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FREE HERB HARVEST this Tuesday, July 27 from 9:30-2:00!!

July 23rd, 2010
Download the flyer above by clicking on the image or here.  (Adobe Acrobat is required.)

In honor of Arlene’s last day as gardener of the  UC Davis Good Life Garden, we’re hosting another herb harvest this Tuesday, July 27 from 9:30 AM – 2 PM.  I cannot even think about the fact that she is moving onto greener pastures in the Bay Area.  We will miss her terribly and wish her lots of luck with her new endeavors.  (In other words, please don’t go!!)

Pretty much every herb is available for harvest (oregano, basil, sage, chives, rosemary, thyme and mint) except the lavender, which, as you may already know, was harvested a few weeks ago.

If you are interested, please RSVP to so we know how many people will be attending. Directions to the garden can be found on our website:

The give-away is free to attend; we just need you to 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)
* water to drink (because it’s going to be hot!)


Our gardener Arlene will be there all day to answer your questions about the different herbs and the harvesting process, as well as to direct you to the correct plants. We ask that no one remove entire plants or remove more than half of the leaves or flowers from any particular plant.


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!


Olive Harvest in the UC Davis Good Life Garden

November 9th, 2009

It’s that time of year, and, although the small trellised olive trees we have planted in the garden are small, they have produced quite a few good looking olives. Now what do we do?

UC Davis Olive Center
Arlene learns from campus olive expert Dan Flynn, Executive Director of the UC Davis Olive Center, to assist in the garden’s olive harvest. The UC Davis Olive Center is the only center of its kind in North America conducting outreach and research on olives and olive oil. To find out more about who they are and what they do visit their website.

About Our Olives
In the UC Davis Good Life garden we grow Arbequina olives using a trellis system. This type of olive and high-density method is the future of olive farming in California which is why we’ve chosen to demonstrate it here!

When Are Your Olives Ready to Harvest?
Dan Flynn goes over with Arlene the tell-tale signs of when olives are ready to harvest.

Good for Olive Oil and Table Olives
Arlene asks Dan whether she could also cure the olives and make table olives rather than harvest the olives for olive oil.

Methods to Use for Safely Curing Olives
Here Dan discussed with Arlene the main methods for curing olives and refers her to this free publication from the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources called Olives: Safe Methods for Home Pickling.

Organic Methods for Controlling Olive Flies
Arlene and Dan discuss orgnanic methods for controlling olive pests by using a spray called GF120 (It doesn’t sound organic, but it is!) or by using of fly traps.


Chive Talkin’–How to divide and transplant this perennial favorite

October 8th, 2009

Here Arlene talks about prepping your chives for transplant to other areas of your garden. Chives are a perennial herb. When they get a little too big you can divide them and replant them–it’s a two for one deal! You’ll be sure to always have a supply, or you can give some to your family, friends or neighbors. These tips don’t apply to chives only. This technique can be replicated on many different types of perennials.
Once the large clump of chives has been removed. The next step is to divide it. In this video Arlene talks about how she completes this step and the type of tool that she uses. First of all she looks for a natural break in the plant, then she uses a garden saw to separate the two areas.
Now that you have your chives separated, you can transplant them to another area of your garden or into someone else’s yard! In this video Arlene goes over the steps necessary to prepare the soil for the transplants by first, digging the hole and getting the soil nice and moist.
Fear not if your transplants look as if they have seen better days in the weeks ahead. They are okay, but they are in recovery mode because they have had an operation. As Arlene says, “When you get home from an operation you don’t look so good, but you bounce back!” That is what will happen in a month or so after your transplants have had time to adjust.


Planting Carrot Seeds in the Winter Demonstration Bed

October 6th, 2009

Here is a video of showing Arlene’s techniques for planting seeds in the garden.

Step 1
Make sure your soil is damp. Sprinkle it for a minute or two before getting to work.

Step 2
Lightly “draw” a line(s) in the soil where you want your seeds to go. We use a soil knife which is pretty cool do draw out the lines. Some people call it a weed knife because if the handy serrated edge. No matter what you call it, it works, so it is no wonder it comes from a line of instruments called, “Tools That Work.”

Step 3
Lay down your seeds in the lines, leaving just enough room for a bit of soil on top. The rule is that each seed should only be covered by soil at 2-3 times the seed’s size. For example, if your seed is 2 mm wide, cover it with about 4 mm of soil. Arlene sows many seeds in each line to ensure lots of germination, then will go back and thin the lines when she can see which seedlings are the strongest.

Step 4
Cover your seeds with soil using Arlene’s light “scrunching” or scratching technique. See Step 3 for more information on how much soil with which you should cover your seeds.

Step 5
Lightly water the area where seeds were sown again and be sure that it doesn’t dry out. Dried out seeds will not germinate, but seeds in overly wet soil have a hard time germinating too! It’s a fine line, so be careful and have fun!


Gardening Along with Arlene: Amending Your Soil

October 2nd, 2009


Before you plant, it’s important to amend your soil in order restore nutrients that may be depleted after your summer crops were harvested. Soil quality can vary a great from yard to yard. If you believe your soil may be the root of an underlying problem, you may want to consider getting your soil tested by your county agricultural cooperative extension. That is what we’ve done. You can read more the amendments we employ in the garden and why here. (This is a large .pdf document because there are four short videos embedded in it. You can also view the videos on our Facebook Fan page or below. If you aren’t already a fan you can become one here for free!)

Long story short, the soil in our garden requires a bit more amending than most. Overall, for the average organic garden, we recommend, and we also will add gypsum (calcium sulfate), 3-4-3 dried chicken manure pellets, and compost. For a garden that is about 100 square feet, sprinkle on about 1 coffee can full of gypsum, and another 5 coffee cans full of dried chicken manure pellets; then layer on about an inch of compost. Work it into the soil by using a spading fork and hula hoe. Last, use a bow head rake to smooth and level the area.


Winter Garden Plan–Now Available for Download!

September 28th, 2009

Even though it’s still quite warm here in the valley, it’s time to start preparing for your fall/winter garden!

Not sure what to do? Fear not! I have the plan for you! Click here to download the plan I’ll be using in a square of the Good Life Garden that we’ve dedicated as our Winter demonstration area for the home gardener—it’s relatively small, about 11’ wide by 12’ tall, but it’s packed full with seasonal favorites. Feel free to substitute what we have planned here with some of your own favorites. You’ll also find brightly colored companion plants, like calendula and garlic chives, proven to organically help your garden flourish.

As we go through the season, I’ll also be helping you prepare your soil, and share with you some of the challenges and successes I encounter as I ‘work the dirt’ here in Davis, California. We hope you’ll follow along and keep us updated on your progress by posting your successes, questions, trials and tribulations right here on our blog, on our Facebook Fan page, or by emailing us at

Keep up to date! Sign up for the UC Davis Good Life Garden newsletter on the home page of our website for the latest information on all the “Growings-On” in our garden!

We look forward to seeing you in the garden this winter!