Tomato Time

Summer is the season for tomatoes!

Here at the Co-op we love the many delicious varieties of tomatoes that are available in the summer. Tomatoes offer a juicy, fresh flavor and are a healthy meal addition to everything from potluck pasta salad to a classic sandwich.

Let us take some time to appreciate the tomato and all it has to offer.

Fresh red ripe tomatoes on the vine on a dark rustic cutting board

Health Benefits:

Tomatoes are good sources of several vitamins and minerals

Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen in the body and plays an important role in immunity by acting as an antioxidant in the body. One medium-sized tomato can provide about 28% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI).

Tomatoes contain many phytochemicals

Don’t forget to stop by our Produce Department for your fresh, local tomato needs!

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Storing Produce

Have you ever brought home beautiful bunches of greens and herbs only to have them wilt away in your fridge?

Save your money and stop wasting food with simple storage tips!

For our complete A-Z produce storage guide click here.

Greens and Herbs:

Trim the stem ends, place in a jar of fresh water, and place the entire jar in the fridge.

This allows the veggies to re-hydrate and will stay fresh much longer this way.

Use this method for greens like kale and chard, fresh herbs like basil and cilantro, and even vegetables like asparagus!

Vegetables:

Most veggies store best in the fridge.

Storing in a plastic bag or within the crisper drawer in your fridge will help keep in moisture and prevent your veggies from getting soft and drying out.

Some veggies such as tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, onion, and hard squashes are actually best stored outside of the fridge in a cool, dry place. 

Tip: Vegetables should be stored away from fruit in order to prevent them from ripening too fast!

Fruit:

When it comes to fruit most varieties will keep fresh longest if stored in the fridge, but when it comes to ripening they ripen best outside of the fridge.

Berries, lemons, and apples will all last much longer if stored in the fridge whereas tropical fruits like bananas and mangoes store best on the counter top. 

Tip: Some fruits, such as apples and bananas, produce ethylene gas and can be used to help ripen other fruits! 


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Farming While Black – Leah Penniman Speech

From EcoFarm’s YouTube Channel:

“Some of our most cherished sustainable farming practices have roots in African wisdom. Yet discrimination and violence against African- American farmers has led to a decline from 14% of all growers in 1920 to less than 2% today. Soul Fire Farm, co-founded by author, activist, and farmer Leah Penniman, is committed to ending racism and injustice in our food system. Earlier this year at the EcoFarm Conference, Leah shared how you too can be part of the movement for food sovereignty and help build a food system based on justice, dignity, and abundance for all members of our community.”

“Leah Penniman is a Black Kreyol educator, farmer/peyizan, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, NY. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011 and has been farming since 1996. Leah is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs – including farmer training for Black & Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for communities living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system. Her book, Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land is a love song for the land and her people.”

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Composting Guide

Compost can be used as a fertilizer for your plants and garden with no risk of burning like with synthetic fertilizers. It also contains many beneficial microorganisms that keep away plant disease.

There are two types of home composting, Hot Composting and Cold Composting. Cold composting takes very little effort but will take much more time to produce compost. Hot composting requires more effort but will produce compost much quicker. Here is guide for the two:

Cold Composting

What you will need:
  • A large bin or hole in your yard
  • Worms (if you are digging a hole in your yard you wont need to buy many)
  • Dried yard trimmings (leaves, small pieces of wood)
  • Paper or egg cartons (and egg shells!)
  • A little healthy nutrient dense soil
  • Food Waste (can be added as you produce)

Food Waste:

Stick to leafy greens and produce with low acidity:

  • Banana peels
  • Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Spinach, etc
  • Carrots, beets, and other roots

Avoid high acidic produce:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks

Instructions:
  1. Prep your bin or dig your hole. 
  2. Add yard trimmings and paper to the bottom on the bin.
  3. Then add your nutrient dense soil and worms. 
  4. Add food scraps as you acquire them.
  5. Mix the compost pile whenever or never. 
  6. It will take 6 months to a year to get completed compost

Hot Composting

What you will need:
  • A large bin or hole in your yard
  • Worms
  • Dried yard trimmings (leaves, small pieces of wood)
  • Paper or egg cartons (and egg shells!)
  • A little healthy nutrient dense soil
  • Food Waste (can be added as you produce)
  • Water

Food Waste:

Stick to leafy greens and produce with low acidity:

  • Banana peels
  • Chard, Kale, Cabbage, Lettuce, Spinach, etc
  • Carrots, beets, and other roots

Avoid high acidic produce:

  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks

Your pile should maintain 1 part food waste and 2 parts dried yard trimmings. A healthy pile will 141F to 155F. This temperature will kill all weed seeds and disease pathogens.

Instructions:
  1. Prep your bin or dig your hole. 
  2. Add yard trimmings and paper to the bottom on the bin.
  3. Then add your nutrient dense soil and worms. 
  4. Add food scraps as you acquire them.
  5. Mix the compost pile 2-4 times a week. Check the temperature during each mix.
  6. It should stay damp, add water if needed.  
  7. It will take at least a few weeks to make compost.
  8. Use it in your garden and mix it in with soil when repotting indoor plants!

Written By Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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Saving Your Bulbs for Next Spring

Every Year at the Co-op we have Beautiful Tulips, Daffodils, Dahlias, Ranunculus, etc. All these flowers have an expiration date in early spring and won’t grow any other time. These flowers grow from bulbs, which can be saved and used again next year! Over the course of them blooming they also multiply so each year you save them, the following year you will have even more flowers!

Cut the flower down to 1.5-2 inches. Cut the flower stem and all the leaves.
Three different kinds of bulbs!

1. To harvest the bulbs first, you need to let the flower go through their cycle. Once the flower is beginning to shrivel up and die with no more blooms sprouting, you will cut back the flower. Cut the flower back so only 1.5 to 2 inches is remaining of the stem. 

2. Then you will let the stems sit in the pot until they have completely dried out.

This bulb is starting to split into three. They are still very stuff together so I will leave them together for now.
All the remaining stems have dried out completely. It it time to harvest!

3. Then you will separate the bulbs from the soil. They are in clusters in the soil, and we want to keep the clusters together. The bulbs will multiply, but you don’t want to separate them until they just fall apart. You can remove some of the dried skin around the bulbs, but don’t remove it all. Only remove the skin that is loose and easily removed.

4. Store the bulbs in a cool, dark, and dry place. Keep them there until it is time to repot them! For Spring blooming flowers, daffodils and tulips, plant the bulb in September or October. For summer blooming bulbs, ranunculus and dahlias, plant in spring after the danger of frost has passed. 

5. Different flowers will have different bulbs. They come in all shapes and sizes! Be sure to keep them separate and labeled when storing, unless you want to be surprised!

Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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Sowing Seeds to Start Your Vegetable Garden

Cherry Tomato Sprouts!
The roots are breaking through the bottom of the carton! Time to repot!
  1. First, pick your favorite seeds out at the Co-op. Make sure to read the instructions on the back as all plants like to start growing at different times!

2. Cut up some old egg cartons and fill each section with soil. Place 2-3 seeds in each section.

3. Mist the seeds and soil thoroughly every day until the sprouts are 2-3 inches. When they reach this size it is time to repot and you can leave them in the egg cartons! If you look closely some of the roots may already be tearing through the carton! Repot the sprouts in quart-sized pots, remember to water them regularly.

To encourage lots of growth, keep the soil moist but do not leave your plant in puddles. Allow them to grow about 1 to 1.5 feet, then move to a 5 gal pot or pot in the ground. For the first few weeks, you want to water them every day, once they reach maturity you want to start watering them less. Let the soil dry out completely before watering them again. The decrease in water will make convince the plant that it is time to start producing! 

Once it is 1 to 1.5 feet, transfer to a large 5-gallon pot or in the ground!
Repot the sprout (still in the egg carton!) into a slightly larger pot until it reaches 1-1.5 feet.

4. Cutting back your plant will encourage more growth, especially with tomatoes and peppers! Cut off the very tips of the plants once they are about 2 feet and the plant will form more stems, which means more fruit!

Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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How to Care For Your Maidenhair Fern in Davis Climate

Maidenhair ferns are notoriously temperamental. They are not native to Yolo County and therefore need a lot of love and attention to stay alive. With the proper knowledge and dedication, you can keep a maidenhair fern of your own and trust yourself to keep it alive! We love these ferns at the Co-op and often have them available in our floral department. Here are some tips to get you started:

Sunlight:

Find a window in your house that faces East or West. Maidenhairs like the sun, but not too much sun. Bright evening or morning sun is enough. If you only have a window facing North or South, make sure it only gets partial sun by putting a larger plant in front of it to supply some shade or move it further from the window.

Even the fronds with just brown edges need to be removed.

Pruning:

Make sure that the base is misted!

When the fronds of your fern are starting to brown you should remove them. Some fronds will be completely brown and others will only have brown tips, but you might as well remove them all! Once they start to brown on the edges, there’s no saving them and they will use up resources that the thriving fronds need. Don’t get too sad, if you have been caring for your plant properly there should be many new fronds emerging!

Watering:

Water your maidenhair fern 2-3 times a week. Water from the top of the pot until the base is partially full of water. If your pot doesn’t have a draining hole, water it1-2 times a week until all the soil is wet. It is hard to overwater a Maidenhair in dry Yolo County, but your maidenhair should not be in a pool of water.

Humidity: 

Maidenhair ferns love humidity! In nature, they grow on forest floors or by large trees. Mist your fern every other day at a minimum. Be sure to mist all the fronds and do not neglect the base. Make sure to get any new fronds that come in, they need the extra moisture the most!

All fronds need to be misted. The lighter the frond, the newer it is!

Dark Spots: 

The underside of your leaves will occasionally get some black dots. Don’t Worry! These are spores and they are good. You should congratulate yourself. Your plant is so happy it is trying to make babies.

The new fronds are beautiful when they unroll!

Bugs: 

Maidenhair ferns often get fungus gnats. These little flying bugs are your friends. They keep the soil healthy and as long as you don’t have moldy fruit nearby, they will stay in the pot. 

Touching it: 

Do your best not to touch your plant. The fronds are bouncy and fun, I know. But please avoid playing with your plant, it doesn’t like it as much as you do. On a similar note, they also do not like breezes or strong winds. Do not place your fern by an open window, a fan, or a heater. All of these will lower the humidity and dry out your fern.

Have any questions or tips on keeping your maidenhair happy? Click on the suggestion box below and send us a message!

Written by Madison Suoja, Education and Outreach Specialist

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