Gardener’s Notebook

Prune Those Tomato Plants!

Gardener’s Notebook By Joshua Burman Thayer   Tomato plants thrive in our Bay Area Mediterranean climate. They grow an amazing amount for an annual, and their vining branches can become very dense and also shoot out great distances with the increased light at the summer solstice. Your job as a tomato plant tender is to…

Read More

Cucumbers in the Creases

Gardener’s Notebook How to fit cucumbers into your summer garden patch Spring is upon us. With nights growing warmer and the wet season soon to be over, now is the time to map out your summer garden. What you do right now to thoughtfully prepare your garden beds will determine your bounty in June, July,…

Read More

Garden Allies

Friends, partners, collaborators, cohabitors . . . Grown together, plants can be more than the sum of their parts   By Joshua Burman Thayer  | Illustrations by Cheryl Angelina Koehler Did you know that plants form alliances? Like humans, plants do better when they associate with other plants for mutual benefit, such as to procreate,…

Read More

Summer Starts

Gardener’s Notebook   Now is the time to sprout your summer crops from seed. In April and May when you purchase a $4 tomato or $3 pepper start, that plant was started from seed way back in February. The nursery worker who started it was thinking ahead to the vegetable-growing season, and you can too! …

Read More

Protect your Topsoil Through the Winter

Gardener’s Notebook   Pelting rains, driving winds, and what looks like a creek flowing through your backyard. These winter storms make it hard to remember that just a few months ago, Northern California was up in flames and blackened by smoke. The challenge now is to protect your soil and give it a bit of…

Read More

Sow a Cover Crop

Gardener’s Notebook   Too many holiday visitors hanging around the house? Get the team outside to tend the earth in a family affirmation of healthy food! December is prime time for planting an edible ground cover to nourish and protect your soil and also create some good food for the table. By planting these easy-to-sow cover…

Read More

Tend Your Soil

Gardener’s Notebook  As you clear out your fall tomato beds, take a little time to give some love to your garden’s soil. Then seed in some fava and garlic to grow through the winter months.   Safety First If you’re preparing a new growing space at your East Bay home, you might want to bring…

Read More

Gardener’s Notebook

An Edible Hedgerow in the City By Joshua Burman Thayer “Thrush in a Fig Tree” illustration by Rigel Stuhmiller In our densely packed urban areas, space is at a premium. Courtyards, corridors, driveways, and narrow strips along property lines can seem lost for gardening use, but there are strategies for filling those zones with plants…

Read More

Fall Planting Guide

As the days shorten and the stress of the sun lessens, we’re in a prime window for planting perennial evergreen species that can provide your household with edible abundance. That window stays open from early October until the third or fourth day of our first big storm, when the soil will start to be too…

Read More

Gardener’s Notebook

Meet a Local Wild Cherry: Prunus ilicifolia On a recent stroll along the north bank of the Carquinez Strait in Benicia, I came upon a California native plant loaded up with edible cherry-like fruits. Prunus ilicifolia, aka hollyleaf cherry, evergreen cherry, or simply California wild cherry, was called islay by California’s Salinan tribespeople. The Salinans…

Read More