April 2014: Strawberries, Raised-Beds, and Spring Refreshes!

Up Beet Banner Gardening tips, recipes and helpful information you can use!!

Karen’s Corner: Notes from our founder

Is it better to buy local or organic? This question has been finding it’s way into many a “front porch” discussion and it’s a tough decision when we go to the market. Should I buy organic garlic from Mexico or should I support a local farm that is not growing organically? That is a really hard question for me. While I want to support our local agriculture and reduce my carbon footprint, I also don’t want to eat produce that destroys our environment and has chemical residues. I’m one of the lucky few. Both my neighbor and I have veggie gardens in our front yards so I can eat both organically and locally. Many farms in San Diego are organic as well. But there are still those agonizing decisions at the market every week. I’ve found that it’s easier to think of this decision the same way as I view eating seasonally. When craving tomatoes in December I don’t buy them because I know they’ll taste like cardboard. When drooling over non-organic strawberries in the market, I remember that they are grown in a manner that is so toxic to our environment that they create fields of “dead soil” and are loaded with chemical residues. I figure, if I’m voting with my dollar and I’m supporting organic growers, soon our local non-organic farmers may begin to change their farming practices. Until then, I’ll continue to have the internal discussion in the grocery aisle and keep growing my own in the front yard.

Good growing to you (organically of course!) ~KC

In the Garden

Last week we visited our neighbor Linda in North Park and gave her garden a summer “refresh”. We removed old and overgrown plant material, added some love in the way of composted chicken manure, and planted new baby summer veggies. It may look small now, but with this heat it will be mighty. Linda will be eating tomatoes and peppers in no time!

What’s Fresh?

Spring is here and we are talking about STRAWBERRIES! According to the Environmental Working Group (creators of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen), strawberries are ranked as the second worst offender when it comes to pesticide residue – a great reason to play it safe and grow your own. When choosing what kind of strawberries to grow, there are two types to consider: June-bearing (short-day) varieties and everbearing (day-neutral) varieties. June-bearers produce a single crop in the spring, put out more runners, and generally have larger berries. A fantastic choice if you want to check ‘making jam’ off of your to-do list. Everbearers will produce berries continuously spring through fall and generally have smaller (though some say tastier!) berries. At UP, we like Sequoia and Chandler varieties, but the UC Master Gardener Program has an amazing California specific guide to choosing and growing your own strawberries. Be adventurous. Try strawberries in a Fennel, Arugula, and Strawberry Salad, a sweet and savory Strawberry-Avocado Salsa, a Quick Strawberry Jam, or even a refreshing Strawberry-Mint Sparkling Limeade. The absolute best recipe, though? Strawberry Rhubarb Hand Pies.

Helpful Tips

At UP, we’ve coined the phrase “garden rescue” and the most common problems we encounter are a direct result of poorly designed raised garden beds. Here are a few pointers on how to build a garden bed that will work for you: • Beds should be a maximum of 4 feet wide so that you can reach the center from at least 3 sides. • Use only premium garden soil mix – potting soil and construction “top soil” simply don’t have the right mix of nutrients. • Fit beds with the proper irrigation – micro sprayers work best. Soaker hoses can cause compacted soil, and lawn sprinklers are a no-no. • Resist the urge to stand or walk in your raised beds – you will compact the soil! We feel that following these simple tips will help to ensure a happy and healthy garden for many years to come.

What’s Sprouting At UP

Spring is a time for new growth and we are falling right in line- We are hiring! Spring and Summer are our busiest seasons and we are looking for someone with experience in the field of edible landscaping, gardening, or urban farming to fill our Edible Landscaping and Maintenance Position. Please help us spread the word! ––––––––––––––– UP, along with Jimbo’s Naturally and Slow Food Urban San Diego is sponsoring the first annual School Garden of the Year Contest presented by Edible San Diego. Any elementary school (K-6th) can participate and must show how they use their gardens in lessons, how they use the food produced, and how the community participates. Hurry! Sign-up forms are due by April 15, with final entries due May 1.

April 22nd Is Earth Day

Do something good for the earth and for your soul- spend some time outside in the garden! UP will be celebrating our Mother Earth while spreading the UP love at Qualcomm’s Earth Day Fair in Sorrento Valley. We’d love to hear how you are celebrating this special day! Help us serve you better! Is there something you want to know more about? Let us know so we can improve our newsletter and service. Contact Karen at: karen@urbanplantations.com Contact us for a SPRING GARDEN consultation. Share this Newsletter with a friend so they can Join Our Mailing List! Send us your questions and photos of your garden! Follow us on Facebook!