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Archive for April 19, 2010

Live from Earth Day San Diego 2010

It was great to meet all of you who came out and picked up free seeds and seedlings today! Let me know how it grows!

Friday Night Lights

Yes I spend my Friday nights in the garden and no I’m not checking to see if my plants are safe. Well actually I am, I have read that it’s best to scour your garden at night for pests under the cover of darkness. Well we gave it a try and had great success. We found 7 slugs, mostly on the Marigolds (it’s true what the say they are great slug attractors) and 1 snail. Overall a very successful night!

Coffee Grounds Good For The Garden?

I’m sure we have all seen the free “Grounds for your Garden” in our local Starbucks. Coffee grounds sound like a good soil amendment, I know they always make me feel better, if only for a short while. But are coffee grinds actually good for your vegetable garden? I found a very informative article on Gardens Alive that had several good points:

Raw grounds straight into the soil.

First it’s “not recommended [to add] raw ingredients [to your garden] before composting”. Seeing as “coffee grounds alone are highly acidic [they would be] best for plants like blueberries that thrive in very acidic soil”. Because grounds are so high in acid and nitrogen you “risk creating a ‘mold bloom’ where you spread them”.

Okay, then I will compost the grounds and add them to my blueberries.

The author recommends “adding a cup of agricultural lime [or hardwood ashes] to every ten pounds of grounds before you add them to your compost pile”.

Well grounds do have lots of good nutrients right?

Typical grounds contain “1.5% Nitrogen…also alot of Magnesium and Potassium, both of which plants really like, but not a lot of Phosphorus (the fruiting or flowering nutrient) or calcium, a mineral that many plants crave, and whose lack helps explain the recalcitrant acidity”.

Here in California they mention it might do more good than bad due to our high alkaline content. I think most organic soil amendments in moderation, mixed with a compost pile that has good levels of green and brown, will do more good then harm.

Bake seedlings at 350 degrees for two hours….

I must be honest; I have never owned a greenhouse. Being from Southern California, I have never really experienced what most people refer to as “seasons”. That being said Josh has been eager to find some sort of housing for the seedlings after they inexplicably jumped off their perch on to the ground in his office (trying not to take it personally). Josh found a great portable greenhouse that wouldn’t take up much space, would house my seedlings and would give us a place to grow some summer crops in the winter.

It arrived the day before yesterday and it was perfect. Josh quickly set it up and placed it out on the balcony. I couldn’t wait to get my seedlings into their new home so I promptly placed them on the shelves and zipped it up tight seeing as it was a cool overcast day.

I went about my day and while casually walking by the new greenhouse two hours later I couldn’t help but feel a nice cozy warmth emitting from inside. I looked inside and gasp in horror as all my seedlings were wilting under the immense heat. I frantically zipped open the door and a microwave popcorn like steam was released from within.

As if they were on fire I quickly dosed everything with water practically drowning them in the process. The pumpkin and eggplant seemed quite pleased with the new temperature but the carrots and tomato were lost. I couldn’t help but wonder if they believed this was a payback for their stunt in the office. I almost think these seedlings and I might have too much past baggage and it might be better for us both to move on.

Whatever does end up happening, one thing I will probably not be caught doing until the dead of winter is zipping up the new greenhouse.

Cultivating Food Justice Conference

The Cultivating Food Justice Conference is coming up on Saturday 4/24 and going until Sunday 4/25. It will be hosted for free at SDSU with free food and parking. Some of the workshops topics include:


Basics of Urban Homesteading
Greywater and Rainwater Harvesting: low-cost, simple solutions to creating a local water supply
Real Careers in Real Food: how to create jobs and start a business in our food system


Seed Sovereignty: How we can fight corporate ownership and protect our food diversity
Why are farm internships illegal?
Urban Farming and Aquaponics: Raising Tilapia and Produce in Water
Beekeeping for the Intrepid
Lawn to veggie garden conversion 101

Hard to believe it’s free!

San Diego Garden Tours

The annual garden tours are back and with over 20 tours available in San Diego County there is sure to be garden styles and inspiration for everyone. Some of my favorites from last year and must sees are listed here:

April 17th- Encinitas Garden Festival and Tour
April 17th & 18th – Coronado Flower Show & Garden Tour
April 24th- Point Loma Garden Walk
May 8th- Mission Hills Garden Club Garden Walk
May 22nd- San Diego Floral Association Historic Garden Tour (Kensington)
Information: (619) 232-5762 Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Companion Planting – Top 10

Summer Crop Top 10

This post has been a few days in the making. As I researched the best plants for pollinators in raised beds I started to generally look into companion planting. Well needless to say now I’m hooked. I did some more research and thought I would put it into an easy to understand format. Here is a list of the top 10 summer crops and their likes and dislikes. Let me know if you guys have witnessed any other good partners or life long enemies.

Plant With: Chive (Improves Growth & Flavor), Sage (Improves, Repels Carrot Rust Fly) and Tomato
Just Not That Into: Dill

Plant With: Bean (attracts beneficials, controls Leaf Beetle & Leaf Hopper), Potato, Pumpkin (improves growth), Squash (attracts beneficials, controls Western Flower Thrips)
Just Not That Into: Tomato

Plant With: Catnip (repels Cucumber Beetle), Corn (protects from wilt), Dill (repels pests), Eggplant, Onion, Oregano (repels pests), Pole Bean (adds nutrients), Radish (repels Cucumber Beetle), Sunflower, Tomato
Just Not That Into: Basil, Potato, Rosemary, Sage

Plant With: Green Beans (repels Colorado Potato Beetle), Marigold (controls Nematodes)

New Zealand Spinach
Plant With: Bean, Onion and Strawberry
Just Not That Into: Potato

Plant With: Carrot, Basil, Eggplant, Onion, Tomato
Just Not That Into: Fennel

Pole Bean
Plant With: Carrot, Cucumber, Eggplant, Oregano (improves growth & flavor), Radish, Strawberry
Just Not That Into: Basil, Beet, Fennel, Garlic, Onion, Radish, Sunflower

Plant With: Corn, Eggplant (trap), Marigold, Onion (repels Colorado Potato Beetle)
Just Not That Into: Cucumber, Pumpkin, Rasberry, Spinach, Squash, Sunflower, Tomato, Turnip

Plant With: Borage (improves growth & flavor, attracts bees, repels squash vine borer), Corn (protects from wilt), Marigold (repels beetles, nematodes), Oregano (repels pests)
Just Not That Into: Potato, Pumpkin (only if saving seeds)

Plant With: Basil (protects tomato from insects & disease), Carrot, Cucumber, Garlic (repels Red Spider), Marigold (repels Tomato Hornworm, Thrips, Aphid), Onion, Pepper
Just Not That Into: Corn, Dill, Fennel, Pole Bean, Potato

Organic Produce Delivery

I don’t know how I’m just learning about this, but everyone has really kept the request for post topics coming in and I can’t tell you how much I’m learning.  Keep it up!

In San Diego we have different CSA programs (Community Supported Agriculture) wherein the consumer purchases shares of upcoming harvest from local organic farms. These farms know that the average person doesn’t have time to drive out to them so they bring the fresh produce to you! Also if you’re a business I know several local CSA’s can take orders from all the employees and do bulk deliveries.

Be Wise Ranch– Escondido based organic farm that delivers weekly seasonal  produce boxes to pick up points around the county for it’s CSA members. It’s not only convenient but cost effective; a large share which provides a week supply of produce (10 tomatoes, 2 avocados, 5 oranges, 3 lemons, green beans, squash, beets and carrots) for a family of 3-4 is only $30.00 a week and a small share which provides produce for two adults and a child is $25.00 a week. Most of the member slots are full, but have no fear they open up membership again in June.

Garden of Eden Organics– Another Escondido organic farm, 7 pick-up locations, individual boxes that feed one are $108 a month, small family boxes that feed 2-3 are $139 a month and large family boxes that feed 4-5 are $164 a month. They also offer grass-finished beef, chicken and eggs.

Suzie’s Organic Farm– They have several pick-up spots as well as being regulars at several farmer’s markets around town. Each produce box contains 8-15 items for a mere $25.00. Their current list of produce looks delectable.


To Bee or Not to Bee

All this talk about bees has got us thinking…could we have our own bee-hive? I sadly missed several beginner bee-keeping classes here in San Diego given earlier in the year but I managed to find one more at the Cultivating Food Justice Conference 4/24-4/25.

In the meantime here is a general write up on beekeeping from the University of California.

Drip Drip Drip

We made the mistake of leaving the drip irrigation system in place when we turned and amended the soil in February. One of the drip line distribution heads was damaged by a shovel. With the 1/4″ plastic adapters broken off inside the head, the quick fix was to plug the holes with silicone.

It is always best to clean the drip irrigation system filters at the start of a new growing season. We were lucky to have no major build up of sediment from last year. After a quick test, we were relieved to find that all the lines were functioning well.

Jen did a great job of covering the drip lines with mulch this season. This should help not only the aesthetics, but also keep the sun from damaging the lines.