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Everything Must Grow: Let Christof Bernau or any of the friendly staff at UCSC Farm & Garden's Spring Plant Sale send you home with one of these leafy greens.

Sustain Yourself

Garden-fresh produce will change your whole approach to summer dining, as the enviro-maestros of UCSC will be happy to prove

By Christina Waters

Growing your own was never easier, thanks to the wildly popular UCSC Farm & Garden's Annual Spring Plant Sale, where infant organic goodies will once again be available to hardcore gardeners. Even if your thumb isn't exactly green, you owe it to yourself to stop by this coming Saturday and Sunday, May 3-4, from 10am to 2pm in the Barn Theater parking lot at the intersection of Bay and High streets at the base of campus.

Healthy young agros in straw hats will be happy to answer your questions and provide tips on how to turns those tiny plants into the salads of tomorrow. More than 200 species of vegetables, annual flowers, perennials, herbs and "everlastings," or dried flowers, will be crying out to go home with you. And there are some special new offerings this year, just to tempt all of you plant-sale regulars.

Buy your garden some Big Leaf Maple, grown from seed collected below the Chadwick Garden on the UCSC campus--it's part of the native mixed forest scene and loves to grow in open woodland settings. Lots of new penstemons with deep lavender and red flowers and striking foliage are available this year, plus a giant delphinium relative called monkshood, with flower spikes up to 5 (yes, I did say 5) feet high.

But now you're thinking about edible botanicals and for you there is something new called Good King Henry, a Euro cousin of the beet that is loaded with spinachy texture and flavor.

Need more veggies? The organic oracles of UCSC have that covered. This year's selection includes a major array of heirloom hot, mild and sweet peppers, and a tomato selection to satisfy every gardener and gourmet. Heirlooms are always fun to grow and to serve, providing an instant advantage over the boring, ordinary, run-of-the-mill residents of the vegetable kingdom. Six-packs of lettuces, broccoli, cauliflower, salad mix and Asian greens will also be available, in addition to robust medicinal and culinary herbs. And if you've lusted over the Farm & Garden's incomparable bouquets, you can try your own luck with a flower selection which includes myriad varieties of sunflowers, yarrows, zinnias, alstroemeria, roses and penstemons, as well as columbine, coral bells, statice and Japanese anemone. Grow these and you'll dazzle even yourself. Sponsored by the Friends of the Farm & Garden and the Center for Agroecology w& Sustainable Food Systems, the sale will benefit the UCSC Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. Members of the Friends will receive early entry from 9 to 10am on Saturday only and a 10 percent discount on purchases; memberships will be available at the sale beginning at 8:30am. For more information, call 831.459.3240. Then all you need is dirt, water and decent karma.

Silver Mountain--nice name, terrific wines. Jerry O'Brien, ace winemaker, not only has a vineyard with a view, but turns the fruit of those vines into some delicious sipping. I recently wrapped my mouth around a goblet of 1999 Chardonnay Santa Cruz Mountain Estate, made from O'Briens slow-ripening, organic chardonnay grapes. No wonder it took a gold medal at last year's SC Mountain wine competition. It is an elegant, complex yet delightfully easy to sip white wine--full of intricate fruits and caramel tones, yet firmly structured enough to join light seafood entrees. For under $20 the Silver Mountain Chardonnay is worth running out to your favorite wine store for, or Shoppers Corner. Silver Mountain, which turns out solid red wines as well as sumptuous chardonnays, is located on mind-blowing acreage off Summit
Road overlooking the entire bay. Put them on your list for touring during this summer's Vintner's Festival, or check out www.silvermtn.com for private appointments. ... "Now you get chips with your sunset," quips Las Olas co-owner Lou Caviglia, who is happy as a clam about his new Santa Cruz Wharf dining venture. Along with chef/partner Steve Elb, Caviglia reinvented his original Sea Cloud into a spiffy, casual Mexican dining room with a view. Open for lunch and dinner, Las Olas--"great margaritas"--is attracting locals as well as visitors with big appetites. Check it out upstairs above Carniglia's.

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From the April 30-May 7, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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