March 27, 2014

Spring Planting

Before you dig in to your own garden,
cast your vote for Planting Justice!


Cast your vote for edible gardens!

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Edible East Bay has nominated the Oakland-based nonprofit Planting Justice for a grant of $500 through the Edible Feast Cover Contest. To win, we need our readers to vote by sharing our spring cover on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest Here’s the link: Please vote today!

Planting Justice is a powerful force for good—and good food—right in our own backyard. The group transforms East Bay lawns, lots, and schoolyards into thriving edible gardens packed with veggies, herbs, and fruit trees. Their gardens serve as hands-on teaching tools at Fremont High and McClymonds High, with a curriculum that combines food justice and culinary arts. At homeless shelters and prisons, the group brings both tranquility and empowerment to people during traumatic times in their lives. The organization also hires former prisoners, who make the transition from San Quentin’s Insight Garden Program to full-time salaried positions with Planting Justice.

To serve at-risk youth, Planting Justice is transforming a two-acre plot at a San Leandro juvenile detention facility into an orchard and perennial food forest as well as raising funds for a community garden inside the Stanislaus County Juvenile Detention Center.

Join Planting Justice at their annual fundraiser, A Snap Pea Soirée.
When: Friday, April 11, 6–10pm
Where: Impact HUB Oakland (2323 Broadway, Oakland)
Music by: Haji Basim, Earth Amplified, and Hip Hop for Change
Buy your ticket @


Photos courtesy of Planting Justice


 Spring Plant Sales

Ready, set, grow! Plant sales and expert advice will get you started on your spring garden.

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Photo by Sharon Gibson

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Image courtesy of University of California,
artwork by Sharon Gibson

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Photo courtesy of Merritt College

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Photo courtesy of Children’s Fairyland


Moraga Gardens Farm Annual Plant Starts Sale
Saturday, March 29 and continuing both Saturdays and Sundays for the following three weekends, ending Sunday April 20 10am–3pm 
1290 Moraga Way, Moraga (near Safeway)
Moraga Garden Farm will be offering a variety of heirloom tomatoes, herbs, peppers, eggplants, and other vegetables. All plants are grown locally at the farm by the Moraga Garden Farm volunteers. Come early for the best selection.


Container Gardening and Gardening in Small Spaces
Thursday, April 3, 1–2:30pm
Moraga Library, 1500 St. Mary’s Road, Moraga
Think you don’t have enough space to garden? Contra Costa Master Gardener Terry Lippert will present information for building and preparing raised beds, container gardening, and growing espaliered fruit trees.


West County Great Tomato Sale
Saturday, April 12, 10am–2pm
AdamsCrest Urban Farm, 5000 Patterson Circle, Richmond
Love tomatoes? This sale will offer more than 40 varieties of heirloom tomato plants. Many are new for this year, and some are grown from locally harvested seeds. Other veggies are available too. All plants $3.00 each, cash or check only. Co‐sponsored by Contra Costa Master Gardeners and Urban Tilth.


UC Botanical Garden Public Spring Plant Sale
Sunday, April 27, 9am–2pm
200 Centennial Drive, Berkeley
The sale features a wide range of drought-resistant, water-wise plants, and knowledgeable staff and volunteers will be available to discuss plant selection, gardening ideas, and tips to conserve water. Choose from a rich selection of exotic and rare plants, including an expanded selection of Mediterranean-climate plants well-suited to our local climate.


Spring Plant Sale & Fair
Saturday, May 3, 9am–3pm
Merritt College Horticulture Club
12500 Campus Drive, Oakland
Gardeners come here looking for perennial vegetables, rare fruits, and heirloom annual edibles, many of which cannot be found anywhere else, plus a selection of California natives, Mediterranean climate plants, herbs, and unusual plants of all types.


Sunol AgPark Spring Tour & Plant Sale
Saturday, May 31, 1–5pm
505 Paloma Way, Sunol
Meet the farmers, buy plant starts and other farm products, help with hedgerow maintenance, and enjoy family activities. For more information, email or call 510-526-1793 #5


Garden Day at Children’s Fairyland
Saturday, May 10, 10am–4pm (Mother’s Day Weekend)
699 Bellevue Ave, Oakland

Visitors can spend time in Fairyland’s vegetable garden with horticulturalist Jackie (noon to 3pm). Event also includes special gardening activities, learning about pollinators, a seedling give-away, and a chance to buy plants at special prices. Click here for details.


City Slicker Farms Ralph Bunche School Nursery
Wednesdays & Saturdays, 1:30pm–5pm
1240 18 Street, Oakland
If you’re planning to get your garden ready for the new season, stop by City Slicker Farm’s greenhouse to get your warm-weather starter plants. Seasonal seedlings are available for purchase on a sliding scale Wednesdays and Saturdays at our Ralph Bunche School Nursery. Tomato starters should be available by mid-April.






How does your garden grow?

Books for home gardeners
Reviewed by Kristina Sepetys

The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting: An Easy, Organic Way to Deter Pests, Prevent Disease, Improve Flavor, and Increase Yields in Your Vegetable Garden by Josie Jeffrey (Ten Speed Press, 2014)

Companion planting places two or more plants in close proximity to use their synergies to optimize pest control, pollination, habitat for beneficial creatures, use of space, productivity, and to avoid the use of chemical pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizer. It’s a time-honored concept, practiced in the cottage gardens of England, home gardens of Asia, and ancient fields of Mesoamerica. Jeffrey’s handy, easy-to-follow wire-bound book includes a split-page, mix-and-match system with lots of photos, to allow readers to quickly determine which vegetables, fruits, and herbs grow best with one another.

Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone by Myra Goodman and Marea Goodman with photographs by Sara Remington (Chronicle Books, 2014)

Authors are the mother and daughter from the family that raised Earthbound Farm from humble beginnings on a 2.5-acre backyard raspberry farm into one of America’s largest growers of organic produce, a company Michael Pollan recognizes as “industrial organic farming at its best.” Myra is a devoted home cook. Daughter Marea, who lives in Oakland, honed her knife skills and her recipes cooking at her UC Berkeley co-op, where many of the residents were vegan. The book, which will delight vegans and omnivores alike, offers more than 100 plant-based recipes including easy-to-prepare combinations like Quinoa Banana Skillet Bake, Eccentric Caesar Salad (with curry), and Very Chocolaty Chocolate Brownies.

The Front Yard Forager: Identifying, Collecting, and Cooking the 30 Most Common Urban Weeds by Melany Vorass Herrera (Mountaineers Books, 2013)

Wherever you find gardens and soil, you’re likely to also find…weeds.  But weeds are mostly just wild plants growing where they’re not wanted. And one gal’s weed can be another’s dinner. A nutritious dinner, as it turns out. In this helpful, well-illustrated guide, Seattle-based urban farmer Herrera instructs in identifying, collecting, and cooking up some of those ubiquitous weeds. Put away the chemicals and enjoy returns on your garden labor in the form of Fennel Cookies, Clover Soup, Weed Seed Crackers, Dandelion Flower Fritters, Sweet Briar Rose Hip Nut Bread, and Daylily and Raspberry Sorbet. Recipes for these dishes and more, including provocatively titled Nipplewort Crostini.

The Essential Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter and Willow Rosenthal (Penguin Books, 2011)

This one’s been out for a while, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include it in a discussion of backyard edible gardening. Carpenter and Rosenthal, two of the East Bay’s urban farmers extraordinaires, have penned an encyclopedic soup-to-nuts-style book filled with urban farming particulars like finding the perfect site, designing a landscape, cultivating crops, and getting them to market. For hands-on instruction, you can find the authors in action at BioFuel Oasis, Urban Adamah, and UC San Francisco. Or stop by Carpenter’s pop-up Ghost Town Farmstand in West Oakland, where she’s currently selling radishes, cilantro, head lettuces, fava beans, arugula, herb bunches, tomato starts, succulents, and various other bibs and bobs (more at




Reprinted with permission from Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone by Myra Goodman and Marea Goodman with photographs by Sara Remington (Chronicle Books, 2014).

Eccentric Caesar Salad

Eccentric Caesar Salad jpgServes 6

Caesar Dressing
½ cup raw cashews
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (see Note)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 large garlic clove
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon curry powder
Freshly ground black pepper

2 large heads romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces
2 cups Quick Garlic Croutons (recipe follows)
1 ripe avocado, medium dice
½ cup hemp seeds
⅓ cup capers

To make the dressing: Combine the cashews, oil, lemon juice, yeast, mustard, garlic, salt, curry powder, and pepper in a food processor and add ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons warm water. Process until the mixture is very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

To make the salad: Toss the romaine with ½ cup of the dressing. Add more to taste if desired. Divide the lettuce among 6 plates, and top each with some of the croutons, avocado, hemp seeds, and capers. Serve immediately.

Note: Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast has a delicious, savory, cheesy flavor that’s especially welcome in many dairy-free recipes. It’s also extremely nutrient dense, packed with amino acids, B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc, and many more important minerals. It gives our Caesar salad dressing a yummy, cheesy flavor, and we also love it sprinkled on popcorn, soups, beans, and pasta. Many people add it to vegetable juice to enhance the nutrition. It comes in both flake and powder form (we prefer the flakes for our recipes) and is available in natural food stores, both in bulk and in cans.

Note that nutritional yeast is different from baker’s yeast, and it’s also not the same as brewer’s yeast (which is a by-product from the beer industry). Nutritional yeast is made from a single-celled organism called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which is typically grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to deactivate it. It should be stored in a cool and dry place in an airtight bag or container.

Quick Garlic Croutons

These croutons are very quick to make and are a great crunchy complement to both soups and salads. The bread can either be fresh or a few days old.

Makes about 2½ cups

Nine ½-inch slices of a large baguette or 12 slices of a thin baguette
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1¼ teaspoon crushed garlic
Pinch of salt

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350°.

Toast the baguette slices very lightly in a traditional toaster or toaster oven. Allow to cool. Mix the oil, garlic, and salt together in a small bowl. With a pastry brush, brush both sides of the toast with this mixture, and then cut the slices into ½-inch cubes. Transfer the cubes to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they are golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes, turning once. Allow to cool completely before using. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.