Cerena writes to help new gardeners get started,
remind experienced gardeners to plant 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

Hope you had a super green Earth Day!
Happy May Day and Mother's Day!

MAY, Fresh Beauty & Nutrition on Your Table!
Best Varieties of Tomatoes, Veggies to Grow!

Nature Works Best for Seedlings and Transplants
Hand Watering Veggies During Drought? Big Yes!  
Last Chance! Mother's Day is May 10!  
Events!  Quail Springs Permaculture Course!

Dear Pilgrim Terrace Gardeners, Garden Friends,

A Warm Welcome to new-to-Santa Barbara spring gardener, Susan McClean, Plot 39!  
A good-to-see-you welcome back to Christine Hogan, Plot 24! 

A farewell to Bill Henderson, Plot 25. Bill is a legendary gardener and taught many things to many of us through the 30+ years he gardened at Pilgrim Terrace in the SAME PLOT! He was also a Sierra Club hike leader 17+ years, still hikes, and is an intrepid surfer! Truly, he will be missed.
Meet Roberta Payan, our new garden coordinator, at the Garden 9 AM on first and third Tuesdays! Tell her your needs, comments, inspired ideas, what you are grateful for! 

Thanks for wonderful favors! To the entry clearing person and the one who stops the ants on the gate! To Ken Partsch, Plots 25 & 29, for the new garden tools! 

Sadly, our Saturday April 25 Food & Farm Adventures Bike Tour of Pilgrim Terrace & Trinity Garden was cancelled due to no signups. Thank you to all you gardeners who made your plots look good for our potential guests, and huge thanks to City staff for having plots cleared that have no gardeners, and weed whacking our pathways! Blessings to Steve Smith, Ken Partch, and Louie Cassano for volunteering to help with the event.

April has been a splendid gardening month! See some striking pretties and some unusual images!

If you or a friend would enjoy gardening at a community garden, MAY is time to plant tasty summer heat lovers and cantaloupe! A 10 X 20 spot is only $64/year! YES! Go directly to the Louise Lowry Davis Center, Parks & Recreation office, weekdays 10 to 4, to sign up. Get your application, ask for Roberta! She will meet you at the garden to help you choose a plot. That's at 1232 De La Vina St, Santa Barbara. We will be delighted to meet you, share friendship, sunshine, and garden craft!

MAY, Fresh Beauty, Nutrition on Your Table!

Summer Veggies Basket

Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! 

Get a beautiful basket to carry your bounty, because it's coming! 

Some of you will be doing third plantings by now and if you missed April, not to worry, PLANT now! Some plantings now will soon catch up with previous ones. Later in the month plant another round for steady table supply. Santa Barbara weather has been mostly warm and our gardens productive. The first zucchini blossom at Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden was spotted April 2 and the first 1" tomato April 1! 

Plant as you would in April, and now is perfect time for cantaloupes! With warmer dryer soil, those of you with soil fungi will have more success with tomatoes and cucumbers. Just keep those babies' leaves off the ground! Remove lower leaves, get them up a cage or trellis and lay down a loose 1" deep straw mulch blanket. Too much straw keeps the soil moist, which is good for some plants, not for others. Under maters and cukes, we want some air circulation and a bit of soil drying. It's main purpose is to keep your plant's leaves from not being water splashed or in contact with soil the main way they get fungi/blight diseases. 

Sow seeds of lima and snap beans, beets, cantaloupe, carrots, celery, chard, chicory, chives, slo-bolt cilantro, corn, eggplant, 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! Choose bolt resistant, heat and drought tolerant varieties when you can.
Long beans are spectacular and love heat. With this warmer weather, you can probably start them now or late May, though usually in June. They will last longer than other beans, hitting their stride toward the end of summer. Certain varieties of them don't get mildew either! Their unique flavor keeps your table interesting.

Garlic, bulb onions, and shallots naturally begin to dry this month. When the foliage begins to dry it's time to stop irrigating. Dry outer layers needed for long storage will form on the bulbs. When about half of the foliage slumps to the ground, bend the rest to initiate this maturing. The bulbs will be ready for harvest when the foliage is thoroughly dry and crisp.

It's strawberry time! Again, warmer weather will probably bring in your June bearers early, as well as the everbearers/day neutrals! They like a fish/kelp mix feed, every other week for continued strong growth and fruit set. Know that fishy stinky stuff attracts skunks and other foragers, so if you have these predators, use something else, like Bunny poop if you can get it. No sidedressing with salty manures, especially chicken; strawberries don't like it. Water short rooted varieties of strawberries more frequently, as well as keeping your beans and cukes well watered. They are all workhorses producing fast and repeatedly, cukes making a watery fruit even. If you are wanting to plant some strawberries, prepare your bed with the acidic compost they prefer. Mulch your beds to keep the berries off the ground, clean and above the bug bite zone. Bugs feel safer under the mulch! 

The usual May culprits!
  • Cucumber Beetles get in cucumber, squash and melon blossoms. The are yellow greenish with black stripes or dots about the size and shape of a Ladybug. They are cute but oh so awful. They carry bacterial diseases and viruses from plant to plant, such as bacterial wilt and mosaic virus, deadly to cukes. Radish repels them, is a champion plant, a hero of the garden! Plant enough for you to eat, let others just grow, be there permanently or at least until the beetles are done, gone. 
  • Flea Beetles look like large black fleas and do hop mightily! They seem harmless enough, make tiny little holes in the leaves of eggplant, potatoes, arugula. But, those tiny holes add up. As the beetles suck out the juice of your plant they disrupt your plant's flow of nutrients, open the leaves to disease, your plant is in a constant state of recovery, there is little production. Your plant looks dryish, lacks vitality. The trap plant for them, one that they like best, is radish! Thank goodness radish grow fast! 
  • Squash Bugs like your Zucchini and other squash. Plant your favorite potatoes amongst the squashies to repel the bugs. You will get two crops instead of just one!
  • Possible sighting of Whiteflies. They do the honeydew thing like aphids, leaving a nasty sticky black sooty mold over your plant's leaves. The honeydew attracts ants, which interfere with the activities of Whitefly natural enemies. They are hard to get rid of, so keep a close watch on the undersides of leaves, especially if you see little white insects flying away when your plant is disturbed. Whiteflies develop rapidly in warm weather, in many parts of California, they breed all year. Prevent dusty conditions. Keep ants out of your plants. Hose them away immediately. See more
Mulch everything now! Keep your soil moist longer - less water needed. Protect your soil from drying winds, prevent light germinating weed seeds from sprouting. Soil feeding organic mulch does good things for your soil as it decomposes.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~ Hippocrates

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. We are very coastal, during late spring/summer in a fog belt/marine layer area most years, so keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward! 

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Best Varieties of Tomatoes, Veggies to Grow!

I smiled when I got this request - What, in your opinion, is the best cherry, the best heirloom, the best standard and the best beefsteak (slicers) to grow in the Westside area? And don't forget those paste/canning maters! If you ask 5 gardeners they will have 5 answers! That's my experience gardening at a community garden.
Best depends on WHEN you plant. If you plant early, you want 'early' producers that are more cold tolerant, smaller fruited varieties. A month later you can go for the bigger toms. Beefsteaks generally don't do well at our mile-from-the-coast Westside unless you have a hotspot. At the Terrace they take too long to mature and often don't get big like a beefsteak should, take forever to redden.
Best depends on whether your soil has Verticillium or Fusarium wilts, which the Terrace does. And the wilts are wind borne as well as soil/water splash spread. Heirlooms generally have little resistance and die first at our garden. Whether heirlooms do well has a lot to do with what the gardener does with their soil and whether they help them out weekly/biweekly with an immune building foliar spray like the mix of powdered milk and aspirin. Put a handful of non-fat powdered milk in the planting hole too, along with worm castings that help with the immune system, and at transplant time sprinkle mycorrhizae fungi on their roots for greater uptake of nutrients and water and to help with immunity. Immunity, immunity, immunity. Best for us are tomatoes that have VFN on their tags ~ Verticillium, Fusarium, Nematodes resistance. Resistance is exactly what it means. The plants do die sooner or later from the disease no matter how much you do, feed, spray, treat.
How the gardener plants tomatoes makes a difference. Up on a mound with a basin on top. Top that with a 1/2" of compost, cover that with 1" of straw to let in air and sun to dry the soil but keep the leaves from touching the soil. Leaves touching the soil is the main way toms get the wilts. Remove lower leaves that might touch soil when weighted with dew or water from watering. Since toms have a deep taproot, they will get water from what you give to neighboring plants. Water near them but not at them or on them. Fuzzy damp leaves are perfect fungi habitat.
The wilts can't be stopped. Sooner or later the plant leaves curl lengthwise, get dark spots, turn brown, hang sadly. Plants can produce but it's agonizing to watch. Sometimes they somewhat recover later in the season after looking totally dead. I think the summer heat drys the soil and kills enough of the fungi for the plant to be able to try again. When we think it is dead, we water it less.

In the Mother Earth News tomato survey, they found gardeners chose heirlooms over hybrids if their soil is wilt/blight free. Otherwise, the longer the gardener has gardened, they more they chose wilt resistant toms if their soil has fungi.
Back to those original questions. The best of each? Cherry, heirloom, standard, beefsteak? I believe it is totally gardener preference. If they love that variety, they will pamper it like a baby and it grows and produces like crazy! Some gardeners love Lemon Boys that are practically tasteless to me. Some gardeners like a mushy almost grainy texture, or a tough skin. Some gardeners far prefer taste to quantity of production. I personally don't find heirlooms to be any more tasty than the toms I choose, though I do love their color variations and odd shapes! I've chosen toms just because I like their name. And I don't recommend doing that! :) Some plant a variety because that's what their family planted, sentimental, and to them it tastes better too! Probably a bit of genetics at play there as well.
Other than that, if you want to get technical, AAS Winners are a total best bet! AAS is a non profit, 80 years! The 2014 tomato winner was a yummy looking orange wilt resistant heirloom! They are selected each year from the best that are produced, proven producers, disease and pest tolerance/resistance. Obviously color, size, taste and texture are personal choices and best becomes a moot point. I do a little of both. I primarily pick VFNs and let myself 'experiment' from time to time, and let at least one volunteer live out of pure curiosity to see what it becomes! LOL
Another technical point is some varieties of tomatoes are far better for tomato grafting than others. Grafted toms can produce up to three times as much, are more disease resistant, and hella heat tolerant! A woman in the San Fernando Valley reports: We had four weeks of 100 degrees plus and most of the conventional plants, in spite of mulch and shade cloth couldn't hold up to it. The grafts, on the other hand did beautifully and without being watered for four weeks!

Where! Tomatoes around the country have strikingly different needs! In Florida toms need to do well in heat and humidity. In Arizona and SoCal it's heat tolerance, while in the Northwest cold hardiness and dealing with less sun, and in Colorado there are hot days/cold nights. There are many terrific varieties that do well in these extremely varying areas! There are many terrific heat tolerant varieties! Due to recent year warmer temps, and another hotter summer anticipated, more of us will be using them. Check out this great Garden Web thread.

Check out what your neighbors are planting, your local nurseries are offering. Local organic farmers are in the business! Look at what states with similar issues are doing, university research. Other countries have great offerings. Israel, for example, is famous for their veggies' research! Just to tantalize you, they have bred the Galia melon, Angello, the first seedless bell pepper in the world, Black Galaxy tomato that contains higher concentrations of vitamin C than other tomatoes, a mini basil tree, and the Anna Apple that ripens early summer and grows beautifully in hot climates such as Egypt, Indonesia, southern California and southern Texas!  
So, best depends on best for what! Personal taste, soil conditions, when you plant, where you plant. A windless hot spot with lots of light even in a cool neighborhood works well so you have more choices of varieties than expected! 

Apply these choice standards to all your veggie selections!
2009 Mother Earth News conducted a Best Tomato survey, 2000 respondents nationwide! Here is the juicy info! By Region Compare their results to your preferences. Will you try out any new varieties per their results this summer? Consider putting a couple new ones on next year's seed list! 
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Nature Works Best for Seedlings & Transplants!

Nature is the best nursery! 

Planting from seed in the ground gives your plants super nutrition. They might be blessed with your compost, worm castings and miniscule bug poop of littles walking by, lingering for a moment. If it rains they get perfect heavenly water.

The wind pushes them around a bit strengthening their tiny trunks, giving them flex. The sun warms their bodies and leaves and they reach for it! The Moon soothes them at night, quiet rest. They wake up to birds singing. Birds swoop by giving shadow kisses, sometimes they sit with your plants dropping free guano fertilizer. 

Lizards pitter patter by snatching a tasty vittle here and there keeping things balanced in the garden.
Insects, like brilliant Ladybugs, intimately walk all over them tickling them to vibrant life. When they mature, pollinators visit spreading beauty plant to plant. Sweet.

If you are getting that 6 week jump start with indoor/greenhouse/coldframe seedlings, get them in the ground soonest. At the first whiff of cool night temps, transplants really perk up and grow more leaves!

There is no human made concoction that can compare with Mama Earth herself. She has the master plan, a wholeness that is Divine. And, yes, She can smack you down. One snail can devour overnight, a crow can pull your seedlings, especially big seed types like corn and beans. So lay down slug/snail diatomaceous pellets as soon as you anticipate germination, and/or right at transplant time. Cover your seed bed carefully. If the sun is too hot the first few days, provide a mesh shade cloth cover or rig up something from what you've got on hand. Keep the seeds and young ones moist.

You and Mama Nature working together is a fine partnership. Your plants will flourish. Nourished by you and such an array only Nature can offer, they will have peak nutrition!

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Hand Watering Veggies During Drought? Big Yes!

Save Water Long Wand puts water right at the roots!

Some people think a drip system is the water saving way to go. That's true if you have a farm or a permanent landscape. In a fast moving small veggie garden hand watering is better.

Plants are constantly changing as they come and go. Even in a row, some plants grow faster than others and as they mature are pulled to make room for new ones. Happily, this leaves late maturers for continued table supply. Often the added new ones are a different kind of plant as the season progresses. New ones require more water more frequently to get started. Seed beds need wetting daily. Seed beds vary in size and design depending on what's planted and where you put it, how much you need.

One advantage of a small garden is you don't have to plant in rows. Biodiversity calls for putting the same kind of plant in different areas so disease or pests don't go down a row or through a patch, from plant to plant and you quickly lose them all. Succession planting means you don't plant the entire area at once, but leave room to plant another round to mature later, to keep a steady table supply. Plants at different stages need differing amounts of water. Hand watering is perfect in these situations.

Leaves don't need water, roots do! Long water wands let you reach in to water at the root of your plant as each needs it. There is no evaporation from overhead watering or of water on wet foliage. Fuzzy leaved plants aren't wetted making fungi friendly habitat. If you live by a busy dusty street, then do wash down your plants occasionally to keep their leaf pores open and dissuade Whiteflies. 

Keep the flow low! Choose a water wand with low flow, like the ones they use in nurseries that don't break the plants. Get one that has an on/off mechanism that is easy to use. That way you don't waste water when you go plant to plant, area to area. 

Low flow lets the water sink in. The general rule of thumb is water deeply, 1", once a week. Check that by sticking your finger in the ground. If the soil is dry 1" down, it's time to water.

Plants need different amounts of water. Lettuce and short rooted plants like some varieties of strawberries, green beans, onion, need water about every three days or so unless it is exceptionally hot and/or windy. At super hot times you may need to water once a day, twice a day for seed beds. Lettuce may need water every day to keep fast growth and sweet flavor.
 Big bodied plants like zucchini, some melons, pumpkins and winter squash need a lot of water to support all that plant. And there are times when plants don't need any water at all, like when garlic and onions mature. They need to develop their 'storage skin' that keeps their innards moist while being stored.

teady water is critical for beans, a heavy producer with small root, and strawberries. Beans curl and strawberries are misshapen, called cat faced, when watering is irregular. Celery and chard are thirsty plants. They need a lot of compost, soil with water holding capacity. Chard naturally wilts in heat, so check first, poke your finger in the soil, so you don't literally drown it when it is only doing its thing!

What else you can do!
  • Compost before planting! Compost has serious water holding capacity, saves water.
  • Make mounds with basins on top. That means the bottom of the basin is above neighboring soil level. As soon as you plant, mulch. Put in a stake in the center of the basin and water only there. Your plant gets water, the basin berms prevent wind drying the soil. A few days after you start watering there, check to see the basin is still in good shape, doing its job. Soil naturally settles, so add more if necessary. 
  • Make berms along pathways especially in sloping areas. Pathways don't need water. The berms don't have to be big and the berms don't need to be wetted.
  • Sprinkle transplant roots with mycorrhizae fungi at planting time. Mycorrhizae increase water and nutrient uptake. In Goleta ask for it at Island Seed and Feed.
  • Mulch like religion to keep your soil cooler, moist longer.
Hand watering is kinda Zen. You are 'with' your plants, see what they need, what needs doing next. Hummingbirds come. You take in the day, the beauty around you. You feel the Earth under your feet.

Last Chance! Mother's Day is May 10!

Salad Bowl Gift Cut Come Again

What more wonderful than a living gift?!

Plant a planter box, a cut and come again lettuce bowl
Give her a growing tower, garden gear  
Give her seedlings and seeds
Plant edible flowers for her that she will love
Offer her some of your time weeding, turning in amendments
Maybe she could use some of your homemade organic compost or worm castings
How about some easy-to-make cucumber night cream?!

Special gift! Fresh organic salad in a Mason jar? Yum!


A fresh gathered Bouquet Garni tied with a hearts ribbon
Bundles of fresh herbs she can hang and dry in her kitchen
Herbed oils and vinegars in pretty jars

Maybe she is a he! There are a lot of guy Moms out there, busy single dads who love to garden! Happy Mother's Day in advance to all you loving people!

Mother's Day Garden Gifts

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Upcoming Garden Events!

Walk or bike to 2015 events as possible! Heal the land, heal yourself.

Celebrate International Permaculture Day!

Permaculture Day Santa Barbara CA 2015

Permaculture Course Quail Springs Cuyama

Bringing productivity and beauty back to the land!

May 30 to June 15 Quail Springs’ Permaculture Design Course for International Development and Social Entrepreneurship! 

Plan ahead now for these amazing two weeks! It brings a roster of exceptional presenters and instructors from the USA and the world, with Warren Brush as our lead instructor and facilitator. It's not in a classroom, but on location with people who live the principles!  See all about it and contact info!    Quail Springs

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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

Tasty Edible Garlic Flowers on Red Bell Pepper!
Tasty Edible Garlic Flowers on Red Bell Pepper!

Cerena Childress, Plot 46
elist holder Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden

Green Bean Connection BLOG! 
April GBC Newsletter
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