The art of picking and planting seedlings

There’s nothing like a spring day spent picking out seedlings and bringing them home to plant.

Noey Turk from Yes Yes Nursery knows all about that special time. Her CCOF certified organic nursery in the Santa Ynez Valley grows garden vegetables, culinary and medicinal herbs, and native plants from seed to seedling. At the Santa Barbara Farmers Market, her booth stays stocked this time of year with dozens of varieties.

“The idea is that everything in your landscape has a purpose – feeding you or your local wildlife,” she said.

Market host Katie Hershfelt spoke with Turk about some of her more unusual varieties, plus tips for the budding gardener.

Glen Dittmar and Noey Turk at their stand at the Saturday Santa Barbara Farmers Market. (Kathryn Barnes/KCRW)
Start with a plant you love

“If you’re a beginning gardener and you have just a little bit of space, grow something you really like,” said Turk. “Have it close to a place that you walk by on a regular basis so that you develop a reciprocal relationship with the plant. You smell it, touch it, and then take care of it because you like it! That can be anything that will delight you, like a mint, basil, tomato or a little strawberry plant. Then, you’ll find you become a gardener because you fall in love.”

Clockwise from top: Hot pepper, California poppy and dill plants. (Kathryn Barnes/KCRW)
Invest in a drip irrigation system

A quick trip to the hardware store will prove there are many gadgets out there to help you properly saturate your soil by delivering a small amount of water to your plants over a long period of time.

“It takes less time to set up a drip system than it does to water correctly by hand once,” said Turk.

If you don’t feel like buying anything new, just drill a little hole in a bucket, she said. Set it next to your garden so it drips out slowly and move it around so every plant gets a deep soak.

Try growing something unusual

One of Turk’s favorites is Spilanthes, a semi-tropical plant from South America. In the world of cooking, the buds are referred to as szechuan buds, or “buzz buds.”

“In food, used sparingly, it livens up your taste buds,” she said. “It can be used in place of MSG as a flavor enhancer, because it wakes up your mouth.”

It’s also known as the “toothache plant” because it can be used to numb your mouth. “When I got my wisdom teeth pulled, that’s what I used,” she added.


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