Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
The Home Orchard
The Home Orchard; Growing Your Own Deciduous Fruit and Nut Trees (University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources Press, Publication 3485, 2007; $25) is a book my Italian grandfather would have loved. It contains everything you need to know to grow fruit and nut trees in your backyard. The book was developed specifically for use by backyard orchardists. It offers a comprehensive look at standard growing methods as well as a few proven techniques developed by enthusiasts. Color photos help you ID insect pests and common fruit problems such as split skins. It also contains illustrated pruning, thinning, and grafting techniques as well as tips on irrigation and planting. Order online at: http://anrcatalog.ucdavis.edu/InOrder/Shop/ItemDetails.asp?ItemNo=3485.
Clever Gardening Technique
Hand-Tied Bridal Bouquet
Make a bouquet for the bride from garden flowers and save several hundred dollars. A hand-tied bouquet is simple to make and divinely elegant. Cut the flowers and hardy greens (aspidistra, asparagus fern, boxwood, raphiolepis, pittosporum) early in the morning the day of the wedding. Plunge the cut material into a deep bucket filled with lukewarm water and a can of lemon-lime soda. A few hours prior to the happy event, strip the thorns and foliage from the bottom part of the stems, give them a fresh cut and gather them into a bundle with sturdy foliage surrounding the outside of the bouquet to frame it. Tie the bundle of flowers together with a rubber band, then wrap the stems in fabric and ribbon so the bride doesn't get her hands wet or soiled. Once the bouquet is complete, store it in the refrigerator until the designated hour. I would also suggest that you practice making hand-tied bouquets prior to the wedding. Practice makes perfect, and that's a very, very good thing, as Martha would say.