October 2014: Fall is Here…And Parsnips!

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Gardening tips, recipes and helpful information you can use!!

Karen’s Corner: Notes from our founder


October is my favorite month. It is the time of year that the angle of the sun’s rays begin to shed a golden hue on everything. The days are shorter and hopefully, the weather cooler. Gardens change and menus change. Spent tomatoes come out of the garden and lush kale plants go in, while caprese salad makes way for winter squash purees. For all of us at California Farm and Garden, this month will bring significant changes as we move into our new office and begin working on a new corporate garden for one of San Diego’s largest employers. It’s an inspirational time of year, and I hope you’ll be moved to try something new in your garden this fall. Be bold! Experiment! Enjoy!

Good growing to you! ~KC

In the Garden

We have been incredibly fortunate to work with so many amazing chefs and restaurants around the area. Last month, Brenda helped install an herb planter box in front of the new Carnitas’ Snack Shack in Del Mar and Karen helped install a new herb wall at the new Cucina Enoteca location in Newport Beach. Let’s just say that it’s a great thyme for herbs!

When celebrity chef Marcela Valladolid asked us to help her install her dream Mexican-inspired garden, we were beyond excited. After a lot of careful planning and with the help of our friends at Broyles Landscape, it’s almost finished! We installed a brand new garden of 8 raised beds, an herb garden, citrus, banana, and guava trees, and passion fruit vines. We can’t wait to see all of the new recipes that her new garden inspires!

What’s Sprouting

After six years of being a company, we decided that it was finally time for us to get a proper office! You can now find us on the corner of University and Texas in North Park – right next to our fabulous neighbors Mooch Exterior Designs and North Park Nursery. Feel free to stop by and say hi!

What’s Fresh

Parsnips are a hot ‘new’ menu item that chefs have recently been breathing new life into. This staple root crop was originally prized for its sweet, nutty flavor and its long storage life. Growing parsnips in San Diego can be tricky due to the fact that they need successive cold nights to convert their starch into sugars. One way to get around that is to ‘trick’ your parsnips by placing them in the coldest part of your refrigerator. Use fresh seed each year as they are fragile and go bad quickly. It takes 3-4 weeks for the little guys to germinate, and up to 120 days to mature, so be sure to plan accordingly! We’ve found conflicting information out there on when to start them – spring vs. fall, but we have some informal trials going and will let you know what we find out. In the meantime, we’d love to hear your experience with this tried and true crop!

Looking for a recipe? Try one of these! Baked Parsnip Fries with Rosemary Apple-Parsnip Mash Parsnip and Fennel Soup with Dill Parsnip Pancakes with Honey & Mustard Dressing Pasta with Parsnips and Bacon Spiced Parsnip Cupcakes

Helpful Tips

Summer Pruning for Shape and Structure. Keeping your backyard orchard at a manageable size is easy if you know when to prune. Pruning in the ‘summer’ (before the tree goes dormant for the winter) allows you to decide the shape and structure of your tree. It is the only way to keep your tree under 12 feet tall so that you won’t have to reach for the extension ladder when it comes time to harvest. Not only will the tree be easier to harvest, but it will be easier to keep pest-free. Pruning doesn’t have to be a scary task, in fact, here are three really great pruning articles geared towards the backyard orchard. Still need help? Give us a call and we can set you up with quarterly orchard maintenance!