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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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May 03

The Recipe

Posted on May 3, 2018 at 3:52 PM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

pea sproutsA walk through the garden today brought some surprises. Beside the knee-high weeds begging to be sheet mulched, there in the circular planter sprouted the tiniest hint of green pushing through the soil. Could these verdant green tips be coming from the pea seeds just planted? 

I shouldn’t have been surprised. The soil temperature at the time of planting just reached that magic 50 degrees that allows peas to germinate, and the moon was in the correct phase for planting seeds that produce above the ground. However, cold weather, rain and even snow here in Lassen since planting would surely set back the miracle of this process. Yet, the recipe must have been correct.

My eyes gazed over to the raised bed that I had just hand-weeded about the time of the pea planting. There proudly stood some asparagus waiting to be cut and brought into the house, with more emerging from their winter dormancy. Spring is in the air—or at least in the vegetable garden! 

With anticipation, I walked into the greenhouse where the cucumber seeds had sprouted since my last visit. The cilantro that had been growing all winter threatened to bolt to seed, as if to say that it had done its job sustaining me with just the right herbs to enhance those savory winter dishes. The chard, beets and what was left of the kale growing in the protected environment of the greenhouse seemed a bit larger. They’ve been there all winter, but something was different. The correct ingredient for optimal growth was in the air.

Like any recipe, given the ingredients, we can typically get decent results. Oft times, there may be just one ingredient that can alter the outcome. For example, living in Lassen I find lacking the famous San Francisco sourdough bread that was a staple in the home where I grew up. There are other breads that mirror that bread, but it is always slightly off.

My grandchildren are conditioned to always bring up a loaf or two of the real sourdough when they visit. This past weekend was a special treat as they not only brought sourdough but made homemade pasta while they were here. I wondered aloud why that bread can only be made in the Bay Area. Simultaneously they all said it was the air—the one ingredient that makes that specific recipe so special. 

Clearly this idea holds true for garden plants as well. We can get things to grow, but to optimize the abundance of fruit, flowers, growth and health of our plants, we must consider all elements. As with sourdough bread, one ingredient can make or break our efforts for an optimal garden. It was apparent that the unheated greenhouse provided protection from the frigid snow, but the temperatures stunted the growth of many varieties planted within. Additionally, the daylight hours are much shorter during the winter months, which caused a reduction of growth that corrected itself this spring.

This Saturday, May 5, provides an opportunity to learn new recipes from other gardens. If you have not yet registered for our free, self-guided Eco-Friendly Garden Tour, it is not too late to sign up. Ideas, creativity and beauty await. 


Anonymous User
May 4, 2018 at 8:45 AM
Love ?? is in the air. ??
Scott Stokes
May 4, 2018 at 9:21 AM
Love is in the air. :-) I wish emojis came through in the comments.
Anonymous User
May 4, 2018 at 11:22 AM
Great read! This is probably why my plumeria tree does not thrive in Sonoma County! :(
Anonymous User
May 5, 2018 at 11:31 AM
Great article on growing up in Lassen! Dennis

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