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

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pruning Tomatoes...what???

some of last year's tomatoes
Fine Gardening, a fine magazine, sent me a newsletter about pruning tomatoes last week. Made me want to grab my pruning shears and head outside...which is what I plan to do, so I've got to make this short! Check it out: Pruning Tomatoes.

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.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Summer Vegetable Garden Special

Today's the 2nd day of summer, and it's not too late to plant a veggie garden. In honor of this grand season, I'm offering a free 1/2 hour consultation (a $25 value) thru the 3rd of July. I will assess your site for the best vegetables, herbs and possibly, citrus trees. I will make recommendations regarding growing method (raised bed, square foot gardening) and irrigation system. If you like I can also help you get your small garden planted and coach you so you can have a successful gardening experience.
You can be eating your own tomatoes this summer but you need to act now!

Friday, June 19, 2009

William Land Park's Rock Garden

The Rock Garden at William Land Park is a botanical gem.

The paths meander thru the rock lined for all ages,

with beautiful vistas, and places to sit...and places to get lost in...

...and friendly critters to show you around!

Read more about this great park and its many and varied activities for all members of the family in my write-up at

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sunday Gardening

My husband decided we could wait no longer to plant the living tree we purchased at Incense Cedar. I'm out there helping him figure out where to plant it so it doesn't hit our sewer line and get all inspired...hey, a shovel, sod to remove, expand the border. That's a true purpose for me! 8 hours later I return to the house...fingers cramped in a shovel gripping fashion, but satisfied! Transplanted lavender, gaillardia and cape fuschia and got some of my plants awaiting a home into the ground, too...daylilies, coneflowers, lantana. My garden more and more becomes the garden I hoped it would be.Wayne plants a tree
Calocedrus decurrens, Incense Cedar, is a native to Oregon, California and Nevada. Over time it grows tall (75 - 90'), but stays skinny (10 - 15'). Takes blazing summer heat and tolerates poor soil (sound familiar, Sacramento?), but likes water in this region, so should be chummy with the flowers. In the background of this picture is some penstemon, which blooms for me all summer!
Border Penstamon