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Welcome gardening enthusiasts! Hope your summer bounty of fruits and veggies filled some tummies.

We here at Sunshine Care, A Community of Assisted Living Homes in beautiful Poway CA, have nothing to complain about regarding the recent weather this year. All in all, the summer had no blistering hot stretches of over 100 degrees as in years past. In fact, all the landscapes of native wildflowers around our country-style homes, are full and rich with flowers- just waiting for a fall flush and of course the big burst in the spring. Roses are still popping and sunflowers are filling many of vases for the houses.

We are still harvesting lots of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, green beans, bell peppers. This September, because of the use of black shade netting , we also enjoyed a couple hundred lbs of lettuce for the first time. Absolutely no complaints here!!

italian-parsley-We have planted many rows of broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy and lettuce since mid-August, and heads are just starting to form. As the spring/summer crops die out, we will continue with the cole crops.

Last blog, I touched on the use of culinary perennial herbs, for both eye appeal in your landscaping and kitchen menu appeal. Thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano all are low water users, easy to grow and yield beautiful blooms for your eye and the eyes of bees and birds in the area.

I would like to take the thyme (LOL) to talk about another set of culinary herbs. These would be what I call the “seeded -crop herbs”. Parsley, cilantro, dill, chervil and chives are all very easy to grow and add that fresh blast of flavor for your taste buds. All these cultivars can be started by just tossing some seed into a container, raised bed or anywhere in your garden. Other than chives, you probably won’t get any visual pleasure in your edible landscape from the others, but a little green here and there can’t hurt. Letting your cilantro or parsley go to flower is not the goal. That is unless you are going for seed production, which is a bit silly since seed is so cheap. Flowering chives is a different story. Their big white blooms can be very attractive throughout your edible landscape, as well as the aroma.

I try not to turn my nose up at most dried herbs, there definitely is a place for them in the kitchen especially the perennials BUT, I personally have no use for dried seeded herbs. Their freshness is what adds that pop to your menu items. Dried cilantro-UGH!

Let’s dive into some of these tasty treats!

Santo-Cilantro2ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSLEY - (Petroselinum neapolitanum) This is by far the most flavorful parsley variety. It is easy to grow and related to carrots, dill and fennel. It is a hardy biennial but usually treated as an annual. Growing parsley from seed is the only real way of propagation. Sow the seed outdoors in rows 10”-12” apart and cover with ½ inch of soil. Later you might want to thin to 6” apart. Parsley likes rich, well drained soil. Full sun is preferred. Seed takes much longer to germinate than cilantro. One tip is to make the first irrigation with hot water. This should give the seeds a little kick start to germinate. They should sprout in 2-3 weeks. Like cilantro, transplanting of parsley seedlings may cause early bolting. Sowing and thinning is a far better way to get a crop. To avoid flowering, cut parsley when ready to use, close to soil surface. This would be a good time to fertilize. Anything high in nitrogen is all you need because all you want are green leaves. Fish emulsion fertilizers work great.

You can get seeds usually at any home and garden center but I would recommend going to Johnny’s Selected Seed web site or pull out their catalog and order Giant of Italy. The huge, dark green leaves are very flavorful and the strong stems make it a favorite in the culinary world. Plants can get to be 12-20” tall. A packet of 200 seeds will set you back $3.45. Expect delicious parsley in about 75 days. That’s a lot of fresh parsley for your pasta dishes.

CILANTRO - (Coriandrum sativum) The name comes from the Greek word Koris, meaning bed bug, referring to the odd odor of the foliage. The seeds are more commonly referred to as coriander. For 3,000 years it has been known for its medicinal properties for stomach aches and nausea. It is another biennial herb usually grown as an annual. As most herbs, cilantro likes moderately rich soil with good drainage. Start your cilantro from seed and it will germinate quickly, usually 7-10 days. Sow in rows 12”-18” apart. Cilantro like full sun but can handle some shade. It grows quickly and can reseed itself. Try to pinch it back to avoid the delicate white to lavender flowers that will go to seed. If it does go to seed, expect a fuller garden of cilantro next year. Again fertilizers high in nitrogen can be used occasionally, watch for yellowing of leaves. As with parsley, make your cuts low to the ground. Plants can get to be 24” in height.

dillAgain, every home and garden center has cilantro/coriander seeds but I prefer to acquire my seed from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Santo is a standard variety which is extra slow to bolt. Expect delicious leaves in about 50 days. For a continuous supply of fresh leaves, seed a little every 2-3 weeks. Again a packet of 200 seeds will cost only $3.45. Like parsley, store in a glass of water and place it in the refrigerator.

What would salsa and guacamole be without fresh cilantro?

DILL - (Anethum graveolens) Another easy herb to grow in your garden or container. Toss out some seeds in rows 12”-24” apart. Cover with ¼” of soil, and the seeds will germinate in about 7-10 days. It is another biennial usually grown as an annual. Its bitter seeds are usually used in the making of dill pickles. Used fresh, it goes great with salmon and potatoes. Dill prefers full sun and again likes rich, well drained soil conditions.

“Bouquet” is the variety I grow from Johnny’s Selected Seed. In about 50 days, you can have a leaf harvest and in 85-105 days a seed harvest. Plants can get to be 38”-42” in height. $3.45 will get you 200 seeds

GARLIC20CHIVES_3GARLIC CHIVES - (Allium tuberosum) Also known as Chinese leeks, are a favorite at my dinner table. This tasty herb is unlike the previously mentioned seeded-crop herbs , because it happens to be a very hardy perennial. Seed once and you should be well supplied for years to come. As a member of the onion family, garlic chives not only give you that onion flavor but also have a hint of garlic. Start from seed, in rich, well-drained soil in the full sun. They may also be propagated by root division after a couple of years. They demand little care other than having to be divided when overcrowded. They make very attractive border plants for your herb garden, especially when flowering. Chive seeds will germinate in the soil in about 10-14days. They attract bees and repel deer. They have beneficial qualities when planted near your cole crops. They help to repel or distract cabbage loopers, carrot fly and aphids.

Garlic Chive/Chinese leek seed can be easily purchased through Johnny’s. In about 90 days you will be able to harvest thin, flat leaves with that delicate garlic aroma. Attractive white flowers will pop in the midsummer. The flowers are also edible and can be added to bouquets. Again, $3.45 will get you a packet of 200 seeds.

A baked potato is nothing without a sprinkling of fresh chives.

That should be enough to keep you flooded in fresh seeded herbs. Spring is the best time to get started but here in Southern California, these delicious additions to your menu can be grown all year, especially on the coast.

Farmer_Roy_Photo

I welcome any and all to come to visit our organic gardens and greenhouse here at Sunshine Care, a Community of Assisted Living Homes in sunny Poway CA. Just

give me a call or shoot me an email and I’ll gladly show you around. We also offer monthly garden lectures covering different horticultural topics by great speakers on the 3rd Saturday of the month. These start at 10:30 am and are free to the public with refreshments and door prizes. Our next lecture is on October 19th when Dr. Gary Bender, San Diego County Farm Advisor, will talk to us about the Minor Subtropical Tree Crops of Southern California. Come learn about mangos, bananas, macadamia nuts, cherimoyas to name a few. He is also the expert in avocado and citrus in the county. If you are interested in more information check out our website www.sunshinecare.com and get a hold of me to RSVP.

Good luck in your garden and hope to hear from you soon.

Please contact me, if you have any questions or would like to tour our gardens.

Roy Wilburn, Director of Horticulture at Sunshine Care- 12695 Monte Vista Rd, Poway CA 92064

858-472-6059, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or www.sunshinecare.com.

Thanks!

Roy Wilburn

Hello again fellow gardening enthusiasts and greetings from Sunshine Care, A Community of Assisted Living Homes, nestled in beautiful Poway, California.  Even though we are still in the winter season, the weather has been favorably mild this year.  Last month, we talked about pruning your roses and we even had a hands-on workshop to get local rose lovers a chance to learn by tending our roses.  We had a couple of Consulting Rosarians, from the San Diego Rose Society, share with us their knowledge on rose pruning and general care.  I’m feeling good, knowing that our 40 plus roses bushes are pruned correctly, fertilized with Dr. Earth Organic Rose Food and sprayed with liquid copper as a dormant spray.  I can already see the new blooms start to peek out, as they set forth to give our residents some beautiful flowers to enjoy in a couple of months.  In a similar fashion, all of our deciduous fruit trees are also pruned, fertilized and sprayed.  We will attack, in short order, our citrus trees once we finish the winter harvest.

 

As far as winter veggie production, we are still constantly harvesting broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and romaine lettuce.  I shared some of our secrets on cole crop (cool season crop) production in our November and December blogs.  We will continue planting these crops through March, plus our spring goodies such as tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, green beans and eventually peppers.  Our greenhouse is packed with all these transplants.  Next month we will start talking about our spring vegetable production, but let me end our winter endeavors with a few unique crops related to the broccoli and cauliflower families.

 

At the end of last year, my friend Ramiro Lobo, a University of California Farm Advisor for San Diego County asked me if Sunshine Care would like to get involved with a project he was heading up in conjunction with Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing- The Original Ranch.  Hidden Valley has started a campaign and committed over 1 million dollars to schools and organizations across the U.S. Their goal is to help seed and grow a “Love for Veggies” in kids. We here at Sunshine Care are always excited about growing and eating our vegetables but we understand that kids might need a little more of a nudge. 

 

Ramiro knew that we are very active with local churches, schools and volunteer organizations within our organic fruit and vegetable production world.  On the first and third Thursdays of each month, we have a group of local children come to Sunshine Care and learned about the world of organics. We have a “Children’s Garden” on site and the youngsters handle all aspects of fruit and vegetable production.  We provide education so the kids learn to plant, weed, harvest and perform cultural practices. They play with worms, compost and eventually get to taste the produce they grew and take some to enjoy at home.  They work hard and it is a total joy to participate in the field with them.  After we are done in the field we go to the greenhouse where they bond with some of our residents, their “Grandmas and Grandpas”, and enjoy other activities with them such as seeding vegetable trays, watering plants in our greenhouse and releasing ladybugs to control possible aphid outbreaks. When we are done the residents are showered with Handshakes, High- Fives and the ever popular HUGS!  It’s a beautiful thing.

 

We agreed to get involved with the Hidden Valley project and the UC Cooperative Extension and called our project the “Great Veggie Adventure”.  The crops we are growing have a definite, different eye appeal, as far as veggies go.  They are meant to grab a kid’s attention. We are growing-

 

Veronica, a Romanesco lime-green spiraled cauliflower

Panther, another lime-green cauliflower, normal in shape

Graffiti, a purple- headed stunning cauliflower

Cheddar, a bright orange headed cauliflower

And a variety of colorful carrots and radishes.

 

Let’s go through these crops one by one.

 

Veronica Romanesco is actually a broccoli but referred to as a cauliflower.  Heads are pointed, spiraled pinnacles that are lime green in color.  For those of you that are a bit nerdish when it comes to math, the bud has an approximate, self-similar character.  The branching meristems form a logarithmic spiral.  In this sense the broccoli’s shape approximates a natural fractal.  Each bud is composed of a series of smaller buds, all arranged in yet another logarithmic spiral.  This self-similar pattern continues at several smaller levels.  Bottom line- IT IS WEIRD LOOKING AND DELICIOUS!!  Veronica is high in vitamins C and K, dietary fiber and carotenoids.  The heads have a milder flavor and are more creamy and nutty than conventional broccoli and cauliflower.

 

Panther, green cauliflower is easy to grow and produces a unique, tight lime-green head, 6”-7” wide, that holds well and tolerates cold weather stress.  They have a delicious mild flavor when cooked and a definite crowd pleaser and attention grabber when served fresh.

 

Graffiti, purple cauliflower is absolutely brilliant and stunning in color.  It tastes just like white cauliflower and it is a great colorful addition to your crudite platters.  It produces a true cauliflower head on large plants.  The purple color is caused by the presence of the antioxidant group, anthocyanin, which is also found in red cabbage and red wine.

 

Cheddar cauliflower is bright orange in color, like cheddar cheese.  The color indicates that the curd, or head, has elevated beta-carotene levels.  It is a medium –sized plant that produces smooth, domed heads.  This variety doesn’t require “blanching techniques” to obtain the deepest, orange color.  Cheddar cauliflower has 25 times the level of vitamin A over regular white cauliflower.

 

To grow these varieties requires exactly what most broccoli or cauliflower varieties need- soils rich in organic matter and well drained.  Refer to past blogs of October and November of last year on cool season crops, and grow them the same way.  To purchase seed, pull out your Johnny’s Selected Seed catalog and call them up.

 

Veronica seed is $5.95 and $7.95 per PKT of 100 seeds, depending if you want conventional or organic seed.

 

Panther seed will cost you $5.95 per PKT of 100 seeds.

 

Graffiti runs $7.95 per PKT of 100 seeds.

 

Cheddar cauliflower will set you back $12.95 per PKT of 100 seeds.

 

While you have your catalog out, look at all the varieties of colorful radishes and carrots.  Our kids love the Rainbow Carrot mix along with Atomic Red, Purple Haze and Deep Purple varieties.  As far as radishes, try the Red Meat, otherwise known as Watermelon Radish (50 days) and the Easter Egg multicolored variety (30 days).  These are no-brainers.  Work the soil, spread some seed, water and thin them out when about an inch tall according to the variety’s directions.  These are crops your children will get quick satisfaction growing and eating.

 

For those of you in the San Diego County area, I personally invite you to attend our February Garden Lecture on the 18th at 10:30 am, here at Sunshine Care.  We will be covering all the cool season and spring crops, we grow for our residents.  Our workshops are free and include refreshments, raffle prizes and end with a tour of our gardens and orchards.  So bring a friend and come on by.

 

Call me, Roy Wilburn, Director of Horticulture (858) 472-6059 or e-mail me This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact Lisa Lipsey, Director of Community Relations (858) 752-8197 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , for more info and to RSVP.If you can’t make it, we would be happy to show you around anytime at your convenience. Hope to hear from you soon!


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