- Author: Betty Homer
Are you an apartment dweller or an otherwise landless gardener who has been dreaming about having a little piece of earth to call your own? Or maybe you are just someone who has a small yard and is looking for additional space to garden? If so, consider checking out the Suisun Community Garden located on Lotz Way by the Marina Shopping Center off of Highway 12 in Suisun City. For approximately $30 a year which is intended to cover the cost of water usage, you can lease a 10' x 10' plot at the Community Garden.
Almost all of the Community Garden's current members have built raised beds to grow vegetables which they are doing so successfully, as the site receives full sun daily, even in the winter. At last check, the author of this post observed corn, tomatoes, squash, tomatillos, eggplants, strawberries, artichokes, beans, carrots, radishes, beets, sunflowers, cosmos, dahlias, nasturtiums, and more, growing at the Community Garden.
As an added benefit, most members of the Community Garden are generally friendly, and will happily exchange gardening war stories and tips with you while you are there weeding, watering, etc. Although vandalism and theft can be an issue at the Community Garden from time to time (this is a common occurrence at ANY community garden), there is usually more than enough bounty for you in your plot to harvest and enjoy. It is also not unusual for other Community Garden members to share their harvest with you.
At last count, there were only a dozen or so plots left, so don't delay. For further information, please contact the Joseph Nelson Community Center at (707) 421-7200 or check out the Community Garden's Facebook page.
- Author: Jennifer Baumbach
I don’t know about you, but when I am out in the garden, I am often amazed at the wonderful happenings there. I can be watering plants and a brown praying mantid will pop out of the shrub or a hummingbird will come close to inspect what I am up to.
Its funny how you might forget all the interesting things that happen in your garden over the year, so again, I was surprised at the return of the longhorn bees. I have noted them in my yard for about three seasons now. The first time I noticed them, I was taken aback. Here were a cluster of bees on my long- spent salvia flower stalks. All of them lined up, upside-down, mind you, on the stalk. It was so weird, that I took pictures and immediately sent them off to UC Davis and Dr. Eric Mussen. He is the man when it comes to bee stuff. I was told they are longhorn male bees that come to the yard with the purpose of mating and they rest on flowers and the like at dusk. I have also seen the bees pollinating flowers along the way.
This year, once I rediscovered them in my yard, I kept a close eye on the bees. They found my Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia spp.). There they were, just dangling like little jewels from underneath the petals. It was like a gathering under a circus tent sans the tigers, and high-flying trapeze act. It was interesting to note, they find their way back to the same plant nightly. As the flower started to fade, they still came back until the flower was all but gone.
The bees were in two locations of my yard this year, but now I don’t see them anymore. I’m assuming they’re gone for the season. I look forward to their return next year-that is if I can remember to look!
- Author: Kathy Thomas-Rico
That scraping sound you hear is my soapbox being dragged out. Today’s rant is nothing new, but I’m gonna rant anyway:
Do we really need our front lawns? I don’t think we do.
I know many of us are wedded to the idea of a lovely green expanse that fills space and provides a great spot for kids and dogs to play. I maintain, however, that California is not the ideal place for a manicured lawn. Our climate is dry, unlike the Midwest and East where summer rains keep lawns moist and green. We Californians have to irrigate our lawns, a lot. And therein lies the rub: Our state’s precious water is needed for other things.
There’s no arguing that less-thirsty, more appropriate turfgrasses are being developed for Western yards. Check the UC Guide to Healthy Lawns (http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/TOOLS/TURF/index.html) for some really helpful, detailed information on turf species.
In the meantime, perhaps you’ve noticed a small trend in Vacaville? Some front yards have gone turf-free. And the results are really attractive. Water-wise plantings are being used, and I’m not talking cactus set among yards of white rock. I’m seeing colorful salvias, graceful meadow grasses, lush ferns, spiky phormiums, delicate Japanese maples, even edibles, all used to great effect.
You should know this: This kind of landscape is cheaper and easier to maintain than a lawn. Drip irrigation is perfect in these situations (placing water right where it needs to go), no need to mow (less air pollution), no need to blow (less noise), and very little need to fertilize (cleaner runoff after a rain). Perhaps best of all: That water bill will be lower, and the water is being used more responsibly.
Amen to that.
- Author: Sally Livingston
Last year, I went to a UC Davis Arboretum plant sale and found many plants that I wanted for my garden. They had so many different plants that it was hard to decide what to choose for my garden. I found some different ceanothus, some crape myrtle, a chocolate scented plant with yellow flowers and many others. I ended up buying over 15 plants and am enjoying all of them except the chocolate scented plant which did not survive our frost last winter.
The sale has hundreds of different kinds of uncommon garden plants that have been locally grown, including the Arboretum All-Star plants, their top recommended plants for gardens in our Mediterranean-type climate. Expert advice is also available to help you choose the right plants for your garden.
Their next plant sale is on Sunday, October 9 from 9 am to 1 pm with a focus on sustainable gardens. There will be a plant doctor clinic so you can bring your problem plants sealed in a plastic bag for diagnosis. The plant sales are at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive at the University of California in Davis. For more information, go to
- Author: Karen Metz
It seems like every year there is one plant or crop that stands out, sometimes because of its success and sometimes because of its abject failure. This year the spaghetti squash has been the star of the show. I saved the seeds from a squash from a farmers' market and started them in little six packs. I was starting several other kinds of squash as well. This year's garden was slow to get started as we had a prolonged cool spring. By the time things started growing I had forgotten which squash was where. Most of the squash stayed politely where they had been planted, but the spaghetti squash took off running.
Soon it had grown through my tomato cages, escaped the bounds of my raised beds and started up the climbing roses. I would whack it back every now and then to leave room for the other vegetables. After it began flowering and setting fruit, I was amazed at the size of some of them. Some were like small watermelon. Now they have turned from green to orange instead of the expected yellow.
For those of you not familiar with spaghetti squash, it's a winter squash that when halved, seeded, and cooked, has flesh that can be separated into spaghetti like strands with a fork. Squash are famous for their ability to cross pollinate so I'm starting to wonder if there isn't a bit of pumpkin in this squash's background. I guess I won't know until I try and cook them.
When I went on the web to try and look up the proper timing of the spaghetti squash harvest, I had my first exposure to garden forum humor. When others had asked a similar question, the answers had ranged from when the water is boiling to when the meatballs are ready. Apparently the real answer is to let the color change from green to yellow and to wait til the skin thickens, hardens, and cannot be pierced with your fingernail. Then the squash will be able to be stored for months.