- Author: Mollie Jarrett
I'm always on the lookout for unusual plants, vegetables, and fruits to grow, so imagine my surprise when I found the book of my dreams, Grow Something Different To Eat (weird and wonderful heirloom fruits and vegetables) by Matthew Biggs.
I already have two of the fruit plants growing in my garden, a gogi berry Lycium barbarum, and finger lime, Citrus australasica. I will soon be ordering intriguing sounding vegetables such as asparagus peas, Lotus tetragono lubus, cucumelons, Melothria scarbra, and strawberry spinach, Chenopodium capitatum.
Along with the colorful photos are planting and care guides, tips on harvesting, and cooking. At the end of the book, there is a list of seed suppliers.
Even if you may not want to grow any of these heirlooms, I think you may want to add it to your garden book library just to enjoy looking at the amazing possibilities.
- Author: Tina Saravia
Lupine or lupin from the Latin word “lupus” meaning wolf, although I can't see anything wolf-fish about this stunning beauty.
Previously, I wrote about nitrogen-fixing plants. Plants that take nitrogen from the air and “fix” it to be available for plants as fertilizer. Since then, this lupine has started blooming. It's been in the ground for at least one year and this is the first time it's blooming.
Lupine (Lupinus spp.) is in the Fabaceae family of plants; the same family as the nitrogen-fixing beans and peas. Lupins are mostly perennials, but some are annuals. They range in size from 1 ft to large shrubs taller than 8 ft. The flower colors are white, yellow, or purple. They grow in dry, infertile soil.
It's a good companion plant in the garden. It fixes nitrogen. It's beautiful on its own yet it blends well with other elements in the garden.
- Author: Lowell Cooper
I just returned from a several week trip to Borneo, which is located in the South China Sea, in Southeast Asia near the Phillipines. So you know it is far away. It is very hot and wet and humid, so as you can imagine if you stand in one place for a while you are bound to throw down roots. The place is very green and I was looking forward to enjoying the plants, which are quite plentiful. As an aside, it seemed to me that a huge percent of the houseplants we enjoy are from Borneo; more accurately from Indonesia. Since my wife and I were on a nature quest, mainly animals, we had guides who were quite familiar with plants also and mentioned that we should see a rafflesia – the largest flower in the world.
How to find a venue for viewing this plant was not as easy as I thought. They flower at different times so there is some luck in finding a plant at just the time we were there. The flower only lasts 5-6 days, so timing is everything. We didn't have the time to just go to a garden and sit and wait. But we were lucky. Driving a road with another destination entirely, we saw a hand-written sign nailed to a post that said “rafflesia in bloom”. It was in front of a roadside snack stand that sold cold sodas and some snacks. There was no parking lot, clearly not a tourist mecca, but merely a road pull-off to someone's kiosk and possibly their home, though that was not visible. The viewing had a price – the equivalent of a couple of dollars.
According to Wikipedia, Rafflesia arnoldi is commonly called the corpse lily
because it is parasitic and smells of decay. It is in the Rafflesia genus and Rafflesiaceae family. Forgive the technical diversion.
We paid the toll and were led up a somewhat muddy path single file to a fenced-in area which hardly deserves to be called a garden. It had only one plant. It seems that the Rafflesia had its own home and was protected from animals by a rather flimsy fence so the pet dog couldn't accidentally destroy an important source of family wealth, and we were also expected to obey the boundary of this garden plot. There in the middle was a flower so large that I did a double-take. I really had to stare at it for a few seconds for it to register that this plant, about a yard in diameter and growing on the ground was actually the flower. It seems that the flower is so heavy that it hugs the ground and comes behind other flowers that have passed their prime. The weight of it alone makes it understandable that it would grow like a ground vine. Even though its common names is “corpse flower” because it smells bad, I didn't get a whiff of it. It seems that it has a center pitcher where it does a lot of its digestion of insects.
Borneo is jammed with incredible plants. Because of its size, Rafflesia is impossible to forget and given the profusion of wildlife, Borneo is a paradise of flora and fauna to delight and surprise the visitor. I recommend it.
- Author: Jennifer Baumbach
It all started out a few months ago when one of my fellow UC Master Gardeners Tina P said let's do a succulent event for the public. I said hmm – ok let's do it! Now, here we are a few months later, after months of planning, when we will hold a "Succulent Extravaganza” for the public. It's been a busy few months! All the monies we raise go towards UC Master Gardeners - Solano County public activities and we always love to meet with our fellow Solano County residents to talk “gardening”!
Succulents are so very popular these days – easy to grow and most use very little water. You see them everywhere! If you love succulents, like many of us, do, here is what is happening at the event:
- Classes: classes on succulents that will be given by three “succulent savvy” Master Gardeners at 9 am – succulent propagation; 10 am – succulent soil and 11 am- succulent care.
- Gardening Information: Master Gardener Information table where you can get gardening questions answered.
- Succulent plant sale: including succulent dish gardens, hanging succulent plants, lots of beautiful, interesting 2, 4, 5 and 6-inch potted succulents and succulent-themed garden and other items crafted by Master Gardeners.
- Silent Auction: A fabulous potting bench; gardening gift container and a beautiful succulent dish garden.
All of that plus we have free drawings for potted succulents!
We hope you can join us for this fun event! Sherry Richards-co coordinator of the Succulent Extravaganza.
MAY 4 from 9am until 12 noon
501 Texas Street, Fairfield, CA
Cash or check only.
- Author: Kathy Low
Now that spring is here, the garden centers are adverting, potting soil, garden soil, and other bagged soils on sale. But be aware that not all packaged soils are the same. There are generally some basic differences between the types of soils, and in the different types of similar soils and ratios of contents. Let's first take a look at the different types of bagged soils you'll encounter. Note that there are no legal definitions for the various types of bagged soil, so it's important to read what's in the bag to make sure you're purchasing what you believe is in the bag, and it is what you want.
Potting soil. Bagged potting soil usually does not contain dirt. Generally used for container gardening, it usually is a mix of peat moss, composted pine bark, and some other organic materials. Water drains out from potting soil easily.
Garden soil. Garden soil usually contains a percentage of dirt in it. It retains water and is used for in-ground planting.
Topsoil. Topsoil is technically the upper ten to twelve inches of soil. Thus the natural topsoil ranges depending upon location. As stated earlier, because there is no legal definition for bagged topsoil, what's in the bag can vary greatly. Bagged topsoil can be clay or sand or loam or other types of soil mixed with compost and or fertilizer. Never make any assumptions regarding what's in a bag labeled as “topsoil.” You need to read the contents on the bag.
Seed starting mix. These mixes generally have no dirt and have a finer texture than potting soil. These mixes usually contain peat moss, perlite and/or vermiculite and coconut coir fiber.
Planting mix. These mixes are usually targeted for growing shrubs or trees and contain extended-release fertilizers. They frequently can contain peat moss, bark, and loamy soil.
Compost. Consists of decomposed organic materials.
As stated earlier, not all bagged soils are equal. The contents and percentages of substances in each bagged product vary by manufacturer. These differences in contents and percentages of nitrogen, soil pH levels etcetera are illustrated in an analysis of thirty four commercial packaged soil amendments done by UC's Chuck Ingels and the Sacramento MGs done in 2012. You can find the analysis at http://sacmg.ucanr.edu/files/149698.pdf.
So be sure to read the contents of the packaged soil you're intending to purchase to make sure it contains what you are expecting it to contain.