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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)


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Mulching Police on Patrol!

May 25th, 2011

Fine Mulch

Coarse Mulch

To mulch or not to mulch?  That is the question!  Mulching is great for your garden and believe it or not, it’s actually required by law.  Don’t worry – if you do not mulch you will not be taken to “non-mulchers” jail or even fined, but mulching is an important part of water conservation and is included in the 1990 Water Conservation in Landscaping Act (AB325). This act was designed to encourage backyard gardeners to abide by seven basic principles of water conservation, one of which is mulching.

Mulch is defined as any material applied to the surface of the soil to improve the texture. Mulching reduces water evaporation from soil by 50 percent, thus reducing the need to frequently water. It also protects soil from erosion, suppresses weeds by 2/3 by blocking them from sunlight and inhibiting their ability to grow, and also serves as a soil conditioner. Earthworms, which aerate the soil and leave castings (worm poop) that act as a high-quality fertilizer, are also very much attracted to mulch.

Mulching also reduces crusting and soil compaction (that’s when the soil dries out and cracks). It does this by lowering the soil temperature by almost 10 degrees. In the winter it can have the opposite effect by contributing to warming of the soil, protecting it from those frosty winter evenings.

Mulch is usually applied to vegetable gardens once the soil has warmed up; around spring time or a little later. The coarser the material the deeper the mulch should go. The California Master Gardener’s Handbook suggests the mulch depth should be around 1-3 inches for finer materials, such as sawdust and grass clippings, and for coarser materials, like bark or straw or even shredded plant matter, use 3-6 inches. But be careful not to put mulch too close to the stem of plants or the trunks of trees as it may retain too much water and have damaging effects on the plant, like crown rot.

Thank you Shirley Porter, Nevada County Master Gardener, for providing us with this information from The Curious Gardener newsletter published by Nevada and Placer County UC Cooperative Extension.  Their website is filled with great information, classes and events.  Check it out here!

Example of Mulching Several Inches From Tree Trunk

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An Introduction to Our Guest Writer Jennifer Baumbach, Solano County Master Gardener

March 31st, 2011

About me

I have the pleasure of working for the Solano County Master Gardeners: a fun-loving, happy group of people with different backgrounds who love what they do and do it well. We have doctors, teachers, microbiologists, a clown, and even people who had never gardened before. If they have a desire to learn and share their knowledge, we love to have them in our program.

Jennifer Baumbach, Solano County Master Gardener Program Coordinator

A native of Dixon, I come from a family of botanists and farmers, but did not realize my interest in gardening until I went to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. I fell into horticulture by accident; a Biological Sciences major with plans for being a dentist, I took Gardening 101 as an elective and learned that I had a flare for the subject.

After graduating, I returned to Dixon and while working at the Department of Fish and Game in Sacramento I heard about recruitment for the Master Gardener Program. Previous to that moment I had never heard of the UC Cooperative Extension or the Master Gardeners. I wanted to volunteer my knowledge to the people of Solano County, so I took a training course and became a Master Gardener in 1998. In 1999 I got the job as Program Coordinator and have been working in Solano County ever since. I also received my Master’s Degree in Environmental Horticulture in 2009 from UC Davis. As a program coordinator I help administer day-to-day operations, and also am a resource to other Master Gardeners and to the public.

In particular, I have an affinity for plant and insect identification, specifically weed identification. My own home garden is a bit of a wreck as there is no plan; I plant what I like. I am an ornamental plant lover but am trying to branch out by trying my hand at apples. I also want to build raised beds to grow peppers and tomatoes. I am also particularly interested in salvias, especially the Salvia melissodora (grape-scented sage.)

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You can’t fail with KALE!

March 23rd, 2011

by Felix Munoz-Teng, Vice President of the student-run UC Davis Diabetes Advocacy and Awareness Group (DAAG).

This leafy-green vegetable has been grown for over 2000 years and continues to be grown today. In Europe, it was the most widely-eaten green plant until its bulky brother, cabbage, came along. Surprisingly, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and Brussels sprouts all belong to the same species of plant: Brassica oleracea. Despite their large differences in appearance, selective propagation by humans has led to the wide variety of the species that we see today!

Kale - it's not just a garnish! Image from hypercatracing.wordpress.com

Nutrition

If there is any green vegetable you can count on, it’s kale with its unmatched nutrient richness. One cup of this green-leaf vegetable provides a daily value of 1327% vitamin K, 192% vitamin A, 88.8% vitamin C, 25% manganese, 10% dietary fiber, 10% copper and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Most importantly, this nutrient-abundant vegetable delivers no more than 36 calories per cup.

Healthy Living

There has been a great deal of research conducted on kale and its benefits related to health. It has been shown to reduce the risk of “oxidative stress” and “chronic inflammation”, which is linked to a low intake of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients respectively. As a result of these benefits, research has further been able to show definite advantages in terms of cancer prevention and, in some circumstances, treatment.

In other areas, kale contains remarkable cholesterol-lowering abilities. Researchers have shown that fiber-related contents in kale prevent the fat in cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine. Instead, the fat passes through the intestine and leaves the body. Secondly, kale plays an important role in the regulation of detox activities within the body, which is an important process for our cells.
Try this recipe for kale chips – you will never believe that kale could taste so good!

Kale chips are a healthy and tasty snack! image from http://thelistqueen.files.wordpress.com

Preparation:

  • -Preheat oven to about 375*.
  • -Use about 1 salad spinner’s worth of kale (about enough to fill a grocery store veggie bag). Tear the leaves off  the thick stems into bite size pieces. Spread out on cookie sheets.
  • -Drizzle with about 2 tsp of olive oil.
  • -Sprinkle with Parmesan, Asiago or your seasonings of choice, plus a sprinkle of kosher salt.
  • -Bake for about 15 minutes, until edges are brown and kale is crispy when moved in pan.
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2011 is the Year of the Vegetable!

March 7th, 2011

2011 has been named Year of the Vegetable by Mr. George Ball, president of the W. Atlee Burpee Company.  (The cynic in me thinks, well isn’t that convenient…you sell vegetable seeds, so why not make every year “Year of the Vegetable,” right?)  But I read on to become inspired!  Here is a quote from the newsletter:

Eighteen years ago as president of the American Horticultural Society, [Mr. George Ball] initiated a successful children’s gardening program. He now wants to inspire all of America to at least develop a starter garden. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control shows that only 26 percent of Americans eat at least three servings of vegetable a day. With child obesity at an all-time high, Mr. Ball advocates a nutritional diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. It has been found that kids who grow vegetables alongside their parents eat them regularly and with gusto.

Not too shabby, eh?  My nephew is five and I don’t believe he has ever willingly eaten a vegetable.  My sister sneaks vegetable nutrients into his ‘milkshakes’ in the morning.  This has kept him incredibly healthy, active, fit, and smart as a whip, but I wonder if he would be more into eating his veggies if he grew some on his own.  I’m going to get him started on this project when I go down to SoCal for a visit in April.

Do you have kids who grow their own fruits and vegetables?  Do you agree with Mr. Ball’s assessment?  Tell us your stories!

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SWEET BAY LEAVES–Deceptive Name, Delicious Addition

January 24th, 2011

Image source: www.newyoungworld.com

The Bay Leaf, found on Bay Laurel evergreens and shrubs throughout Europe, North America, and India, has become a staple of Mediterranean cuisine and serves as a healthy and delicious supplement to any diet.
Contrary to its deceptive nickname – “Sweet Bay” – the Bay Leaf is actually intensely bitter and may even be harmful if ingested whole due to its razor-sharp edges. However, it has become quite a popular food additive due to its exotic flavoring, olfactory appeal, and long shelf-life (one year!). Most often, it is ground up and used in spicy dishes, such as biryani (see recipe below), or boiled in soups, sauces and stews. Many are also attracted to its distinctive scent, which can brighten any meal!
Bay Leaves are an excellent choice for type 2 diabetics, because they help the body process insulin more efficiently, therefore lowering blood sugar, and reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels (diabetics are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease). Additionally, they have been used throughout history to cure migraines, bacterial and fungal infections, indigestion, and much more!
Try this Recipe for… Biryani
A spicy Persian/South Asian Dish
Image source: quick-recipes-online.blogspot.com
Ingredients:
-2 lbs. Chicken with bones (cut into small pieces)
-2 cups Basmati Rice (washed)
-1 packet Shan Special Bombay Biryani Mix
-2 tablespoons crushed garlic
-2 tablespoons cup plain yogurt
-2 tablespoons grated ginger
-1/2 onion (finely sliced)
-1 tomato (cut into small pieces)
-5 tablespoons oil
-3 medium potatoes (peeled & halved)
-Water
-Crushed bay leaves
Preparation:
1. Fry the onion in hot oil until golden. Add tomatoes and fry until the oil separates.
2. Add meat, garlic, ginger, potatoes, yogurt, bay leaves, and Shan Bombay Biryani Mix. Fry for 15 minutes.
3. Add 1-2 cups of water and cook on low heat until the meat is tender. Then increase the heat and stir fry until oil separates from the gravy.
4. SEPARATELY, boil the washed rice in 12 glasses of hot water. Boil until the rice is more than half cooked. Remove from heat and thoroughly drain the water.
5. Spread the cooked meat and curry over the rice in TWO layers. Cover the pot and cook on low heat until the rice is fully cooked and tender. (Approximately 30 minutes) Mix before serving.
*This recipe serves 6-8 people
by Zuhayr Mallam, Founder of the UC Davis Diabetes Awareness and Advocacy Group (DAAG).  
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Eggplants — The “Mad Apple”

January 10th, 2011

 by Felix Munoz-Teng, Vice President of the student-run, UC Davis Diabetes Awareness and Advocacy Group (DAAG).
When Europeans first encountered the eggplant, they gave this delectable food a rather dark nickname – mala insane or “mad apple/egg” – because it comes from a family of poisonous plants. Although this dreary name stuck, people quickly realized the eggplant’s tremendous health benefits, and it became a staple crop of the Mediterranean.
Nutritional Value 
Although eggplants have an unflattering reputation, they deliver a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including Thiamine, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorous and Potassium. Wow! They are also a good source of fiber, which is found in the skin, and are low in sodium and overall calories.
Health & Disease
Eggplants contain bioflavonoids, which may be helpful in preventing strokes and hemorrhages. They also contain an antioxidant known as phytochemical monoterpene, which may be beneficial in preventing heart disease and cancer. The National Cancer Institute is currently conducting research to determine whether they may help with the inhibition of steroidal hormones that stimulate tumor development.
However, the fruit contains some negative toxins like solanine, which may be harmful to some individuals. Solanine is an alkaloid that can result in heart failure, headaches, diarrhea, and vomiting if ingested. Be sure to check with your doctor to see if you are sensitive to this toxin before consuming large quantities of eggplants.
And remember! Eggplants can be found at the UC Davis Good Life Garden!
Try This Recipe for…Baba Ganouj – A Delicious Dip (brought to you by Eating Well Magazine)
Ingredients:
  • 2 medium eggplants, (1 pound each)
  • 4 cloves garlic (unpeeled)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (garnish)
  • Ground sumac or chopped pistachios (garnish)
Preparation:
Prick eggplants all over with a fork. Thread garlic cloves onto a skewer. Grill the eggplants, turning occasionally, until charred and tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Grill the garlic, turning once, until charred and tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the eggplants and garlic to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, peel both. Transfer to a food processor. Add lemon juice, tahini and salt; process until almost smooth. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with sumac, if desired. Enjoy!
This blog was brought to you by the Diabetes Advocacy & Awareness Group (DAAG)
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