The Bagrada Bug

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We here at Star Apple just wanted to update you on a particularly pesky and destructive insect that’s made its way up to the Bay Area. It’s a non-native, invasive species called the bagrada bug.

Originally from Africa, this pest first made an appearance in California in 2008 in Los Angeles. Ever since, it has been making its way north and destroying many of our favorite winter vegetable crops, particularly “cole crops” (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts) and spicy greens (mustards, bok choy, and arugula). It has been identified in both San Mateo and San Francisco counties, but hasn’t yet been seen in the East Bay.

If you see the bagrada bug in your garden, make sure to take note! Traditional organic insecticides don’t seem to phase it and it is a rapid breeder. If you (or your kids!) aren’t squeamish, we’ve found the best way to kill this pest is by squishing it! We are also encouraging gardeners to hold off on planting bagrada bug favorites such as mustards, Asian greens (bok choy, tatsoi, etc.), and arugula until later in the fall, as this pest tends to disappear once the weather cools down.

The bagrada bug isn’t a cause for panic, but we just thought we should spread the word and give you some information to help you ID this invasive species. If you’d like to read more about the bagrada bug, please check out these two websites:

–Mike and the Star Apple Team

Sunset Magazine

Who We Are

So fun to see our ‘Edible Bounty’ demonstration garden in the October issue of Sunset Magazine! This June we created a 25 ft x 25 ft edible landscape for Sunset’s Small Space, Big Dreams challenge (along with Bay Area designers Growsgreen Landscape, Ground Cover Landscaping, Living Green and Sunset’s Garden Editors).  Click the image below to read more about it!

Sunset Magazine Edible Bounty

The Summer Garden

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We are already reminiscing the season as we enter these last few days of summer. Before we start swapping tomatoes for brassicas, we are taking a look back at some of our favorite images from the season.   Our Atherton project really came into its own this year — take a look!



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Photos by David Fenton.

Bay Meadows


What do you get when you combine Star Apple, an 83-acre development, raised beds, a steel drum band, 50+ excited gardeners of all ages, free vegetable start giveaways, and delicious food and cocktails? The grand opening of the Bay Meadows community garden in San Mateo!


We were so happy to take part in this event. Bay Meadows is an urban village development built in the place of the old San Mateo racetrack that includes housing, office space, parkland, and most importantly to everyone with a green thumb, a community garden! We will be overseeing the 99 plots that are available to residents of the community with weekly visits, hands-on classes, fabulous cooking and gardening speakers, and personalized, one-on-one assistance for new and veteran gardeners alike.


Highlights of the grand opening included children climbing into their plots to sow radish seeds, spirited debates over when to plant your fall sugar snap peas, harvesting bag after bag of delicious salad greens from our demonstration beds, and seeing first time gardeners from ages five through sixty plant vegetables for the very first time!



There will be many more updates to come about this project, but you can see more photos of the grand opening here or take a look at this photo essay from the Mercury News!


Star Apple Edible Gardeners Mike, Aleta and Ryan!

Thanks to Jan Lundberg Photography for sharing photos of this great event!

blog post by Mike Irvine, Star Apple Edible Gardener

Recent Projects

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Here’s a preview of a recent project we’re really excited to share. Apricots, agastache, lavender, pomegranates and rosemary are all feautured in this beautiful edible low water front garden. Verbenna bonariensis, leucadendrons, irises, and hellebores are some of the many perennials included in this garden that are harvested for seasonal bouquets! The last photo is of the kitchen garden located in the back.  Stay tuned as we are in the process of updating our galleries and will have more photos to share soon! 

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Edible Flowers!

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Everyone enjoys a big, cheerful bouquet of flowers, but did you know that many of the flowers you know and love are also edible? It’s true – everything from roses and nasturtiums to violas and chamomile can be sprinkled in your salad, rubbed into poultry, steeped as a tea, or dropped into a cocktail!  Here’s quick introduction to edible flowers to whet your appetite:

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1) If at first you’re not sure how many edible flowers you’ll need for your cooking, start by picking a beautiful bouquet to display in your kitchen and then use as needed. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a bouquet and taking a few petals or leaves here and there as the week progresses! The above bouquet includes mint, lavender flowers, and variegated sage that are great for teas, as well as purple violas and bronzed beauty calendula whose petals can be sprinkled in salads or on top of a sweet dessert.

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2) Harvest often! Most edible flowers like being picked, as it encourages the plant to produce new flowers. Above you have the sweet, candy-like blue borage flowers, purple and yellow violas, and a pretty mix of peppery yellow and red nasturtiums.

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3) Let your veggies go to seed! Many leafy vegetables (including arugula, chicory, and mustard greens) produce delicious flowers once the greens are too tough and bitter to eat. Above is a white, arugula flower that has a great peppery taste and gives a nice kick to your favorite salad mix.

Bronzed Beauty Calendula

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It is easy to see why Bronzed Beauty Calendula is one of our favorites!  The beautiful two toned petals are stunning in the garden and equally so in your salad mixes.  We grow Bronzed Beauty year round but this edible flower is definitely the star of our winter and spring gardens.  Plant amongst your salad and braising greens as it’s golden tones compliment the red and purple leaves of lettuces and kale this time of year.  Although this annual can be grown by seed, we usually like to pick up a couple of starts at Annie’s in the spring and then let it reseed through the summer and fall.

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SF Flower & Garden Show

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We’re heading to the SF Flower & Garden Show this week! Join us Thursday, March 20 at 2:15 pm and Sunday, March 23 at 10:30 am for a talk on The Beautiful Edible Garden! Plus Stef is giving a solo talk on Cuttings from The Beautiful Edible Garden on Sunday, March 23 at 1:00 pm.  The SF Flower & Garden Show is going green this year, so we are posting our seminar notes here.  We hope to see you at the show!



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