The GreenHouse

Welcome to the CN&R’s new column

Flowers and edibles at The Plant Barn

Flowers and edibles at The Plant Barn

Welcome to the lovely month of May, and welcome to The GreenHouse. Whether you’re a novice gardener, builder, decorator or cook, or steeped in do-it-yourself experience, I hope this column will offer you something of interest each week. And in the process of becoming more self-reliant, maybe you’ll shell out a little less of your hard-earned cash to boot.

Gardening in May: annuals & edibles
The current combination of a bad economy and people’s increasing desire for self-sufficiency is resulting in what local garden-show radio host Jennifer Jewell calls a “perfect storm” of events motivating more and more people to garden.

Jewell, whose four-minute radio show “In a North State Garden” graces Chico’s FM airwaves at 91.7 (KCHO), points out that the month of May is the time to plant your edibles—tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini and various melons—either seeds or seedlings, now that the “average last spring frost date” has passed.

“It’s fairly safe to put out seedlings now, but pay attention to your weather,” offered Jewell.

Also, she advises, “All of your tender annuals” are good to go in the ground as well—nasturtiums, impatiens, geraniums and petunias, etc.

“Now is not the time to be planting trees, shrubs and perennials,” stressed Jewell. “These woody plants should be planted in the fall. If we go up to 100 degrees in May, that plant will not have had a chance to establish any roots. … The plant can’t [easily] support new upward growth while putting out roots. …You will have to baby it and hold its hand through the summer.” Perennials planted too late are “more prone to dying and disease because they are overstressed.”

For informative gardening-related interviews and a calendar of regional gardening events, visit

grow me a garden blooming fresh in my back yard, in my very soul

—The Rev. Junkyard Moondog

Steve Dunn’s gourd art

Mother’s Day, May 9
Speaking of gardening, why not give your mom an assortment of six-packs of herb, flower and veggie starts? The Plant Barn (406 Entler Ave.) is overflowing with a large selection of TLC-loaded plants and good advice from owner Denise Kelly and her friendly staff. While you’re there, check out Orland artist Steve Dunn’s beautiful, copper-accented gourd containers and decorative pieces inside the barn/gift shop.

Savvy summit
April 29 was the date of Chico’s first Local Food Summit—a gathering of “active leaders in the movement toward access to healthy local food,” as event organizer Jon Luvaas put it. Attending were two dozen mover-shaker advocates of fresh, local food—including Jamison Watts, from the Northern California Regional Land Trust; Lori Weber, who heads up the local Slow Food movement; and Chico Natural FoodsLiza Tedesco.

One hot topic of discussion at the idea-sharing session: Mutual-benefit land-sharing arrangements (“The need to connect growers and potential growers with land that is available,” explained Luvaas). Another timely topic was the creation of a local farm-to-market distribution center “that would provide access for stores, restaurants and … schools and hospitals” to locally grown, fresh food. Stay tuned for lots of action from this group. Interested growers should contact Noelle Ferdon at <script type="text/javascript" language="javascript">{ document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,97,32,104,114,101,102,61,34,109,97,105,108,116,111,58,110,111,101,108,108,101,64,108,97,110,100,99,111,110,115,101,114,118,97,116,105,111,110,46,111,114,103,34,62,110,111,101,108,108,101,64,108,97,110,100,99,111,110,115,101,114,118,97,116,105,111,110,46,111,114,103,60,47,97,62)) } </script> for more info.

It’s a no-brainer
Go see Oscar-nominated documentary film Food, Inc.—Robert Kenner’s well-researched exposé of the corporate food industry—which will be shown on Friday, May 7, at 7:30 p.m., in the Sierra Nevada Big Room. Proceeds will benefit the Chico Eat Learn Grow (formerly Advocates for Healthy School Communities) “Healthy School Lunch Project,” which aims to improve the nutrition of lunches served in local schools. Go to for more info.