Cerena writes to help new gardeners get started, remind experienced gardeners, keep us planting at the best times, inspire us to try new techniques! Being outdoors gardening is healthy for our bodies and spirits, provides the most nutritious organic veggies right on your table with no food miles at all! 
Green Bean Connection, Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden Newsletter
Green Bean Connection
Happy May Day, Cinco de Mayo/Meteors, Mother's Day, & Memorial Day!

Merry, Muy Delicioso, Mouth Watering May!
Probiotics in Your Garden?! YES!
Lunar Gardening!  Just for fun or maybe for real?!
Drought Zone Veggie Gardening
Events!  Master Gardeners on Edible Landscaping, Herbs, Composting, Beekeeping! 

Dear Pilgrim Terrace Gardeners, Garden Friends,

Welcome to two more new gardeners!  Eric and Jessie in Plot 19!  Jessie is at 29 weeks, so be expecting a new little gardener very soon!  Take a look at the fine raised beds Chris has built!

Across-the-Plot Gardening Tips

Merry, Muy Delicioso, Mouth Watering May!

May is the fine time to plant Cantaloupe muskmelons in SoCal!

If you didn't plant much in April, now is the time!  Cantaloupe!  Transplants of winter squash asap so they will have time to grow and harden for harvest!  Tomatoes planted now while the soil is warmer and dryer will stand a better chance against soil fungi.  Plant 2nd rounds of late March, early April plantings.

Sow seeds of lima and snap beans, beets, cantaloupe, carrots, celery, chard, chicory, chives, slo-bolt cilantro, corn, WHITE radishes with cucumbers to repel cucumber beetles, radishes with eggplants as a trap plant for flea beetles, leeks, warm-season lettuces, melons, okras, green onions, peanuts, peppers, pumpkins, soybeans, warm-season spinaches, squashes, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.  At the same time put in transplants of what you can get, and you will have two successive plantings in at once!

Long beans are an exception.  I find they don't really take off until it's good and hot, so wait until June to plant them.  Also, they are the last bean producers, filling in at the end of summer.  At the end of summer they are crankin,' you won't believe how quickly they get that long!  Even better, they don't get mildews!  Their taste and texture is slightly different than our standard green beans, but delish also! 

Creature Department! Head of the L.A. master gardener program, Yvonne Savio says 'Interplant cucumbers and beans to repel cucumbers beetles and prevent the wilt diseases they carry. Also plant Cucurbita lagenaria gourds as trap plants for cucumber beetles. Plant potatoes to repel squash bugs.' And here's a trick she recommends! 'When hand-picking those hard-to-see tomato hornworms, sprinkle the plants lightly with water first. Then, as the horn-worms wiggle to shake off the water, you can easily see them and remove them.' Doncha love it?!

Important to know this: Later this month, when foliage on garlic, bulb onions, and shallots begins to dry naturally, stop irrigating. Dry outer layers needed for long storage will form on the bulbs. When about half of the foliage slumps to the ground naturally, bend the rest to initiate this maturing. The bulbs will be ready for harvest when the foliage is thoroughly dry and crisp. Not pretty, but it's the way it works!

Be careful with your strawberries! Give them a balanced fertilizer, like a yummy micronutrients fish/kelp mix, now and after each heavy fruit-bearing period for continued strong growth and fruit set.  One of our gardeners fed them this mix every other week and his harvests were outstanding!  However, if you have skunks, etc., don't use fishy stinky stuff because it attracts these foragers. Avoid mulching with manure, especially chicken, that has a relatively high salt level strawberries don't like. Even with excellent irrigation and drainage, summer heat will cause its saltiness to burn the berry plants. So what to use if you have skunks and the like? Bunny poop. Get it on Thursdays at the Animal Shelter. You are doubly warned.

Mulching? Do it in summer! Self Mulching! This is the cheapest, easiest technique! Transplant seedlings close enough so that the leaves of mature plants will shade the soil between the plants.  If you choose to do this, alternate plants that get the same diseases or pests with plants that don't get the same diseases or pests. That's all there is too it! Roots are cool and comfy, less water needed. Natural mulches feed your soil as they decompose. Avoid any that have been dyed. Strawberries and blueberries like loose, acid mulches - pine needles or rotted sawdust. Raspberries and blackberries enjoy SEEDLESS straw.  Plants are done?  Chop and Drop!  Mulch is just so clever! Besides the underground advantages, above ground, it keeps plant leaves off the soil where snails, other critters, soil diseases, climb onboard. It keeps leaves drier, less molds, mildew. It keeps fruits off the soil, prevents soil splash, so you have clean harvest.

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Probiotics in Your Garden?!  YES!

Pickles and Sauerkraut are terrific foods you can make from your veggie garden that are great Probiotic sources!

Believe it or not, the homemade common green pickle is an excellent probiotics food source.  So is homemade sauerkraut, considered a probiotic super food!  And the 'sauerkraut' can be made of any of the Brassica family plants - broccoli, cabbage - green or red is fine, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kale, bok choy, kohlrabi, etc.  These plants have the same bacteria as in yogurt, and the bacteria does all the work naturally!

Probiotics?  Say what?  What are they and why would you want them?!

Per WebMD.com 'Probiotics are organisms such as bacteria or yeast that are believed to improve health. They are available in supplements and foods. The idea of taking live bacteria or yeast may seem strange at first. After all, we take antibiotics to fight bacteria. But our bodies naturally teem with such organisms. The digestive system is home to more than 500 different types of bacteria. They help keep the intestines healthy and assist in digesting food. They are also believed to help the immune system.'

Pickling cukes are fun to grow, crunchy tasty off the vine, and the survivors are easy to make into pickles!  Basically, use any mix of spices that pleases you, add it to your jars.  Wash, leave whole or cut to fit, and puncture your cukes - so the brine is better absorbed, stuff them into the jar too.  Make a salt and water brine, pour it over them a 1/2" more than the height of the cukes.  Ferment a few days and they're yours! 

HellaDelicious uses a marvelous spice mix (below), and has great tips on her page by page recipe - see all the details!  Or just do water and salt, forget all the spices!  But, I'll bet you have a few of these spices handy and could quickly throw in a few, just your favorites, of course!  Be creative!  This works for any veggies you would like to pickle - cauliflower, beans, asparagus, onions, carrot slices, beets, tomatoes!
  • small handful fennel seeds (you gathered from an unsprayed place)
  • 6-10 black peppercorns
  • 1 T mustard seeds
  • 5-7 cloves
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, sliced (you grew your own)
  • dill flower heads and leaves (you grew it next to your cukes)
  • small handful of coriander seeds (cilantro you let bolt and seed)
  • 1 horseradish root, sliced (fresh is great but it's highly invasive)
  • cinnamon bark
You may enjoy A cheater’s guide to quick pickling almost anything by wild Brooklynite pickler Kenji Magrann-Wells.

Now.  Before you go running off to the grocery store to buy pickles and sauerkraut, know that, per Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist,

Foods that are pickled are those that have been preserved in an acidic medium. In the case of various types of supermarket pickles on the shelf, the pickling comes from vinegar. These vegetables, however, are not fermented (even though vinegar itself is the product of fermentation) and hence do not offer the probiotic and enzymatic value of homemade fermented vegetables.

Vegetables that you ferment in your kitchen using a starter, salt, and some filtered water create their own self preserving, acidic liquid that is a by-product of the fermentation process. This lactic acid is incredibly beneficial to digestion when consumed along with the fermented vegetables or even when sipped alone as anyone on the GAPS Intro Diet has discovered (cabbage juice anyone?). In other words, homemade fermented veggies are both fermented and pickled.  [Be sure to read the comments on her page too!]

She says not only are there probiotics, but these homemade foods 

  • Enhance the vitamin content of the food.
  • Preserve and sometimes enhance the enzyme content of the food.
  • Improve nutrient bio-availability in the body.
  • Improve the digestibility of the food and even cooked foods that are consumed along with it!
To your excellent health and the great sport of pickling and krauting!

Lunar Gardening! 
Just for fun or maybe for real?!

Veggie Gardening by the Lunar Calendar

Some swear by it, others say there is no proof for it.  I speculate its a little of both.  Per Maria Thun's experiments, some plants respond a lot, others not at all, some not as expected!  So if you test the principle for a plant you think is water oriented, and test it only in water signs, but it actually responds to fire, you will miss the real result!  Science is science.  If you are going to test, do it thoroughly for trustworthy results.  That said, here is the opinion of a man named Blagrave, an herbalist in 1671!  And, yes, even believers disagree, of course!  This might make you rethink your lunar premises. 

Planting:  Plant when the Moon is waxing [increasing, New to Full] and in a water sign:  Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces.  Use a Lunar Calendar.  Avoid the days before and after the new and full moons. New moons produce weak plants, full moons produce quick growing top-heavy plants that fall over. If flowers are important, plant in a waxing [increasing from New to Full] moon in Taurus or Libra, the Venus signs.  For root plants, plant in a waning [decreasing from Full to New] moon in an earth sign: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn. If you want to eat the root (potatoes, carrots, beets, onions, etc.) plant in a waning moon in a water sign, as earthy signs produce woodiness.

Harvesting:  For long storage and best preservation, harvest in a waning moon in a fire sign: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius.  [Mind you, in 1671, this was important - no fridgies!]

If you get radical, and want more details, check out the Farmers' Almanac Best Days & Calendars, Gardening Calendar!

Alright!  Now you can all be scientists and see for yourself what works!  Have fun!

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Drought Zone Veggie Gardening

Practical Tips for a Dry Year - Dry Gardening?

Dry farming has been done for centuries in arid places.  With global warming, many will be using these ancient techniques to great advantage!  In Vietnam today, beans and peanuts, that restore the soil, and sesame, are grown season to season between wet rice plantings!  Watch this Vietnamese video, No Water Required! Dry Farming In Âu Lạc Vietnam 

Dry Farming Video Vietnam - Beans, Peanuts, Sesame Restore Soil!

I'm sharing this paragraph on DRY GARDENING from the Oregon Biodynamics Group.  We hear about tomatoes being dry gardened, but have you ever done it?  Here are some practical tips from people who have:

When the homesteaders planted their gardens, they needed to feed their family for much of the year. They couldn't afford to do raised beds or to develop irrigation systems. How did they do that? Part of the answer is to give plants lots of elbowroom. Space rows widely at about 8 times what we do with intensive beds. They also hoed or cultivated to keep a "dust mulch" [see below] between the plants. This technique is quite effective at preserving water so the plants can make it through the summer with only an occasional irrigation. Most of this class is directed at intensive gardening because we have limited areas for garden plots. But if you have the room, one can produce high-quality produce without irrigation. Vegetables must be able to send down deep roots so that they can draw in the water that is stored in the soil. Plants that work are root crops, brassicas, corn, squash, and beans. Ones that don't work are onions, celery, lettuce, Chinese cabbage, radishes, and spinach. The plants need to get well established in June [Oregon] using the natural soil moisture. Then they can carry themselves through the dry months. It helps to give 5 gallons of compost tea every 2-3 weeks during July-August. Liquid fertilizer helps with the stress of low water.

Clearly, our SoCal weather is different. I'm translating their Oregon June to our May. If you are a coastal gardener, or a foothill gardener, use your judgment how you will do your gardening practice. Dry gardening isn't for everyone, ie, harvest is generally a tad less.  Plant your dry crops separately from your water-needing crops.  Plant your water lovers more closely together and mulch them well.

  • If it is an option, store water for summer use. Set up a grey water system.
  • Prepare your soil with well aged water-holding compost, manure, worm castings.
  • Plant out of a drying windy zone. If that's all you have, plant subshrub barriers or build windbreaks.
  • Select plants or plant varieties suited to summer, tolerate heat and being dryer.
  • Choose plants that mature more quickly so they will have the early season water.  Plant those that need less water in the latter part of the season.
  • Grow only what you need.
  • If you don't need volume, but rather a steady supply, plant high producing dwarfs and minis, like many container varieties, that need less water for smaller leaves.
  • Plant further apart, at least 1½ times or greater the spacing distance recommended on seed packets, 8 times further if you have been doing intensive planting practices. But, do give seeds and seedlings all the water they need until they are established
  • Make furrows and plant IN the bottoms of furrows, not on the peaks that drain/dry out.
  • Thin out seedlings on time.  No wasting water on plants you won't use and that will slow others that need all the nutrients and water they can get.  Use scissors; don't pull up soil causing the other plant's roots soil to be disturbed, even expose the roots, to dry out, killing that plant too.
  • If you don't go the entire dry gardening route, but want to use less water, mulch deeply early on. It keeps your soil from drying out and blocks light germinating weed seeds from sprouting. 
  • Self mulching:  plant in blocks, rather than rows. This creates shade for roots and reduces evaporation.
  • Dust mulching is simply soil cultivation to about 2 or 3 inches deep. Cultivation disturbs the soil surface and interrupts the wicking of soil moisture from below to the surface and losing it to evaporation.  Do it after rains or irrigating.
  • Remove water-using weeds. Don't let them seed.
  • When you water, do it deeply by drip or trickle, deeply, early AM if possible, when wind is low and temps are cool. Plants drink during the day.  This is a good time to invest in a 'hose bubbler.'  They deliver water slowly without digging up your soil.
  • Cultivate 2" to 3" deep before a rain to capture up to 70% of the rainfall! Cultivate afterwards if a salt crust (from manures) has built up.
  • Give your plants tasty compost tea, equal parts water and aged compost. Compost tea delivers rich soluble nutrients directly to the plant roots. Harvest on time at peak flavor and texture, using no more water than needed.
  • If water becomes critical, consider planting only a couple of containers with vegetables.
  • When your harvest is done, turn the remaining plants under, especially legumes, like beans, that feed your soil.
Be water wise, sleep well, eat hearty, share the bounty!

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Exciting Upcoming Garden Events!

Santa Barbara Public Gardens Month!

~  MAY  ~
Santa Barbara Public Gardens Appreciation Month

NATIONAL PUBLIC GARDENS DAY, on Friday, May 10th, HAS BECOME A MONTH-LONG CELEBRATION OF GARDENING!  Celebrate with free tours, a free lecture series, free admission to several venues, garden teas at luxury hotels, special events, exhibits, book signings, free carousel rides, and much more!

Be sure to like the SBPGP on Facebook!

For a complete listing of activities and offers visit www.sbpublicgardens.org.  Enjoy!

As part of Gardens Appreciation Month, UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County will be presenting the 3 events listed!
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Saturday, May 4 - 10 a.m. to 12:00 noon
Louise Lowry Davis Center, 1232 De la Vina Street

Transform your landscaping into one which is sustainable and provides you with fresh, healthy produce, fruit and herbs year round. Master Gardeners Diane Galvan, Laurel Lyle and Karen McConaghy will define Edible Landscaping, provide guidelines for a good edible landscape plan/design, discuss planting and maintaining, harvesting and storing your Edible Landscape and food safety.
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Fabulous Herbs for Flavorful Food & Composting Simply Done
Saturday, May 11 - 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Louise Lowry Davis Center, 1232 De la Vina Street

Join Master Gardeners Steven Lewis and Katy Renner for an informative talk on preparing and selecting plants for your herb garden, some unusual herbs to consider, and tips for growing, harvesting, cooking and baking with your herbs. You will learn simple steps for preparing your compost, how to incorporate compost into your garden bed preparation and some composting tips for culinary herb gardens. Katy Renner, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu College and active member of the Herb Society of America, worked as a pastry chef for Lucques in LA and Renaud‘s Patisserie in Santa Barbara prior to operating her own business selling desserts to local restaurants. Katy is an avid gardener with a passion for flavorful food and collecting exotic herbs. Steve Lewis is an avid home gardener and advocate of sustainable landscaping and landscape enhancement with native plants.
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Backyard Beekeeping And The Amazing Honeybee
Saturday, May 25 - 10 a.m. to 12 noon
Louise Lowry Davis Center, 1232 De la Vina Street

Master Gardeners Barbara Hughes and Kathy Southard will talk about the history of beekeeping, the life of the honey bee, plants that bees love, and how to get started in beekeeping. Barbara Hughes is a longtime resident of Santa Barbara and avid gardener, who shares her home with her husband, two dogs, a cat and several thousand honeybees. Kathy Southard, also an avid gardener, transformed her front yard to a wildlife sanctuary by using edibles and natives, overcame her fear of working with bees, and now helps catch swarms to assist others in beekeeping.

Do leave a wild place, untouched, in your garden!  It’s the place the faeries and elves, the little people can hang out.  When you are down on your hands and knees, they will whisper what to do.  All of a sudden an idea pops in your mind….

In the garden of thy heart, plant naught but the rose of love. – Baha’U’Uah
"Earth turns to Gold in the hands of the Wise" Rumi

Glorious Summer Veggies!  Peppers, Tomatoes, Edible Flowers!
Be good to each other, and Mother Earth! Thank you all for your love and support!

Cerena Childress, Plot 46
elist holder Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden

Green Bean Connection BLOG!
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The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden.  We are very coastal, in the fog belt part of the year, so keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is

The Green Bean Connection Newsletter, Santa Barbara CA

The Green Bean Connection 
January 2009 Santa Barbara's Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden correspondence became a Newsletter with several intentions. It is to help newcomers who are overwhelmed by a small plot when they start – what to plant where and when, what about soil and irrigation, pests and diseases?!  GBC is intended to remind experienced gardeners of good planting times and practices, and to invite them to explore new ideas!  I want to put more ‘community’ in the word community by interesting each other in things we are doing; stirring thinking and sharing, both locally and afar.  In the section ‘Other Community Gardens’ I hope to inspire gardeners everywhere to see how community gardens work, what gardeners do together – educational events, meetings, tours, projects, and to see how gardens are so different! The Green Bean Connection has further evolved into a great blog for coastal Southern California urban gardeners! We now (March 2012) have more than 10 times the number of subscribers than the original number of gardeners we started with and it just keeps right on growing!  More

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