Growing Your Garden

Need easy to use guides, resources, and information on how to grow a successful garden?
Scroll down for information on How To:

  • Get started with Vegetable Garden Basics
  • Weekly Gardening Tips
  • Plant and Garden month-by-month
  • Install and use Drip Irrigation
  • Deal with Pest Problems
  • Use companion planting for happier plants
  • Improve your Soil with Soil Amendments
  • Compost
  • Worm Compost
  • Plant and Care for Fruit and Nut Trees
  • Extend your season with a Hoop House
  • Save Seeds
  • Preserve Food
  • Garden in Small Spaces
  • Plant an Herb Garden
  • Learn about Native & Invasive Plants
  • Start Seeds

Vegetable Garden Basics

What, Where and How to Plant Your Vegetable Garden: Turning part of your backyard into a thriving vegetable garden can seem like an overwhelming task. The University of California Department of Agriculture and National Resources published this easy to use guide to Vegetable Garden Basics.

Learn how to choose the proper garden location, prepare the soil, build raised beds, and more. Check out their guide here!

The Cool Foods Campaign has also compiled a resource guide for everyone who wants to commit to taking a bite out of global warming and grow some of their own food. Follow their guide to help you understand your options, decide what to plant, and track down your seeds. Topics in their guide include: Deciding on your Garden Type - Designing your Garden - Deciding what to plant - Preparing the Soil - Planting & Harvesting - Additional Resources for Locally Grown Produce - Preserving your Produce - Preparing for Next Year.

Check out their guide with extensive resource links here!

Gardening Tips

Weekly Gardening Tips plus great gardening advice specific to California can be found at the University of California Cooperative Education site. Check it out here!

Still need more info?  Another great home gardening resource guide was created by the Home Services Engine and provides links to information about: gardening with children, starting a garden, herb gardens, pest control, eco-friendly gardening tips, home remedies,  butterfly gardens, short-season gardens, and companion planting.  Check out their resource guide here!

Inland Mendocino County Planting Calendar

When to Plant? What to do each month in the garden? With a garden full of a variety of vegetables, it can be difficult to keep your planting schedules straight.

Check out these two great resources:

Mendocino County Local Food Guide and its Planting Guide

And check out this downloadable, easy to use, month-by-month Planting and Gardening Calendar created by garden extraordinaire and Master Gardeners Peter Huff and Kate Frey.

Download the Inland Mendocino Planting and Gardening Calendar!

Drip Irrigation

It's very important to make sure your garden is well watered. This can become tricky during those sunny and dry California summers. An easy and efficient solution to your garden's water problem is installing drip irrigation. To get started, click on  these step-by-step instructions!

This site also has handy information about water conservation, watering techniques and how much water plants need!

Pest Problems

Having problems with bugs and pests in your garden?

The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Department has an expansive online resource for evaluating your problems and offering the least toxic solutions.

  • UC IPM Online offers an expansive online collection of information and research on pest and disease problems for Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Check out this great resource here.
  • Pest Notes by UC IMP is a great way to find out symptoms and solutions for specific pestsCheck out their website here

Check out this awesome poster about beneficial insects--the natural enemies of garden pests!
Beneficial insects are a great way to protect your garden from pests without using harmful chemicals and without a lot of physical labor.

We've also adapted an article from Mother Earth News into a printer friendly guide, also in Spanish! This is the resource we used for the Natural Pest Control Workshop.

Companion Planting

Certain plants benefit when planted in close proximity to others. Companion planting can help produce higher yields, aid in pest management, and increase bio-diversity among other things. Learn companion planting basics here.

Healthy Soil

Healthy soil is essential to the health and livelihood of your garden. A soil amendment is any material added to a soil to improve its condition to provide a better environment for your plants. Learn how to improve the quality of your soil with this website


Compost is great way to build healthy soil and fertilize your garden.  Compost is the aerobically decomposed remnants of organic matter. It is used in landscaping, horticulture and agriculture as a soil conditioner and fertilizer. Many gardeners agree that the secret to a happy, healthy garden is in the compost. The California Intergrated Waste Management Board offers a great resource on how to create an use compost.  Check out this great compost guide here!  

Thanks too to the Salinas Valley Waste Authority for these two downloadable compost guides in English and Spanish:

Worm Composting

Vermicompost (also called compost, vermicast, worm castings, worm humus or worm manure) is the end-product of the breakdown of organic matter by some species of earthworm. Vermicompost is a nutrient-rich, organic fertilizer and soil conditioner. For more information on composting with worms, and even learn how to build your own worm bin, visit this great website!

Thanks to the Salinas Valley Waste Authority for their dowloadable guides in English and Spanish.

Fruit and Nut Trees

The California Backyard Orchard is a UC Davis website filled with all the information you need to start planting or maintaining fruit and nut trees.  Check out their website!

Hoop Houses

These simple greenhouses allow for a longer growing season with a greater variety of crops, offer protection from weather and predators, and makes for easy set-up and tear-down. For how-to-build instructions, check out this site!


Seed Saving

Seed saving has long been the primary way to pass plants down from generation to generation. Seed Saving is not only fun, it's also an important way to perpetuate heirloom plants and to ensure the genetic diversity of the world's food crops. Information on saving the seeds of your garden's harvest can be found here:

Food Preservation

When you're lucky enough to have an abundant harvest you'll want to put every last tomato and peach to good use. Preserving the harvest can let you enjoy the fruits of your labor for months to come. There are several methods for preserving your fruits, vegetables and herbs. The National Center for Home Food Preservation offers easy to follow instructions for canning, drying, pickling, freezing and more at this website!

Or download the following Food Preservation Guide created by the Ukiah Natural Food Co-op:

Gardening in Small Spaces

You don't need an expansive backyard to be able to produce delicious and nutritious vegetables. Container gardens offer mobility, flexibility, protection from elements and unwanted critters, and are often very attractive. Check out this site from Texas A&M to get started with a container garden of your own.

Also, check out this site for a creative small space gardening idea using a vertical over the door shoe organizer!

Herb Gardens

Whether medicinal, culinary, aromatic or ornamental, herbs have a variety of uses in the garden. They can be used by themselves or in companion planting to benefit other plants. They can attract beneficial insects, be used as medicine, provide a beautiful border and flavor the already delicious vegetables that you produce in your garden.

Growing Herbs in Your Garden

A list of medicinal herbs suited for Mendocino County:

Native & Invasive Plants

Invasive plants are plants that evolved in one part of the world, that humans moved to another region. They can crowd out native vegetation and the wildlife that feeds on it because they no longer are controlled by their natural predators. This is why it's important to choose native plants instead of invasive ones when planning your garden. Learn more about invasives.
Cal-IPC Watchlist
PlantRight and their printable PDF
Native Plant Nursery

CNPS List of Native Plant Nurseries
North Coast Gardening's List of Native Plants
Why are Native Plants so Important?

Seed Starting

Mother Earth News just published a great story on how to start seeds indoors (PDF link is after this article). For a longer description, visit one of their two webpages on the subject. Also, check out their California specific information on what to start planting when & tips for transplanting.

Some great tips from the article:
Don't start beans, peas or root crops indoors, they don't transplant well.
Use 1/3 coir 1/3 compost and 1/3 soil.
Moisten the mix before sowing your seeds, plant 2-3 seeds per cell/pot.
Cover with a plastic dome or plastic wrap until seeds sprout. After that, water only when soil is almost dry.
After 4-6 weeks, move them outside on a porch or protected area during the day, inside at night for one week, then transplant into your garden!