Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 06th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Green Things

Renee’s garden keeps on growing

greenthingsRenee, Renee, how does your garden grow? With Asian greens and seedlings, and pretty flowers all in a row. OK, so that’s a spin-off of an old nursery rhyme, but somehow it seems fitting for a local woman who’s the master of her own garden—Renee Shepard.

Up in the colorful hills of Felton you can find Shepard wandering amongst fragrant flora and green veggies in her garden. She may be sampling the latest that has sprouted up in her dirt beds, picking out dinner, or analyzing what she’ll be packaging in an upcoming assortment of her famous seeds. Mostly, though, you’ll find a woman whom some are calling a pioneer in the gardening world, specifically in the case of Asian greens like baby bok choy or pat soi, a flat rosette of dark green leaves.

Recently Shepard, who owns the wholesale business Renee’s Garden, up in Felton, was featured in an article in the Sunset Western Garden Book. The topic: Her compelling knowledge about those Asian greens.

But that’s not all the gardening maven is good at. Since holding down her own business in 1997, this green thumb has been churning out cookbooks, and she has written scads of articles for well-known gardening magazines.

The long-time local has earned a steadfast reputation as the go-to girl for supplying both education and seeds to home gardeners. Some of her favorites to plant these days in the Asian greens niche include the aforementioned baby bok choy, pat soi and mizuna (a mild green that looks like serrated arugula but is much sweeter). All these veggies are prime choices to plant in Santa Cruz County-based gardens. “The nice thing about the Santa Cruz area is that you can plant them in the spring and plant another one in the fall,” Shepard says. “Plant the seeds and eat the young plants, and leave the remaining ones to grow bigger.”

Walk out to your garden and pluck any of these fast growing, low-maintenance Asian greens. Say you choose the baby bok choy. Now apply a Shepard recipe: Sautee the veggie with some garlic, ginger and hot chilis, and voila—you have a simple stirfry that’s flush with exquisite taste. Or maybe recreate a salad that this professional gardener recently dined on. While this recipe doesn’t use Asian greens, it’s still lean and green: Pluck some Italian escarole (salad greens) from your garden, throw in some tangerine sections and toasted nuts, and serve up a side dish. Just don’t forget to water those seeds outside.

For more information, visit
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Making a Scene

As it celebrates its 30th year, Santa Cruz County’s Open Studios is one of the most successful in the country—and a make-or-break event for many local artists


A Ritual & Initiation

The Pope has come and gone, but his loving presence ignited new hope and goodness in many. While he was in NYC, China’s ruler arrived in Washington D.C. East (China) and West (Rome), meeting in the middle, under Libra, balancing sign of Right Relations. The Pope arrived at Fall Equinox. Things initiated at Fall Equinox are birthed at Winter Solstice. The Pope’s presence was a ritual, an initiation rite—like the Dalai Lama’s visits—offering prayers, teachings and blessings. Rituals anchor God’s plan into the world, initiating us to new realities, new rules. The Pope’s presence brings forth the Soul of the United States, its light piercing the veils of materialism. The Pope’s visit changed things. New questions arise, new reasons for living. A new wave of emerging life fills the air. Like a cocoon shifting, wings becoming visible. The winds are different now. Calling us to higher vision, moral values, virtues that reaffirm and offer hope for humanity. A changing of the guard has occurred. Appropriately, this is the week of the Jewish Festival of Sukkoth (’til Oct. 4), when we build temporary homes (little huts in nature), entering into a harvest of prayer and thanksgiving, understanding our fragile and impermanent existences. We are summoned to reflect upon our lives, our humanity, our nature, our spirit and each other. Offering gratitude, becoming a magnet for others. We observe. We see the needs. We love more.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of October 2

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Extra Pop

Assembly’s pop-up space goes into regular rotation, Cabrillo wine dinner, and a visit to Mozaic


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist


Downhill Cellars

An easy-drinking Chardonnay from Downhill Cellars


Gary’s Old Fashioned Snappy Dogs

Where to find the best hot dogs in Santa Cruz