- Author: Lanie Keystone
It all started in 2005 when my husband and I moved to the country in Grass Valley. It was a case of city folk longing to be country folk. So, we developed our little bit of paradise on 5 acres, starting by building
16 ( 4'x8') raised beds—yes, 16 of them! What were we thinking, you ask? We weren't. We were just convinced that lots of raised beds was an essential part of country living. And, we actually did quite well growing all the usual suspects for several years and having a wonderful time doing it. But then we began to wonder how much all of these home-grown delicacies were actually costing us. That's where this month's book comes in.
While we were in the midst of our madcap experiment with veggie gardening “on steroids”, I happened on one of the funniest, most entertaining and astute horticulture books I've read to date—
The $64 Tomato by William Alexander, 2006 (ISBN-13:978-156512-503-2). Mr. Alexander, unlike your innocent reviewer, had been a small-scale farmer for more than a quarter century. But we both had the same delicious dream of having a wonderful vegetable garden in the backyard—or, in our case, in the “back 40”. As the book's subtitle so perfectly sums up, The $64 Tomato: “How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent A Fortune, And Endured An Existential Crisis In The Quest Of The Perfect Garden.”
How many of us are guilty of this same quest? It's just that this “Don Quixote” of the gardening world actually decided to figure out how much financial damage he was doing along the way. When Alexander ran a cost-benefit analysis, adding up everything from the Havahart animal trap ($60 ) to the Velcro tomato wraps ($5 each), then amortizing it over the life of his garden, it came as a huge shock for him to learn that it cost an eye-popping $64 to grow each tomato.
But, it's the adventure-in-growing that makes his book so valuable. For, in this amusing and pointed account, Alexander gives superb advice about everything from leeks to lettuce, while asking such existential questions as, “What do our gardens tell us about ourselves? Do we get the gardens we deserve”? And, why does the groundhog have to take one bite from half a dozen tomatoes when any gardener would gladly give him six bites of just one?” What were his answers to these and other resonating questions? He just kept gardening and growing. And what was our answer to many of the same questions? We moved back to the city!
- Author: Toni Greer
Saturday, December 5th from 1:00-4:00 is our UC Master Gardeners Annual Wreath Workshop to be held at St. Mary's Church Parish Hall, 350 Stinson, Vacaville.
During this fun event we will also have our Marketplace with handcrafted items, most of which were crafted by Master Gardeners. The proceeds from this go toward UC Master Gardener program-Solano County.
Perhaps it's a gift you are looking for or a holiday adornment---we've got them!! Remember, this will be taking place while you are making your beautiful wreaths. The marketplace will only accept check or cash for your purchases. I say purchases, because last year several shoppers kept finding that perfect treasure over and over throughout the afternoon.
Remember, this event is for attendees of the Master Gardener Wreath Workshop and Master Gardeners too!! We also like to shop!
Come join us for a wonderful afternoon—food included. If you have questions or would like to sign up to attend, please contact Jennifer Baumbach at (707)389-0645 or email@example.com. Cost for the workshop is $50.00 per person.
Space is limited. Please remember this marketplace is cash or check only for your treasures.
We have such a wide variety of fun goodies. Hope to see you there!!
- Author: Jenni Dodini
Steve and I recently took a trip south to San Luis Obispo. While there, we decided to go over to Hearst Castle since our last visit was easily 20 years ago. Those of you who have been there know what I mean when I say that the place is AMAZING!!! For those who haven't, I highly recommend the trip. Anyway, as amazing as the "castle" is, the grounds are equally amazing. The hydrangeas were blooming all over the place and everywhere one looked, the grounds were well groomed. While I was checking out the Neptune Pool, I noticed a vine/hedge of bleeding heart. It was beautiful. I was jealous as I have killed a couple over the years. A blog idea was born.
Imagine my surprise when I went into my Western Garden Book and could not find it AT ALL! Off to the internet then. I clicked into garden.org, Wikipedia, and gardeningknowhow.com for information. What I found was that I had failed because Fairfield is just not the proper place for success. At least, not where I was trying to grow them.
The bleeding heart pictured below is Lamprocapnos spectabilis, formerly known as Dicentra spectabilis. It is of the order Ranunculalis, and a member of the poppy family, Papaveraceae. It is native to Siberia, northern China, Korea and Japan. It is classified as a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial. It thrives in moist woodland gardens along with ferns and other shade lovers. It likes light to medium shade and well drained soil that is rich in organic matter. The flowers are delicate and heart shaped with a seed pod that emerges below. They bloom in the spring - yellow, pink, red, and white - and may re-bloom throughout the summer in cooler climates. They will need consistent watering in climates that receive less that 1 inch of rain per week. Depending on variety, they can grow 6 inches to 2 feet in height. They may die back and go dormant during the heat of summer and then regrow from the roots. After the first killing frost of winter, they can be trimmed back to 1 inch above the soil. They will regrow from the roots in the spring. They grow in compact clumps for many years and do not need dividing. The roots are brittle and easily damaged. The seed pods must be sown while fresh. They like sustained release plant food worked into the soil every 2 months during the growing season and rich compost applied in the spring with a 2 inch layer of mulch over it. Aphids, snails, and slugs like to feed on the leaves. Of note, some people may experience skin irritation due to the isoquinoline like alkaloids the plant contains.
While clicking on the picture of the white flowered bleeding heart, I found that it is an entirely different plant. It is a Clerodendrum thomsoniae, AKA glory blower or tropical bleeding heart. It is NOT related to the Lamprocapnos. It is a native of western Africa and grows well in zones 9 and above. It needs to be protected though as it is damaged in temperatures below 45 degrees. It also likes light shade. It is a subtropical vine that produces tendrils that can be trained onto a trellis or let to spread out along the ground. The flowers are white with red seed pods, and the foliage is a shiny green. It also likes well drained soil which is consistently moist and sustained release feeding during the blooming season. They tolerate light pruning of wayward vines during the growing season and can be pruned back in winter before the spring growth emerges. It is susceptible to mealybugs and spider mites. Spraying with insecticidal soap every 7 to 10 days will eliminate them. By the way, I did find this one in the Sunset Western Garden Book.
After all this, I think if I might try again, I will go with the Clerodendrum and start in a shady place, in a large pot, or in the ground in well amended soil.
- Author: Jennifer Baumbach
There is still time to sign up for our Wreath Workshop! Come and learn how to make a wreath from scratch with the UC Master Gardeners to assist you. We provide the greens, wire frame, paddle wire, natural decorations, bow, and refreshments for $50.00. The holiday cheer is free. Attached is a flyer for more information.
The MGs work hard on the days leading up to the event. See below. Also, the wreaths made are all unique and beautiful. So come and join us. Space is limited so contact me today at 707-784-1321 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Author: Mike Gunther
Think of Veterans
Sharing Thanksgiving moments