- Author: Lanie Keystone
Summer for us begins when we get our first box of perfect peaches from Brazelton's Ranch in Vacaville. Since first learning of this glorious ranch and getting to know the entire amazing Brazelton family, our weekly drive to Pleasants Valley Road has become our favorite summer tradition. Of course, we never even wait to get home to bite into that succulent golden delight-- or even until we pull down their dirt road. We just grab one out of the box, bite into it and let the juices go where they may. The varieties are each, in their own way, delicious—and, of course, we try them all. The Brazeltons have even told us how to prepare and freeze these gems so we can have July in February! More about that later.
Over all the years that we have been enjoying the community of Brazelton peach lovers, I've been squirreling away more peach stones than I care to admit—always with the thought that maybe I could grown my own amazing peach tree. I always thought there was some unreachable magic to it, but I just kept saving those stones. This is the year that I'm really going to do it—and it doesn't seem as tricky or magical as I thought. So, after some research, here's the magic of preparing a peach seed for planting:
- Carefully remove the seed from the pit leaving the brown coating intact. You can use pliers to crack the pit.
- Place the seeds on a damp paper towel and fold the towel over. Put the towel with the seeds in a Ziplock® bag and label and date the bag.
- Tape the bag to the inside of the fridge wall to avoid bumping it and damaging the seeds.
- Keep the bag away from other fruits.
- Let them germinate—usually 6-8 weeks.
- Keep the paper towel damp throughout this time.
- Once they've germinated, plant them in tall, disposable plastic pots; water and continue to let them grow…how satisfying!
- Plant them outdoors in the spring.
A FEW FUN QUESTIONS ANSWERED:
- Why put them in the refrigerator? The fridge acts as a “winter season” for the seeds. Like many plants, peach seeds need to be “winterized” or experience cold stratification. They also need to be kept in a moisturized environment. Thus the damp towel. Be sure that it's damp and not wet, as you don't want mold to grow.
- Why keep them away from certain fruits? Certain fruits like apples, bananas, and apricots produce a gas called ethylene. Ethylene can either inhibit or promote growth. In the case of peach pits, it speeds up the growth process and can greatly affect the quality of your seeds, and hence, your peaches.
- When is a good time to transplant the “tree”? Spring is a perfect time. Take the pot with your little peach tree, dig a hole a bit larger than the pot that it's in. It's important not to disturb the roots, so carefully cut down the side of the plastic pot, dislodge the tree, and cover it with soil and water. Keep the young tree well-watered for the first few days…then water when the soil becomes dry.
- When will I get to enjoy my first peaches? In just three to four short years your miracle tree should be bearing fruit. The tree will still be small and you won't fill up bushels with them, but you will begin to have your peaches.
- Will my peaches taste just like the peaches that my seeds came from? Maybe yes, maybe no! But that's the fun and magic of planting your wonderful peach seeds.
AND NOW—HOW DO YOU CAPTURE JULY PEACHES IN FEBRUARY? Try not to eat all your summer peaches at once! Save some for freezing to enjoy when most folks are just dreaming of the perfect peach. And here's how to successfully do that: Peel the skin off of as many peaches as you want to freeze. Remove the pit (want to plant it?!?) Scrape out the red fleshy part where the pit was nestled. Cut the peaches into chunk size pieces. Spread out the chunks on a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet. Freeze for a day. Take the frozen peach chunks and place them in a Ziplock® plastic bag. They will remain separated and solid until you want to use them in the middle of winter…and you won't have to “dream of your perfect peach”—it will be a reality! Enjoy!
- Author: Sheila Clyatt
- Author: Christina Ruark
As we enter into the season of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, once commonly referred to as Fall, it got me thinking of pumpkins. Then I started to wonder ‘where did pumpkins originate from?' Scientists believe pumpkins originated in North America about 9,000 years ago. The oldest pumpkin seed to date was discovered in Mexico and is believed to date back somewhere between 7000-5500 B.C. Pumpkins and other types of squash have long been an important food source for Natives of North America. Every single part of a pumpkin is edible: the skin, leaves, flowers, pulp, seeds, and stems. Made up of 92% water, this fruit is hydrating as well as packed with Vitamin A and beta-Carotene.
Pumpkins are sensitive to the cold. They are a warm-weather crop. To have pumpkins for Halloween, look at the seed packet for how many days to harvest. Count backward from a week or so before Halloween to know when to sow the seeds. Soil with poor water retention or poorly drained soils is both detrimental. Pumpkins are, however, rather hardy, and even if many leaves and portions of the vine are removed or damaged, the plant can quickly grow secondary vines to replace what was removed. If storing, place the pumpkins in the sun for a week. You can place either outdoors or in a greenhouse, to harden (or cure) the skins. This method helps to ensure they keep well. Depending on the variety, pumpkins should keep for at least three months and up to six months in ideal conditions.
Growing up, the way I ate pumpkins was pumpkin pie, and that was during the holiday season. Nowadays pumpkins have endless culinary options: roasted side dishes, soups, warm salads, smoothies, bread, stuffing, ice cream, purée, roasted seeds, and more. They make excellent holiday decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving. This might be one of the most versatile fruits to grow, in my opinion. So this Fall, I hope you can take advantage of all the wonderful ways to enjoy pumpkins.
- Author: Bernadette Thomas
Like many of us, my concern of California's water resources continues to grow. I decided to start a new project that would help others with tips and resources to replace their lawn. Enter my challenge to see if I can replace a lawn for $1500.00 or less.
Why 1500.00? Well, that is the new grant amount offered by Solano County for those that qualify for replacing their lawns even if it is currently dead with drought-resistant front yards. Nothing bothers me more than an ugly dead lawn and I am on a mission to help!
Please note that this challenge will not include irrigation as I will be self-watering my plants.
To prepare for the challenge, first, review the qualifications for the rebate. If you do qualify, note that the garden must be completed within 4 months so we are going to start with pre-planning what your dream front yard will be.
The first Practical step will be to measure the lawn area to be replaced. Must be a minimum of 300 feet.
Design yard by using some free resources here; https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/online-landscape-and-garden-design-tools/
I will begin the garden preparation with cardboard mulching. (Note- this must be done after approval of the grant) With this mulching process, I will be using wood chips for most of the garden, a flagstone pathway with a bench, and some berms. Down the road, I will add some Mexican dark gray rock which will be part of the final plan but for now- mulch it is. Let's look at phase one and the cost so fat
For now, let's look at the cost so far.
Check-in on my next post for phase 2 to discuss tree removal and plant selections at a discount.
- Author: Kathy Low
In a couple of weeks, the application period for the 2023 class of Master Gardeners will open. Below are ten reasons you should consider applying to undergo the training to become a Master Gardener.
1. You'll receive a well-rounded education in home gardening.
Over the course of approximately sixteen weeks, you'll learn about various aspects of home gardening. You'll learn about basic horticulture, water management, weeds, pests, trees, fruit trees, growing vegetables, composting and so much more from experts in their field.
2. You'll Have Access to Continuing Education Opportunities
Your gardening education doesn't end once you become a Master Gardener. Instead, you'll enjoy a lifetime of learning. On an ongoing basis, you'll be sent information on a variety of upcoming continuing education opportunities you can select to attend virtually or in person. And if you ever feel like you need a refresher on the basic information you learned, you are always welcome to audit any course in the basic training program as often as desired.
3. You'll Become Familiar with Reliable Resources to Answer Your Gardening Questions.
As a Master Gardener, you'll learn the best “go-to” resources to answer gardening questions. These are resources you'll find yourself constantly using in the future as various gardening questions arise. And if you have to go to other sources to find information, you'll learn how to determine if the information is reliable.
4. You'll Have Access to Experts as Needed
As needed, you'll have access to UC Farm Advisors and other UC-affiliated experts to help you with your difficult gardening situations or questions.
5. You'll Have the Opportunity to Make New Friends with People Who Share a Common Interest.
If you took an informal survey of Master Gardeners about what they enjoy about the program, the friendships made, and the friendships among Master Gardeners would be near the top of the list. There's a camaraderie among Master Gardeners. Gardeners are by nature nurturing and supportive people. As a Master Gardener, you'll meet and make many new friends with fellow Master Gardeners who share a love of gardening.
6. You'll Enjoy Organized Outings/ Field Trips with Fellow Master Gardeners.
Throughout the year you'll have the opportunity to sign up to go on organized outings with fellow Master Gardeners. An example of past locations of field trips included the Berryhill Botanic Garden, the Filoli Gardens, and the Wolfskill Experimental Orchards.
7. Unlike Other Volunteer Programs, You are in Charge of Your Volunteer Activities.
You decide when, where and what activities you want to participate in. Once you become a Master Gardener, you'll have access to a volunteer activities calendar. You select the activities, dates, and locations of the activities you wish to volunteer for. The calendar also contains information on whether the activity is for adults or children, so you also get to select the target audience you wish to volunteer to help.
8. You'll Help Nurture and Grow Future Gardeners.
Through your Master Gardener volunteer activities, be it staffing an information table, giving a talk, or writing for the newsletter or blog, you are helping to nurture and grow a future generation of gardeners. What a wonderful legacy to leave behind.
9. You Have the Opportunity to Give Back to Your Community.
As a Master Gardener volunteer sharing your knowledge and time, you are giving back to your community while having fun doing it.
10. You'll Receive a 40% Discount on UC ANR Publications.
And last but not least, as a Master Gardener, you'll receive a 40% on the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources publications. UC ANR publications include the popular books The Home Orchard: Growing Your Own Deciduous Fruit and Nut Trees, and Pests of the Garden and Small Farm. Who doesn't like saving money?
So take the plunge today and apply to become a UCCE Master Gardener. For more information, contact Jennifer Baumbach, Program Coordinator, UCCE Master Gardener Program Solano and Yolo Counties, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (707) 389-0645 (texts okay).