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 NEW YEAR!! 

JANUARY BareRoot, Seeds & Soil!
SoCal Planting Time Choices for 2015   
Designing Your Spring/Summer Veggie Garden 
Soil Preparations for Spring/Summer Planting 
Choosing Seeds, Catalogs to Seed Swaps!  
Events!  In Santa Barbara Jan 2 La Sumida Nursery Bareroot Everything, Permaculture, SEED SWAP!

Dear Pilgrim Terrace Gardeners, Garden Friends,

CONGRATULATIONS to Shannon Miller on her marriage to Bart Woolery December 29! Much love to both of you!

Santa Barbara Community Gardens thanks to the Urban Grow Systems Santa for delivering the Christmas donation of organic amendments, worms, liquid castings, coir and more! Each will be gratefully used and our tummies will be filled with wonderful veggies! www.UrbanGrowSystems.com, 805-687-6699

A warm welcome to Roberta M. Payán, City of Santa Barbara Neighborhood & Outreach Services! She is our new Garden Coordinator in Pete Leyva's absence. You can reach her at (805) 897-2568 or email rpayan@santabarbaraca.gov if you would like to sign up for a plot, have questions or comments, or just want to welcome her!

See wonderful December images around the garden!

If you or a friend would enjoy gardening at a community garden, get going right now - January is a a super month for winter favorites, quick growers like lettuces, crispy eat-off-the-vine snap peas, super nutritious kales and more! A 10 X 20 spot is only $64/year! YES! Go directly to the Louise Lowry Davis Center, Parks & Recreation office, to sign up. That's at 1232 De La Vina St, Santa Barbara. We will be delighted to meet you and share friendship, sunshine, and garden craft!

January, Bareroot, Seeds & Soil!

Cauliflower Sicilian Violet Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden December 2014
Stunning Sicilian Violet Cauliflower at Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden! 
Love your Mother! Plant winter bee food! Capture water! Grow organic!

Santa Barbara's average last frost date is January 22! This isn't to say there might not be another frost after that...and plants won't produce fruit until they have enough hours of sun, and for some, warmth including day/night and/or ground temps. Know that you are taking your chances. If you lose 'em just replant! Guarantee your success by starting another round of seeds in a month or so, both for backup and succession planting. 

With your summer garden layout in mind, get SEEDS! Start them indoors NOW! Check your 2015 seed catalogs for drought and heat tolerant varieties or look in southern states or world areas that have desert low water needs plants and order up! The seeds of these types may need to be planted deeper and earlier than more local plants for moisture they need. They may mature earlier. Be prepared to do second plantings and use a little water.

You have planting timing choices to make this year. So far, here in Santa Barbara, we have been having a super mild winter, hot at times, finally getting some frosts the last few days of December. We May start planting some spring crops very early, ie zucchini in January! Some crops, like tomatoes fruits won't mature well because the day lengths aren't long enough yet, air and ground temps are too cool. For those it's better to wait. However, if you get planting fever, put in small fruited varieties and cherry toms to start your tomato season. You can probably better use that area though for other quick plants, grown for their leaves, until it's the right time to plant toms. Plants grown for their leaves can be removed at any time and you still shall have had lush harvests.
This is THE time to start peppers from seed! Peppers take their time, much longer than other plants.

Check out  Seed Soaking/Presprouting Tips & Ideas! 

If seeds and tending seedlings aren't for you, wait and get transplants and pop them right in the ground per their right times! No fuss, no muss.

If you love your winter crops, and aren't necessarily in a rush to do spring/summer, amend your soil immediately and plant one more round, from transplants if you can get them or have starts of your own. In cooler January weather, plantings will mature slowly, but they will mature faster than usual as days are longer, things are warmerMost January plantings will be coming in March, April. That's still in good time for soil preps in April for the first spring plantings in April/May.

For us SoCal gardeners, besides beautiful bareroot roses, this month is bareroot veggies time! They don't have soil on their roots, so plant immediately or keep them moist! Grape vines; artichokes; short-day (sweet) globe onions; strawberries; cane berries such as raspberries (get low-chill types); low-chill blueberries; and rhubarb, asparagus, and horseradish. Bare root planting is strictly a January thing. February is too late.

Think twice about horseradish. It’s invasive as all get out! If you do it, confine it to a raised bed or an area where it will run out of water. If you have long term space available, add in some deciduous fruit trees! Rhubarb, though totally tasty in several combinations, ie strawberry/rhubarb pie, has poisonous leaves! That means to dogs, small children and unknowing people. Either fence it off, or don’t grow it. I don’t recommend it in community gardens because we can’t assure people’s/children’s safety.

Plant MORE of these delicious morsels now! Arugula, beets, brocs, Brussels sprouts if you get winter chill, bunch onions, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, culinary dandelions, garden purslane, kale, kohlrabi, head and leaf lettuces, Mesclun, peas, potatoes, radishes - especially daikons, and turnips! 

If you need more robust soil, you may choose to put in green manure where you will grow heavy summer feeders like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, chilis, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, melons, and corn; hungry stalk vegetables like celery, fennel, rhubarb, and artichokes; or continually producing green, leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard. Green manure can be beautiful favas or a vetch mix to boost soil Nitrogen. Favas are big and you get a lot of green manure per square foot. If you change your mind, you can eat them! :) Or cover an area you won't be planting with a good 6" to a foot deep of mulch/straw! That will flatten down in no time at all! Simply let the herds of soil organisms do their work over winter. That's called sheet composting or composting in place - no turning or having to move it when it's finished. If you are vermicomposting, have worms, add a few handfuls to speed up and enrich the process. Come spring you will have rich nutritious soil for no work at all!

Repeat! Excellent Winter Garden Practices:

When you put in new transplants, sprinkle a bit of Sluggo type stuff around immediately to keep snails and slugs from seriously damaging them while they are small. Before you anticipate your seedlings coming up, sprinkle some pellets around the plant, along both sides of rows. That keeps the creatures from mowing them overnight, making you think they never came up! Do this a few times, and there will be no tiny vegetarian predators for a while. 

Keep watch on your chard and beet leaves. Pull away those blotchy sections the leafminers make; remove whole leaves that are too funky for rescue.  Harvest the bigger outer lower leaves more often to stay ahead of the miners. Water a tad less so the leaf is less soft and inviting.  

Thin any plants you intentionally over planted - carrots, beets, turnips, kale, chard, mustard. If you planted too close together, take out the shorter, weaker plants. They are all great in your salads along with small tender Brassica leaves.

SideDressing – that's feeding your plant during its growing time! Your plants will love a liquid fertilizer, like a stinky fish/kelp, that is easy for them to uptake in cooler weather. Sprinkle fertilizer around your plants or down a row, and dig it in a little, especially before a rain! Water it in. Use ½ the strength of your summer feedings. Rabbit manure can be scratched in directly with no composting. Pretty box mixes are fine! Lay in some of your fat compost in the top 3 to 6 inches of your soil. If you haven’t been a fertilizing mid-season person before, think about how hard your plant is working. Big brocs, for example. Heading is your cue to help them along. Worm castings, though not food, work wonders!  

Especially feed your cabbages, lightly, time to time, because they are making leaf after leaf, dense heads, working hard.  I often see kales lose their perk. You would too if someone kept pulling your leaves off and never fed you. Feed them too, please, while feeding your cabbages.

Don't feed carrots, they will fork and grow hairy! Overwatering makes them split. Your peas and favas are busy gathering Nitrogen from the air, feeding themselves, so little to no feeding is needed for them.

Glance at beet roots, turnips, in general, for low soil, especially after rains. Maybe you aren't quite planting your seeds deeply enough or watering in a way that washes the soil away? Anyway, cover up beet, carrot, radish and turnip shoulders to keep them from drying and getting rough looking and tough.

In SoCal winter is not a time for mulching except for erosion control. Its purpose in summer is to keep the soil and plant roots cool, and retain moisture. In winter, we pull the mulch back to let the soil warm up during the short days. Also, it's good to remove pest habitat, let the soil dry a bit between rains to kill off the wilts fungi, and let Bagrada bug eggs die. Bag up summer straw, mulches, for compost pile layers during winter.  

Just in case, have old sheets, light blankets, old towels handy in case of hard freezesIf a freeze is predicted, for small plants, like tender lettuces, just lay tomato cages on their sides and put your coverings over them. Secure them well so wind doesn't blow them around and damage your plants. Remove them when the sun comes out! No cooking your plants before their time! Santa Barbara's average First Frost (fall) date is December 19, Last Frost (spring) date is (was?) January 22.

Standard Veggie Predators

  • Gophers  You can still put in wire protective baskets or barriers, especially now while the soil is softer after the rains. If you see a fresh mound, trap immediately.
  • Aphids? Watch for leaves unnaturally curled along the length of the leaf, particularly broccolis, cauliflowers, kale, cabbages. Squish or wash any or the colony away immediately, and keep doing it for a few days to catch the ones you missed. After that, water less so plant leaves will be less tender and inviting.
  • White flies  Flush away, especially under the leaves. They are attracted to yellow, so keep  those Brassica yellowing, yellowed leaves removed pronto. Again, a little less water.
  • Slugs, Snails  Sluggo, or the like, before they even get started, right when your seedlings begin to show, immediately when you put your transplants in! Once stopped, there will be intervals when there are none at all. If you notice tiny children snails, lay down another couple rounds.

COMPOST always! Soil building is the single-most important thing you can do for your garden. Compost is easy to make. Added to your soil, it increases water holding capacity, is nutritious, soil organisms flourish, your soil breathes! Make a compost pile, put clean green waste/kitchen trim in alternate layers with straw/leaves in a bin, trench in kitchen trim, lay layers on top of your garden with a light covering of soil so all the nutrients are contained and it doesn't draw flies! The soil organisms will work at the top as well as from the ground soil up. Throw on some red wriggler worms to speed the process. Giving back to Mama Earth is nature's natural way! Ask neighbors or kin to save non-predator type kitchen veggie scraps for you. Go lightly on coffee grounds.

Get your summer garden layout in mind NOW for January/February SEED SWAPS! Peruse seed catalogs and order up for your entire year's plantings!  :)

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. We are very coastal, 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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SoCal Planting Time Choices for 2015! 

Planting Beets at the Right Time

Planting at the right time makes so much difference.

In spring, rather than planting too early, waiting and waiting for your plant to produce, plant two rounds of more quickly maturing smaller fruited varieties of plants that thrive in that weather, or plant even just one round. If you doubt there will be time enough for maturity, plant a leaf producing plant, kale, collard greens, chard, that you could remove whenever you want that space. Then plant your other more warmth loving/needing plant at the 'right' time and let it grow quickly in great conditions and produce right on time!

Fall/Winter planting is usually just the reverse. Tired after heavy summer gardening, gardeners wait later than would be prime fall planting times. Mid-August is when fall SoCal planting begins. If you have Bagrada Bugs in your area wait until much cooler weather for planting Brassicas. Otherwise, plant to take advantage of the warmer weather, fast growth, anticipate planting two, maybe even three, fall/winter rounds. That would look like an August/Sep planting, harvest in late Oct, early Nov. Plant an immediate second round for harvest in late January. Plant a third round for late March/early April harvest. 

Ideally, if you have the space, you would plant once a month for a steady supply. You can compensate slightly by starting baby plants under mature plants. Remove some of the mature plant's sunny side lower leaves and put in the babies. As the upper plant continues to grow, remove any leaves that shade the baby.

Frosts!  The first Average Frost Date for Santa Barbara is December 19; the last average Frost date is January 28. Just because frost has passed, doesn't mean there may not be a freeze/frost or it is planting time. Planting time is plant specific. Happily, I have seen many successful zucchini plantings in January producing in Feb/March! Find out the frost dates for your California Zip Code!

Above Ground Temps, day and night time, need to be right for each plant. Too chilled, seeds rot, your plant just sits, mopes, never produces, sometimes dies, because it doesn't hit its cycle right for growth. Just because it isn't freezing, doesn't mean it's good for your plant.

Soil Thermometer Fahrenheit VeggiesSoil Temps are critical for root function. Peppers are most unhappy when temps aren't right. They will sit for agonizing months. When that happens they rarely take hold, never produce. Better not to plant at all, or pull and replant. A gardeners' soil thermometer is an inexpensive handy little tool.

Mulch is usually not a wise choice in early spring. If you need it to stay erosion, by all means lay it on. Otherwise, it keeps the soil too cool, delays planting times, slows growth. Wait until the weather warms enough that the soil dries quickly. Then lay down your mulch, plant densely to create a living mulch understory, save water.

Day Length If temps aren't right and days are still too short, your plant may actually fruit, but if a tomato, it may not redden for a long time. Just not enough warm sun for long enough. For those it's better to wait. However, if you get planting fever, put in small fruited varieties and cherry toms. You can probably better use that area though for other quick plants, grown for their leaves, until it's the right time. Plants grown for their leaves can be removed at any time and you still shall have had bountiful harvests.
Pacific SouthWest Weather per the Farmer's Almanac :

November 2014 to October 2015

Winter will be warmer than normal, with the coldest periods in late December and early to mid- and late February. Rainfall will be above normal in the north and below in the south. Mountain snows will be below normal, with the snowiest periods in early to mid-January and mid- to late February.

April and May will be drier than normal, with temperatures near normal in the north and below in the south.

Summer will be cooler than normal, with near-normal rainfall. The hottest periods will be in mid- and late June in the central valley; in mid- to late June, early August, and mid-September near the northern coast; and in late June, early August, and mid- to late September near the southern coast.

September and October will bring near-normal temperatures, with rainfall above normal in the north and below in the south.

Be a wise gardener! Use the knowledge and tools you have, use your intuition, and be happy!

Designing Your Spring/Summer Veggie Garden! 

Garden Design, Labyrinth - Pastor Craig Goodwin author Year of Plenty, Spokane WA
Garden Design, Labyrinth - Pastor Craig Goodwin, author Year of Plenty, Spokane WA
Another fun form of Food Not Lawns!

Choose your plants well and place them wisely!

Plant to Plant Locations!

Northmost taller plants

Few summer plants like much shade, so plant tall to the North, short to the South. That puts tall trellises and cages to the north, or to the East so plant get the most heat they can from the afternoon sun. Pole beans, Lemon cucumbers, indeterminate tomatoes like SunGold cherry toms, tall peppers. If your soil has wilts diseases, leave plenty of space between tomatoes so their leaves don't touch. Thought the fungi are also windborne, it slows it down if tomatoes are planted apart rather than the disease going right down the row.

Depending on access to light, interplant cucumber vines low on a trellis with your pole beans to repel cucumber beetles. After the cukes get up a bit, over plant fast growing WHITE radishes as well to ward off cucumber beetles. Though cute, the beetles carry wilt diseases plant to plant. Eat some of the radishes, leave the rest. Radishes let to grow get 3' tall, would shade out your cukes. Let them flop down or remove lower leaves so your cukes get sun they need. Ideally, as with tomatoes, you would plant cucumbers, a very vulnerable plant, separately from each other. 

Medium height

Squash need space, lots of space! Allow plenty for that gorgeous non-stop Zucchini or get dwarf varieties that you can keep up with! Even with dwarf varieties, healthy leaves on stems can be almost 3' tall, easily a foot wide! Cute little Patty Pans are great and they get big too! Healthy Winter Squash can easily grow 40' vines and produce many squash! Put them along a border or a fence line if you have that space. They are shorter than zucchini, but know that the leaves also get a foot across! 

Next put in your indeterminate tomatoes, mingled with medium height peppers, eggplant in front, then tallish onions. Also plant radishes with eggplants as a trap plant for flea beetles. Flea beetle damage, little pin holes, seems so less severe, but it slows the growth of your plant way down, and there is little production. Pretty basils smell good, ward off evil insects, and need full sun. If you are going to dry farm your tomatoes put the basil somewhere else because it needs plenty of water. 

Depending on which size you choose, and you have the heat to grow them, pumpkins and melons might be next in height. Again, you need room unless you are coastal cooler and choose small varieties. You can trellis them; just be prepared to support the fruits.

Southmost Shorties!

Put taller Romaine lettuce, arugula, feathery cilantro, to the back. Let your arugula and cilantro grow out for flowers for bees, and seed for next year's plantings. Stir in some pretty beets, turnips, radishes for eating. Last, very southmost, plant pretty patches of low lettuces, bunch onions, mingled with strawberries! Arrange comfortable harvest access to your strawberries. 

Space to Space Designs!

Now, blend those delicious plant choices into Patterns! Put them all in rows, circles, squares, diagonal rays, or have no plan at all, jungle style! That’s a plan too, right?! Whether your space is small or large, you can make pretty with it!

If you plant in rows, alternate different types of plants as well as different varieties of the same plant. Plant green alternated with purple basils. Different varieties come in at different times, attractive to an insect at one time but not another. Breaking the pattern of same plant to same plant stops insect pests from making a slurping beeline down the row of your plants. Diversity is good.

Circles can become graceful 'Ss' with lovely taller plants, maybe tomato cages in the center of the circle, with stepping stones for harvest access, or plant something special in the inside of each of the 'S' curves. Very attractive. Your S could be the continuous perimeter of your circle each instep like a keyhole area! Curves all the way around. Try a double Mandala circle!

Garden Designs Circles Ss Keyhole

Squares are absolutely divine! Your whole garden can be planted to it, or just a section or have several, each featuring something special! Put contrasting color plants in lines crossing corner to corner, like an X, or put in a 5-pointed star inside your square! Alternating colors in same length rows might make your square.

Diagonal rays can be side by side, or Sunrise/Sunset with pinks, Marigolds in yellow or orange to set the pattern. 

Favorite perennial herbs can be heady scenty lovely corner accents! Or put them at welcoming entrance points for easy harvest access. Lavendars, culinary sages, dwarf rosemarys, thymes, Italian oreganos. Put them in the ground or raised up in colorful containers to keep them from being invasive and so they can be easily replaced when they age.

Healing herbs like bright yellow chamomile and calendula, and striking blue borage with star flowers! They are taller and useful. Don't forget other edible flowers like chives, cilantro, clover, fennel, Johnny Jump Ups, marigolds, Society garlic and all time favorite, rose petals! Bury-your-nose-in-it Mint is so pungent, wonderful tea. Needs lots of water and a container. Very invasive. How about some medicinal aloe next to your old unused terra cotta chimenea? 

Other Epic Thoughtful Choices!

A centuries old Water Saving Waffle Garden
An incredibly terraced hillside food forest starting with fruit trees, sitting places under them, terrific views.
Depending on where you live, create a lowland water garden with fish, ducks, and a variety of edible pond plants. This can be done with containers too!
Baffles, dividers enclosures using vertical Pallet Gardens to create a private rest or sitting areas
Balcony multi level super Container Garden

You and the Creator can collaborate. This is called playing with your food!

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Soil Preparations for Spring/Summer Planting!

Soil Shovel Spade Fork Boots

Soil Building is the single-most important thing you can do for your garden.

Green Manure is beautiful! It adds a wealth of organic matter! Where you will be planting summer heavy feeders, grow a Vetch, Austrian Peas, Bell beans mixed with oats patch. It is a super soil choice! The legumes take Nitrogen from the air and deposit it on their roots. That's why you always leave legume roots in the soil when you remove bean and pea plants. Oats have deep roots opening channels down into your soil so nutrients drain down. After your mix is felled and chopped to the size you want it, sprinkle the mix with worm castings and any mineral amendments like green sand or powdered kelp, and turn it all in together at once.


I like what Kathy LaLiberte says: Although it only makes up a small fraction of the soil (normally 5 to 10 percent), organic matter is absolutely essential. It binds together soil particles into porous crumbs or granules which allow air and water to move through the soil. Organic matter also retains moisture (humus holds up to 90 percent of its weight in water), and is able to absorb and store nutrients. Most importantly, organic matter is food for microorganisms and other forms of soil life.

Kitchen scraps, clean garden waste, straw, animal manures are all quality ingredients! If you have visiting predators, no meats, bones, oils, even animal manures. And don't fertilize with stinky predator-attracting fish emulsions. Compost is simple to make. Layer wet/greens with dry/browns inch after inch. The thinner your layers the faster you get your compost. Yes, you can wait for it to get fine and crumbly, but it's also good to use it as soon as it decomposes to the point that you can't tell what's what anymore. That gives your soil organisms something to chomp on, makes a living soil! Kept moist, it is luscious habitat for worms

Compost Mix Guide 

How much to use depends on many factors including the quality of the compost! Factors are soil, ie sandy or clay, site characteristics like slope or flat lowland, plant selection - heavy feeders or carrots, compost availability. Mature composts can be used in most planting situations without serious concern for precise amounts. God knows plants happily grow in your compost pile!  
  • Container plants
    A 20 to 50 percent soil blend would be the best mixture to use for pots on a deck or patio, since potted plants tend to dry out quickly. A higher percentage of compost helps hold more moisture, decreasing the rate the soil dries. If you have clay pots that wick moisture more easily, use a higher percentage compost to soil blend. 
  • Vegetable gardens
    ~ If you use a rototiller, which I hope you aren't (it destroys soil structure), put one inch of compost on top of the soil and till it to a depth of five inches of soil. 
    ~ If you are using a shovel to incorporate your compost, use one-fifth of an inch of compost for every inch of depth of the shovel. Sprinkle with worm castings and turn them both in at the same time. Cornell University says use 3 inches over the surface worked into the top 3-6 inches of soil! You can see there are varying thinkings. Research shows ideal soil contains 5% organic matter by weight, 10% by volume. That's your basic guide. More than that and plants can actually have problems as well as unused 'nutrients' polluting our water!
Coffee Grounds Caution  As they decompose, coffee grounds appear to suppress some common fungal rots and wilts, including FUSARIUM!  But go VERY LIGHTLY on the coffee grounds.  Too much can kill your plants. In studies, what worked well was coffee grounds part of a compost mix, was in one case comprising as little as 0.5 percent of the material. That’s only 1/2 a percent! More details and Study results adapted from the Washington State U report!
Worm Castings are not nutrients. They cause seeds to germinate more quickly, seedlings to grow faster, leaves grow bigger, more flowers, fruits or vegetables are produced. Vermicompost suppresses several diseases on cucumbers, radishes, strawberries, grapes, tomatoes and peppers, according to research from Ohio State extension entomologist Clive Edwards. It also significantly reduced parasitic nematodes, aphids, mealy bugs and mites. These effects are greatest when a smaller amount of vermicompost is used—just 10-40% of the total volume of the plant growth medium is all that is needed! 

Turning soil? Less is best, don't break up the clods except as needed. Exposing tiny soil organisms kills them. Mycorrhizal fungi networks are destroyed. Some turning is good, especially if you are incorporating amendments. It aerates your soil, loosens it for crops that need it, like carrots and potatoes. Digging deep is not necessary. Annuals generally grow in the top 6 to 8 inches. Rototilling is brutal. It destroys soil structure and compacts soil where it hits bottom. Shovels are great. Spade forks are for loosening soil without turning it. Push it in, rock it back and forth. Pour properly made Garden Teas - compost, worm castings, manure teas, down the holes made by the tines. The organisms added immediately get to work, make your soil rich and alive! Your well fed plants will take off!

Soil Air  Healthy soil is about 25 percent air! Insects microbes, earthworms and soil life need that air to live. The air in soil is also an important source of the atmospheric nitrogen that plants use. Fine clay, tiny spaces, no air, your soil suffocates. Sandy soil with too much air can cause your organic matter to decompose too quickly. Add plenty of organic matter, don't step in the growing beds or compact the soil with heavy equipment. Never work the soil when it is very wet.

Keep it moist!  Dry soil is dead soil. Soil organisms, the bacteria and fungi, protozoa and nematodes, mites, springtails, earthworms and other tiny creatures can't do their jobs. Their excretions help to bind soil particles into the small aggregates that make a soil loose and crumbly. It's our job to keep them happy! About 25 percent water with a combination of large and small pore spaces is perfect! Organic matter is their food, and it absorbs water and retains it until it is needed by plant roots.

Soil Tests! When in doubt, don't add anything to your soil. Get a test. Go to your local Cooperative Extension University office. Or online find a reputable testing firm ~ Woods End Soil Labs , A & L Agricultural Labs, or Green Gems might do it for you. Your soil may surprise you. Sometimes something is missing, other times there is too much. Maybe you need to change an alkaline/acidic condition. 

Feed your garden; it feeds you!

Choosing Seeds, Catalogs to Seed Swaps!

Seeds rock! Catalogs Seed Swaps


From reputable seed houses you are sure of what you are getting, organic, non-GMO. If a packet is on sale, pay attention to the year it was packed for. Make sure it is current.

Catalogs have endless marvelous varieties including from far away places! Southern states, warmer countries may have seeds that will do well in warmer weather times or areas.

Consider if drought or heat tolerant, cold tolerant if selecting fall/winter veggies
Take a careful look at disease and pest resistance/tolerance.

Though much of companion planting is untested, look specially for plants that enhance each other's growth, not just pest prevention. 

Compare days to maturity. Do you have the land to wait for large fruits or would you like a steady table supply of smaller varieties, favorites.  Or will just a few be fine for a taste once a year? Smaller fruits may be perfect if you are a one person family or are not a big eater, enjoy quality versus quantity.
If space available is no consideration, order as you wish, experiment to your heart's content! If space is tight or you are container planting, note spacing requirements. Think about dwarf varieties

Over planting lets you thin for tender trims. Then harvest every other over planted plant when it first produces, leaving the others to grow bigger for a 'second harvest.'
Seed Swap Tips, Considerations and Etiquette!

Planting from seeds, especially free seeds, is frugal and enjoyable! Meet other gardeners! Continue the race of super plants adapted to your area!

Some tips for swapping your saved seeds:

Pack them in paper coin envelopes or plastic baggies. Label seed packs with botanical and common name, and DATE they were gathered! Five seeds per pack for larger and common seeds is good. Thirty seeds or so is good for smaller seeds. If you don’t have small coin envelopes or want to buy little plastic baggies, you can cut up junk mail envelopes into smaller envelopes to hold your seeds.

Tips, considerations, etiquette for choosing swap seeds:

It's not always certain exactly what you are getting or how old the seed is, but the price is right!
Old seed may not germinate at all, you lose time waiting for it.

You get only what's at the Swap, but the beauty of it is it's local, adapted to your area! If it goes well for you too, please save some of your seed to share at the next Seed Swap!

Crazy surprises are terrific! You might try something you never would have thought of, and because it's free you think there is nothing to lose! Hey, I'll give it a try! 

  • Take your garden plan with you. Find out how big that plant will grow, decide if it will really fit in your available space.
  • Take small baggies or envelopes and a pencil with you.
  • Label what you get when you get it. Name, date harvested.
  • Take only what you need and a few more in case those fail or you love them and want to plant another round or two!  Leave the rest for others. Try not to get seed greed fever! :)
  • Look for the date on packages or containers. Are the seeds still viable?
  • Is it a summer or winter plant?
  • Ask tons of questions!

Enjoy the suspense, the surprises, the tasty goodness of growing fresh wholesome food!

If you are from out-of-town but near enough, and enjoy adventurous journeys, come make a day of it at our Jan 25, 2015 SEED SWAP in our fair city, Santa Barbara CA! (See below) 

If you don’t live in our area, please check to see when Seed Swaps will be in your area! If there are none, if you are willing, please, please, please, contact local permaculturists, garden groups/clubs, to see about starting one! Preserving our heritage, not GMO but heirloom seeds, is vital to our continued nutritious future, and for our children’s healthy futures!

ONLINE SEED SWAPS! As the National Gardening Assn says: One gardener’s extras are another’s treasures! Here’s how they do it!

See Seeds Rock! Choosing the Perfect Ones for You! 

With great gratitude to you and all our ancestors! 
Happy seed hunting!

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Upcoming Garden Events!

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

Would you enjoy going off grid a few days?!

Try out Western Sonoma County, Cazadero CA! JANUARY 4-18, 2015
Earth Activist Training, Permaculture Design Certification!   

earthactivisttraining@gmail.com, call toll free 800-381-7940

PRE-REGISTER ASAP  - if you can't go nouth, stay local!
Santa Barbara City College Permaculture Design Course (PDC)
Such good news! The PDC course is offered every semester now! The current class starts January 21st, Wednesdays 7:30am - Noon! 

Sign up early to make sure you get a space in one of the most affordable PDC's taught anywhere. This is a great place to start your permaculture education while receiving college credits (4). 

Keep an eye here for upcoming Fairview Gardens 2015 Homesteading Series! 

Santa Barbara/Goleta La Sumida Nursery shoppers! La Sumida reopens Friday Jan! They will then have BAREROOT plants! Roses, FRUIT TREES, BERRIES, asparagus, grapes, Sequoia STRAWBERRIES! (805) 964-9944 Check their site page for upcoming events and subscribe for email notices.

Chicago Botanic Garden Seed Swap 2015 Bussey Seed Savers Exchange
This year's Feb 22 Chicago Botanic Garden Seed Swap features Dan Bussey, orchard manager at Seed Savers Exchange!

FREE 7th Annual Santa Barbara Seed Swap
January 25th, 11:00 to 3:00, SB Public Library, Faulkner Gallery 

Seeds, plants, cuttings and garden knowledge to swap. Activities for all ages, with music and special speakers. More information: 962-2571, margie@sbpermaculture.org

Permaculture Course Quail Springs Cuyama

Bringing 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….

Winter beauty and super nutrition to you!


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

Cerena Childress, Plot 46
elist holder Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden

Green Bean Connection BLOG! 
December GBC Newsletter
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