December 2012 Newsletter Volume 7

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Karen’s Corner: Notes from our founder

  This morning I was listening to a program on how to boost one’s brain power and prevent the degeneration of the synapse between brain cells.  Among other things, studies have shown that we humans are hardwired to help each other and that the act of volunteering can help maintain healthy brain synapse and even promote brain activity and function.  Volunteering is effective in dealing with depression and is recommended for people with early stages of Alzheimer disease.

What encouraged me the most was the statement that “we are hardwired to help each other”. Perhaps this explains why we hop in a car or plane and head to New York to help during the 911 attacks, or flock to New Jersey to lend a hand to the Hurricane Sandy victims.  I have friends in Los Angeles who loaded their truck with water and toiletries and drove to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The words “I just had to go to see how I could help” are repeated with every story of personal sacrifice as we reach out to our brothers and sisters in their time of need.

This past year has been a good one for all of us at California Farm and Garden.  We had a birth in our “family”, we are all happy and healthy, and our business continues to grow.  This holiday season, we’ve decided that rather than send cards and deliver gifts to our much appreciated and valued clients, we will be donating those funds to a local non-profit group who help feed homeless Veterans here in San Diego.  We are also asking that in lieu of the very gracious gifts our clients bestow on us this time of year that they donate to a charity of their choice.

All of us at California Farm and Garden wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.  Please continue to be kind and generous to one another, and let’s all strive to be good humans.

Good Growing to you, ~KC

What’s Fresh:

All those delicious greens! December brings us loads of fresh greens.  Picking greens while they are young and tender is the key to success with stronger greens like tatsoi, mizuna and mustards.  This is also the best time to harvest bok choi and kales and spinach along with crispy lettuces.  Keep an eye on your broccoli and cauliflower as they are beginning to ripen.  Remember these last two plants are eaten at the “bud stage” and you don’t want them to get too far along.  Check them daily and harvest while the buds as still tight.

Try something different!  Mizuna is one of our new favorite greens this season. Learn more about it here! or try this yummy recipe for this delicate nd mild Asian green!

Garden Tips:

Winter insect protection:

Cool temperatures bring the end to the dreaded bugs of summer and fall, making winter insect control much easier. The most common problem we’re seeing in our gardens are slugs and snails along with the random gigantic grasshopper and those pesky caterpillars.  For snails and slugs we recommend using “Sluggo” which is very safe for use in organic gardens and is OMRI certified.  Apply a small amount of this product around the edges of your garden right after a rain and keep weeds pulled and the garden free of old rotting material.

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is also OMRI certified for use in organic gardens and is great for controlling cabbage looper worms and other caterpillars.  When you see that beautiful white butterfly visiting your broccoli and cabbage it’s time to start your Bt regime.  We recommend spraying every 10 days when Cabbageworm butterflies are present. Bt will also kill the Monarch butterfly larvae, so be sure you have diagnosed the actual pest doing damage to your plants before spraying and do not spray around dill or fennel which are common monarch larvae dining spots.
Be sure to use these, and all products sparingly and only as necessary.

December in the Garden:

Time to get your pruners sharpened for winter pruning and garden clean up. Hold off planting seed in cold, wet weather.  Transplants will do better this time of year.  Succession plant brassicas like kale, broccoli and cauliflower, feed with mild solution of kelp and fish emulsion.  Be careful to stay on the paths and do not to walk directly on the soil after a rain.  Soil compaction causes disease and will make it harder for your plants to send down roots. Other transplants that can go into the garden are; celery, swiss chard Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce and Swiss chard.
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