Gardens to Tables

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Welcome to Gardens to Tables

Bring Your Garden to the Table

From tiny patio herb gardens to larger community plots, this site is part of a movement, a movement back to growing and making our own fresh, delicious, healthy food.Our mission is to share gardening tips and recipes with others who share our passion for sustainable agriculture, even in the smallest urban settings.

We also feature travel ideas, classes, workshops and other great ways to learn about gardening and cooking from the experts, and publicize ways to support organic farms and farmers markets, and the restaurants and hotels that use local produce.

If there's anything you'd like to see or ideas you'd like to submit -- or just comments you'd like to make -- please send them to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Also feel free to check out our Facebook page, which features links to events and stories of interest to gardeners and cooks, in addition to those posted here.

 
Keeping Pests at Bay Through Diversity Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Called the "eco-oracle" by Wine Spectator magazine, "Amigo Bob" Cantisano (below) was a legend in the organic gardening field. Sadly, he passed away at the end of 2020 but I had the opportunity to learn so much from him during the organic gardening workshops I took up at Esalen.

Amigo Bob Cantisano

One of the most important things Amigo imparted was the critical role diversity plays in our gardens. He started by imparting this interesting fact: There are 70,000 different species of insects in the world and less than 100 are pests in the garden. The rest are our allies. That's pretty cool, huh? We have 69,900 allies! Yea!

So the question becomes: how do we get these allies into our gardens? The answer is through diversity. The greater the diversity, the more stability a garden has. So if you're growing mostly vegetables, you will want to add flowers and herbs and allium (onions, garlic, etc.) as they attract the beneficial insects (those allies we talked about) like ladybugs, which are predators and eat the pests, and wasps, which are parasites and love to lay their eggs within the little buggers.

The reason the pretty flowers attract the ladybug-style predators (and who doesn't love a ladybug? come on!) is that they are omnivores. They eat insects but they also feed on nectar and pollen. They need both so will be attracted to gardens with the diversity they crave.

 

 
Keeping Your Back Strong When Gardening Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Yoga in the GardenThese yoga stretches for gardeners were first posted here in 2009 courtesy of the Ubuntu restaurant and yoga space in Napa. Ubuntu has sadly since closed but I think we can all agree that the tips themselves are timeless. Happy gardening!

If there is one thing that all gardeners share, it's a need to save their backs from all the lifting and bending that goes along with tending their gardens. Here are some tips from Ubuntu Yoga Instructor Courtney Willis on how to create a strong and flexible back through a some Yoga Flow for Gardeners.

  • Standing on your feet, reach the arms out and up bring the palms together way above the head, saluting the sun.
  • Slowly, bend the knees and bring your hands to the Earth, relax the head and breath here, working on extending the hips upward.
  • Lying on your back and bend the legs. Lift the hips and wiggle your shoulders under the back until you can clasp the hands. For a therapeutic variation. you can bring the hands to the hips, fingers facing outward.
  • This pose is an important counter pose for all the forward bending you do in the garden.
  • From here, release the spine to the Earth, create a 'T' with your arms and slowly drop your legs to one side and bring you gaze to the opposite arm.
  • Repeat on the other side.

This gentle sequence is accessible to every BODY and can be done before AND after a day in the garden.

 
The Jolly Oyster Brings Aquaculture-Farm-to-Table to Ventura's San Buenaventura State Beach Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Jolly OysterWhen Mark Reynolds wanted to go into the business of farming healthy, local, sustainable seafood, he quickly learned that the only real sustainable seafood option was to raise filter-feeding molluscs. So he started with oysters and clams. In addition to being sustainable, oysters are packed with vitamins and minerals and low in calories -- only about 10 calories apiece, according to Reynolds, who said that was one less than licking a stamp (and a whole lot tastier).

Reynolds and business partner Mark Venus started their venture down in Baja California in 1997 and seeded their first farm in 1999. They now have two farms producing Kumamoto and Pacific oysters and Manila clams. Many of their oysters and clams go directly to restaurants but consumers who want to buy directly from the source can now visit The Jolly Oyster at San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura and either buy the molluscs to take home or just shuck them right there at the park -- which offers picnic benches and outdoor barbecues for a true seaside feast.

If you're interested in doing the latter, you'll need a shucking knife for the oysters (and some charcoal and a skillet, if you're going to be grilling the clams). You'll also need some sauce. Reynolds was kind enough to share his recipes for a mignonette sauce and a Thai chili sauce, both of which go great with the oysters. Even better, the ingredients include many of the things growing in our gardens. Enjoy!

Read more...
 
Tips for Hand Bed Preparation from the Esalen Farm and Garden Print E-mail
Written by Ann Shepphird   

Esalen Bed PrepGood organic gardeners will tell you that they don't grow plants, they grow soil -- and by that they mean a soil rich in organic material. As we begin to pull out our summer crops and get ready for fall planting, it's a good time to take a look at the soil in our garden and do what's necessary to create the "healthy dirt" -- or humus -- that will give life to our new seedlings. For some, it might be time to put in a cover crop. For those ready to put in their next round of seeds or seedlings, here is a step-by-step "Guide to Hand Bed Preparation" created by the food folks at the Esalen Farm and Garden, who have some of the healthiest beds (and, hence, crops) you'll ever see. I made a few edits for the home gardener but it's a great guide to get you started. Happy fall planting!

1. Clear all plant waste of previous crops and weeds from the bed using a short-handled fork, hard or soft rake, and a compost bin or trash can.

2. Check that there are suitable stakes (i.e., able to have a string easily tied to) at each corner of the bed. Stakes should be between 42-48 inches apart. If a stake is missing, drive a new stake into the ground to create the appropriate width; move existing stakes to create the appropriate width.

3. Connect parallel corner posts with string to mark the length of the bed along the pathways.

Read more...
 
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