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

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Surprise your Valentine with bags of fancy compost, a shovel with a big red bow, and you standing beside it offering your help! True love!  

The February 1, 2, 3!
Summer Veggies Water Saving Strategies!
Lacto Fermented Sauerkraut Adventure!

Events!  Water, Permaculture, Docent, EARTH DAY!

Dear Pilgrim Terrace Gardeners, Garden Friends,

If you or a friend would like to garden at a community garden, the sooner the better, choose your plot and start working your soil for spring planting. 

Several plots have been cleared and leveled.  Our garden manager, Pete Leyva, is in agreement they need to be mulched to preserve soil life. He says we now have a publicity person and soon there will be campaigns to attract new gardeners! Perfect time of year to get your plot for Spring Planting. 

Pete will be letting us representatives know our next meeting date. We will pass our meeting info along to you.

Across-the-Plot Gardening Tips

The February 1, 2, 3!

Basil with Cork Label

Are you hankering for summer veggies and flavors already?! Our SoCal weather is warmer than usual and holding, and we are past the coastal last average freeze date!!! Though the ground temp at Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden is 60 degrees, our night temps are not 50+ degrees yet, and we still have short day lengths. Keep track of those night temps. Once they get up, it is probably worth it to take a chance and jump the gun a bit. Many will be planting summer crops earlier this spring. Choose heat tolerant varieties. If our summer is hotter than usual, good chance of that, enjoy planting plants that need more heat than our coastal veggie gardens usually support. Heat and drought tolerant would be best. Get ready to plant favorites you have longed for, melons and eggplant!

1) Sidedressing! Take care of what you've got! Hard working plants need fuel and water. With higher temps than usual, watering needs a little more attention. As broccoli starts to head, give it a fish/kelp tonic! After the main head is cut, your side shoots will flourish!

2) Spring planting soil prep! Yes! As space clears from finishing winter plants, time to get composts in the ground, even if they aren't quite finished. They can complete the process in the soil, mingle with the soil herds of microorganisms. Party time! Turn in any last green manures. Add a light amount of manures as appropriate - not for carrots. You actually apply less manures in spring because you want fruit production, not leaf, unless it is a plant grown for its leaves, like kale! Incorporate a small bit of potent worm castings to help with plant immunities to disease. Sprinkle with a tad of coffee grounds. Keep your prepped areas covered with soil feeding mulch, and water that area when you water your other veggies. Moist, not flooded, soil is rampant with life!

3) February Planting!
  • Start seedlings indoors, in the greenhouse. If you didn't start your peppers in January, don't delay! Try California Wonder, Early Jalapeno, Sweet Banana, Super Chili! Start eggplants and tomatoes! Go for gorgeous Heirloom tomatoes if you have disease free soil. If your soil has wilts, choose wilt resistant varieties. Plant early, patio and determinate varieties for soonest production and if you have little space. If you have space, at the same time, plant indeterminates for all season production! They take a little longer to produce, but once they start, they keep right on going!
  • From Seed, Sow beets, caraway, celery, carrots, chard, chervil, chives, collards, cilantro (coriander), dill, endive, fennel, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuces, mustards, green onions, bulb onion sets, flat-leafed parsley, peas - mildew resistant varieties, white potatoes, radishes, shallots, spinach, and turnips. With our temp changes, get bolt resistant/slow bolt varieties, and especially drought tolerant varieties.  
  • Transplant artichoke and asparagus crowns and rhubarb rhizomes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, horseradish, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas, and spinach. It's the best time to plant strawberries, so they can grow well before the weather warms and they put out blossoms. Few gardeners can keep themselves from planting cold soil tolerating quick maturing tomatoes as early as March, but this year's February may be that March! Be mindful to ask your nursery for bolt resistant/slow bolt and drought tolerant varieties! Good luck!   

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SoCal Veggie Gardens Water Saving Strategies!

California's 2013 was the driest year on record since this type of data has been recorded, in 119 years. 

Think water capturing, slow the flow, Bioswales & Furrows this year! Plant IN your furrows, where the moisture collects. Carefully take a look at Holzer's Hugelkultur type diagram. The lower areas are wind and drying protected. In the case of a regular level garden, furrows can do the same thing, and when you water, you water in the furrows. If you don't plant on top of the furrows or plant plants with deep roots, all your plants will get water, and soil that doesn't need water doesn't get it. Plant taller plants where they can cut the flow of prevailing drying winds. See how the furrow in the image is lined with stones? Besides storing heat, they keep the slope from degrading when you water. 

If needed, install some mini wiers, check dams, to slow the rush of the water, to make it possible to give some sections more water, as needed, than others. In a small garden area you could lay in some halved lengthwise PVC with holes drilled in it to let water drain through - plant along each side of it. If you can, do mini Hugelkultur strategies, or do it with full blown zest! Get a log/s and go for it! 

One homeowner said: We built a really cool bioswale and rainwater storage system to collect not only rainwater runoff from the green roof, but also to collect any irrigation water seeping from our terra cotta pots and the water we use to wash off shoes and our feet after working in the nursery or with the animals.

Get creative with 'furrows!' Curve them, make some deeper, wider than others as needed. If you can't do furrows, do wells, basins. Keep that water corralled where it will do the most good. Be mindful of your fruit trees. Feed them well, out to the drip line, and water that food in. Natural leaf drop, mulch on top of the ground, isn't decomposing as usual with our dry weather. Watch for leaf curl and yellowing.

Self Mulching!  This is the cheapest, easiest mulching technique! Plant or Transplant seedlings close enough so that the leaves of mature plants will shade the soil between the plants. 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. 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 on board. It keeps leaves drier, less molds, mildew. It keeps fruits off the soil, clean to harvest.  
If you are gardening at home, install a grey water system – it is now legal in California. Our water is so precious. Let's use it well and do what we can to save, slow down the use of, depleted water tables. In Santa Barbara area, check with the experts at Sweetwater Collaborative. Their next Laundry to Landscape Workshop is on Sat Feb 15!

Consider Dry Farming. Sometimes it's doable, sometimes not. Here are practical tips from different people who have done it!

Consider aquaponics. At its best, that's growing crops and fish together in a re-circulating system. Sounds good. For me, I love being outdoors, getting dirty in soil, the surprise volunteers that come from visiting birds. I like insects and worms, small animals, even snails! It makes me think my plants are wholly nutritious in ways no chemical formula could ever make them be. And I like that the plants are different from year to year. It calls on me to pay keen attention. I love weather, anticipating and responding to nature's rhythm. Makes me feel alive! But if you love tinkering with pumps, siphons, filters and formulas, I totally understand. You can't grow root veggies, but it certainly takes less land and plants grow fast, really fast, and you can grow tender plants all year if your system is indoors! You can get expensive towers or do it yourself inexpensively, with or without fish. There are numerous ways to do it to fit your needs!

In general, Select seeds and plants that are heat and drought tolerant that require less water. Ask your nursery to carry them. Check into seed banks in warmer drier areas of the country, and the world, for their successful plants.

Compost, compost, compost! Compost is the single most thing you can do for your soil to add water holding capacity! Also, alternate plantings of soil nourishing legumes, then other plants. Keep your soil healthy and lively, with excellent friability, so it makes the most of what moisture it does receive.

More you can do! Live your techniques; talk with and show others how to do it! Bless you for your kind considerations.

Lacto Fermented Sauerkraut Adventure!

Lacto fermenting is terrific for your health! You do NOT want to see the word vinegar anywhere around your sauerkraut or pickles! We want probiotics! I have excerpted and adapted info and images from various web pages that tell how to make your own super healthy sauerkraut! It is considered by some to be the Original Probiotic SuperFood!

Handsome cabbages perfect for lacto fermenting, probiotics! Farmers' Market Tailgate Sale Walla Walla!
At Melissa Davis's Food Blog, Walla Walla Farmers' Market monster organic tailgate cabbage!

Cabbage & Veggie Mix for Lacto Fermenting - Probiotics Delish Red Cabbage perfect for Sauerkraut, Lacto Fermentation Probiotics!

  1. Shred 1 organic cabbage, (like for coleslaw). Or, mix it up!  White cabbage, carrot, onion, red pepper, shredded green beans, apples, cucumbers, vinegar, water, salt, sugar, and spices! You want your cabbage pieces as consistent as possible so they ferment at the same rate. Thread cuts are best because they expose more cabbage cells making more lactic acid that preserves flavor, texture and color.
  2. Optional Spices you can add: bay leaves, coriander, juniper berries, caraway, garlic, mustard, onion, fennel - your faves, your choice!
  3. 1 tablespoon unrefined sea salt or a good salt, use filtered water (non-chlorinated)
  4. 1/4 cup liquid whey (not necessary, but even more healthy) 

Cabbage Pounders - BeechwoodLayer your shredded cabbage in a large container sprinkling with salt and whey as you go. Mash with a pestle (from a mortar and pestle) or whap with a tenderizer pounder until the cabbage starts to release the juices (about five to fifteen minutes). Cabbage releases liquid, creating its own brining solution.

Put your cabbage in a container, crock, Mason jar, and tamp it down tight. Leave it loosely covered for an hour or so. If the juices aren't covering the cabbage at this point, add enough filtered water to cover. If you’ll be using more than a 1/2 cup or so, add in another teaspoon of salt per cup (stir to dissolve before adding to cabbage).

Cabbage Sauerkraut Jar on Lid holding cabbage down.Cabbage Making Sauerkraut, weighted jar in jar 

Cabbage near the surface tends to float. It's important that it remain submerged during fermentation. When making sauerkraut in a crock, place a weighted plate over the cabbage to pack it down and keep it submerged. In a mason jar, you need to either tamp down the cabbage a few times a day or place a large outer leaf of cabbage over the surface of the shredded cabbage to hold it down. Put a lid, rubber side up on top of the leaf, a jar on top of that to hold it all down, or put a smaller jar in weighted with a stone or marbles!

Keep the jar covered with a clean cloth or piece of cheese cloth. This will allow airflow, but prevent dust or insects from getting into the sauerkraut. If you are not using a fermenting jar with an airlock, and put a lid on it, make sure to “burp” the container several times a day.

Minimum fermenting time is about three days, though the kraut will continue to ferment and become tastier for many days after that. As simple as it sounds, the best rule of thumb is to keep tasting the kraut. Put a lid on it and refrigerate (or take it cellar temperature) when it tastes good to you. The sauerkraut is safe to eat at every stage of the process, so there is no real minimum or maximum fermentation time.

Bubbles, foam, or white scum on the surface of the sauerkraut, are all signs of normal, healthy fermentation. The white scum can be skimmed off as you see it or before refrigerating the sauerkraut. If you get a very active fermentation or if your mason jar is very full, the brine can sometimes bubble up over the top of the jar. This is part of the reason why I recommend using a larger mason jar than is really necessary to hold the cabbage. If you do get a bubble-up, it's nothing to worry about. Just place a plate below the jar to catch the drips and make sure the cabbage continues to be covered by the brine.

It is possible that you might find mold growing on the surface of the sauerkraut, but don't panic! Mold typically forms only when the cabbage isn't fully submerged or if it's too hot in your kitchen. The sauerkraut is still fine (it's still preserved by the lactic acid) — you can scoop off the mold and proceed with fermentation. This said, it's still important to use your best judgment when fermenting. If something smells or tastes moldy or unappetizing, trust your senses and toss the batch.

Label your ‘Kraut! Ingredients, date. Southport Grocery in Chicago says Grandma really did know best, Eat Your Fermented Veggies!

Cabbage Sauerkraut Label SPG Southport Grocery, Chicago
Wise woman Sharon Kaufman says: Since this is a food with beneficial bacteria, the optimum way to serve it is cold or at room temperature. Heating it kills off all the good stuff, so think of eating it as you would a pickle - cold and crunchy. YUM!

And there, my friends, you have it! Using your cabbages to maximum health benefit is SO EASY!

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Upcoming Garden Events!

Walk or bike to events as possible!

Saturday Feb 15, Fruit Trees & Drought

10:30 am - 12:30 pm, Mesa Harmony Garden
1740 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara (enter at corner of Meigs and Dolores)
Nonmember $3-5 donation requested. Annual Membership only $10

How you choose, plant and nurture fruit trees can give them their best chance to survive prolonged droughts. Discuss root stocks, basin planting, mulch and living mulches, watering strategies, making hard choices to let go of weak or water-hog trees.

Sweetwater Collaborative - Grey Water Workshops, Santa Barbara CA area

FREE Greywater workshops, perfect for these drought times!

Laundry to Landscape Workshop is on Sat Feb 15!

Permaculture Convergence at Temecula CA 2014! Register ASAP, this event sells out early!

2014 Southern California Permaculture VOICES
March 13 to 16 
at the Pechanga Resort, Temecula CA

Toby Hemenway, the author of Gaia’s Garden, will be there, and permaculturist Geoff Lawton, whom John Liu collaborates with in the video above. Geoff's wife Nadia Abu Yahia Lawton will be there too! She works to establish permaculture women’s groups and school projects in English and Arabic.

LAST YEAR (2013) THIS EVENT SOLD OUT almost immediately!  REGISTER NOW!

Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC) – March 18-29, 2014 at Pri Tipuana Farm

Goats Fairview Gardens Goleta Docent Training!

Fairview Gardens DOCENT TRAINING!

Saturday, March 1, 9 to Noon at the Garden, Goleta CA

Every year, hundreds of people come to tour Fairview Gardens to learn from our outdoor classroom. They range from classrooms, elderly centers, foodie groups and universities. Become part of the magic of this community farm! We will teach you everything you need to know to give educational tours of the farm and help bring excitement to food systems and knowing where food comes from. LEARN MORE

Earth Day Festival, Community Environmental Council
Save these dates!

CEC's Earth Day Festival!

Alameda Park, Santa Barbara CA 

Saturday, April 26 (11am-7pm)

Sunday, April 27 (11am-6pm)

Exhibitor registration opens Monday, February 3 at 12:00 pm.

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….

If you don't have a 'Valentine' Sweetheart, designate some person as someone you will give a green gift to! For me, it's a little neighborhood girl who wants me to take her to sketch at the Community Garden. Sweet.

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

Delicious, nutritious winter veggies - lettuces, broccoli, chard, cabbage!

Cerena Childress, Plot 46
elist holder Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden

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