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Decorating Your Edible Garden with Alyssum!

August 19th, 2010
See our gardener Pat Stoeffel trimming the white alyssum border around our tomato plant bed.

We get great feedback on how beautiful our edible garden looks. (THANK YOU!  We love to hear your feedback!)  We have our campus senior landscape designer Christina DeMartini Reyes to thank for her excellent planting plans!  She likes to use borders of different types of flowers to achieve a variety of goals.  Planting flowers around your edibles not only attracts pollinators, the colors of the flowers provide contrast to the greenery of the fruit and vegetable leaves, they are excellent around the bed borders because they define the space, AND they can act as a type of ground cover.  All of this is great for the garden, but how do you keep it looking good throughout the season?  It isn’t easy!

Today when I visited the garden I noticed that our new Good Life Garden gardener, Pat Stoeffel, was trimming back a border of alyssum that was looking particularly rangy.  She had given it a trim a couple weeks ago, but here it was leggy again!  She wants to keep the area looking nice so she is shearing it back by about half to reveal the new bloomers beneath the old!  (See the photos below.)

Do you plant alyssum to attract pollinators to your garden?  Do you use it as a border?  How do you keep it looking fresh and healthy?  Let us know!

Pat trimmed this alyssum back just a couple weeks ago, but now it needs more pruning.  This photo shows a patch of half trimmed, half untrimmed alyssum.  Note how she is trimming about half of it back to reveal the newer growth underneath.
This photo shows a detail of what the new growth underneath looks like.  It looks compact and fresh doesn’t it?  We want to get rid of the brown, leggy, rangy stuff to reveal the fresh flowers.  It’s kind of like exfoliating your skin to reveal a new fresh layer underneath!  (Okay…maybe not!)
Pat laughs here because she’s feeling more like a barber than a gardener!
This is a different patch of alyssum in the garden which nicely frames our bay laurel trees.  This patch has not needed any pruning, yet.  We think maybe it’s because the fertility of the soil may not be as high as our tomato bed. 
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Tomato Planting 101

June 3rd, 2010

Want your tomato plants to look they’re being grown by a pro? Follow these simple tips that Brad Gates from Wild Boar farms was nice enough to share with Arlene.

When you are ready to plant your tomato starts, remove the lowermost four branches of the plant. Dig a hole deep enough to cover the areas where the removed branches were. The small nodes leftover from where the removed branches were will become roots, and planting it deep in the soil will encourage root growth. This technique will also make your fully grown staked tomatoes look neat and less bushy.

Here is a great article about how to prune and care for tomatoes that goes into much more detail: http://www.finegardening.com/how-to/articles/pruning-tomatoes.aspx

Pictured below are the tomato plants Wild Boar Farms gave to us. We can’t wait to taste them! Check out their website: http://www.wildboarfarms.com/index_1.html, and see our earlier blog post to learn more about them and the tomato plants they so generously donated!

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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!

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