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 Earth Day - Locally April 20, 21!

April Veggies! Heat Lovers' Happiness!
Bagrada Watch Continues!
Tomatoes - Wilts, Fava, Coffee Grounds!
A ´╗┐Profusion of Glorious Sweet Peppers!

Events!  Master Gardeners Plant Sale, EARTH DAY, Backyard Chickens! 

Dear Pilgrim Terrace Gardeners, Garden Friends,

Welcome to our new gardeners! Louie Cassano, Plots 9 & 20, Paige and her Sweetie at Plot 39, and Luelle at Plot 50!

Special thanks to Max of Occupy Santa Barbara for knocking down the weeds in Plot 41 and one other plot as well.  That keeps the weed seeds from floating into our neighboring plots.

Celestina and Jeff are doing continuing care of our herb boxes.  Hats off and Thank Yous!  And thanks to whoever is keeping the shed swept!  Your work is noticed and appreciated!

If you are thinking of mulching with straw, I just split a bale with Steve Thomson, the bale was only $10.25 at La Cumbre Feed by the Showgrounds.

Many of you won't be using your whole packet of seeds.  Please put what you won't be using in the little box in shed!  Others will be grateful. Don't forget the local seedbank at the FoodBank!  The seeds are FREE, and local means they are adapted to our area.  Plan/t ahead to give your extra seeds to them as payback.  When you get new seeds notice the year the seeds were harvested so they will still be viable and you will get good germination.  The softer the seed, the shorter its term of viability.

Across-the-Plot Gardening Tips

April Veggies! Heat Lovers' Happiness!

Tomatoes, the favorite gardeners' plant!  YUM!Nighttime temps are now 50+ degrees!  If you have been waiting for these good temps, you just want to plant, plant, plant! Still, unless you have plenty of space, be a wise gardener and plant successively, some now, some later, some after that, to keep your table in steady supply of delicious organic food! If you are planting for canning, plant the amount you need all at once. Wait until the soil has warmed to 70°F before planting squash (except for winter squash - plant it ASAP) and melons. Santa Barbara, Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden, coastal ground temps are 60 degrees now.

Yes! Now we're talking true heat lovers time!  TOMATOES!  La Sumida has the largest tomato selection in the Santa Barbara area! Ask for Judy to help you with your questions. Heirlooms are particularly susceptible to the wilts, Fusarium and Verticillium. Instead, get varieties that have VFN or VF on the tag at the nursery. The V is for Verticillium, the F Fusarium wilt, N nematodes. Ace, Early Girl, Champion, Celebrity, are some that are wilt resistant/tolerant.  I do have to admit, though, there are many of us that can't do without our heirloom SunGolds! 

Eggplant, limas, melons (wait until May for cantaloupe), okra and peppers, pumpkins!  Sow or transplant asparagus, beets, carrots, celery, chard, corn, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, heat-tolerant leaf lettuce, okra, summer-maturing onions, parsley, peanuts, the last peas (choose a heat-tolerant variety such as Wando), white potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, and spinach.

April 1 IS JICAMA PLANTING DAY! If you miss it, plant ASAP! All about Jicamas!

Transplant early-maturing varieties of beans, cucumbers, eggplants, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. Wait on cantaloupe, 'cz they will do better started in May.  Sprinkle Mycorrhiza fungi right on the roots of your transplants when you put them in the ground. It increases uptake of nutrients, water, and phosphorus that helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Ask for it at Island Seed & Feed in Goleta.

If you didn't get your Winter squash in last month, do it NOW, soon as you can, for sure!  It is a little late, so be sure to get transplants so it will have a long enough season to harden for harvest. 

Mid April, another round!  Tuck in some bean seeds where peas are finishing, intermingled with cucumber seeds that will grow below the beans, plus a few dill to go with the cukes! Plant radishes with the cukes to deter the Cucumber beetles. Squash! Plant some corn in blocks, not rows, for good pollination!  In a good hot area, lay in some cukes, melons or winter squash, to ramble among the corn, soon as they are tall enough, put down a thick straw mulch to keep their leaves and fruit off the ground.

Grow herbs for beauty and table taste!! Sow or transplant basil, borage, chervil, chives, cilantro, comfrey, dill, fennel, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, and thyme. Be mindful where you plant them... Mediterranean herbs from southern France, like lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme, do well in hot summer sun and poor but well-drained soil with minimal fertilizer. On the other hand, basil, chives, coriander (cilantro), and parsley thrive in richer soil with more frequent watering. Wise planting puts chives where you need to repel Bagrada Bugs, by your broccoli, kale, but away from peas if you are still growing some. Cilantro, a carrot family workhorse, discourages harmful insects such as aphids, potato beetles and spider mites, attracts beneficial insects when in bloom. Dill is a natural right next to the cucumbers since you will use the dill if you make pickles. They mature about the same time.

Good Homes for Good Bugs!  Lure hoverflies, lacewings, ladybugs, and parasitic wasps, by planting chamomile, cosmos, marigold and yarrow.  Let a carrot go to flower!

Check out:  Growing UP, 4 High Yield Summer Plants!

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Bagrada Watch Continues!

Bagrada Bugs, Painted Stink Bug, Adults & Nymphs, Leaf Damage

Please see the March Newsletter for more Bagrada info.  One of our Pilgrim Terrace gardeners says local organic farmer John Givens recommends planting mustard plants as a trap crop to lure the Bagradas away from your summer kales and broccolis.  Mustard is the Bagradas' first preference.  Kill the Bagradas off the mustard however you will. 

Bagradas are a serious pest.  They multiply phenomenally quickly - overnight, believe me!  These are adults and nymphs.  The whitened areas of the leaves are where they have sucked out the fluids, leaving poison from their saliva.  A young plant can be die in three days or less.

As the ground warms up, it's time for us all to watch for Bagrada Bugs, also called Painted stink bugs, hatchings and stop them before they start!  If you have a neighbor gardener who has them, please let them know and ask them to deal with them asap before they infect us all.  If you know a gardener who is not on our email list, please let them know.  In a Community Garden, we all need to work together.

TRANSPLANTS  Please check for eggs on the undersides of leaves of any transplants you buy.  Either remove all the eggs, or be 100% safe and don't buy that plant! 

For good cultural practices, more remedies, more details on how to deal with Bagrada Bugs, click here!  Really lucky gardeners have chickens!

Tomatoes - Wilts, Fava, Coffee Grounds!

Tomatoes - Wilts, Fava, Coffee Grounds Report

Here are some super tips on how to grow superlative tomatoes!  Prevent diseases, give them gourmet soil!
  • Plant tomatoes where you had dense fava patches.  This year I was smarter, learned to chop the favas down for green manure while easy to chop when they started flowering.  You can see all the Nitrogen nodules on their roots!  Last year tomato plants I grew where the favas were, were robust and resisted the wilts longer.  As the one reference online suggested, I cannot say they prevented the wilts, but they did feed the soil beautifully.  I'm now letting some of the favas seed out for next year's plantings.
  • At planting time, I added a good dose of animal manures and compost, and my usuals – a huge handful of bone meal, a handful of non-fat powdered milk, worm castings, a tad of coffee grounds to the planting holes.  This robust combo works well.  Go VERY LIGHTLY on the coffee grounds.  As they decompose, coffee grounds appear to suppress some common fungal rots and wilts, including FUSARIUM!  In studies, coffee grounds were part of a compost mix, in one case comprising as little as 0.5 percent of the material.  That's only 1/2 a percent.
  • Plant on slightly raised mounds, with a well on top, for drainage, and plant only plants that need less water nearby.  That means your basil goes elsewhere even though they are often said to be tomato companions.
  • Top the area with a one inch layer of compost, then cover with a thin layer of straw mulch to prevent the splash factor. When water splashes up from infected soil onto the lower leaves, the plant is infected.  Straw has air flow through its tube structure, allowing the soil to be drier even though straw is a mulch.  Deep mulch keeps the soil cool and damp.  No.  Use only the thin 1" layer of straw that allows more air flow, the soil to heat a bit. Replenish the straw monthly.  Tomatoes like it hot!
  • Plant resistant and tolerant varieties.
  • Plant far enough apart so their leaves don’t touch.  It's hard not to be greedy and jam them all together.  But often that doesn't pay if there are infestations or disease that spreads through the entire patch.  And, it can reduce production since they shade each other out.  When you struggle to harvest, breaking foliage, those damaged areas are susceptible to disease.
  • Trim the lowest splash-susceptible leaves away religiously, even if they have tomatoes forming on them.  It's a small sacrifice in behalf of the health of your plant, in favor of continued vigorous production.  Remove infected leaves promptly.  Don’t expect to stop the wilt, just slow it down, a LOT.
  • Instead of long living indeterminate varieties, plant determinate faster producing varieties successively.  Plant new plants in other areas when the previous plants start producing.  Remove infected plants when production slows down.  Sick plants will sometimes suffer along with low production, but replacing these plants is more effective and less disease is spread.  The wilts are airborne as well as soil borne.  Consider the prevailing wind direction in your area.  Plant downwind first; work your way upwind with your clean healthy new plants.
  • You can plant later. Rather than put young vulnerable plants in cool fungi laden soil, depending on the weather, you can wait until late May, even June, when the warmer soil is drier. In the past I have had volunteers come up in July and gotten healthy plants with good crops late August into September!
If you don't have wilts in your soil, hallelujah!  And pray you don't bring any home on transplants from the nursery or it blows in from a neighbor.  Keeping a clean crop is one good reason to do seed saving, buy organic seeds from a reliable seed house, and grow your own!  If you are not a tomato eater, ok.  If you are, enjoy every 'licious bite!  

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A Profusion of Glorious Sweet Peppers! 

This is how marvelous your Bell Peppers should look!

Peppers with 3 bumps on the bottom are sweeter and better for eating.

Peppers with 4 bumps on the bottom are firmer and better for cooking.
Do you think that is true?

To prevent cross-pollination, hot pepper plants should not be planted near sweet or bell pepper plants.  TRUE!  Plant at least 400 feet between varieties to ensure absolute purity.  That's important info for seed savers!

Sweet Peppers likeBasil, Tomato, rhubarb, eggplant, Lettuce, Asparagus, Parsley, Silver Beet, Spinach, carrot, onion, beans, cabbage, peas, marigold and okra.
Hot Pepper plants do well alongside Eggplant, Tomato, Okra, Swiss Chard, Escarole, Squash and cucumbers.

Soil  Peppers need VERY RICH SOIL, are heavy feeders!  Place compost, worm castings, rotted manure under them when transplanting.  Mix in 1 T Epsom Salts, Maxi Crop, Landscape Mix.  Sandy soils are preferred for the earliest plantings because they warm more rapidly in the spring. Heavier soils can be quite productive, provided they are well drained and irrigated with care.

Epsom Salts!  A cheap home remedy that can keep plants greener and bushier, enhance production of healthier fruit later in the season, and potentially help reduce blossom-end rot. Apply 1 tablespoon of granules around each transplant, but research has shown a foliar spray of a solution of 1 tablespoon Epsom salts per gallon of water at transplanting, first flowering, and fruit set is more effective!  As a foliar spray, Epsom salts can be taken up quickly by plants, otherwise, it is sometimes hard for the plant to get it out of the soil because of calcium competition.  The easy way to foliar feed is to have a watering can whose nozzle swivels so the spray can go UP, wetting the undersides of the leaves.  What goes through and above the leaves as you spray, comes down on the top of the leaves you are spraying, doing both top and bottom at once!

Peppers love sun, but a bit of shade is good for the fruit.  Last year I planted a Poblano between two big tomato plants.  For awhile I thought it was a goner, shaded out, then, it just grew and grew!  It got almost 4' tall and produced like crazy and I gave giant peppers away! 

Plant your peppers about a foot to 1 1/2 feet apart.  A healthy pepper will get big, and it is wise to put small tomato cages over thick wall bell pepper varieties when you plant, to support the weight when they are heavy with fruit.

Too cool weather, nighttime temps 55 F or below for a time, may cause the blossoms of transplants to drop off. The only solution is to make sure night temperatures have warmed sufficiently before transplanting peppers outdoors. The plants will survive and more blossoms will appear. When daytime temps reach 90 F and above, and stay there, just like with tomatoes, the blossoms seldom set fruit.  Not to worry.  Just give them some time.

Personal Mulch!  Solanaceae, that's peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, like mulch from their own leaf litter, so just let the leaves fall and accumulate.

Watering tip!  Peppers, have shallow roots, need even watering.  Keep the soil moist—not soggy—to encourage root development and prevent blossom wilting and bitter-tasting peppers.  Moisture stress during bloom can cause substantial reduction in fruit set.  Later on, however, as a friend from Framers Market pointed out:  'Red & yellow peppers are green peppers that have been ripe for a while. So you are asking an already ripe fruit to stay on a vine longer to change color. Too much water, and the pepper will start to turn brown and rot. So we switched to watering a LOT less frequently and the results have been outstanding.' 

Sidedressing  Peppers need fertilizer in small doses, a rich organic fertilizer when blooms appear.  If you scratch in some compost, be careful not to damage their shallow roots.  Liquid chicken manure is high in nitrogen and potassium for heavy feeders like peppers.  Big, sweet peppers require a continual source of nutrition. The easiest way to fertilize them is to incorporate gradual-release fertilizer in the ground at planting. Fish-meal pellets, alfalfa pellets or cottonseed meal are all good organic choices. You also can foliar-feed plants every week or two with a fish/seaweed soluble fertilizer, spraying the tops and bottoms of leaves, or water the ground with the same mixture.

Harvest!  Bell peppers are at their sweetest and are highest in Vitamins A and C when fully mature. When choosing bell peppers for eating, select those that are firm, heavy for their size with shiny, richly colored skin.  The bell pepper's sweetness increases as their color changes from green to their final color.

SEEDS!  Harvest mature, fully-ripe peppers for seed. Most bell peppers turn red when fully mature.  If frost threatens before peppers mature, pull entire plant and hang in cool, dry location until peppers mature.

  • There are two methods, dry and wet, to process pepper seeds. The dry method is adequate for small amounts. Cut the bottom off the fruit and carefully reach in to strip the seeds surrounding central cone. In many cases, seeds need no further cleaning.
  • To process the seed from large amounts of peppers, cut off the tops just under the stem, fill a blender with peppers and water and carefully blend until good seeds are separated and sink to bottom. Pepper debris and immature seeds will float to the top where they can be rinsed away. Spread clean seeds on paper towel and dry in cool location until seed is dry enough to break when folded.

May your peppers be fat and plentiful, and you have crunchy happy eating year after year!

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Exciting Upcoming Garden Events!

plant sale
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CEC's Earth Day Festival

Saturday, April 20 and Sunday, April 21

Earth Day 2013 Climate for Change!

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Backyard Chickens Saturday, May 4th, 9am – 1pm

Chickens for your garden and tasty, fresh, organic eggs!

LOCATION: The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens,
598 N. Fairview Avenue, Goleta, CA 93117

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Leave a wild place, untouched, in your garden!  It’s the place where 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….
Be good to each other, and Mother Earth!  Thank you all for your love and support!

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
Pepper, Tomatoes, Edible Flowers!

Cerena Childress, Plot 46
elist holder Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden

Green Bean Connection BLOG!
See the March GBC Newsletter

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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.  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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