volunteers will be available to provide expert advice on choosing the best plants for shoppers’ garden conditions.

As part of the 75th anniversary celebration, the sale will feature 75 favorite plants of Arboretum staff, members and volunteers. Special signs will highlight these plants, with quotes from the dedicated gardeners describing what it is that they love about their selected plants, why they grow them and the special uses they have found for them.

The sale will take place at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, across from the School of Veterinary Medicine on the UC Davis campus. Free parking is available in Visitor Lot 55 across from the nursery. For more information visit or call (530) 752-4880.

The UC Davis Arboretum was founded in 1936 to strengthen the biological sciences at the university. From its modest beginnings as a small collection of trees and shrubs planted by students and watered with buckets, the Arboretum has developed into a vibrant living museum with 100 acres of gardens, and a documented collection of more than 60,000 plants representing almost 2,500 species and varieties.  It now has a rich menu of public programs that also support research and teaching on campus and promote sustainable landscapes throughout the state.

Arboretum staffers are planning a year of festivities to celebrate its 75th anniversary and to thank the members, donors, volunteers and other supporters who keep the Arboretum growing.

Click here for more information about other upcoming events.


Planting, Maintenance, Prevention: September

September 6th, 2011
This blog will be the first of a four-part series of Planting, Maintenance, Prevention tips for the months of September, October, November and December. We’ve compiled the information from a two different articles, both written by Kathy Tomas-Rico, Solano County Master Gardener, in the newsletter, Seeds for Thought. Click here to see the original article and stay tuned for the rest of the post for this series!

Now is the time to seed delicate salad greens such as arugula, chard, kale, lettuce and mustard. Other vegetables to consider include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, or spinach. Don’t forget about beets, carrots, leeks, onions, and peas, radishes, and turnips, which can also be planted now.

Purple Coneflower with a visitor!

Looking for some fall color? Try blooming perennials such as asters, chrysanthemums, gaillardia, gloriosa daisy, Japanese anemone, lion’s tail, purple coneflower and salvia. For some instant color consider calendula, forget-me-nots, pansies, primrose, sweet peas, or violas which are annuals that are to be planted at the end of the September.


If summer heat persists, keep up the watering schedule until the rainy season begins. Also keep deadheading annuals to keep the blooms coming. Keep up the slow, deep watering of citrus trees.


If you still have tomatoes that are producing, keep on pickin’! Dig or pull any plants that have finished producing or have become diseased. Add only healthy plants to your compost pile.


As the leaves and fruit start to fall, they may harbor disease and can attract nasty yellow jackets. Don’t let debris pile up!

Red Spider Mite

Little red spidery things on your plants may start to show up but you don’t want them. Red spider mites can be kept at bay with insecticidal soap, sulfur or an early-evening spray of horticultural oil.