What's new

Our "Three Sisters" planting of corn, beans and squash is going great guns. We'll soon be pulling off the protective cover, which means we'll also be hanging out the dinner sign for the squirrels. Great minds are working on a plan.

Our zucchini is also growing quickly and we could get our first batch of squash this week.

We also got our sign installed, so there's no wondering whose garden this is. It's Our Garden.

What you missed

Contra Costa County Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Bethallyn Black spoke about pinching tomatoes. Here's a quick recap.

There is debate on whether tomatoes should be pinched back. One school of thought insists that limiting the number of leaves on a plant will produce more fruit, as the plant's energy is directed toward producing fruit, not foliage.

The other school points out that you need a minimal of 40 leaves on each stalk to produce one tomato, so the foliage is not meaningless. Pinching also is time-consuming.

However, if pinch you must, limit yourself to the small leaves that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won't bear fruit, but they will sap energy.

Pruning is a different matter. It's good to remove yellow leaves and those lower branches that are on the ground.

And it's OK to thin leaves to expose ripening fruit to the sun. But go easy because the leaves perform photosynthesis and create the sugars to make those tomatoes taste their best.

How our garden grows

CK Management Systems will be installing four water-effecient irrigation systems in Our Garden.

We'll be testing to see how each one works and what sort of results we get.

We appreciate the company, based in Danville, helping us out.

The company also is sponsoring a seminar on smart irrigation at 10 a.m. June 27 and the Patrick David's Event Center, 2460 Old Crow Canyon Road, San Ramon.

Our Garden online

Read about the beginnings of the garden and check out our how-to videos. Go to ContraCostaTimes.com/ourgarden or InsideBayArea.com/ourgarden. Follow Our Garden's progress on Twitter at twitter.com/gardeneditor.

Sponsors

The Bay Area News Group-East Bay thanks Our Garden's sponsors:

  • CK Management Systems, 315 Diablo Rd, Suite 220, Danville, 925-943-7323

  • Hamilton Tree Service, 127 Aspen Drive No. 211, Pacheco; (925) 228-1010 www.hamiltontree.com.

  • Mt. Diablo Nursery, 3295 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette

  • Merlot Nursery, 701 Northgate Road, Walnut Creek

  • Contra Costa County Cooperative Extension and Master Gardeners.

    How to help

    If you're interested in volunteering or becoming a sponsor, call Joan Morris at 925-977-8479 or e-mail jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or Bethallyn Black at bblack@ucdavis.edu.

    Join us

    On June 27, Master Gardener Craig Chalquist will be signing copies of his new book, "Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind," which he coedited with Linda Buzzell.

    Reach Joan Morris at 925-977-8479 or jmorris@bay areanewsgroup.com.

    Schedule
    Classes take place in Our Garden, at the Contra Costa Times building, 2640 Shadelands Drive, Walnut Creek. There is no charge for attending.
    10 a.m. June 19 -- Making compost tea
    10 a.m. June 26 -- Bio-intensive gardening