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April 30, 2001

Lavender, peppers, and tomatoes featured at UCSC Farm plant sale on May 5-6

By Jennifer McNulty

More than 20 varieties of lavender will be featured at this year's UC Santa Cruz Farm & Garden spring plant sale on Saturday and Sunday, May 5-6. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day in the Barn Theater parking lot at the intersection of Bay and High Streets at the base of campus.

Lavender is especially well suited to Central Coast gardens. Photo: Don Burgett
The plant sale features a wide selection of organically raised plants, including more than 200 species of vegetables, annual flowers, perennials, herbs, and "everlastings," or dried flowers. All plants are proven to grow well in the local area. In addition to lavender, this year's featured plants include peppers, more than 40 species and cultivars of salvias, and many drought-tolerant plants.

Gardeners will be happy to hear that this year's selection will be better than ever. "We're thick with plants," said Christof Bernau, garden manager at the UCSC Farm. "We went a little overboard in the greenhouse, so we're overflowing this year."

Lavender, known for its beauty and fragrance, is particularly well suited to Central Coast gardens, said Bernau.

"Most lavenders come from the Mediterranean area, which has a climate much like our own, and they have minimal water needs, which is appropriate for our area given our interest in water conservation," he said. "Lavender likes full sun, requires minimal fertility, whether you're using compost or chemical fertilizers, and it has a striking effect in the garden. It's moderately frost tolerant, too. No perennial border is complete without at least one lavender!"

With gray-green foliage and blossoms that range in color from deep purple to pale lavender, these plants have been valued for hundreds of years for their pleasant odor, which is reputed to produce calming effects. Two varieties, Provence and Grosso, are popular today for essential-oil extraction. Fresh and dried flowers are used in arrangements, wreaths, lavender wands, and even cooking, where the blossoms are added to cookies, cakes, and tea.

Returning this year will be an impressive array of heirloom varieties of land race peppers. Other hot/mild peppers, as well as sweet peppers, will be available in three-inch pots. The pepper selection will feature many Eastern European ethnic types that are well-suited to the local climate, said Bernau.

Among the lovely perennials that will be available are columbine, coral bells, statice, and Japanese anemone. The flower selection will include a wide variety of sunflowers, yarrows, zinnias, alstroemeria, roses, and penstemons.

The vegetable selection includes six-packs of lettuces, broccoli, and cauliflower, and a limited supply of salad mix and Asian greens. The tomato selection will be the best ever, including Early Girl, Camp Joy cherry, Orange Sungold, Crimson, Carmello, Pink Brandywine, Dona, Heart's Fire, San Remo, Milano Plum, and Sweet 100.

Medicinal and culinary herbs will also be available, including echinacea, lemon verbena, pineapple sage, French tarragon, rosemary, and several varieties of basil, mint, sage, thyme, and oregano. A full list of plants that will be available at the sale can be found on the web, with the list of perennials followed by annuals.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Farm & Garden and the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, the sale will benefit the UCSC Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. Members of the Friends will receive early entry from 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturday only and a 10 percent discount on purchases; memberships will be available at the sale beginning at 8:30 a.m. For more information, call (831) 459-3240.

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