Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Notes from the garden coach: What's in Your Barrel?

Half wine barrels make great containers for the small garden. They can be tucked into a corner or stand alone on a balcony or deck. They have enough room to hold a variety of things. Here are three of my favorites and some recipes (although my half barrel has blueberries in it!):

  • The Pasta Garden: tomatoes, basil, oregano, green beans, peppers, eggplant (plus you'll also need garlic, but that's a cool season crop)
    Pasta with Summer Vegetables and Lemon Basil, and to die for Oven Roasted Tomatoes...killer on Bruschetta.

  • The Salsa Garden: tomato, cilantro, chili (Serrano or Jalapeno), garlic, lime... Ole! Salsa Cruda (cruda = raw or fresh)

  • The Mojito Garden : basically, a lime tree and some mint (plus sugar syrup and Rum). Mint's interesting, good in tea, mint juleps, Moroccan food. Check out this reference, all about mint. What kind of mint to use for Mojitos? According to one web site, you need to have Cuban mint, imported. Another says each kind of mint gives it one nuance to the mojito. I say, after you’ve experimented and made a few, you’ll be the expert and people will be quoting you! Limes – Bearss Lime is best.

flickr photo from jspatchwork

Like a lot of things in life, timing can make a difference in your success. In Sacramento I like to plant my summer veggies the first week in May. But, here it is...almost the end of June! How can we compensate?

  • Well, first of all, act fast. Those plants need to get into the soil now so they can start getting their roots established...this will give them a larger network to draw moisture in. Plus, know that they don't grow when it gets too hot because their cell division programing cuts out in the 90's. So, again, act now while we still have some "cooler" weather.

  • Start with larger sized plants. This is no season for the Pony Pack.

  • Give them extra and regular favorite solution to the busy life is a battery operated timer with a drip system attached. Attached to a faucet, this frees you up to go and come as you please.

  • Give them a bit of shade while they're getting started, otherwise those leaves can just wither and crinkle up (for instance, I staked and draped an old lace table cloth over some newly planted flowers this morning...maybe I should go see how they look...)

My Garden Coach philosophy: I don't believe in green thumbed and black thumbed people...ask any seasoned gardener, they've each made plenty of mistakes. (How do you think they became such "know it alls"?) My goal is to help you have a successful experience. There is truly something earthy and satisfying about growing your own food. And, it doesn't take acres to create that can start with a half barrel. Call if you need some help.

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Email me at, or call (916) 764-5243.


  1. Thanks so much for visiting me and for your kind comment. I love gardening and my parents used to have these wine barrels full of flowers at our house. Thanks for bringing back a great memory!

  2. Love your blog. Thank Chris H. for introducing me to it. Am adding it to my reader.