On Saturday, October 25, from 8:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m., we will be joining many other nonprofit organizations at the Napa Farmers' Market for a health and wellness fair. Exhibitors will showcase the importance of fresh, local and sustainable food production and consumption; offer local resources related to health and wellness; and provide information on sustainable farming.
Napa County residents are probably most familiar with Master Gardeners through our help desks, workshops, tomato sales and garden tours, but we also offer many programs that support the objectives of Food Day. Several of our workshops focus on growing your own food, from citrus to berries to vegetables. Last year, we started a School Garden Task Force to assist schools in developing and maintaining gardens that will provide healthy learning environments.
This year at Food Day the Master Gardeners will focus on edible gardening. Most people have some idea about how to grow food in the ground, but did you know you can grow many edibles in a container or a bale of straw? If you have a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day, you can grow food in a container.
The container doesn't have to be anything special. It just needs to be large enough to accommodate the roots of whatever you want to grow. It also needs to have adequate drainage so that water does not accumulate at the bottom.
Many people in Napa Valley use old wine barrels cut in half to create a container garden. I have used old recycling bins. They make great container gardens as they are the right size and already have drainage holes. If you have an old wheel barrow you are no longer using, consider turning it into a container garden. After you drill a few holes for drainage, it will be ready to plant. The big advantage of a wheel barrow is that it can be moved to follow the sun.
Another option for people with limited space is straw bale gardening. All you need is a bale of straw, which costs less than $10. In summer, a bale will accommodate two or three tomato plants or the same number of zucchini. You can also grow beans, cucumbers and eggplant in straw bales. In the cooler months, you can grow lettuce, kale, chard or whatever leafy greens appeal to you.
Keep in mind that straw bales require three to four weeks of conditioning before planting. To condition them, keep the bales moist, add fertilizer and wait for decomposition to commence.
If I have piqued your curiosity, then come see the Master Gardeners at the Napa Farmers' Market on Saturday, October 25. We'll show you how you can grow food for your table in less space than you ever imagined. We'll also supply you with a complimentary package of carrot seeds so that you can get your edible garden off to a healthy start.
Workshop: Napa County Master Gardeners will lead a workshop titled “Be Successful with Citrus” on Saturday, October 18, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at the Calistoga Community Center, 1307 Washington Street, Calistoga. This workshop will give you all the tools to be successful with your new or mature citrus trees. Learn about choosing varieties, planting, fertilization, and seasonal care including frost protection. Online registration (credit card only); Mail-in registration (cash or check only).
Master Gardeners are volunteers who help the University of California reach the gardening public with home gardening information. Napa County Master Gardeners (http://ucanr.org/ucmgnapa/) are available to answer gardening questions in person or by phone, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to Noon, at the U. C. Cooperative Extension office, 1710 Soscol Avenue, Suite 4, Napa, 707-253-4143, or from outside City of Napa toll-free at 877-279-3065. Or e-mail your garden questions by following the guidelines on our web site. Click on Napa, then on Have Garden Questions? Find us on Facebook under UC Master Gardeners of Napa County.