Monday, July 30, 2007

West Nile Spray Info

Find out what's going on with West Nile spraying in our area. You can sign up for spray notifications, check mosquito counts in your area, request inspections and more.

UCD bee research center revival?

UCD wants to rebuild bee research center

By Jim Downing - Bee Staff Writer

Published 12:00 am PDT Sunday, July 29, 2007
Story appeared in BUSINESS section, Page D2

Caught my eye this morning

Canna 'Intrigue'

Garden spider breakfast

I've switched out some of the plants in my chair planter. A 'Red Sensation' Cordyline adds some structure and height, and I stuck a mishmash of cuttings and seeds around the rim.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

2007 Nature Sweet Tomato Challenge


May 29, 2007




NatureSweet Tomatoes, America’s year-round tomato garden, will partner with Raley’s to bring the Homegrown Tomato Challenge back to Sacramento this August to see who grows the area’s best tomatoes. This year, the overall prize money has increased as well as your chances to win -- two grand prize winners will walk away with $2500 each for the best tomato in both the small and large categories, while runners-up will each receive $250 in prizes.

“Due to feedback from our contest participants and customers over the past few years, we saw a need to select two grand prize winners for this year’s Homegrown Challenge – one for the best small tomato AND one in the large tomato category,” said Kathryn Ault, Director of Marketing for NatureSweet. “Contestants are also thrilled that we’ve increased the overall amount of cash and prizes from $5,000 to $6,000.”

The event will take place on Saturday, August 25 at the Raley’s located at 25025 Blue Ravine Road in Folsom. Visit for complete contest details or or call toll free at 1-800-315-8209.

Check out last year's winners.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

When life gives you lemons...

... make lemonade, lemon bars, and lemon meringue pie.

In Sacramento, it's criminal not to grow citrus. Despite touchy frosts and occasional freezes, we can walk out front or back and pluck oranges, lemons, kumquats, mandarins and other citrus fruits right off the tree most months of the year. That's one of the wonderful things about living here.

In my early twenties as a renter, I was able to pick grapefruits off a large tree from the roof of my Victorian four-plex apartment in midtown Sacramento. Pretty cool. I envied my aunt Eileen for her spectacular mature Washington navel tree that came with her cute bungalow in east Sacramento. Those were the hugest, sweetest oranges... mere steps from her kitchen.

In my late twenties, my husband and I bought our first house, also a little bungalow in east Sacramento... that came with a mature Meyer lemon tree. Meyer lemons can be used like grocery store lemons (Eureka, Lisbon, etc.) but they have a sweetness and unique fragrance that builds nostalgic loyalty. Lemon bars are great, but have you ever had a Meyer lemon bar? Heaven.

I hated selling our little house when we outgrew it, but I mostly hated losing that tree. Anyone buying a house with mature citrus trees is very lucky. A few years ago, I planted several dwarf citrus trees from Four Winds, hoping to have pluckable citrus sometime in the future. I finally do, or I'm about to. My Eureka lemon is so far the most robust tree and it's covered with egg-sized fruits. Ok, so it's not the Meyer, but I'm not complaining. The Meyer I planted in the ground here bit the dust and its replacement is getting established in a half-barrel. I'm also raising orange trees, a kumquat, a lime, and an indiomandarinquat. They're still in that awkward teenage stage.

Will I be in this house long enough to see all my citrus trees mature? Who knows? If not, at least someone else will inherit mature citrus like I did in my first house. For now, though, I'm looking forward to making lemonade and lemon bars... soon. I guess I didn't have to wait too long. Just a few birthdays.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Perfectly Natural Weed Killer

I contacted the company to see where Perfectly Natural Weed 'n Grass Killer could be purchased in greater Sacramento. Green Acres is apparently the only garden center selling it. Picked up a gallon yesterday, having gotten good results from it last year. Only one nursery... in Roseville... carries it? Sheesh!

BTW, the smaller bottle is ready to use, but you need an applicator for the gallon. I'm not sure how I'm going to apply it yet. I have a tank sprayer, but ugh. Maybe I can attach a sprayer directly to the gallon bottle, assuming it's not a concentrate. We'll see.

Ooh, maybe I still have the old ready-to-use bottle!

Green Acres Nursery & Supply
Address: 901 Galleria Blvd Roseville, CA 95678, US (Just South of the Galleria Mall on the right hand side)
Phone: 916-782-2273

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Visit to Bushnell Gardens Nursery, Granite Bay, CA

I came home with some fun stuff-- Coleus 'Royal Glissade', Canna 'Intrigue', Agapanthus 'New Blue', Salvia 'Purple Pastel', Salpiglossis Royal Purple and 'Black Heart' potato vine. It was a hot summer afternoon, but a little heat couldn't dim the dazzling array of plants and pots and garden toys at Bushnell's, a beautiful nursery in a beautiful setting.

'Storm Cloud' agapanthus and 'Intrigue' canna were heavily discounted! I'm tempted to go back for more...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Quick thoughts on Blithe Tomato and The $64 Tomato

I thoroughly enjoyed Blithe Tomato. It was written by a small farmer, or rather, a man who farms organically on a small California farm and sells his produce at farmers' markets. The book reads more like a series of personality profiles rather than an unfolding story, yet still paints a rather charming (though clearly not rose-colored) picture of farmers' markets and small-scale farming.

You get a sense from author Mike Madison that his is a rich life, not always monetarily, but in quality. He works with the land, not against it, and his stories reveal a respect for nature and a tender eye toward farmers and farmers' market customers. Madison strings words together in a pretty way, and he's funny. Need I say more? Ok, I will. Blithe Tomato will make you want to slow down and appreciate your bounty, be it agricultural or floral or human or four-legged.

Blithe tomato not only had me fantasizing about working at a farmers' market, it also got me back in the habit of going to farmers' markets in my area. Thank you, Mike. Last week, I tasted the most incredible red-fleshed farmers' market plums of my life.

Trivia fans will appreciate knowing that Mr. Madison is brother to famous foodie Deborah Madison.

With its catchy title, I had high hopes for The $64 Tomato. I'm glad I read it, but author William Alexander's use of nastier and nastier pesticides and excruciatingly detailed accounts of trapping and killing garden invaders left me a little angry, grossed out and sad. Instead of working with the land, Alexander seeks to conquer it before it conquers him. I feel like he didn't give organic gardening enough of a chance. William Alexander desperately needs to read Blithe Tomato.

The garden can wait...

Impatiens balfourii... Poor Man's Orchid

My friend "Weeder" gave me seeds of Impatiens balfourii last year or the year before and I'm happy to see it reseeds prolifically in my front porch pots. It requires shade here in the Valley and in my experience, its water requirements are average. Now that I think about it, I. balfourii tolerates my erratic watering schedule rather well.

Annie's Annuals offers it in pots, but it's super easy from seed. If a friend doesn't have it, try seed swaps (GardenWeb, Dave's Garden) or online sources.

While I was taking a few pictures, Emily wanted to see what all the fuss was about. She clearly thinks the fuss should be all about her, not Impatiens friggin' balfourii.

Friday, July 20, 2007

There's a slug in my garden...

and it's me. Weeds are getting out of control (I ran out of clove spray), there's lots to deadhead, and I still have plants not hooked up to drip despite the fact that I'm leaving for Mendo (woo hoo!) in a couple weeks. On the plus side, there's plenty to harvest in the way of peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, chard and herbs. Strawberries have taken over two of my flowerbeds. Oh, the horror. I am a little leery of harvesting them in areas the dogs "frequent". I really want to try growing strawberries vertically. I tried them in hanging baskets, but the soil dried out too quickly. I'll figure something out.

This morning, I spotted a tomato hornworm on one of my tomato plants! I'm really hoping to see it become parasitized so I can get some good photos. No, I will not squash it or cut it in half, you barbarians. Ew. Double ew. How would you feel if someone cut you in half? Besides, tomato hornworms are amazing looking!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Organic weed control and salsa on my mind...

and according to my blog stats, that's what's on your mind too. You're also thinking about agapanthus, because it's blooming now and even though it assaults you at every intersection, you have to admit it's really pretty and comes in such refreshing shades of blue. Buy blooming cans now so you can get some instant gratification and to ensure you're getting the variety you want. Plus, they're probably on sale.

Right now, we want to know where we can buy or make "natural" herbicides, and we want to make our own salsa. Thanks to the web and helpful bloggers, I now have some excellent salsa recipes. I also know where I can buy herbicides made from natural plant oils.

If I owned a nursery... and if I had a nickel for every time uttered those words, I'd have enough capital to start one... I'd highlight my natural weed control products right about now. I might even be inclined to offer a hot pepper workshop, complete with tastings and cooking demos. And I'd find someone to demonstrate pepper craft. And I'd find a way to provide a nice microbrew and margaritas to chase the chips and salsa. And I suppose I'll have to throw in free rides home, cuz who knew all my customers were such lushes?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Light Brown Apple Moth found in Los Angeles & Solano County

No longer confined to the Bay area... looks like it's heading our way.

Light Brown Apple Moth larva

Female Light Brown Apple Moth

Male Light Brown Apple Moth

(Photos by David Williams, principal scientist, Perennial Horticulture, Department of Primary Industries, Victoria, Australia, via UCD Entomology website)

UCD has a new info page on this new pest:

Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM)

Monday, July 09, 2007

Eating from the garden

'Gold Rush' zucchini
Genovese basil
'Rainbow' Swiss chard
'Sungold' tomatoes

Stir-fried in one teaspoon of Bariani olive oil... seasoned with garlic, sea salt and cracked pepper

Now, where did I put those dunks?

West Nile found in sample
By Lakiesha McGhee - Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:00 am PDT Monday, July 9, 2007

A mosquito sample collected in the Gibson Ranch area of Sacramento County has tested positive for West Nile virus. The finding was confirmed Friday by the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District, which routinely collects and tests mosquitoes for disease. The district said it will continue its Mosquito-Borne Disease Management plan by using localized adult mosquito treatments in and around the area where the virus was detected. Response may involve ground and/or aerial treatments, according to a news release.

In Sacramento County this year, three birds and one mosquito sample have tested positive for West Nile virus, which is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of infected mosquitoes.

For more information, call the district at (800) 429-1022 or visit the Web site

UC IPM Pest Note on Mosquitoes: