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The Santa Barbara Garden Post

Weekly Column by Cerena Childress – Sustainability, Eating Fresh and Organic

Sunflowers at Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden, Santa Barbara CA

The Next Three Months….

August is keeping your soil water absorbent, sidedressing, harvesting, plant a last round of summer favorites, start cool-season seedlings, time to preserve your abundance for winter eating, to take stock and make notes for next year’s summer planting!

September is exciting because it is the first month to plant fall veggies! Do your final harvesting, preserving, clean up, chop and compost, and plant on Labor Day weekend!

October is considered by many to be the best planting month of the year!! Time to take up strawberry daughters (runners) for November planting, clean up to break pest and disease cycles, plant your winter veggies, plant more veggies if you started in September!

…but specially in August:

Plant another round of your summer favs if you want, but keep in mind that Sep/Oct are the best fall planting months, so check those dates to maturity! The sooner you start your winter plants, the faster start they have, the sooner you have winter veggies. Things get slower as it gets cooler, so a head start makes sense. And, heat lovers started now will have a shorter harvest period. Just saying.

Watering: Keep your veggies well watered, daily on extra hot days. Seedlings may need water 2 to 3 times a day! Keep strawberries moist or they will stop producing. It tomatoes dry out, they drop their blossoms. Water short rooted plants, beans, lettuces, cukes, more frequently. They like lots of water, steady water!

Mulch short rooted plants, beans, cukes, lettuces and strawberries, and deeper rooted chard, to keep them cool and moist. More about summer mulching.

Feeding: Get out your fish emulsion, get some manures, and feed your plants! Foliar feed with compost, manure, worm casting tea. Epsom salts your peppers. Seabird guano (NOT bat guano) keeps plants flowering and producing! See about Aspirin below!

Pests and Diseases: Stay with your prevention programs, and clean away debris, spent or unhealthy plants.

Prep your fall beds! Start making compost for fall planting. Chop into small pieces for faster decomposition. Add compost to safe spots set aside for seedling nurseries.

Install gopher wire barriers in your new planting beds, redo an old bed. Incorporate manures, worm castings, and already-made compost into your soil.

Get the best varieties of seeds for starts now for Sep/Oct planting, or to put in the ground then!

Let strawberry runners grow now.

Enjoy your harvests! Preserve or Give Away your bounty!

*Next Saturday: The Beauty of Beans!


Weekly Column by Barbara Hirsch

Yesterday, some good news along with the debt ceiling and budget crisis brouhaha. A breath of fresh air managed to squeeze through, signaling (and reflecting) a future with less fossil fuels. Thanks to compromise.

President Obama announced an agreement with the auto industry which will double fuel economy standards by 2025. In 14 years, new fleets will average 54.5 mpg. This includes 5-10 mpg lower numbers for light trucks and SUVs, and some credits and exemptions requested by automakers.

CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) government regulations began in 1975 following the Arab Oil Embargo. In the last 33 years the standard for cars went from 18 to 27 mpg. Prior to this year, larger pickups and SUVS were exempt from fuel economy standards, which will no longer be true.

Could it be that the U.S. will no longer be the country of gas guzzlers?

“The US and Canada have the weakest standards in terms of fleet-average fuel economy rating among first world nations…..

45 mpg in the European Union and higher in Japan.” (Wikipedia)

Maybe so.

Continue reading…

Andreea Serban, President of Santa Barbara City College, Placed on Paid Leave of Absence

The controversial reign of Andreea Serban as President of Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) appears to have come to an end. According to reports, Serban has been placed on a paid leave of absence.

Serban’s tumultuous three-year tenure in Santa Barbara included; the Tea Fire Fire, which was allegedly started by nine Santa Barbara City College students, her decision to take on and eliminate co-operative preschools in Santa Barbara, and the cutting and raising of fees for the popular Continuing Education programs. She also laid off staff and eliminated nearly 50 classes. In March, Serban was caught applying for the same position at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut.

Olio e Limone: A Genuine Italian Trattoria but not so far from home

Food, Wine, and Travel

In downtown Santa Barbara, tucked away in a quiet little corner of Victoria Street half way between State Street and Chapala, sits Olio e Limone and their pizzeria. The decor is classically Italian; not that it is covered in colorful pottery, with loud music and terra cotta with lemons and garlic hanging everywhere, like some commercial Italian-American chain restaurants, but in the simple understated way that great Italians chefs treat their food with just enough cozy warmth that it is inviting and comfortable. The restaurant has white table cloths and on a busy Friday night, the waiters and buss persons bustle about squeezing in between tables just like they would at my favorite little spot in Firenze. The pizzeria is more casual but with an inviting bar and roaring pizza oven, it’s more fun to sit at the bar than at one of the tables….who doesn’t want to watch rustic, hand-rolled dough be dressed in rich home-made tomato sauce and then sprinkled with freshly, rough-torn basil by while listening to the lyrical mix of Spanglish and Italian from the kitchen?!?!

Head Chef Alberto Morello and his wife, Elaine, own this gem and they are gems themselves. Both are very open and unpretentious; it just makes you fall in love with the place, let alone the food. Since I moved to Santa Barbara three months ago, I’ve stolen away from my crazy work schedule four times to enjoy their food. Every time I go, I order the Umbra Pizza. It has an incredibly thin and crispy crust and is covered with mushrooms and shaved black truffles. I’m not talking some essence or oil….there are quarter-sized slices of these precious little delicacies and then, it’s generously drizzled with olive oil which emulsifies all of the flavors. For dinner, I happily indulge in the wild mushroom lasagna with spinach pasta (hot the first time and cold for leftovers). Not only is it overflowing with mushrooms of all varieties, but it is B-E-A-U-tiful! The vibrantly, green homemade pasta with the dark mushrooms and luscious ivory béchamel are a stunning mix. Finally I highly suggest you top it all off with their homemade panna cotta. Far richer and denser than the average, it is topped with a balsamic reduction. It’s genuine, and if you get the chance you need to go! And when you do go, ask for Matteo to suggested a dessert wine pairing. The tall, dark and handsome Sicilian will not disappoint!

Contributed to the Santa Barbara View by Danielle Gerbracht of

The Last Festival Standing

Last Festival Standing: The 38th Annual Santa Barbara Greek Festival at Oak Park Saturday July 30 and Sunday July 31; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. We said a sad “Au revoir” to the French Festival this summer. But the Greek Festival is still going strong.

“Kalos Orisate,” say the Greeks, “Welcome!” Santa Barbara is well known as a beautiful, Mediterranean-style community located on the scenic California coast. It’s less well known, but still significant, as home to a diverse population—including a thriving Greek community. The heart of this Greek community—indeed its very soul—resides within the congregation of Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church. Parishioners—and their friends—have long shared their beloved Greek culture with all of Santa Barbara at the annual Santa Barbara Greek Festival. This year, the festival marks its 38th year.

The annual event is a warm and wonderful celebration of every facet of Greek life. It’s about the food—the delectable flavors that season festival favorites like moussaka, tyropitas, dolmathes and gyros. It’s about the pastries—the delicacies like baklava, kataifi, kourabiedes and melamacarona. The names may be nearly unpronounceable, but the pleasure is undeniable…the delicious flavors that festival-goers anticipate all year long.

Seize the moment to indulge in the healthful Mediterranean diet—whether you’re a strict vegetarian or a dedicated omnivore, you’re sure to find a meal to satisfy your tastes in the many booths serving our tempting Greek treats The Greek Festival is all about the fun—the joy of taking to the stage to participate in the same dances you would perform in the ancient villages of Greece. Admire the beauty of the intricate costumes worn by performers who share their carefully practiced steps, and often intricate dances with the admiring crowd. Enjoy the distinctive sounds of authentic Greek musicians who perform traditional songs with exotic instruments like the bouzouki.

The Greek Festival is all about the spirit of community, the friends and family who flock to the festival and imbue it with a spirit the Greeks call “Keffee,” (which translates roughly to “possessed by the spirit of happiness”) You feel Keffee from the dozens of volunteers who enthusiastically staff their booths year after year, creating a convivial, welcoming atmosphere. And you feel it from the other festival-goers who experience that undefined, easy feeling of well-being as they stroll through beautiful Oak Park, enjoying the sights, aromas, the sounds and feeling of being transported to another time, another place.

The Greek Festival is all about the simple pleasures that make life worth living: take the day off and join your friends and family for a day in the park. Dance the afternoon away, eat a little (or a lot), shop in the Greek marketplace, relax and enjoy yourself under the oaks in the warm embrace of the best the Greek culture has to offer. So maybe you can’t make it all the way to Athens this year; The Santa Barbara Greek Festival is the next best thing to being there—without the jet lag!

Describing EdHat…

How do you describe, the one-time “Community Website” and aggregator of news which has digressed into a multi-community bulletin board? Craig Smith, famous local blogger who also writes about Santa Barbara for the Montecito Messenger, has this description… “the quirky website that links to news stories and lets readers ask for referrals and post gripes.” Not bad.

The Seven Walls of Local Government: Wall VII: Playing with the House’s Money

We bring you the seventh and final installment of Professor J.H. Habermeyer’s entertaining essay on the means and methods local government deploys to do what it wants, to get what it desires, and to abuse those who oppose it. Here is the Seventh and final wall—as always, it’s about the Money.  Pay particular attention to the ways and means of the establishment when its failures are exposed: no one is ever held accountable. Think Granada Garage; 617 Garden Street; the waste of public funds to restore a non-accessible train car…what other examples come to mind?

The Seventh Wall

We have reviewed the myriad ways that local governments obfuscate what they do and then defend their actions against the very citizenry that has placed its faith in the charming swindle known as participatory democracy. The process is one of systematically winnowing out ever smaller numbers of remaining opposition through all sorts of clever tactics that include preying upon citizen apathy, bamboozling the public with unfathomable pseudo-technical jargon, delaying, temporizing, and even legal hair splitting that would make any Philadelphia lawyer proud.

Finally we come to the seventh and final wall that the bureaucracies of local government have erected about themselves and that provides the ultimate protection of the citadel, the sanctum sanctorum, the Holy of Holies. This final palisade is constituted of the legal and practical insulation in which the government functionaries have enveloped themselves.

It is well-known that government employees are cocooned in the protections afforded the “civil service.” This insulation provides great protection and engenders great arrogance. While politicians are theoretically answerable to the public, public employees, practically, answer to nobody. Practice and law provides effective shields to these denizens of the citadel.

The police structure can be counted upon to cover up, obscure, and ultimately exonerate instances of corruption and physical brutalization of perpetrators and innocent, alike. How? Because sham investigations are performed by other police like “Internal Affairs” and the local District Attorney  -fellow members of the law enforcement fraternity who need each other symbiotically.

Likewise the urban renewal bureaucrats and land planners who devise titanic fiascoes effecting the lives and livelihoods of hundreds if not thousands of people are protected from public wrath and disapprobation. Their mantra is to look forward not backward; that hindsight is eagle-eyed; that lessons learned will provide a guide for the future; and most comically, that their projects would have worked but for lack of adequate funding. The vehicle known as local government has no rear view mirror, and no matter how rickety the contraption is, its operators will never cast a backwards glance. Thus the great open air civic center mausoleums and dysfunctional ghetto housing projects that should have worked in theory but that failed in practice dot the urban landscape while the perpetrators thereof suffer no rebuke for their manifest failures. In fact they are apt to give each other self-congratulatory awards and accolades!

Layer upon layer of onerous regulations will be promulgated by compliant politicians and then used, and abused, by the bureaucracy with an autocratic arrogance against which the citizenry has little effective recourse; for the guardians of the citadel cannot be held accountable.

In the last analysis, the agents of local authority take their decisions with impunity. They have invested nothing in the expensive mistakes that will cost the taxpayers plenty. There being no practical difference for the bureaucracy between success and failure we may be sure strategies based on arbitrary whims, and not sound financial or economic judgment will be propounded. The consequent failures and municipal catastrophes will result in no opprobrium cast upon the decision makers, let alone fiscal detriment.

Inside the seventh wall the air is rarefied, indeed. Those securely ensconced within its sacred precincts look down upon those outside the citadel with the resigned noblesse and disdain of the mandarin. They are from the government and they are here to help.

And no, you can’t come in.

With thanks to Friends for Fullerton’s Future for reprint permission.

Deborah Schwartz officially kicks off her candidacy for Santa Barbara City Council tonight

Deborah Schwartz officially kicks off her candidacy for Santa Barbara City Council tonight at Kill B’s BBQ, Santa Barbara’s newest sports bar. Why is Deborah Schwartz running? According to her facebook page…

“The numerous calls I have received from concerned residents, neighborhood leaders, and business owners over these past several months, has led me to the difficult and exciting decision to run for Santa Barbara City Council 2011.

The unbalanced priorities of the current Council majority are sending clear messages of:
• exclusion rather than inclusion;
• discarding rather than caring;
…• delaying important policy-making decisions rather than engaging in productive consensus-building on issues that are of major concern to Santa Barbarans.”