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Creating An Edible Garden

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Aired 3/14/11

The farm-to-table craze is the most popular trend in restaurants right now. But, how about the "backyard garden-to-table?" This month, we combine our Food and Garden programs and bring you two experts on growing your food and eating it, too.

The farm-to-table craze is the most popular trend in restaurants right now. But, how about the "backyard garden-to-table?" This month, we combine our Food and Garden programs and bring you two experts on growing your food and eating it, too.

GUESTS:

Caron Golden: food writer of the column "Local Bounty" for San Diego Magazine and author of the blog San Diego Foodstuff.

Nan Sterman: garden designer and author of "California Gardener's Guide Volume II" and "Waterwise Plants for the Southwest." Her website is Plantsoup.com. She also writes a Garden column for the San Diego Union-tribune.

Read Transcript

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

FUDGE: Gardening and eating go together. If you've got a plot of ground to grow stuff on, that may have an influence on what you eat. Today, we're combining two subjects we normally talk about separately. Food and gardening. And joining me to talk about your own personal backyard garden to table movement our food critic, Karen golden, and matter gardener, Nan Sterman. Karen is a food writer, and she writes the column, local bounty for San Diego magazine. She's author of the blog, San Diego food stuff. And Karen, thanks.

GOLDEN: Hey, thank you for having me.

FUDGE: Nan Sterman is garden designer and author of California gardener's guide volume two, and water wise plants for the southwest. Her website is plant soup.com. Thank you, nan.

STERMAN: Hi. How are you?

FUDGE: I'm doing okay. Of and listeners, I hope you're doing okay. If you want to give us a call, the number is 1-888-895-5727. Gardening is always a popular topic as is food. So call us if you have a question or comment. 1-888-895-KPBS. And Karen, why would you want to grow your own veggies and herbs? Why not buy them at the store?

GOLDEN: Well, for one thing, you can be spontaneous. You decide to make something -- let's say you have in the fridge are eggs, you can go out into the garden and clip some nice herbs and make a nice omelet. If you've got tomatoes growing, you can chop them up and add to it. You can grow what you want. It saves you the trip to the market. You can harvest it at any point in which -- you like it. If you like baby vegetables, you can harvest them then, you can let them grow later and have a wonderful harvest of mature plant. And if you've knot kids, it's a great way to introduce them to the idea that food comes from the ground, it doesn't come from a package.

FUDGE: And obviously we like to hear your stories. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. We'd like to hear your stories about growing food that you use. Call us at 1-888-895-KPBS. And Karen, does a person's style of cooking change when they have access to their own veggies and herbs? Can you --

GOLDEN: Potentially.

FUDGE: Give us a scenario? An example?

GOLDEN: Yeah, I think that the idea of having something simply out your back door, you basically open up your kitchen door and go outside with some scissors and clip some things, I think it starts to lend to a healthier diet because you don't have the excuse of, you know, there's nothing in the vegetable bin and so I guess I'll just have, you know, air baked potato and not have any vegetables or not have any fruit. I think that it really does increase your enjoyment of fresh produce.

FUDGE: And nan, I suppose it makes you more aware of what's in season.

STERMAN: Oh, absolutely, and I think it does change the way people cook in that if you have a crop of tomatoes issue you're gonna be cooking tomato, and if you have cucumbers [CHECK] what are you gonna eat that day? It really focuses you more on eating exactly what's at the peek of ripeness at that particular time. And the other thing about growing your own is that you can choose varieties. So if you happen to love baby golden pear tomato, and they don't have it in the market, [CHECK].

FUDGE: What is in season now? What should people know planting now that it's interest winter? Almost spring.

STERMAN: It's almost spring, and actually, I'm starting my seeds right now. I started di-infecting all the pots this weekend to start seeds for my summer vegetable garden. And so all the tomatoes and the egg plant, and the basil, and the peppers, and the squashes, and the cucumbers, and all the melons there, and the little bit of corn that I grow, they're all just about to be seeded right now, which means it'll be six weeks or so until they actually go out into the garden.

FUDGE: And you prefer growing from feed as opposed to growing from seedlings.

STERMAN: Well, there's a couple of things. There are some things that I prefer to grow from seed because I can get varieties from seed that I just can't find when I go to the nursery or when I go to my favorite seedling vendors at the farmer's market in Hillcrest or Vista. But the other thing is, I like that whole process of [CHECK] the inputs, you know, how do we treat them, fertilizers issue pesticides, all that. I like that process, and then when you actually have ripe fruit, it's just so rewarding. I started that from a seed.

FUDGE: Karen, you were nodding your head when nan was saying something.

GOLDEN: Oh, yeah. No, I -- nan is going to have many more plants started from seed than someone like me. I am more of your average -- I've got a little bit of garden space, and so let's grow something edible here. Nan has a beautiful large garden, and this is what she does. You know, this is her life. And so she does all these wonderful things. I tend to go more from seedling. Although I do get some seeds. I'll start -- for instance, I really love [CHECK] they're beautiful edible flowers.

FUDGE: And they grow like weds.

STERMAN: Right. So there's no point in starting them from a start. Because you put the seeds in the ground and they go.

GOLDEN: Yeah, yeah. I'll -- [CHECK] and they take off. And they make for beautiful color, and usually when I'm watering plants I'm [CHECK].

STERMAN: It's a point you get to as a gardener, when you've started from seedlings enough times that you go, you know, I wonder if. [CHECK] the mystery seeds every year to test. And that actually is really fun.

GOLDEN: Yeah. But I'm actually growing garlic this year. Which is -- I've never done before, and I like hard neck garlic, and usually that's a variety of garlic that only grows well in cold climates, you about I did some research and found some that grow better in warmer climates, and planted, like, five different varieties, and they're all coming up with their green shoots now, and I can't wait until May, June, when I can pull them out, and I'll have my own garlic heads.

FUDGE: Let's talk [[]] about gardening, and especially garden to table type issues, the number is 1-888-895-KPBS. Lori is calling us from Clairemont. Lori, go ahead.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi, good morning. Well, the weather is so beautiful, and I've been spending a lot of time in the garden. Can you talk about the rainwater harvesting that's possible to do and how much better that is for gardens? We have had such incredible rains this year. And I I'm just wondering if you can recommend some good stories, ways to keep water for guard ebbs over the summer as it starts to get dry. And one more question, how can you garden under a pine tree, even though it's sunny, with all of the needles falling do you of those are my questions and comments. E. Let's start with number two, and we'll go backwards am gardening under a pine tree is very difficult. [CHECK] in, on, around, whatever is beneath them. [CHECK] rosette, the needles fall in, and they just accumulate in those niches within the leaves. So what you want to do is plant something that's gonna be big, 50 of all, I don't know that you can necessarily grow much under pine trees issue unless you plant at that time that the pine is planted. But if you really want to try to grow something under there, you want to grow something that has big leaves, has branches that sort of weep or point down, rather than point up, and you may have to try a couple of things, usually -- [CHECK] gonna get drowned by the needles. So start with a bigger plant. In terms of holding rain waters, you know, you could only go so far with what you can save in a rain barrel. The fact is, rain barrels hold what? 30 or 50�gallons: To water your garden issue that's less than one watering of so as much as I'd love for us to be able to hold on do rainwater and use it through the year, unless you have a cistern that holds several thousand gallons of water. [CHECK] if you have it, use it now. I mean, use it when you need it, and when it's gone, then you tap into the municipal water.

GOLDEN: Yeah, I tried saving water, rain water, when we had all those storms, and I put all my Home�Depot buckets out in the patio. And what I discovered was, everything was already wet. And I had all these buckets of water, and ground that was soft. And I had no reason it use it am any. And it starts to collect algae anymore so you really don't want to be keeping.

STERMAN: Right, exactly.

FUDGE: My guests are Karen golden, who's a food writer, and author of the column role bounty for San Diego magazine. Nan Sterman, [CHECK] guide volume two, and water wise plants for the southwest. Our call in number is 1-888-895-KPBS. Nan, did you want to say something?

STERMAN: I just wanted to go back to that subject for a second. I really wish there were a subject solution [CHECK] gray water system, so that the water, for example, that comes out of your washing man, championships on a regular basis, [CHECK] you have to use the right kinds of soap, and you have to be aware of what the permitting issues are, which there are ways to do that that don't require permits, but that's a regular supply of water, that you're reviews using, and you're keeping it out of the waste stream. That is much more viable for most of us [CHECK].

FUDGE: My wife skid a garden, and we wanted to plant garlic. And will so we went on the Internet and asked this company in Ohio or some place like that to send us seeds for planting garlic, and in the mail, we got a garlic clove. Of.

GOLDEN: Yeah, you get the garlic heads.

CAVANAUGH: You get the head.

GOLDEN: Yeah.

FUDGE: And I said, huh, this looks just leak the ones they sell at the grocery store.

GOLDEN: Except it may not have been. Because the difference is -- we think of far lick as garlic. But there are a gazillion varieties of garlic, and you have both hard and soft neck garlics, which are two big distinctions of then beyond that, you have all these other varieties. And some of them are, you know, better served being planted in a specific geography than another. And so you may have gotten this garlic head and thought, I could have gone over to raffle's and picked this up for $0.50 and gotten the same thing. But in fact, first of all, it's not gonna be as old as the garlic we tend to get in the market. And second, it probably, hopefully, you ordered a variety that was going to work better for where you live than just your generic garlic.

FUDGE: Let's go to Andy in Bonita. Andy, you're on the show.

NEW SPEAKER: How are you today?

FUDGE: All right.

NEW SPEAKER: I just bought a house in the boppita, Chula Vista area, and I've got a really wig backyard, and by question here is, when I got the house, it was completely dirt. And it's like a muddy dirt. And I need to convert that into a landscaping area. And I'm trying to do it responsibly, not using a lot of water. And I don't know if there's a resource or anywhere I can go to get educated in regards to what plans I should use or if you guys recommend anything I should read or get so I can basically do the land scaping in such a way where I'm not gonna be using up eight of water, and it's not gonna kill me in my pocketbook.

STERMAN: Okay, a couple suggesting first of all, go out and buy my books, because that's exactly what they're all about. They're all about [CHECK] Mediterranean climate plants, we live in a Mediterranean climate, which means that we have a summer where we don't get any rainfall through our summer, all of our rainfall comes in winter when we have our cooler weather, in fall and winter, and early spring. The other plant -- sorry, the other book which is water wise plants for the southwest, introduces the pal at of plants for the southwest desert regions. That are very low water for our area. After that, or in addition, take a trip to the water conservation guard 'at Cuyamaca college, which is not very far from where you are. Little a demonstration garden for exactly you're looking for.

FUDGE: And it's a fun place [CHECK].

RIH1: Or this time of year, you can pretty much go any time. But later in the year, it gets pretty darn hot over there, but they also offer classes, and account in, I teach some of them. I have two coming up, [CHECK] how do you create a low water garden? So I'm teaching that this coming Thursday at the Fallbrook library, and then in April, I want to say on the fourteenth, at the water conservation garden in the evening. What's important to know is one class is not gonna teach you everything you need to know. That's a starting point, and then you have to learn about irrigation and design and all that. And it's probably a good idea to get you started at least on the way so you understand what the issues are, and you don't make all those typical mistakes that will frustrate you, that happen so often of so be an educated cop super.

FUDGE: Karen, my mom grew up on the farm in Kansas, and her family had [CHECK] they canned stuff for the winter. Is that what we're talking about? Or are we talking about something a little more modest?

GOLDEN: Probably more modest. You know, my grandmother had a victory garden and grew most most of the vegetables and herbs that they used of so that's not unfamiliar to me. And then of course the next generation now there are super markets all sorts of things that are much more accessible. And so my mom's gardens were beautiful, but they were more modest in terms of how she was feeding us. And we tried canning periodically. I think today there are a couple of things. One is it depends on the size of your garden. I mean, if you've got a lot of land, you have a huge interest in creating, you know, basically the food for your family, you could probably do it. Of if you've got the time. I think for most of us who are working full time, this is sort of in addition to what we do. For instance, I have a very small space, but it's just enough to be able to have some dwarf citrus trees. I have vegetables in pots mostly because I have terrible clay soil. And I have pets who insist on digging out everything I plant. So I keep those in pots. But I have big bushes of rosemary for instance, and a lot of different herbs, and one of the things that I really love to do, and I give as gifts, and I keep as a staple is I make herb rubs. So it doesn't matter the time of year, I've got that rosemary, I usually have chives or oregano, [CHECK] I chop everything up, I let it dry on a cookie sheet for about three days until it's really -- you can feel that it's dried, it's air dried in the oven, [CHECK] herb rub that I can use when I'm cooking anything from chicken to putting -- mixing it with oil and having it as a dip for breads. So that's something that I use almost every day,ing and that came straight out of the garden.

FUDGE: Russ is in San Diego, Russ, you're on the show.

NEW SPEAKER: Hey, thanks for taking my call. I wanted to go back to the whole notion of seeds and then also a bit about preserving water. I just went to a large retailer and bought a seed container, it's got 72 containers, including peat to start seeds. And when you're starting up 72 seeds in one tiny area using so much less water you obviously have a chance to do a variety. We've got about 16 different plants that are in that 72 batch. Plus I've got kids. I've got an eight-year-old and a four-year-old, and they absolutely love to watch how much they grow. [CHECK] so anyways, just kind of throwing that out there.

STERMAN: I think that's absolutely wonderful. I applaud. [CHECK] workshop in Solana beach, and check my website for the information of but that's exactly what we're gonna do, and we're gonna start an entire garden for each person in that workshop of and that's a wonderful thing to co. It's great to do with kids. I would just caution you about one thing. Something that happens real typically with our seedlings, and especially in the kind of situation you have is that you're gonna find in a couple of weeks, some of those little sprouts are gonna have fallen over. They'll look like your little kid came through and squeezed the stems. But that's not what happened. What happened is there's a fungus that develops in it is surface of the wet peat. And it causes those stems to collapse. So I would suggest that you get some construction sand, not playground sand, or some pearlite, that's the white stuff that feels like -- what do you call and? Styrofoam. It's not Styrofoam. And put a layer of that [CHECK] that'll keep the surface dry, ask [CHECK].

FUDGE: And peat, why would you use peat?

STERMAN: No, and I don't use it either. But it is a very typical component of potting soil and seed starting mix. It's inert. It has no nutrient value, but it holds water. And it's a very typical kind of component. If you go start and look at the labels on many, many potting soils, and especially seed starting mixes, they almost all have fine ground peat in them.

FUDGE: And let me see. I think -- let's go to Mary in Ocean Beach. Of Mary in Ocean Beach issue you're on the show.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi. Of I have a couple questions. We just took out two huge giant, like 60-year-old ficus trees out of your yard. And I want to plant fruit trees here. So what should I do with is this soil that has had all the needles from the -- you know, [CHECK] what the correct term is here, and my other question is, can I plant an apple tree?

STERMAN: Okay. That's pretty easy. What you do with the soil, thank it for being there, and use it. Because any kind of organic matter is wonderful to have in the soil. Most people in San Diego have soils without much organic matter. So unless those trees were diseases -- were they diseased? Is she still there?

FUDGE: Mary, were the trees diseased?

NEW SPEAKER: No, no, no, no. They were healthy.

FUDGE:

STERMAN: Okay. So I wouldn't worry about the soil am I would just plant, I would rake it out, and make sure it's smooth, and plant directory into that soil, plant with the appropriate amendments in the hels. Do realize that citrus are quite thirsty trees. [CHECK] don't irrigate them on the same valve as you have, say, a lawn or something like that, or even the cypress trees or twisted juniper buzz they don't require very much water at all. But the citrus takes a lot of water. And of course you can plant an apple. But it's gonna need a different amount of water than the citrus. And if you're gonna plant anpel, look for a low chill variety. [CHECK] so Ana, these are varieties, Einscheimer, pink lady, next year there's gonna be one of my favorites coming onto the market, sun downer, from Australia. It was absolutely fantastic.

FUDGE: And these all work in our mild climate.

STERMAN: Absolutely. They're all low chill, [CHECK] number of chill hours, you're looking for 400�hours or less. Hundred hour system fine, 2, 3, 400, beyond that, if you're inleft-hand, that's one thing, but along the coast, I would stay with 400 or under.

FUDGE: Well, listen listen. We have to take a break, when we return, we'll be back with Karen golden and nannern is it. We're talking about gardening and eating. We'll be back in a minute.

FUDGE: I'm Tom Fudge, and listen listen, my guests are Karen golden, and nan story man, Karen is a food writer, and author of the column, Local Bounty, for San Diego magazine. Her blog is San Diego food stuff. Nan Sterman is a garden designer, and author of two books, California gardener's guide, volume two, and water wise plants for the southwest, her website is plant soup.com. We're talking about gardening, pistol we're talking about gardening for your table. Guard thing things that you can eat am call us if you have a question or comment at 1-888-895-5727. Any question is fair game. 1-888-895-KPBS. I wanted to go back to something that Karen golden was talking about, when we're talking about being an urban farmer. You live in the city, maybe have a small plot, you don't have a lot of room to grow stuff, and maybe you have to grow stuff in pots. And Nan, what kind of limitations does that put on you when you're trying to do this thing we're talking about?

STERMAN: Well, one of the -- there's a couple things to keep in mind. Plants need space, even like the annual vegetables we're talking about, they need space for their roots to develop. [CHECK] so for example, if you want to grow tomatoes in a pot, you need a pot big enough for the tomatoes to develop a root system so you get fruit. [CHECK].

GOLDEN: 20-inch pot.

STERMAN: Yeah, twenties are good.

GOLDEN: Right.

STERMAN: That's really important. You want to make sure you have a spot with enough sound light. For anything that produces fruit, and fruit would also include, like, cucumbers and melons and squashes. [CHECK] you need six hours of direct sunlight every day. You can't grow those in the shade. [CHECK] so you want to think about those things of the other thing that we were just talking about is, a lot of these plants do did you believe duty as ornaments and edibles. So if you have a [CHECK] you could grow a fig, you could grow a pomegranate, you could grow a pineapple, guava, [CHECK].

FUDGE: That's a lot of what you co, is growingornamentals.

GOLDEN: Yeah, I've got -- just what nan said, I bought a bear root pomgranetit about 7 or 8�years ago, and it doesn't produce much fruit. But it produces.

STERMAN: It's young still.

GOLDEN: Yeah, and I've got two dwarf -- I have two dwarf mier lemon, I've got a dwarf in a pot which produces like crazy. I have a Satsuma tangerine, and a blood orange. And this is all in a space just a little bigger than the size of this studio. So this is not a whole lot of space. Plus I have big bushes of rosemary and lavender, and in between, I plant -- and I have a lot of succulents also, so I combine those two. But then in between, I plant the garlic, for instance, or I've got a lot of herbs. I have a huge -- a couple of huge strawberry pot, and I plant herbs in the little pockets of the strawberry plants. I don't plant strawberries because I have such a problem with snails.

STERMAN: Oh, we'll talk about that. [CHECK].

GOLDEN: You have to also think about your own personal environment when you're doing this, because if you've got dogs and cats and they have access to your yard, they're gonna graze. And so you've gotta be able to deal with that as well.

FUDGE: Let's go to Shannon, we've got lots of people on the line. Let's go to Shannon in Oceanside, Shannon you're on the show, go ahead.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi. Of.

FUDGE: Hi.

NEW SPEAKER: When I was a kid, my grandmother used to keep sweet corn in the field till it dried, and when it was dried, she would take it off the skillet and [CHECK] and it was called parched corn. [CHECK] maybe in an earth box, because I have a small yard. And is that possible? How do you dry sweet corn on the stalk?

STERMAN: Okay. So here's the deal with sweet corn. You can grow it -- physically, you can grow it in an earth box. An earth box is kind of a little container. It's about two feet long and about a foot wide. [CHECK] the soil above it a continuous supply of moisture. I think they're fabulous for propagating. I don't grow my vegetables in them because I have raised beds and I don't need to. The thing is, corn is wind pollinated. So when you grow corp, and it starts that make ears and it starts to make those little tassels, each of those develops to where a kernel could develop, and each one needs to be pollinated in order for a kernel to develop. Because it's wind pollinated, the pollination rate is very, very low. So to have productive ears, you have to have a lot of corn, a lot of corn stalks. And you will never have enough in your earth box unless you have, like an acre of earth boxes. So rather than be frustrated because you can grow the corn and the stalks will grow, and you get the -- you know, the ears start to develop, but when you open up, there's nothing there, I think maybe you should find -- I don't know if there would be a different solution. It sounds delicious, and I'd love to try it. But I don't think it's gonna work for you.

GOLDEN: I think you have to pick your battles, as it were.

STERMAN: Yeah, that's really true.

GOLDEN: You really have to be what your environment can hold. And also -- it's not just your environment, it's the amount of time you have to devote to taking care of these things of some of these things you can plants and that I pretty much take care of themselves. Tomatoes, for instance, I get sweet one hundreds, I keep them in a 20-inch pot, I have to always remember to only weigh one, maybe two plants of that's it. Of because if I weigh more, I'm gonna crowd the whole thing out. 1 or 2 grow into this big beautiful plant, and I think basically just have to remember to water it and feed it periodically, and those plants produce until November.

FUDGE: Well, thanks, Shannon, let's go to Joanne in Oceanside, you're on the show.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi, thanks for taking my call. I have a comment and then a question. My comment was, I was listening to you guys talking about how to conserve water, and we had come up with a really good solution. About a couple years ago, like everybody in San Diego, we get a lot of visitors during the summer time, and we go to the beach with them a lot, and what noticed is that everybody would come home and everybody would take a shower, and all that sand would be in our bathroom. [CHECK] changed the nozzle on my sink downstairs so we could just put the hose to that shower and made an out door shower with warm water. All the kidses when they got home just shower in their bathing suits in the back yard. And we just moved it around our grass, and we shaved --

GOLDEN: That sounds leak a good idea.

STERMAN: Very clever. [CHECK] that was my comment.

FUDGE: What's your question?

NEW SPEAKER: What's that?

FUDGE: What's your question?

NEW SPEAKER: And the question was, I have -- I inherited many dwarf trees from the people who owned the house before me. Some fruit trees, there's an ape cot and a pair. [CHECK] what am I doing wrong?

STERMAN: You're doing -- well, you're part way there. One thing to do is if it doesn't get very big, it's because you have to thin the fruit when it's small. Because the trees are putting all their energy into developing that fruit. If you reduce the number of fruits, the [CHECK].

FUDGE: Apricot?

NEW SPEAKER: Ape cot.

FUDGE: Yeah, apricot.

FUDGE: And are you sure you're leaving them on the tree long enough?

NEW SPEAKER: Well, they just start falling off, eventually.

FUDGE: Yeah, I think if you thin -- I think part of that has to do with the fact that there's too many fruitses, and the other question is, are you fertilizing these trees?

NEW SPEAKER: I've just been using the miracle grow that says it's for vegetables and fruits.

FUDGE: Okay. I think what I would do is I would did get a bag of organic fruit fertilizer, and I would follow the directions on the bag. And mulch under the trees, with a big thick layer 've organic mulch, meaning it's created from plant material, not shredded wood, but aged and composted plant products. Make sure you fertilize on a regular basis, thin the young fruits so you get more fruits, and so that way hopefully the frees will hold the fruit longer so they develop the fruit and mature.

FUDGE: All right. I hope that helps -- I think that was Joanne in Oceanside. Let's go to Connie in Dana Point. Connie, go ahead.

NEW SPEAKER: Oh, hello. My gosh. Thank you for taking my call. I live in a condominium complex, and one weekend when I was away, my had you had and my neighbor planted part of the common area. They dug it up and began raised beds, and it has turned out to be as much a success. The whole complex comes true and gets tomatoes in the summer. And I'm just recommending it as an idea for -- my particular situation, it's not visible from the streets so it does not affect the look of complex. And I'm just suggesting in these times where even the Perez didn't's wife is growing a garden, it might be something that can be successful in these other parts of the [CHECK].

FUDGE: Was this at all controversial with the homeowner's association.

NEW SPEAKER: Oh, very. Very much so. And they started to say, well, if we planted flowers, it would be type. But in the end, I think realism took hold, and they went, well, my goodness, this makes total sense. And as I said, it's not visible from the complex, so it doesn't offend people driving down the street [CHECK] planter beds all around the back of the paio, and it's quite an amazing project.

FUDGE: All right, well, thanks very much, Connie. Karen you want to say something about that?

GOLDEN: You know, I live in a community that is a homeowner's association, and I would love for ours to allow that. And I don't understand why they tend to be -- these boards tend to be so opposed to that. But you could grow some great community gardens within, literally your own little community. And for a lot of people who either have just a balcony or in my case, I have a patio and a yard, and they're detached homes, that would be a great option of but just because you have just a balcony or a small pottio like wes doesn't mean that you can't grow edibles. You can get pots and grow herbs and you know, you can fro tomatoes, you can grow green, you can grow all sorts of things in the pots for a balcony.

STERMAN: The earlier caller mentioned the earth box. Earth box is a wonderful container for growing vegetables in that kind of situation.

FUDGE: All right, earth box if you want to grow on your patto yore balcony. Daniel is in Escondido. Of Daniel, go ahead. Of.

NEW SPEAKER: Yeah, hi, my question is about worm castings, [CHECK] and what percentage should it be used and do you know of a resource here in San Diego?

STERMAN: You I I use worm castings all the time. Everything I plant gets worm castings in the hole, hoar extending on the size of the mant for one gal pon I'll put in a handful for a five-gallon gone I'll put in maybe three handfuls and so on. Worm castings have -- they're inoculated, they put beneficial microbes into the soil, [CHECK] the roots of the plants really well established. They create a very healthy soil Flora and faunaa, and it's a great thing to use. And you can get them anywhere.

GOLDEN: Yeah, arm strong, I bought my bags at Armstrong.

FUDGE: Yeah, you can make your own you can get --

STERMAN: Yeah, you can make your own.

FUDGE: Nurseries, heme dopo.

STERMAN: Well, [CHECK].

FUDGE: Well, Karen before we rubout of time, I promised you would be able to tell us about a little event that relates on to what we're talking about.

GOLDEN: Right, well, one of the things that San Diego is trying to do is get kids toite a little more healthily, [CHECK] 17 chefs in town, and they put on events throughout the year, can one of them is coming up, April�3rd, which is calmed school lunch. And it will be held at fib nappy's, which is a little restaurant in golden triangle owned by waters fine catering. And the chefs will be making haute cafeteria style cuisine. So you can go and eat good school lurch, prototypes of good school lunches, but there's also going to be an education componept. There will be a dialogue with a woman named Vanessa Zajvin. [CHECK] and there'll be a panel of farmers and school administrators and food service people, and the whole idea is to get the community involved in trying to improve kids' lunches, if you want more information, go to cooks confab.com I wrote about it on San Diego food stuff, and there's a link to where you can buy tickets on brown paper tickets, it'll be a lot of fun.

FUDGE: Okay, and nan, you wanted to get in a manager for the Encinitas garden festival and tour correct?

STERMAN: Yes, this is what we do every year up in Encinitas, we pick a neighborhood, we have a walking tour, this year we're going to have about 15 gardens that are gonna be absolutely fantastic. There's a marketplace, and you can buy, you can go make a reservation on line or buy tickets, [CHECK] visit Encinitas garden festival.org.

FUDGE: Okay. And Nan Sterman [CHECK] water wise plants of the southwest. Her website is plant soup.com. Nan, thank you.

STERMAN: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you.

FUDGE: And Karen golden is a food writer who writes the column local bounty for San Diego magazine. Her blog is San Diego food stuff. Karen, thanks.

GOLDEN: Oh, thanks for having me.

Q. And if you want to listen to a segment, this segment or any segment you've heard on These Days or down load a pod cast of our show, go to our website, KPBS.org/These Days. I'm Tom Fudge filling in for Maureen Cavanaugh. You've been listening to These Days on KPBS.

Comments

Avatar for user 'gardenspirit'

gardenspirit | March 14, 2011 at 10:46 a.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

sand question-- nan said to use construction sand instead of playground sand. why?

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Avatar for user 'Nan Sterman'

Nan Sterman | March 14, 2011 at 5:49 p.m. ― 3 years, 6 months ago

Playground sand is made of crystalline silica which the state of California considers to be a carcinogen and cause other health issues in humans (take a look at the material safety data sheet - the MSDS - used by Quickcrete, one of the companies that wholesales playsand, http://www.quikrete.com/PDFs/MSDS-B4-Playsand.pdf).

When I was first learning to germinate my own seeds, I was told that silica sand is toxic to seedlings. I can't put my finger on that resource at the moment, but I do know that in horticulture, construction sand or builder's sand is the preferred material, as it is typically made from crushed rock, often granite which is not thought to pose nearly the health risk that silica sand poses.

Hope that helps!

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