8th annual Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap


Join your community for this free event, and share seeds and knowledge with other like-minded folks. There will be music, speakers, and local information you will find nowhere else.

This is my favorite event of the year! And, as I overheard last year from a fellow attendee, “This is where all the cool people hang out.”

Sunday, January 31st, 2016 11AM to 3PM

Santa Barbara Public Library

40 E Anapamu St.  Santa Barbara, CA

How rescue dogs led me to grape jelly.

In February of 2014 we added a new member to our family. We realized our dear Raleigh would have a more joyful life if she had a little brother or sister to tag around with. We found “Fat Buddha” at DAWG, a local rescue that does a great job at placing dogs into new homes. Buddha arrived at DAWG with his sister Lola, and both were having a bit of trouble being placed due to medical and behavioral issues. We were able to adopt Buddha, but unfortunately we weren’t in the position to adopt two dogs. We visited Lola often, and took her on walks near the shelter. On one of our walks with her we discovered a large hedge with concord grapes! We stood there eating the grapes right off the vine, enjoying the floral sweetness. I vowed to go back the next summer and pick enough to make at least a couple small jars of jelly.

That brings us to yesterday…

Iwpid-20150811_120758.jpg was able to find a couple pounds of delicious grapes, and turn them into some wonderful jelly. First I rinsed off the few stray ants that were enjoying the sugary treats. I threw them in a pot with about a cup of water and boiled them for about 15 minutes. I then poured everything into a mesh strainer and let it drain while I was preparing the jars.

Back into the pot with the strained juice, as well as some sugar and fresh squeezed lemon. At this point you have to watch it, there is nothing scarier than hearing your jelly boil over onto your stove while you were away for a split second. Constant stirring and adjusting the heat can help you keep it at a rolling boil for the desired time to achieve the thickness you are looking for.wpid-2015-08-12-09.16.08.jpg.jpeg

From here on out it’s pretty easy. Fill the jars up, put the lids on, and process them in a boiling water bath for about 15 minutes .

Lola is happy and doing just fine in her new home. Raleigh and Buddha enjoy hanging out in the kitchen and waiting for things to fall on the floor. I tell them, “No grapes or grape jelly for dogs!” They are perfectly content with peanut butter.

Suyo Long, to other cucumbers.

wpid-20150801_095246.jpgThe Suyo Long cucumber is one of my favorites to grow. They are easy to care for and seem to do well in our micro-climate here on the Mesa. This wonderful Chinese variety produces fruits 10″-16″ long.

The fruits are spiny when young, and become smoother and less ribbed at maturity. The cucumbers tend to curl on one end, which makes for a unique looking fruit. I trellis mine, and for the most part they grow straight.

For those of you who purchased Suyo seedlings from me this year, I hope you are enjoying them! For those who did not, and would like to purchase the actual cucumber, keep an eye on my blog or Facebook for updated lists of vegetables for sale.

I will leave you with a simple recipe for the upcoming warm summer evenings.

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
A dash or two of sesame oil
2 Suyo cucumbers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small Thai chili or Black Cobra chili thinly sliced

In a medium bowl, mix together the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, oils and chili slices. Mix in the cucumbers, chill before serving.

Wood Lice

imageI’ve never had any issues with wood lice until now. They seem to love one of my raised beds due to the excessive amount of organic matter in the soil. In this case, Google was my friend. A tuna can with a bit of beer, and the edge of the can at soil level really does the trick!

June Showers

Photo Credit: Mrs. O'Hare
Photo Credit: Mrs. O’Hare

We were blessed with some much needed rain in Santa Barbara yesterday. I guess I hadn’t really been paying attention to the weather report as much as I do during our “storm season”, it sure took me by surprise! I just checked the rain gauge, and in the past 24 hours we received 0.9 inches at the farm. The rain barrels are full once again, the plants look happy, everything is rinsed clean, and one of my raised beds sunk into a gopher-hole-mud-trap. Yeah, I love the rain!

Blanca, the second hurricane of the season in the Eastern Pacific, was downgraded to a tropical storm before it hit Puerto Cortes, Mexico on Monday. It is the earliest tropical cyclone to make landfall on record in Baja California. This amount of rain certainly is unique for Southern California this time of year. I sure do hope there is more of this exciting summer weather to come!

Seeds of Progress: Seed Savers Exchange Celebrates 40th Anniversary, Plans to Keep it Growing

The Seed Savers Exchange, known to many of you as the leader in the heirloom seed movement, is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015! The SSE was founded in 1975, and is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and sharing heirloom and open-pollinated plant varieties. SSE is looking ahead to a year full of progress and celebration, while continuing to grow and maintain a collection of more than 20,000 seed and plant varieties at their Iowa headquarters.


More information about the Seed Savers Exchange can be found here –


Beets are probably the most loved vegetable in our family, especially when roasted. The earthy sweetness is so unique, there is nothing quite like it. Beets taste like dirt, and that’s what I love about them. Last night I was able to acquire some fine beets from our downtown farmers market. Today they will be roasted!


Here’s how I do it:

4 Tennis ball sized beets

Sea Salt

Olive Oil

First, I cut the root and the stems off, close to the actual beet. I then boil them in salted water for about 45 mins or until tender. Let the beets cool a bit before you attempt to peel them. After they’ve been peeled, you can cut them into chunks or slices. Don’t slice them too thin, they will turn to mush. I slice mine about 3/4″ thick. Place beets into a roasting pan, along with other veggies if desired. Sprinkle olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the beets start caramelizing on the bottom. Simple and delicious!