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October 2021 Very Last of Summer Harvests, SeedSaving, Fall Transplants!

See the Farmers’ Almanac Fall Forecast 2021: When Will Sweater Weather Arrive?

Congratulations on your Squash & Pumpkin harvests and Happy Halloween, Day of the Dead!

Brassicas are the SoCal winter veg garden winners!

LARGE BRASSICAS

Broccoli is the favorite Brassica and rightfully so per the nutrition it offers. Plants differ in size, head color and shapes, how heat tolerant they are, if you intend to let them over summer and make side shoot production, varies! To get value for the room Brocs take up, a lot of gardeners seek varieties that produce a lot of side shoots after the main head is taken. Some newer varieties produce side shoots before the main head is taken! These smaller heads are great steamed if large, or tossed with your salad if small. Do as you wish! Many of these newer varieties grow no more than 1 to 1 1/2′ tall, in other words, close to the ground rather than up on taller stalks. This means you can’t cut off the lower leave to plant smaller plants underneath. So before you select varieties, take a look online at mature plants. You can still plant around them, just not under them. Keep that in mind when planning your layouts. Research has shown there are less aphids when you plant different varieties of brocs together! Probably true for other large Brassicas as well. Superb Broccoli!

Kale has become a have-to-have! Eat young leaves fresh in salads. Steam with other veggies over rice. High in Vitamin A and anti cancer properties! Lovely varieties – green or purple, flat or curly leaves. They just keep growing. They are technically a biennial, 2 year plant. The first year is for production, the second they make seeds. But. In SoCal they can over winter several years. Or if we have exceptionally hot weather, they may bolt and make seeds the first year! You can end up with a pom pom style, especially the curly leaf or dinosaur kales. But they lose their verve, look tired and tasteless, rather tortured. A fresh young kale in good soil will easily take up a 3′ footprint and produce thick tender vibrant leaves like crazy! What a difference. I hope you start fresh ones each year. They grow so quickly. You won’t lose any harvest time if you plant a baby at the base of the old one, then take the old one down when you are getting those sweet young leaves from the baby. I’ll bet you forgot how good they can really taste! Just be sure to work in some good compost so it can be strong and keep producing well. Beautiful Kale!

Cauliflower now comes in the standard white, also green, orange and purple! The disadvantage is there is only one head and that’s it, though as with any Brassica, the leaves are edible. Like Collard greens.

Cabbage is more dense for the dollar than Cauliflower though it too has only one head and takes a long time to grow – even the mini varieties! But what a feast! A cabbage head is amazing and you can fix it so many ways. Shred in salad, coleslaw, steamed, cabbage soup – Borscht, stir fried, cabbage rolls, cabbage kimchi, in tacos, as sauerkraut! Or try a traditional Irish dish, colcannon, a mixture of mashed potatoes, cabbage or kale, onions, and spices. YUM! There are many cabbage varieties as well – ‘white,’ red or green. Different sizes, and I do mean different. There are 4 to 6″ minis for container gardens, sooner eating or you just don’t need a huge cabbage. There are easily more than a foot in diameter monsters you can barely carry! First they grow loose, then they fill in and make hard dense heads. An amazing plant! While your cabbages are putting on size, plant lettuces among them and other Brassicas. Lettuce repels cabbage moths. Magnificent Cabbages!

Brussels Sprouts are charming mini cabbages on a stalk! They like a colder climate to make big sprouts. In Santa Barbara SoCal area you need to be prepared to harvest lots of small ones. But, I have to tell you, the last couple years we have been getting sprouts up to almost 2″ diameter in two of our community gardens, so it wasn’t good soil that made the difference. The sprouts liked the weather or new more heat tolerant varieties are on board!

All these big Brassicas need feeding from time to time because they are big, and most of them are continuously producing leaf crops! They are all susceptible to Mildew. Try for resistant varieties. Water in the morning when possible so they can dry by evening. A good reason not to over water or fertilize is aphids and whiteflies! They like softer plants. Use plenty of worm castings, as much as possible in their soil – as much as 25% if you can! Plant your Brassicas far enough apart, leaves not touching, for airflow when they are mature, so pests and diseases don’t easily spread plant to plant. Brassicas are generally frost tolerant, even a bit freeze tolerant, and it is said their flavor improves with a freeze!

Cilantro is their best companion! If you like the scent, winter, early spring are good times for cilantro. It doesn’t bolt so fast. Summer it bolts, winters it will freeze, so replants go with the territory. Cilantro makes brocs grow REALLY well, bigger, fuller, greener! I grow cilantro even though I don’t eat it. I like how it looks and smells and it is a living mulch. When it seeds I scatter the seeds where I think I will be wanting some as companion plants and comes up where and when it wants if you keep the soil moist. Cilantro!

ENJOY LOTS OF SMALL BRASSICAS! 

For salads arugula, bok choy, kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, tatsoi, peppery sweet alyssum! Alyssum is a terrific little companion plant and attracts special small pollinators. Root crops are winter Daikon and White Icicle, pretty China Rose and handsome Long Black Spanish radish, turnips, rutabagas! Grow horseradish for fermenting. No need to allot special space for these. Plant these tasty small Brassicas in rows, between, among, around, in patches on the sunny side of big brassicas! (Horseradish is the exception because it grows big like a chard.) A few here, a few there! Be artful in your design and enjoy their many flavors at your winter table! Same with other little winter types like onions, beets.

Then, there are all the other plants not Brassicas!

Peas – Flat, Snap or Pod

Golden Snow Pea! Shelling or eat the young pod whole!Peas!

Flat is the same as Chinese or snow peas. String ’em or buy the stringless variety, and eat ’em right then and there or toss a few with your salad, steam or stew in Oriental dishes, add to your stir fry! Shelling or English peas are so delicious fresh out of the pod and mighty tasty steamed so fresh from the pod. SNAP peas are the sinful favorite of many. The pod is thick and tender, sweet and delicious! Few make it home from my garden. I just eat them. That’s why you get stringless varieties. Who wants to be picking their teeth at the garden, LOL?! Ok, if some of those snap peas do make it to the kitchen, add them to salads. If you must, lightly steam them, add them to stir fries. They are very tender. To keep their fresh green look, undercook….

Yellow, green or purple, you can get bush or pole peas! Bush peas come in sooner; pole peas grow tall, so come in later. Soon as your bush peas are done, the pole peas will come in shortly after, making for a steady supply. And the pole peas keep on coming. Compared to beans or tomatoes, peas have a shorter life span. And when they are done, they are done. Fertilizing, coaxing, additional water doesn’t help. Successive planting is the answer. Plant once a month or so if you love peas. You do have to keep them picked or, like beans, they stop producing. They have short roots and need to be kept moist. Onion family stunts peas! But carrots enhance peas! Plant carrots around the cage or along the trellis. If you plant carrots on one side of them, trench peas a tad lower. Water the pea side so the carrots don’t get too much water and split.

Peas are the winter legume as beans are the summer legume of your garden! They are the trellis plants of our winter gardens. Put in your trellis first, then plant pole seeds, plus transplants of bush and pole all at the same time for them to come in one after the other. Your bush peas in cages will produce first, then your pole peas, and likely your seeded pole peas will follow in short order. Soon as your peas are done, clip off the plant, leaving the roots with their Nitrogen nodules in the ground to feed your soil. The Nitrogen is only released from the nodules after the plant has died. Plant more!

Presprouting your seed peas makes sense! Presprouting assures no spots will be empty where a seed didn’t come up and you lose production! Presprouting peas is super simple. Paper towel on plate, lay out peas an inch apart, fold the paper towel over them, spritz with clean water, keep them moist. By +/- 5 days they will have sprouted, some more than others! Carefully put the ones that sprouted in the ground so you don’t break the little roots. If you have hungry birds, cover the sprouted peas with aviary wire soon as you put them in the ground. A smart trick is to plant them in a slight low sloped mini trench. Moisture goes to the bottom of the trench, drying wind goes over the top of the trench. When you are planting while it is still warm in late fall, you can cover the trench with a board on top of the aviary wire. It’s high enough so the sprouts can get some size. Be sure there is a tad of airflow so the sprouts under the board are not baked! Delicious Peas! As with any seeds or transplants, a couple days before planting put down organic slug/snail bait and remove any overnight marauders that would feast on your tiny new plants.

You can have a terrific time with beets! They thrive in cooler weather. Many colors! Grow the winter biggies, Cylindra! Plant them at the same time you plant smaller varieties so you have the littles first, while you are waiting for the biggies! Early Wonder Tall Tops and Dutch Baby Ball are a tasty choices, or red cold hardy Flat of Egypt! Try a yellow like Touchstone Gold! All About Beets, So Sweet!

Chard Purple Leaves Gold Ribs SavoyedChard is an elegant super productive winter favorite! Handsome, colorful, really, they are the ‘flowers’ of the winter garden! Superlative nutrition, low calorie, easy to grow! If you want quantity, plant Fordhook Giants! They are wondrous – easily 3′ tall, foot wide leaves when conditions are right for them! Chard can’t be beat for production per square foot. Elegant Nutritious Chard!

Lettuces thrive in cooler weather too, but do cover them at threatened freezes. Lay down tomato cages, cover, and secure the cover. Remove when the day warms up. Lettuces come in all kinds of shapes and delicious colors. They do best in rich soil, regular moisture. Winter is the cooler time when tender butter leafs and heading varieties do well.

Try super dense Salanova! Johnny’s Seeds says: Harvested as fully mature heads, the flavor and texture have more time to develop than traditional baby-leaf lettuces. The unique structure of the core produces a multitude of uniformly sized leaves, harvestable with one simple cut. Salanova is more than 40% higher yielding, has better flavor and texture, and double the shelf life of traditional baby-leaf lettuce, making it an excellent, more economical option. What do you think about that?!  Beautiful Lettuce!

Perfect timing for tasty root crops – beets, turnips, rutabagas, daikon radish. Beets are a double winner because the roots and the leaves are edible! Pick leaves from time to time. When your beets are the size you want, pull them and eat all the leaves and the beets as well!

Winter is growing time for long Daikon Radish. And Carrots. Carrots are a dense root, so they take a while. Plant short varieties like Thumbelina and Little Fingers for sooner eating. Kids love them! At the same time plant longer varieties to eat when the Little Fingers are done. Or plant successively, every 2 weeks, once a month per your needs. The longer the carrot, the longer it takes to grow. Look at the seed pack to see how many days it takes to maturity. Of course, you can pull them sooner and smaller, like for you and your pup! 🙂 Avoid manuring where you know you will be planting carrots – makes them hairy. Steady water supply and not too much or they split or fork. You might enjoy some of the mixed color packs – Circus Circus, Sunshine, Cosmic Purple! Tasty Nutritious Carrots!

Parsnips, celery and parsley are all in the carrot family and enjoy cool SoCal weather. Celery is anotherD in-the-garden edible let alone low calorie! Leeks and bunch onions, but, remember, NO onion family near peas.


If you haven’t planted already…some of you carry your layout plan in your head, others draw and redraw, moving things around until it settles and feels right. Do add a couple new things just for fun! Try another direction. Add some herbs, flowers for pollinators, or different edible flowers. Leave a little open space for surprises! Stand back, take a deep breath and ask yourself why you plant what you plant and why you plant the way you do. Anything been tickling the back of your mind you are curious about? More about Designing Your SoCal Winter Veggie Garden!

Once you have decided what to plant, when is the big question! Day length and temps are important. Temp sequences make a difference! Some plants bolt easily – Cilantro, Brassicas, Beets and Chard. Bolting is when your plant sends up a flowering stalk to seed. Check out Bolting aka Running to Seed! Causes and Prevention!

Where you plant, sun/shade is important. Plant longer maturing larger and taller varieties to the back, shorter early day varieties in front where they will get sun. Put littles on the sunny side of these. Plant your tall plants first, let them get up a bit. Then clip off the lower leaves on the sunny side and plant your littles. Or plant quick rounds of littles between, among the tall plants. They will be ready to harvest when the big plants would start shading them. A classic combo is lettuces among starting cabbages that take quite a while to make their big footprints!

Mixes rule! Plant several varieties for maturity at different times and to confuse pests. Pests are attracted at certain stages of maturity. They may bother one plant but leave others entirely alone depending on temps and the pest’s life cycle! There are less aphids on broccoli when you plant different varieties together. See Super Fall Veggies Varieties, Smart Companion Plantings! for excellent biodiverse choices.

Peas and green manure mixes – legumes and oats, feed and replenish your soil because they take N (Nitrogen) out of the air and deposit it in little nodules on their roots! If an area in your garden needs a pep up, plant it to green manure. Broadcast a seed mix of legumes and oats and let them grow. Bell beans, Austrian peas, vetch and oats from Island Seed & Feed Goleta is an excellent choice. Be sure to get the legume inoculant they recommend to use with it. The first three deposit N; the oats have deep roots that bring nutrients up and create soil channels for oxygen, water, soil organisms and roots! Plant it where next summer’s heavy feeders, like tomatoes, will be grown!

If you are planning for mid January bareroot strawberry planting, be preparing your strawberry patch now if you are planting green manure! The green manure mix I use takes 2+ months to grow. I chop it down when the bell beans start to flower. Chop it into bits, let it lay on the surface 2 weeks. Add acidic (azalea/camellia) compost, worm castings and turn it all under. It takes two to three weeks to decompose, let the soil organisms restabilize, and be ready to plant. That puts us right at mid January when the bareroots arrive! More details on Living Mulch!

Here’s the schedule:

  1. Oct 1 plant your living mulch – put this on your garden calendar! If Bell beans are in your seed mix, or are your choice, they take a couple months to start to flower.
  2. About Dec 1 chop down/mow, chop up your living mulch and let it lay on the surface two weeks. This is necessary to let the dead plants release the Nitrogen from their roots. If Bell beans are in the mix, chop when they flower or before the stalks will get too tough to easily chop into small pieces. Keep your chopped mulch moist, not wet, until it is tilled in. Being moist aids decomposition.
  3. Mid Dec till in your living mulch for mid January bareroot planting. The little white balls on the roots are like a beautiful little string of pearls. Those are the Nitrogen nodules legume plants make that we are growing them for! At this time add any other amendments you want. Strawberries like slightly acidic soil, so I add store bought Azalea/Camellia acid compost. It has little bark bits that add water holding capacity.

OR. Strawberry runner daughters can be clipped Oct 10 to 15, stored in the fridge for planting Nov 5ish in Santa Barbara. Remove any diseased soil where your beds will be; prep your beds with acidic compost like an Azalea mix. Commercial growers replace their plants every year. Some gardeners let them have two years but production of some varieties tapers off a lot the second year. Seascape has excellent second year production! If you let them have two years, generously replenish the soil between the berries with acidic compost. I lay down boards between the rows where my berries will be planted. The boards keep the soil moist underneath. I planted the berries just far enough apart that they self mulched (shaded the soil) when they grew up a bit. Worked beautifully. I got the idea for the boards from a pallet gardener. If you use boards, just lift them, scoop out a little soil, add the new acidic compost.

Plant in super soil to get a good start! Clean up old piles of stuff, remove old mulches that can harbor overwintering pest eggs and diseases. Then add the best-you-can-get composts, manures, worm castings. Worms casting are especially good in seed beds. They increase and speed germination and boost immunity. In planting holes, toss in a handful of nonfat powdered milk for immediate uptake as a natural germicide and to boost your plant’s immune system. Throw in a handful of bone meal that will decompose for uptake at bloom time, and some bird guano high in P in the NPK ratio, to extend bloom time after that. If you have other treats you like to favor your plants with, give them some of that too! If your soil has Verticillium or Fusarium Wilts, go lightly on incorporating coffee grounds either in your compost or soil. In studies, what was found to work well was coffee grounds at only 0.5 percent of the compost mix. Yes, that’s only 1/2 a percent! See more details about soil building! If you have containers, dump that old spent stuff and put in some tasty new mix!

Winter Feeding Lettuces like a light feed of chicken manure cultivated in the top 1/4 inch. All the winter plants are heavy producers – lots of leaves, some of those leaves are monsters! Cabbages are packed tight, leaf after leaf! They may need a light feed. Remember, it’s cooler now, so their uptake is slower, so give them liquid feeds of things easy for them to uptake. Fish emulsion (if you don’t have predators like racoons or skunks) or a tasty tea mix – compost, worm castings, manure (no manure tea for lettuces). Slow release like alfalfa pellets.

Weather! Rain may be coming. Give your berms a check. Restore or add, shift them as needed. Before wind or rain, double check cages and trellises, top heavy plants. Stake them, tie peas to the trellis or cage. More Rainy Weather Tips Start gathering sheets, light blankets for possible cold weather to come. Keep tomato cages handy. Protect Your Veggies from Freezing! Cover and tuck ’em in!

You don’t have to garden this winter!

  1. You can cover it deeply with all the mulch materials you can lay your hands on up to 18′ deep. Believe me, it will settle quickly. Let the herds of soil organisms do their work over winter. That’s called sheet composting or composting in place, lasagna gardening – no turning or having to move it when it’s finished. If you are vermicomposting, have worms, add a few handfuls to speed up and enrich the process. Next spring you will have rich nutritious living layers of whole soil for no work at all!
  2. If you have access to materials, another wise option is to do some form of long term sustainable Hugelkultur! There are many variations, quite adaptable to your situation. It can be done in a container, a tub, on a hillside, a field, in your own little garden plot!
  3. A third thing is to plant legumes and oats for superb soil restoration that takes some labor, but a lot less than tending your garden on a daily basis! You can plant it with green manure. Laying on lots of mulch is a ton of work when you do it, just gathering the materials can be a challenge. Green manure takes some work too, but it has awesome results as well. You broadcast a seed mix of legumes and oats, cover ever so lightly with soil, let them grow. Bell beans, Austrian peas, vetch and oats from Island Seed & Feed in Goleta is an excellent choice. Legumes gather Nitrogen from the air and store it in nodules on their roots! N is the main ingredient your plants need for their growth! The oat roots break up the soil. They dig deep and open channels for water and air flow, soil organisms, roots.

“Our most important job as vegetable gardeners is to feed and sustain soil life, often called the soil food web, beginning with the microbes. If we do this, our plants will thrive, we’ll grow nutritious, healthy food, and our soil conditions will get better each year. This is what is meant by the adage ‘Feed the soil not the plants.‘ – Jane Shellenberger, Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West (Colorado)

Winter watering in drought areas is the same as for summer. Before 10:30 AM, after 4 PM. Watch which way water flows along the leaves. Some plants it flows to the center stem. Some drip water off the leaf tips in a circle around your plant, the dripline. Some go both ways. Make berms just beyond where the mature plant’s water flows. If at the dripline, that’s where the tiny feeder roots take up moisture and nutrients. That’s why they call them feeder roots! If your garden has a low spot, plant your water loving plants – chard, lettuces, spinach, mizuna, mints – there or near a spigot.

Fall Pests & Diseases

  • Prevention Drench young plants, ones you just transplanted, with Aspirin solution to get them off to a great start! Drench your seedlings when they get up a few inches. One regular Aspirin, 1/4 C nonfat powdered milk, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap (surfactant), per gallon of water. Aspirin triggers a defense response and stimulates growth! Powdered milk is a natural germicide and boosts the immune system. Be sure to get under the leaves too!
  • Brassicas, Peas! Lots of ants and on Brassicas, lengthwise curling leaves are the giveaways for aphids, then whitefliesAphids carry viruses. Aphids come in fat gray or small black. Avoid over watering and feeding that makes for soft plants, tender leaves that aphids thrive on, and ant habitat. Spray aphids and whiteflies away, make the ants leave. Get up under those leaves, and fervently but carefully do the tender center growth tips. Do it consistently until they don’t come back. Cinnamon is amazing. Ants don’t like it at all, and when you are starting seedlings it prevents molds and damping off. Sprinkle it on the soil in your six pack. Get it in big containers at Smart and Final. Reapply as needed. ASAP remove yellowing leaves that attract whiteflies.
  • Chard, Lettuces, Spinach – Slugs and snails are the bane of so many crops, but these especially. Lay down something like Sluggo immediately. Then do it again in a week or so. Kill the parents, kill the children. After about 3 times you rarely need it again anytime soon.
  • Biodiversity In general, avoid row planting where disease and pests wipe the plants out from one to the next to the next. Instead or rows, plant in several different spots. If you can’t help yourself, because your family always planted in rows or that’s the way farm pictures show plantings, remember, this is YOUR garden! Also, leave room so mature plants’ leaves don’t touch. Give them room to breathe, get good big leaves that get plenty of sun and produce lots more big leaves and many big fruits! Stunted crowded rootbound plants just don’t perform as well and are more disease and pest susceptible. Leaving that breathing room between plants pay off when you plant little plants along, under bigger plants. It’s like having two crops in the same space. No need to make separate space for smaller plants. There is no law that says you must plant in a straight line! Forget the stakes and twine; plant where you want to!

Keep up with your maintenance. Weed so seedlings aren’t shaded out or their nutrients used up.

If you have lots of seeds, over planting is an age old practice. Plant too, too many, then thin them with tiny pointy scissors, aka harvest the young, and eat ’em! Young radish sprouts, teeny carrots – for you and your pup, beets, cilantro, arugula, onions, little Brassicas of all kinds are wonderful in a salad! If they get a little big, steam them or add to stir fries and stews. Another way to do it is plant flats of lettuces, Mesclun mixes, and mow them! Tender baby greens! They will grow back 3, 4 times.

Have it in the back of your mind what summer plants you will be wanting, where you will plant them. For example, plant more permanent plants like a broccoli you keep over summer for side shoots (like All Season F1 Hybrid), or a kale that will keep on going, where they will not be shaded out by taller indeterminate summer tomatoes.

October is the last of Seed Saving time for most of us. Make notes on how your plants did, which varieties were the most successful. These seeds are adapted to you and your locality. Each year keep your best! Start sorting and labeling seed baggies on coming cooler indoor evenings. Store your keepers in a cool dry place for next year’s plantings. Generously gather seeds for upcoming January Seed Swaps!

Santa Barbara’s 13th Annual Seed Swap is January 30 2022! See Events below! The last Saturday of January every year is National Seed Swap Day! Look in your area for an event, and if you don’t find one, collaborate with your local garden club or permaculture group to get one going!

Plant gift plants or bowls or baskets for the holidays now! Make Lavender sachets! See Wonderful Gardener-Style Holiday Gifts!

Take a deep breath of this fine fall weather! We are sowing the Future!

Updated Annually


Late season Veggies – Superlative Red Bell Peppers, many Squashes! Heavenly Flowers! Please enjoy Rancheria Community Garden September images! Take a look before you make final October planting plans ~ you may get some terrific ideas! We are Sowing the Future!

Check out the entire October 2021 Newsletter! It includes these items and more!

Chard! An Elegant, Colorful, Nutritious Pleasure!
Growing the Best Varieties of PEAS, How and Why!

CARROTS! Steaming, Roasted, Juicing, Snacking, Salad!
Bird, Animal, Insect Pests Above Ground Protection!

Upcoming Gardener Events! Loomis CA Eggplant Festival, Lane Farms Pumpkin Patch IS OPEN! Jan 30 FREE 13th Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap is ON!


Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

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Gorgeous Kale - Splendid Purple Curly Leaf!

There’s kale and there’s kale! This truly tasty purple curly leaf kale image is by Steve!

It’s definitely fall now. In coastal Santa Barbara July, and now August, have been cool, lots of overcast and mildews, some plants never got full stride, some are ending a bit early. An ‘Indian summer’ of extended harvests seems unlikely. But if you love your summer plants a lot more than winter plants, this is the time to take a chance. Plant that last batch of bush beans, even pole beans, and early cold tolerant determinate bush tomatoes. That will work well when it starts getting cooler later. More likely it will be better to get those winter plants going. That will give you time for second plantings November/December. If late August was hot where you garden, and so is September, it will be a tad challenging getting winter seeds and starts going. Watering will be critical, shade may be needed for seedlings.

Many of you that had HOT August weather haven’t gotten transplant starts going, but have started seedlings at home. Rather than planting out your seeds garden wide, it would be easier to plant them in a shaded patch for transplant later. Caring for them will be all in one place, easier to cover if needed. See the details: Veggie Garden Nursery Patch Many veg gardeners are still waiting until the bolting time passes in your area. California has had severe fires; other areas flooding, floods feared in after fire areas. Here are some tips for remediation and recovery if you are in extreme conditions. Call in Permaculture teams to make the best new beginnings. Even many of them have never been so challenged and are learning as they go. Take time to work with the team as much as you can. Get connected with experience leaders. Collaborating is productive.

Last Harvests are being collected and stored, seeds saved! See more about SeedSaving!  How to Save Tomato Seeds!

Many have been prepping your soil as various summer plants are finishing and space becomes available! When you do, make your fall planting beds extra yummy! Add 5-10% compost, and, if you have them, add 25% worm castings – seeds germinate better and plants do especially better with worm castings! Manure amounts depend on the type of manure and which plants. Rabbit poop manure can be used immediately with no composting – get some at the shelters! We want rich soil for those big winter plants so they can make lots of those marvelous leaves for greens. Winter plants like brocs, collards, cauliflower, cabbage and chard, are heavy producers, need plenty of food, but remember, winter is cooler and slower. Reduce you feeds potency by about 50%. Know that Carrots need little if any manure. With too much food they grow hairy, split /fork. Peas are legumes and feed themselves! Smart Manure Choices

It’s BRASSICA time! They are the mainstay of winter gardens! Their nutrition can’t be beat! Kale’s the Queen! Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbages, Cauliflower and Collard greens! Then there are all the mini Brassicas, the fillers and littles – arugula, bok choy, mizuna, kohlrabi, mustards, radish, turnips. Rather than plant just six packs of transplants, put in seed at the same time when possible and stagger your plantings of the large Brassicas. Rather than all six cauliflower coming in at once, plant two now, two later and so on. Adjust that, of course, if you have a large area available to plant and a lot of people to feed! Another way to do it is to get varieties with early, middle and late maturity dates and plant them all at once! Plant both mini and monster cabbages at the same time! Minis come in sooner, while waiting for the monsters! Successive plantings mean a steady table supply.

Kale Flat Leaf High MowingFinicky, or bored, eaters may enjoy a selection! Fall veggies come in lots of shapes and colors! Kales are renowned for their beauty and varieties – classic curly leaf, plain and simple flat leaf like in the image a left (less aphids and easy to hose away), Red Russian, Elephant, Red Bor that is really purple are just a few! Cauliflower comes in traditional shape and spiral, classic white plus yellow and purple and green! Get seed packs of them all and mix them together! Carrots already come in color mix seed packets! Circus Circus is a fun choice, especially when your kids are planting! Thumbelinas are faster for kids. Beets are terrific fun! Yellows, reds, pinks, whites and Chioggias (concentric circles of colors)! You can get them in rainbow mixes just like getting rainbow chard mixes! Rather than have your finicky, or bored, eater say no, open up that catalog or take them shopping at the nursery and let them pick what they would like to try!

More ‘littles,’ understory veggies that love cooler weather are beets, carrots, celery, chard, cilantro, leeks, spinach and especially lettuce – now is the time for tender butter leafs and heading lettuce! If you anticipate a hot Sep, plant more heat tolerant lettuces.

The SoCal winter legume is PEAS! Peas are like beans, they come in bush and pole types. And those come in three main types – English shelling, eat-’em-whole snap peas and flat China/snow peas! They are super easy to sprout! Definitely plant some every month or so. They don’t live all season long. When they are done, they’re done. It is true that picking peas, just like picking beans, is labor intensive. I eat a lot of mine before they get home, so I don’t mind. Bush peas come in first and pretty much all at once; pole come on later and continue to produce. On the first round it makes sense to plant both at once! If you don’t have time to do seeds, and aren’t wanting varieties nurseries don’t carry, just wait and when they arrive, get six packs! Transplants are always stronger than tiny seedlings. But do cover your plants if they show signs of being pecked by birds! That’s little V shaped nibbles on the leaves. Use aviary wire, fine netting or tulle, or your preference per you needs. Tulle is easy to install and lift for harvest access, less strong – winter storms may be a challenge, the birds don’t get tangled in it.

CARROTS! Compost, yes! They want easy-to-push-through soil. Manure, no! Makes them hairy and they fork. And over watering, irregular watering, can make them split. Build your beds up so they drain well, are above the coldest air that settles low down. PEAS! The same. Compost to keep the soil loose and have water holding capacity for these short rooted green Peaple. This winter legume makes their own Nitrogen, so feed only lightly if at all. Decide where both of these will be planted and amend accordingly. Conveniently, Peas are enhanced by Carrots! Start your carrots as much as 3 weeks to a month before you start your peas so the Carrots will be up and helping.

If your ground hasn’t been planted to peas before, it’s wise to use an inoculant at planting time. Or, you can presprout your Peas! It’s easy and fun to watch them come to life! Fold a paper towel in half on a plate. Spritz the half on the plate with water. Lay on your seeds about an inch apart. Cover and spritz until good and wet. Put them in a warm place ie top of fridge, out of sunlight. Check them about every 6 hours; keep them moist. Water well at bedtime so they make it those 8 hours. Take them to work with you if it’s only you doing the parenting. While you are waiting, put up their trellis if they are pole peas. When the little sprout is 1/4 to 1/2″ long, depending on temps it takes 2 -5 days, gently put them in the ground sprout (root) down, right at the foot of that trellis. Gardeners vary greatly on how they space those pealets. 1″, 2″, 6″. There is good reason to leave a little more space. More air circulation makes for less mildew that Peas are quite susceptible to. You can put the pea practically at the surface! But do cover it a bit so it doesn’t dry out. Next thing you know, you will have little plant sprouts coming up! The nice thing about presprouting is you know if you’ve got one! If a seed doesn’t sprout, you won’t be wondering like as you would had you planted it in the ground. That’s why some gardeners always presprout their Peas. If you plant early fall there may still be some warm days. Be prepared to give them some shade if they need it. They are short rooted and, and in those conditions, may need water daily or even twice daily. Transplants will be along at your nursery…see more on how to pick the best varieties for you!

Onions For the biggest, sweetest harvests, late summer and early fall are the prime times to sow seeds of short- or intermediate-day onions. Fall-sown short- and intermediate-day onions tend to yield more and are larger and sweeter than those seeded or transplanted in early spring.

Cylindra is a Long type Winter BeetVarieties that do better in winter are long beets like Cylindras – at left, long radishes like Daikons, pretty China Rose and handsome Long Black Spanish! Plant small beets like Dutch Baby Ball for quick beets while your Cylindras are growing twice to three times bigger! All about Beets, So Sweet!

Companion planting combos make a difference! Carrots enhance peas, onions stunt peas. Late summer plant the carrots on the sunny side at the feet of finishing pole beans. The Carrots will be up for when the beans are replaced by winter peas! Combos can use space wisely! Carrots grow down, peas grow up, perfect! Cabbage babies need to be planted 12 to 28″ apart! A healthy plant will take up much closer to that 28″. They take a long while to grow, head, head tight! While waiting, plant lettuces that repel cabbage moths, or other small fillers, that mature sooner, in the space between the Cabbages. You can do this at home amongst your ornamentals, and/or in containers too! Fillers can be onion/chive types, beets. Short quickest growing winter radishes can be among the long slower growing carrots among the slowest growing, your cabbages. Cilantro makes brocs grow REALLY well, bigger, fuller, greener! Research has shown there are less aphids when you intermingle different varieties of brocs!

No need to plant blocks or rows of smaller plants, unless you want to for the look. Biodiversity works better and uses space more wisely! Scatter them about on the sunny side between larger plants as an understory – living mulch! If it happens to be flowers, they bring pollinators right to your plant! Plant different varieties to keep your table exciting. Don’t plant them all at once, but rather every week or two for steady table supply. If you would enjoy a quick payback for your table, select the earliest maturing varieties.

If you have lots of seeds, over planting is an age old practice. Plant too, too many, then thin them with tiny pointy scissors, aka harvest the young, and eat ’em! Young radish sprouts, teeny carrots, little Brassicas of all kinds are wonderful in a salad! If they get a little big, steam them or add to stir fries and stews. Another way to do it is plant flats of lettuces, Mesclun mixes, micro greens and mow them! Tender baby greens! They will grow back 3, 4 times.

When planting in hot fall weather, plant your outdoor seeds a tad deeper than you would in spring; soil is moister and cooler an extra inch or two down. It’s the law to keep them moist. If you plant successively for steady fresh table supply, plant a batch in September, again in October. Days will shorten and start cooling, but you are taking advantage of a fast start because your plants will grow quickly in the warmer weather now than later on. September plant from seeds & transplants if you can get them, October from transplants.

Winter Feeding Lettuces like a light feed of chicken manure cultivated in. All the winter plants are heavy producers – lots of leaves, some of those leaves are monsters! Cabbages are packed tight, leaf after leaf! They may need a light feed. Remember, it’s cooler now, so their uptake is slower, so give them liquid feeds, teas, things easy for them to uptake.

Keep letting your strawberry runners grow for Oct harvest. Store them in the coldest part of your fridge for them to get chilled. Plant in January. If you replace your strawberries annually, as commercial growers do, in Santa Barbara area try Seascape, bred locally at UCSB. Seascapes are big fill-your-palm plentiful berries, firm, tasty, store well, are strawberry spot resistant! They have strong roots that gather plenty of nutrition. Plan ahead! Call ahead, earliest January, to get the date they arrive – they go fast! Seascapes and other varieties are available as transplants later if you miss the January window. If you will be planting bareroot berries in January for April eating, remove old plants. A wise choice is to restore your soil by planting green manure in October. Here’s the schedule:

  1. Oct 1 plant your living mulch/cover crop – put this on your garden calendar! Bell beans take that long if they are in the mix or are your choice.
  2. About Dec 1 chop down/mow, chop up your living mulch and let it lay on the surface. Studies show there is more nutrition if it is let to lay before turning under. Keep your chopped mulch moist, not wet, until it is tilled in. Being moist aids decomposition. If Bell beans are in the mix, chop when it first flowers or the stalks get too tough to easily chop into small pieces.
  3. Mid Dec till in your living mulch for mid January bareroot planting. The little white balls on the roots are like a beautiful little string of pearls. Those are the Nitrogen nodules legume plants make! For strawberries, or other acid soil loving plants, add acidic compost at the same time. If your soil needs more water holding capacity, choose compost with slightly chunkier bits.

If you aren’t planting bareroot berries in January, you can plant your soil feeding cover crop September through 3 1/2 months before you plan to plant in spring.

Some of you carry your layout plan in your head, others draw and redraw, moving things around until it settles and feels right. Others let it happen as it happens… Do add a couple new things just for fun! Try a different direction. Add some herbs or different edible flowers. Leave a little open space for surprises! Leave some space for succession planting. Stand back, take a deep breath and ask yourself why you plant what you plant and why you plant the way you do. Anything been tickling the back of your mind you are curious about? More about Designing Your SoCal Winter Veggie Garden!  Consider a Food Forest Guild!

Soil is always first in garden care! Winter plants need different care than greedy summer production plants, heavy feeders. Special soil tips for your winter plants! Almost all soil can do with some compost, but plants differ about their pH, like strawberries prefer their soil a tad to the acid side. If you plan to have a berry patch, keep that soil at the right frequency! Some say the most important soil tip of all is Gopher wire prevention, LOL, and I can tell you the misery it is to lose a prime plant in full production that took months of growing and TLC to get there. Grrr! See Gopher prevention

You can add tasty items to the planting holes too! Some plants might like a bit more manure. Add a handful of Bonemeal or bat/seabird guano for later blooming. A handful of powdered milk is for disease prevention. Worm Castings are super valuable, give immunity and increased water holding capacity! You may have some specials of your own depending on the soil in your area and which plant you are planting there. Some gardeners spritz the roots and planting hole with Hydrogen Peroxide to add oxygen, help plant roots absorb nutrients from the soil and more!

If you need to skip a beat, take some time off from the garden, let it rest, but be smart and let nature rebuild your soil while you are resting!

  1. You can cover it deeply with all the mulch materials you can lay your hands on up to 18′ deep. Believe me, it will settle quickly to less than half that height in a few days to a week depending on temps! Let the herds of soil organisms do their work over winter. That’s called sheet composting or composting in place, lasagna gardening – no turning or having to move it when it’s finished. If you are vermicomposting, have worms, add a few handfuls to speed up and enrich the process. Next spring you will have rich nutritious living layers of whole soil for no work at all! Yarrow and Comfrey leaves also speed composting. Lay them in and on.
  2. You can plant it with green manure. Laying on lots of mulch is a ton of work when you do it, just gathering the materials can be a challenge. Green manure takes some work too, but it has awesome results as well. You broadcast a seed mix of legumes and oats and let them grow. Bell beans, Austrian peas, vetch and oats from Island Seed & Feed in Goleta is an excellent choice. Legumes gather Nitrogen from the air and store it in nodules on their roots! N is the main ingredient your plants need for their growth! The oat roots break up the soil. They dig deep and open channels for water and air flow, soil organisms. Cover Crops  Living Mulch

Pest and Disease Prevention Drench young plants, ones you just transplanted, with Aspirin solution to get them off to a great start! Drench your seedlings when they get up a few inches. One regular Aspirin crushed, 1/4 C nonfat powdered milk, heaping tablespoon Baking Soda, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap (surfactant), per gallon of water. Aspirin triggers a defense response and stimulates growth! Powdered milk is a natural germicide and boosts the immune system. Be sure to get the under sides of the leaves too!

  • Brassica pests! Lots of ants and lengthwise curling leaves are the giveaways for aphids. Aphids carry viruses. Aphids come in green, black, red, yellow, brown or gray. Avoid over watering that makes for soft plants, tender leaves that aphids thrive on, and ant habitat. Spray the aphids away, make the ants leave. Get up under those leaves, and fervently but carefully do the tender center growth tips. Do it consistently until they don’t come back. Cinnamon works sometimes and other times not at all. Boo. But when you are starting seedlings it prevents molds and damping off. Sprinkle it on the soil in your six pack. Doesn’t hurt to get it on the leaves. Get it in big containers at Smart and Final/bulk stores. Reapply as needed. There are other spray mixes that get rid of those aphids. Water and Vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, a few drops of simple dish soap. If you want to spend more money, use Neem Oil. Soaps, neem oil, and horticultural oil kill only aphids present on the day they are sprayed, so applications may need to be repeated. Plant garlic and chives among your Brassicas! Their strong scent repels aphids. IPM re AphidsMost of all, generously plant CILANTRO among your Brassicas! It repels aphids as well as attracting bees and beneficial insects!
  • Later on, the most prevalent disease problem is mildew. Give your plants some room for air circulation, feed and water less so they don’t get so soft. It is much harder to deal with mildew once it has started. Better to do preventative treatments of the Aspirin Solution.

September is still Seed Saving time for some areas and some plants. Make notes on how your plants did, which varieties were the most successful. These seeds are adapted to you and your locality. Each year keep your best! Store your keepers in a cool dry place for next year’s plantings. Generously gather seeds for upcoming January Seed Swaps! If your area doesn’t have a seed swap, start organizing one!

Borage is a lovely winter herb with Blue flowers that bees love, their favorite color!

Don’t forget winter food for our pollinators! Borage is a beautiful cool season herb with edible flowers, blue for bees! It has a large 3 to 4′ footprint, so allow for that or plan to keep clipping it back. It is a helper companion plant, so when possible, plant it right in the middle of your other plants! See more about Borage!  What flower colours do birds and bees prefer?

Plant Sweet Peas for Christmas bloom! Plant gift plants or bowls or baskets for the holidays! 

Have you put up your Greenhouse yet?! Get going! DIY Hoop houses are quickly built, inexpensive and do the job admirably! See also Greenhouses in Climate Emergencies. You can start more seedlings, overwinter sensitive plants – eat tomatoes in December! A greenhouse may be perfect for you – the right size, easy to maintain!

Have fun! September gardens are a magical time of creativity and transition!

Updated annually


Veggies – Japanese Winged Beans, Flowers, Birds, Butterflies, an Urbane Digger Bee, plus a female Flower Fly! Please enjoy the abundance and adventures of bright August summer images at Rancheria Community Garden! We are Sowing the Future!

Check out the entire September 2021 Newsletter! It includes these and more!

Love Kale! Beauty, Super Nutrition, Easy to Grow!
SoCal Fall/Winter Veggie Soil Tips for Delicious Returns!
Super Fall, Winter Veggie Varieties, Smart Companion Planting!
Bolting aka Running to Seed! Causes and Prevention!

Taming Your Butternut, Waltham, Winter Squash!

Upcoming Gardener Events! 42nd American Community Gardening Assn Conference. National Heirloom Expo canceled until September 2022, Loomis CA Eggplant Festival, Jan 30 FREE 13th Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap is ON!


Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

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Okra Nursery Patch with Radish

This small humble Nursery Patch was for starting Okra seedlings. Radish were started among them at the same time. By Cerena Childress, Rancheria Community Garden, Santa Barbara CA

If you plant from seeds as well as transplants and can’t, for whatever reason, grow them in home, an outdoor Nursery Patch is a terrific strategy! 

Set aside a sunny location, or shady if you expect hot weather and the seedlings need some shelter. If you can’t get your seeds to start in a shady area, but they would do well there once growing, start them in sun, move them to shade! This is an ideal solution. When no area is yet available, like summer crops are still producing, yet the time has come to start early winter plants (SoCal!), a Nursery Patch is the ticket! It is convenient because all your seedlings are in one place, easy to care for, easy to cover on extra hot days, shelter from wind if necessary. You can use a Nursery Patch any time of year when there is a jam due to lack of space, but space will be available soon!

Spring planting depends on soil, day and night temps, so the trick then is to start your seeds inside. But if it is late spring and you still have some winter plants doing well, a Nursery Patch works well then too!

In warm climates like SoCal, July, August is a great time for starting winter plants a tad early depending on your locality, the weather, available space, whether you decide to grow winter plants. As various plants finish – harvests/seedsaving, and you prep your soil, you can transplant seedlings to their new homes per your garden design plan.  Choosing Summer Seeds  Summer Design  Winter Design – Think Big!  More on Winter Design  

You can plant a lot of seeds in a small space! Seed spacing is important for later transplanting. Six to eight inches? I like a large thin bladed trowel that cuts into the soil with the least disturbance, gets deep enough to surely get below the roots, and to carry the soil the seedling is used to intact with the roots to its new planting hole. If you are transplanting a tiny lettuce seedling, you could probably get away with using a tablespoon! If you do it right, it doesn’t know it was moved, doesn’t miss a beat in its growth! It is safe to plant a little further apart in case you get delayed by weather or a late season plant keeps on producing and doesn’t give up its space by the time you planned and you still want that harvest! Your seedling will get bigger than planned, so allow for Mother Nature!

Depending on the best window for your new plant, you may have sacrifice a plant or two… Some seedlings grow inordinately quickly if you hit their planting window just right. So your finishing plant gets done on time, but your seedling is happy to see you and waiting for no one! So leave a little more room between starts just in case!

Allow Space for Wise Companion Planting! If at all possible, plant companions before you plant your crop so the companions can help your main crop immediately upon arrival. Among the companions please add plants to attract beneficial insects and bees, provide habitat and food for them all year long!   Super SoCal Fall, Winter Veggies Varieties, Smart Companion Plantings!

SEED CHOICES

Make sure you are planting for the right time of year at your location when your plant will do its best.

Choose top quality from reputable seed houses.

Research plant strengths and weaknesses. That means resistance, tolerance of disease, pests, temperature – cold or hot, drought, it will do well in the type of soil you have.

Know that some plants do better planted where they will be, don’t like transplanting! Carrots make long tiny roots asap! Root disturbance delays and stunts their growth. Per UCANR: Root crops (carrots, beets, turnips, etc.) are not suited to transplants as the process will damage the root. Corn, cucurbits (squash, cucumbers, melons) and beans/peas don’t like to be transplanted but can be with care.

SEED PREP

  1. Cold Stratification – some seeds need a cold period or they won’t germinate. Generally this is NOT stated on the seed pack. See more!
  2. Presoaking the right amount of time speeds up germination. See more
  3. Presprouting assures you have a plant! No wasted time wondering if it will come up! You do have to be careful when planting them – they are fragile. See more

SOIL PREFERENCES

Prep your soil – alkaline or acid – for the type of seeds you will be planting. You can use potting soil, half potting/half soil! Depending on the plant, you can plant straight in the ground as you wish. Besides any tasty amendments you might want to add, WORM CASTINGS would be Number One! Castings aid and speed germination, help with immunity and growth, and water holding capacity! Some plants like a lot of drainage, others like it a little on the soggy side. ‘Evenly moist’ means never dry and no floods!

Seed planting depth is essential. In summer heat some plant seeds can be planted a tad deeper so they don’t dry out. Their seedlings may take a bit longer to appear. Seeds that merely get sprinkled with soil, or are just patted on top of the soil, need extra attention. If you have a water wand, use the Mist setting. Gently misting them is best, may be required 3, 4 times a day or more. I say gently because you don’t want to uncover them or push more soil over them, making it too deep for them to get through the soil. It might be wise to plant them in shade to get them started, then transplant into full sun later. Plan on keeping all seeds moist all the time! Once germination starts, if they dry, they die.

Perlite can be helpful if you don’t want seeds to rot.

Here are the Okras planted out with companions Basil and Lettuce. The red stems are Burgundy Okra, the shorter green stems are Annie Oakley F1. They are about to be thinned. The seeds were mixed last year, so it was random combinations.

Okra planted out from Nursery PatchCover if heat is too much for seedlings to emerge safely. Shade cloth comes in varying densities. Use row covers that you can water through. Movable canopies can be adjusted to follow the Sun’s path. While they are very short, you can use flats you get to carry plants at a nursery, the ones with a 1/4″ grid. Some plants like starting in mini trenches. An old farmers’ trick was to cover the length of the trench with a board. It keeps the trench dark and moist, but be sure to leave breathing access for air flow – no baking or steaming! Make the walls of your trench very low, not steep, to keep water from pushing soil down and covering the seeds too deeply.

Plant before a RAIN?! Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn’t. If it is a heavy rain, some seeds, especially small ones, are likely to be washed away, pounded too deep. If you anticipate such a rain, get out there ahead of time! If that didn’t happen, scramble quickly to see if you can get a strong cover over them, taut, and well staked so it won’t be blown away.

For planting seeds, it depends on whether it matters where they will end up. For example, a green manure cover crop (living mulch) needs no formal rows or placements. If you want a plant where you put it, might be good to wait until after the rain. Near-the-surface seeds, or small seeds, will likely rot if they get in a puddle. Some bean seeds can turn to mush in 6 hours, virtually dissolve. Plant delicate transplants ASAP just after rain. If it’s expected to be a heavy rain, wait, so your plants don’t literally drown. Plant just after the rain. The sun will warm up the soil and off they will go!

Other times that rain is just perfect! I swear, rain water has vitamins all its own! Plants get a glorious start and thrive all season long! See special Rainy Day Tactics

PREDATORS PROTECTION!

Put down snail/slug stuff two or three times BEFORE you lay in your seeds. Slugs can mow them in one night. The seedling may come up in the afternoon, it is eaten at night, and you think it never came up.

Protect from birds that pluck tender seedlings the moment they come up, plant and seed! A small flock of hungry winter birds can take the whole lot in moments. Skunks, raccoons, etc, go for the worms. Cats dig holes. A wire covering is good for a larger patch.

Seedlings Protection Bent Wire Row Cover
Seedlings Cover Birds Bottles WireClever cover! Stick woven in braces it from sagging on new sprouts

Bird Protection Cover over large open wireHardware cloth tunnels, top and top left, are great for rows! Bend them to about 8-10″ high sides. Make them as wide or narrow as you need. Hardware cloth doesn’t sag, depending on how big a patch size you need. You can always make 2 or 3 covers if needed. 8-10″ High gets you to transplant your seedlings to their permanent home soonest. You don’t want long roots that will get damaged when you transplant. A hardware cloth row cover can be made to the perfect size you need easily. They are easy to store and you can use them anytime you plant a new row of seeds.

In the top left image, note the bottle sleeves! The birds won’t go down inside them!

Small birds go right through chicken wire. At right, aviary wire has smaller openings, and is a lot more pliable than hardware cloth, can be flattened for storage. If it is what you have, a stick or two is a trick to keep it from sagging!

Bottom left, 2″ wire is a simple remedy put together with items on hand. The advantage of this kind of wire is it rolls up easily and takes up a small storage footprint.

The advantage of wire without a covering is they are easy to water, get full sunlight and air circulation. The row cover above the wire keeps your plants cooler in hot temps or warmer in winter or early spring, keeps your soil from drying so much in windy conditions.

Be sure your covers are securely grounded so raccoons and skunks won’t dig under and flip them aside. They are attracted to manures, fish emulsion and worm castings! Stake things in place, leave no openings, put a heavy rock on top of your hardware cloth covers. OR, don’t use manures, fish emulsion or worm castings when you start your seeds.

Once you do a few nurseries, you may accrue a few standard items, do the process without thinking.

The Burgundy Okras are quite taller now than in this image, close to 3′ and starting to flower! Some Garden Purslane, Verdolagas, a very special plant, have joined them. 9.8.21 Note: They are now 5’+ tall and making delicious Okra! 5′ is really good for our cool near-the-beach garden!

Burgundy Okra planted from Nursery Patch

Wishing you well with your precious Nursery!

Updated 9.8.21


Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. In 2018 they lasted into September and October! Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is.

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Veggies Summer Harvest Bounty

July has been cool, lots of overcast and mildews, some plants never got full stride, some are ending a bit early. If you figure August won’t be hot either, extended harvests are unlikely. Instead, get those winter plants going. That will give you time for second plantings November/December. If August is hot, it will be a tad challenging getting winter seeds and starts going. Watering will be critical, shade may be needed for seedlings.

For those of you who planted early spring, many of your plants are now finishing. It’s time to save seeds from your best plants! Clear space and ready your soil for winter planting. Start mini nursery seed beds in your garden or for transplanting from local nursery starts as soon as they become available. If you haven’t installed gopher protection wire, this is the best time, as summer ends, fall begins!

Just getting started in a new garden, or you just love to plant?! Summer plants you can still plant for fall harvests are early varieties of determinate tomatoes, bush beans and corn. Corn is more disease prone at this time though. Tuck in your year-round fillers, beets, bunch onions, carrots, summer lettuces, winter radish, to keep a colorful and delicious variety for your table.

ONIONS For the biggest, sweetest harvests, late summer and early fall are the prime times to sow seeds of short- or intermediate-day onions. Fall-sown short- and intermediate-day onions tend to yield more and are larger and sweeter than those seeded or transplanted in early spring. Onions have stupendous flavor and come in white, yellow, red!

In our hot Santa Barbara foothills and further south, watch your melons, big squashes and pumpkins for their best harvest time – when their stem is brown and dry, or they ‘slip’ off the vine. Hold off irrigating melons about a week before they will ripen so their sugars will concentrate. Harvest okra while it is small and tender – bigger is NOT better! Let your winter squash harden. When you can’t push your fingernail in it and the stem is brown, it’s ready to harvest.

Keep up with harvesting so plants don’t quit producing. More about harvesting! As in July, keep up with watering just beyond that dripline, replenish mulch.

If you want to extend your season, give your favorite late summer/fall heavy producers a good feed to extend their harvests. Eggplants have a large or many fruit, beans put out a ton of beans, tomatoes, big or small, are working hard, peppers can be profuse! They like a tad of chicken manures scratched in, bunny poop and straw (pick up at Animal Shelters), well aged horse manure and compost makes them dance with the faeries in the night time! Do this also if you planted late or have second rounds that are just beginning to bud and bloom. Compost is #1 because it gives a sustained feed.

  • First, pull back your mulch, scratch the soil lightly to break up any crusty area. Scratch only around your plant in spots, not the whole area. You want to leave the majority of the feeder root system intact because they are where your plant uptakes nutrients and water.
  • Use a spade fork to open holes around your plant, water well.
  • Lay on what you are adding on the surface out to just beyond the drip line. If your plant has grown beyond the basin you made for it, enlarge the basin to fit it.
  • Mix your amendments in gently in a few spots or not at all, so as not to break surface feeder roots. Feeder roots not only supply your plant with food, but also uptake water so needed in late summer in SoCal.
  • Pull the mulch back into place, replenish if needed, replace if it is no longer doing its job.
  • Water again, gently so not to wash the mulch away, to let the water and nutrients soak in. You can water once then come back and give them a third round of water to let it soak down a little deeper. The nutrients from the feed drizzle down and act like compost tea.

Fertilizers highest in P, Phosphorus – the P in NPK, keep blooming and fruiting optimum. Liquid fertilizers are absorbed easily and promptly, and there is no root damage. Now is the time you wish you had added mycorrhizae fungi, the good guys, at planting time, to enhance Phosphorus uptake! Aged organic compost makes for healthy roots that make their own natural organic phosphoric acid that helps break down compounds of calcium and phosphate into a usable, soluble form. It’s too late to add bonemeal or seabird guano. They take 2 and 3-4 months respectively to become available to your plants for blooming. They are another must add at planting time. NOW, Phosphorus from fish bone meal 3-18-0 is easily taken up! So is chicken manure 1.1-0.8-0.5, but the P is a lot less. Add chicken manure using the process as in the list above. Lettuces thrive on chicken manure feeds!

  • Peppers specially like a foliar feed of non-fat powdered milk (Calcium) and Epsom Salts (Magnesium & Sulfur). They also can use more Potassium. This time of year kelp meal is good source and releases quickly. If you have predators about, don’t get the kind mixed with stinky fish emulsion.
  • Foliar feed all your plants with a super mixed tea – no manure in teas you will use on leaves you will eat, like lettuce! At the same time, for deeper root feeding, use a spade fork to make holes about your plant. Push it into the soil, wiggle back and forth a bit, then pour the rest of that tasty mixed tea down the holes. Replace the mulch and water well at soil level to the dripline.

Seeds are your last harvest! Allow your healthiest top producers to seed. Tie a ribbon on plants (at top and bottom or where you might grab it in a weeding frenzy) or on fruits you want to save seeds from so you don’t accidently harvest them too soon! Each year keep your best! Remember, these seeds are adapted and localized to you! Scatter some seeds about if they would grow successfully now! Or just scatter them about and when it’s the right time, even next spring. Many seeds, especially self seeders, will come up quite well on their own, even the tiniest ones like Breadseed Poppy, chamomile and lettuce! Some need Cold Stratification, overwintering in the ground, or some time in your fridge!

Save enough seeds for your own planting, for several rounds of planting across next year’s season, for replanting when there are losses. Save some to give away or share at the seed swap. Our 2022 Santa Barbara area Seed Swap is January 30! If you are willing, take some of your extras to a local Seed Bank! While you are there, pick up some of your favorites and some new ones to try out! Keep the local race going. 2020 Note! As your plants come into seeding time, consider sharing them as soon as possible! “Little Free Seed Libraries” are Sprouting Up to Help Gardeners Share Seeds in Troubled Times. Take a look at some very clever and loving ideas!

Store your keepers in a cool dry place for next year’s better than ever plantings. See more about SeedSaving!  How to Save Tomato Seeds!

After seedsaving, when your plants are done, let them go, compost if pest and disease free, start clearing space for fall soil prep.

Soil Prep! Blue Wheelbarrow of Compost ready to apply with spade fork!
Soil Prep!

August is perfect time to ready your soil for the very first fall plantings, starting mid-August from seed!

Designing Your Garden depends on your microclimate, seeds you have or can get, transplants you can get, the amount of space you have, whether you will be growing a soil feeding leguminous cover crop. How you prep your soil depends on what your soil already is like, what your plants need. Some plants need slightly acidic soil. Some areas need more rich soil for high production winter ‘heavy’ feeders. Some want a little sand, others don’t want soggy feet. If you are planting seeds, do the seed beds first! Seeds germinate faster and healthier with worm castings. 25% is ideal.

Some would consider the ultimate ‘soil prep’ to be installing gopher wire protection, LOL! Here we are at the turn of the season, a very good time to do the job. Water well and deeply each of 3 days  before if your soil is hard deeper down. Test a spot first. Get a team of friends together and go for it! Appoint a watcher to play music, make sure everyone stays hydrated. Bring gloves, wear sturdy shoes or boots. You may not be able to do the whole area at once, but do what you can. You will be so glad you did! You can do it!

Cover crop soil restoration! You can plant herbs, Calendula, all sorts of things, but a Green Manure mix including lots of legumes and oats does the best. Legumes collect Nitrogen, the number one element plants need for leaf growth! They deposit the N on their roots in little nodules. When you turn the legumes under, they not only feed your soil with their leaves, but those little nodules on their roots! Beans and Peas are legumes. Always cut off rather than pull out their roots. Leave those roots there to feed your soil! Their nitrogen isn’t released until the plant dies. The deep roots of oats loosen your soil, creating channels for oxygen and water and soil critters to navigate. They bring nutrients up from deep below. Also, they produce more growth in late fall/early winter than in spring! Perfect for winter crop plantings! The Basics – Cover Crops   In depth about Living Mulch!

If you have enough area, plant one space entirely with a cover crop. If your area is smaller, each year plant a different section with your cover crop. Some years you can get two cover crops in, especially if you are planting successively for a steady table supply. When the first patch is done you plant it. You start your second patch where another area has been finishing. Or if you are doing one area for early planting, save another for planting bareroots in January.

If you are inclined, always be making compost with clean garden waste, kitchen scraps. Decide where you want to compost, leave the space next to it so you can move your compost back and forth. Or you can move your composter around to enrich the soil there. The fastest way to compost is to make a pit or a trench. Add your healthy green waste or kitchen waste, chop it fine, turn it in mixing it with your soil. If you trenched it, turn it a few times over the next few days. If you have a pit, turn it two to three times over the next few days, then add it where it is needed when it is done.

If composting isn’t for you, buy the best in bags you can! In addition to the basics, we want to see worm castings, mycorrhizae fungi, bat guano, kelp meal, maybe some peat to loosen clay and add more water holding capacity, chicken manure. If you soil isn’t loamy and doesn’t hold water well, look for a texture that has bits of bark that will add more water holding capacity.

Start Seedlings for transplant, or plant seeds right in the ground! 

Seeds germinate really well, quicker and healthier when worm castings are added to your soil along with the compost. Castings strengthen your plants’ immune systems! Add 25% for best results. Boost up seed beds and where you will be installing transplants. Put a stake where your planting holes will be so you can add more at those points. See Soil for Seed Starting! DIY, Pre-made

Plant seeds of small plants where they will live permanently as space becomes available. That’s beets, celery, chard, mustard greens, parsley, winter radish varieties, kohlrabi, Mizuna, bok choy, rutabaga, turnips. Peas are a well favored winter crop! Pole peas go up on the trellis, save space! Sow carrots (they do best from seed). Keep the soil moist and shaded until they’re up, and then gradually allow them more sun over a week’s time. Some plants, especially hard seed carrots, do well in mini low sided trenches where they keep more moisture to germinate.

Plant the seeds for biggies in little nursery areas. Plant them far enough apart that you can get your trowel in to transplant them to their permanent spot as space becomes available. That’s Brassicas: cabbage (especially red, and savoy types that resist frost better), broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, cauliflower and kale babies!

Winter plants that get a good start while there is still some heat, will be producing a lot sooner than plants started when it gets cooler. You will have a much earlier crop, plus time for a successive crop, maybe start another round in December! Be sure to leave space to plant additional rounds to keep a steady table supply.

If planting from seed is not for you, no time, gone on vacation, of course you can wait and get transplants when the nurseries bring them in. Just know nursery selections are not as big as what you can buy as seeds. They sell what sells most. Island Seed & Feed has the best and greatest selection of organic seed in the Santa Barbara area, and there are marvelous ethical seed companies. Be sure to get seed varieties that are right for your area! Always choose the best, varieties that resist or tolerate pests or disease, that in winter can withstand frost/freeze.

Keep harvesting, do your soil preps, and wait for September or October transplanting. Labor Day weekend is a favorite big planting time for many gardeners, and that’s only a month away now! At that time you can plant both seeds and transplants, effectively two rounds at once, the seeds coming in six weeks after the transplants!

See Super Fall Veggies for help choosing the very best varieties and Fall companion planting! Don’t forget to plan space to commingle your valuable companion plants! They enhance growth, repel pests, can help withstand diseases. Here’s your quick handy list of winter companions:

  • Cilantro with Broccoli! It makes brocs grow REALLY well, bigger, fuller, greener!
  • Celery, potato and onions enhance broccoli flavor! Chamomile is thought to too.
  • Lettuce among, beside Cabbages to repel cabbage moths
  • Chives, Coriander, Garlic, Geraniums, Lavender, Mint family (caution – invasive), and onions are said to repel aphids.
  • Mustard and nasturtium can be planted near more valuable plants as traps for the aphids. A word to the wise, nasturtiums are snail habitat.
  • Calendula is a trap plant for pests such as aphids, whiteflies, and thrips by exuding a sticky sap that they find more appealing and delicious than nearby crops. Plant them a bit away from the plant you want to survive.
  • Peas and carrots are terrific together but NO onion family with Peas!

PLEASE plant winter habitat and flowering plants for our beneficial insects, for bees! Here’s a BC list of 10 Plants that Help Bees through the Winter If they will grow there, they surely will grow here! More on our pollinators! We depend on bees for our survival!

August is a lovely time for a garden party…perhaps at the Full Moon? Wear your loveliest summer hat… Afternoon Garden Tea Party by illustrator Kate Greenaway

Afternoon Garden Tea Party by illustrator Kate Greenaway

Among HOT August days, there are hints of fall. Days are a tad shorter; shadows fall in different places now. For us SoCal gardeners it’s time to design – Think Big! It’s in our minds, maybe put to paper. What will be new and different this year, what will we try, is there a more productive or resistant variety? Will you be adding compost space, or a worm bin? Would you like raised beds on legs this time? How about a greenhouse?! Have you ever planted a green manure cover crop? Will your soil be different? Will you be planting tall indeterminate peas in a cage that shades, or quickie low bush peas? Both?! What about greywater systems? Rainwater capture? In the cool of late summer evenings think it through….

Updated annually


Veggies and Flowers, Birds & Bees! July brought so many exciting pleasures and surprises! See wonderful July summer images at Rancheria Community Garden! We are Sowing the Future!

Check out the entire August 2021 Newsletter! It includes these and more!

Winter Garden Design! 
Veggie Garden Nursery Patch!
Broccoli, the Queen of Brassicas!
5 Simple & Easy Storage Ideas for your Harvest Bounty!
THE LARGER SOIL PEST – GOPHERS

Upcoming Gardener Events! Santa Barbara City College Permaculture Design Course, Soil Not Oil 7th Conference, 42nd American Community Gardening Assn Conference. National Heirloom Expo canceled until September 2022, Jan 30 FREE 13th Santa Barbara Community Seed Swap is ON!


Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

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Leaffooted Bug - Leptoglossus zonatus Adult

Ye Gods! Leaffooted Bugs! Throwbacks from ancient times! Strange but intriguing!

They are native to the western United States and not new to California, leaffooted bugs seem to be occurring more commonly in gardens. These distinctive bugs get their name from the small leaf-like enlargements on the hind leg. They are medium to large sized insects, 0.75 to 1 inch long, that prefer to feed on fruits and seeds and are often found in groups. There are three common varieties native to California and the western United States: Leptoglossus zonatus, L. clypealis, and L. occidentalis. Leptoglossus zonatus, has those two yellow spots just behind their head. They are the kind seen at Rancheria Community Garden in Santa Barbara CA and are the most destructive of the leaffooted bug species.

The image looks imposing, and in a way it is. Other than a Dragonfly or Grasshopper, they are the largest aggressive insects in the garden! If you aren’t insect friendly, you might be scared. They appear to be ‘intelligent,’ like those spiders that know you are there and face you as you move… See those big eyes? When Leaffooteds see you, they watch you too. If you are too close, they move parallel around the stem so you can’t see them! Hard to get pictures. If you reach out more closely, they instantly drop. They can be hard to find again in foliage, or be on the ground moving very quickly, or fly away! If they are in your plant, trying to catch them can damage your plant. If they are on the ground you better be quick. Trick is to put a cup or something narrow like a tall yogurt container with soapy water in it underneath the fall zone then put you other hand in close to them. In the excitement of the hunt, they often win. Sigh. They, Bagrada Bugs and Cucumber beetles can give you a run for your money!

Early cool morning is best when the Leaffooteds are slower and fly less. If you have a pail of soapy water before you tap the plant, you are in luck. If your plant is in a cage you can’t get a pail through, no such luck. I personally don’t have the courage to get near them or squish them; if one jumped on me I know I would scream! For some of us, spraying is definitely the most successful. So I have sprayed them dead with a vinegar water mix, but you have to be very careful because vinegar is used as a weed killer! I just keep panic spraying until the bugs are dead. Undoubtedly overkill, pun intended, but it makes me feel better. Some tomatoes are pretty tough, but other plants may not be so forgiving. You could try half water/half alcohol and a teensy bit of dish soap like Dawn. Be careful. Do it twice a day, if you can, until you don’t see anymore. And check those undersides of leaves for eggs!

The bugs are fast, that’s why the quick spraying. And once they are stirred up, they camouflage well and are happy on the undersides of leaves, there can be many more than you expected, so bring plenty of spray stuff if that will be your technique.

If you have no qualms about squishing Leaffooteds, wear gloves because of the odor they will emit when handled. If you keep watch, you may find the instars and stop them too.

In a cool summer in some areas you aren’t likely to see these pups. But if there are three to four consecutive 80+ hot days, keep watch, especially on your tomatoes! Depending on what area you are in, that can be anytime from April on.  80+ is standard for summer temps. Leaffooted bugs are a serious pest of satsuma oranges in Louisiana, causing damage by feeding and by transmitting the pathogenic yeast Eremothecium coryli. In my near-the-coast in Santa Barbara, not at our foothills, Santa Barbara Community Garden photo archives, they were here in September each time. In our foothills they may occur in August.

Leaffooted Bugs Tomato DamageNo matter how charming or fascinating, Leaffooted bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that extend more than half of the length of their narrow body. They probe into leaves, shoots, and fruit to suck plant juices. There are a lot of varieties of Leaffooted bugs, but the damage is the same.

Here is an example of Leaffooted Bug damage to tomatoes, the yellow  discoloration that results from their feeding. You have undoubtedly, one year or another, seen these yellow spots on your tomatoes. If you took your vacation across those three hot days you may have never seen the culprits and wondered what was going on with your tomatoes…  Image by Travis County Master Gardeners Patty and Bruce Leander at Texas A&M Agrilife Extension

Tomatoes and Pomegranates are their favorites. Feeding on small TOMATOES can cause the fruit to abort, while feeding on medium-sized fruit can result in depressions or discoloration at the feeding site as the fruit expands and ripens. Feeding on mature tomatoes can cause slight discoloration to the surface of the fruit that should be of no concern to backyard gardeners. Damage is similar to that caused by stink bugs and other plant bugs. You can still eat the fruit with no ill effect, but it sure doesn’t look good to eat.

Leaffooted bugs overwinter as adults! Adults are strong flyers and can move considerable distances to search for host plants. They may feed initially on the seeds of winter weeds and later move into gardens and landscapes in search of early-season fruit and a place to lay eggs.

Overwintering leaffooted bugs can lay over 200 eggs during a two-month period in the spring. The brown, cylindrical eggs of all three species are laid end-to-end in a string-like strand on the host plant, often along a stem or leaf midrib. Most egg masses have 10-15 eggs, though more than 50 have been reported. When getting rid of the adults, be sure to also destroy the egg masses found on the undersides of leaves, otherwise, they keep being born. Until the heat is over you have to keep at it every day to kill the ones you missed or have hatched. Please stop them from getting on other gardeners’ plants. Leaffooted bugs have a wide host range that includes numerous fruits, vegetables, citrus, row crops, ornamentals and weeds. Remember, they are strong flyers.

Leaffooted Bug Eggs hatching Nymphs.

Leaffooted Bug - Leptoglossus zonatus Eggs Hatching Nymphs

Nymphs at different stages of development

Leaffooted Bug - Leptoglossus zonatus Nymphs at various sizes

Small nymphs feed shallowly on superficial plant juices, whereas adult bugs probe deep into fruit in search of seeds. The bug excretes digestive enzymes from its mouthparts to liquefy a small part of the seed so that it can be ingested. Leaffooted bug mouthparts are also known to carry a fungal yeast, Eremothecium coryli (formerly known as Nematospora). This infection is most predominant when rains are abundant. Fungal spores gain entry into the fruit through the feeding wound. No seedsaving from plants/fruits where the Leaffooteds have been.

Management! Per Bill Ree @ Texas A&M, Extension Entomology

Removing or managing early season weed host such as thistle and Gaura can help reduce populations in the immediate area
Depending on the crop, row covers, which physically exclude the insect, can be effective

There are several organic certified insecticides that can be used, however, residual control from these products will be limited and reapplications will have to be made.
Various predators and parasites attack leaffooted bugs. Predators can include assassin bugs, spiders and predatory stinkbugs.
The most effective insecticides are the pyrethroid based products.

See Barbara Pleasant’s post at Mother Earth News – How to make your own! UC IPM says ‘HOWEVER, these products are quite toxic to bees and beneficial insects. Insecticidal soap or botanicals, such as neem oil or pyrethrin, may provide some control of young nymphs only. If insecticides are used close to harvest, make sure to observe the days-to-harvest period indicated on the insecticide label; and wash the fruit before eating.’

Zap ‘em or whap ‘em!

Some of the text is excerpted/adapted from UC IPM

Updated


Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. In 2018 they lasted into September and October! Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is.

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CA Avocado Beefsteak Tomato Sandwich per Chef Jason Hernandez!

California Avocados presents Chef Jason Hernandez’s Beefsteak Tomato Sandwich! Here is his recipe, but do it your way as you wish!

Happy 4th of July to you all! Henry David Thoreau says ‘Gardening is civil and social, but it wants the vigor and freedom of the forest and the outlaw.’ That’s us, growing the freshest, most nutritious, organic food there is! Enjoy your luscious tomatoes!

July is Tomato month! Bush and cherry toms turned red in May and June, but the big beefsteaks, and  indeterminate all-summer-long tomatoes come in July in big numbers! Super salads on the way!

July is not so much a planting month as water, sidedressing, harvesting and sharing, seedsaving, and making compost. It is the beginnings of fall soil prep for late August, September & October fall plantings! Plan your fall garden, update your seed variety selections to more resistant varieties, get seeds!

July usually brings your greatest variety of table fresh veggies, herbs and flowers! It’s colorful and full of great textures. This is giveaway time if you don’t do canning. It’s giveaway time if you have so much there is enough canned and/or frozen for you and your family and then some! Some of us SoCal gardeners don’t can at all because our fall, winter crops are so nutritious and freshly abundant there is no need! Some feel eating with the seasons is the most natural and best for your body.

Sharing is a blessing for people who don’t have access to fresh organic food. Fresh foods last so much longer than store bought, and have so much better taste! Start with family, friends, neighbors. Give to senior communities and those who prepare food for them. Remember they often have special dietary needs and more fragile teeth. Less spicy and less crunchy. Give to any organization that helps people in need, the FoodBank, maybe your local women’s shelter. When we eat better we think more clearly, our body heals, our Soul mends. Thank you and bless you for caring so much.

Sidedressing is important now while plants are working hard!

General sidedressing, during season feeding times, are when baby plants are just up 5, 6 inches tall, when vines start to run, at bud time & first flowering, and first fruiting. From then on it varies per plant! Late July when some plants are near the end of production, extend their fruiting with a good feed – in the ground, or foliar, preferably both, but foliar tops ground feeding for several reasons! See more!

  • Manure feeds are especially great for lettuce, and all others except for beans, beets, carrots, parsnips, sweet and white potatoes, and tomatoes, or there’ll be more foliage than fruit! Lettuce loves chicken manure but only about a 1/4 inch gently dug in. No teas with manure on foliage you will be eating.
  • Give your peppers and Solanaceae, tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, Epsom Salt/Magnesium foliar treatments.
  • Every couple of weeks your strawberries would love a light fish emulsion/kelp drench.
  • Or you can foliar feed everyone some tea! Make a super duper mixed tea – no compost is needed in that mix for plants whose soil was well composted before planting. First make your tea. When it is ready, make your spade fork holes and apply a good compost/worm castings mix, then foliar feed with your tea! Less holes are better because you don’t want to damage too many of the lateral surface feeder foots. Drippings will help moisten your mulch and compost/castings on the ground below! Last, water gently and well with a low flow water wand underneath your plant so everything stays where you put it and you don’t wash away your foliar feed. Do that before the sun gets on your plants or while it is still cool in the day and plants have plenty of time to dry during the day. Low flow also lets water and tea and compost/castings drippings drizzle down into the spade fork holes! THAT is a super feed! Mixed teas feed and help prevent pests and diseases. They serve up beneficial living microbes to your plant and provide trace minerals it may need. Use foliar tea more frequently for plants that are ailing or in recovery. On an immediate basis, foliar feeding is 8 to 20 times more potent than ground feeding, and your plant takes it up in as little as an hour! Plants in immediate need can be helped right away! Compost supplies the organic matter that tea doesn’t supply, so it is critical in and of itself, plus it has many times more nutrients than a diluted tea. On and in the ground it decomposes slowly, feeds your plant steadily. It and castings have great water holding capacity. Do both whenever you can!
  • Compost is always super. Remember to use acidic compost for strawberries and some other veggies that prefer slight acidity! Pull back the mulch. Grab your spade fork, insert it, rock it gently, remove the fork leaving the holes. Stay 8″ away from the central stem, go out to the dripline. Gently scratch up only one or two separate areas around your plant out to the dripline, even a little further to encourage roots to extend, and to feed the feeder roots that are in progress growing out further. Avoid breaking a substantial number of tiny surface feeder roots, otherwise your plant will be slowed down by being in recovery for lack of food and ability to uptake water. Mix in your compost and lay on a 1/2″ to an inch of compost on top of areas you didn’t dig up. While you are at it, be sure your basins are retaining their shape out to the dripline. Put your mulch back, add more (straw) if it needs replenishing, replace it if it’s by a plant that has had pests or disease. Gently water well. Keep the area moist for a few days so soil organisms can multiply! See Composting Methods, Make it Your Way!Get/make acidic compost for your plants that prefer acidic soil – blueberries, cranberries, beans, cucumber, eggplant, parsley, parsnips, pepper, radish, rhubarb, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Another site says: Chicory, eggplant, endive, potato, rhubarb, shallot, sorrel, sweet potato. SFGate says ‘Vegetable plants that do best in mildly acidic soil include carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, garlic, sweet peppers, pumpkins, winter squash and tomatoes. Another site says: Bean, Brussels sprouts, carrot, chive, collard, corn, cucumber, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, parsley, pea, pepper, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, squash, sunflower, tomato, turnip, watermelon. Get a soil test kit or use your intuition. You can see there are differences of opinion among the ‘experts!’ Woody mulches help maintain acidic soil pH. Specific info about soil pH for veggies
  • Save yourself some time by adding 25% Worm castings, and for plants that need it, a bit of manure, to your compost and apply them all together. Especially apply that mix to any ailing plants or plants in recovery. Castings help our plants uptake soil nutrients and boost your plant’s immune system. When your plant is taxed producing fruit in great summer conditions, it also is peaking out for the season and fighting pests and diseases are harder for it. Adding compost and castings may prolong and up the quantity and quality of late summer fruits. However, sometimes a plant is just done. No amount of coaxing will have effect. It worked hard. Thank it. Let it produce its seeds for seedsaving, or take it to the compost altar.

If you prefer organic granulated fertilizer sprinkle it around evenly per instructions, and water in well. Just know you will have to do that more frequently, and it doesn’t provide the water holding capacity that compost and castings do.

Feeding your plants can be plant specific or in general. For example, Tomatoes and Peppers (and Roses – edible petals), do well with a little sulfur. It is easily applied – a Tablespoon of Epsom salts, and a 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap as a surfactant (so your application sticks to the leaves), in a gallon watering can is all it takes. If the nozzle turns up to get under those leaves, all the better. Apply before the sun hits your plants or while it is still cool.

If any of your plants are looking puny, have yellowing leaves, you might give them a bit of blood meal for a quick Nitrogen pick me up. Add compost, castings and a tad of manure too so your plant has steady food after the blood meal (an expensive feed) is used. If you have predator creatures, especially skunks or raccoons, forgo stinky fish emulsions and blood meal.

Zucchini Squash Zoodles Kale Pesto Edamame RecipeLate July, gardeners are starting to want new ways to enjoy their Zucchini! ZOODLES! Zucchini Zoodles Kale Pesto Edamame Recipe! Here are 28 cool summer variations on how to include this common veggie in a unique way!

Take care of pests and diseases asap! You don’t want them to spread or increase, lose the fruit of all your efforts and time. July brings hot weather, water stress, the stress of continued production. Though you may be a bit tired with all your tending and harvesting, this is not the time to interrupt your care. The heat will bring hatchings; tired plants may get overwhelmed by diseases. Be consistent with your watering. Stay on it with your harvest to keep your plants in production, sidedress (feed) as needed. Mercilessly squash the cucumber beetles, the green/yellow and black striped jobs. They give your plants, especially cucumbers, deathly systemic diseases. Put down pellets for slugs & snails, use sulfur and soap in foliar feeds to keep back aphids. See more! Keep plants susceptible to Whiteflies free from dust and Ants, and well supplied with worm castings. Hose the flies away, and remove infected leaves or the whole plant if it gets them repeatedly. Insecticidal soaps or Neem oil can reduce populations.

The old one, two! If your area has Fusarium/Verticillium wilts or Mosaic Virus, first foliarly apply 1/4 C bleach to a gallon of water. Be sure to apply to both under and upper sides of the leaves, and the stems. The next day give your plants a boost with the immune booster/mildew prevention mix: 1/4 C nonfat powdered milk, 1 regular crushed aspirin, heaping tablespoon Baking Soda, 1/2 teaspoon dish soap, to a gallon of water. Or spray with Copper. Let NO LEAVES TOUCH THE GROUND OR ANOTHER VULNERABLE PLANT. Know that the fungi are also windborne, so if your plants are beside each other it spreads from one to the next and others nearby.

I found refraining from watering my strawberries but once a week, unless it is exceptionally hot or windy weather, and not mulching under my strawberries keeps the slugs and snails at bay. They don’t like dry soil. Do put down organic slug/snail bait where you will be sprouting seeds and while the seedlings are coming up. Aphids don’t thrive in a dryer environment either. Water and feed the plants susceptible to them a little less. Remove yellowing leaves asap. Yellow attracts whiteflies. Leafminers love temps in the 70s! Remove damaged areas of leaves immediately so they don’t spread. Plant so mature plant leaves don’t touch each other so pests and disease don’t go plant to plant. Mice and rats love tomato nibbles and they are well equipped to climb! A garden kitty who loves to hunt is a good helper. Put a tiny bell on your kitty so birds are warned. Keep your compost turned so mice don’t nest in it; remove debris piles and ground shrub or hidey habitat. PLEASE don’t use rodenticides that in turn kill birds, pets, or animals that would feed on a poisoned animal. That includes Gophers. For gophers, install wire barriersSee more about pests! 

Watering in July is vital, along with Compost & Mulch. Compost increases water holding capacity. Mulch shades soil, keeps it and your plant’s roots cooler, keeps soil more moist longer, less water needed. EXCEPTION: Melons and winter squashes in cooler coastal areas don’t need mulch! They self shade and hot soil helps them produce better. Give them a good sized basin so tiny lateral feeder roots can fully supply that big plant with water and nutrients. Put a tall stake in the center of the basin so you know where to water when the area is covered with those big leaves! Replenish tired or missing mulch the birds might have scratched away. Steady water is a must to produce good looking fruits. Some water then none makes misshapen strawberries, called catfaced, curled beans and cukes, carrots lose their consistent shape. Tomatoes have more flavor when they are watered a tad less just before harvest. You can do that with bush varieties, determinates, but with indeterminate vining types you just have to see how it goes. Lots of tasty flavor tests may be in order! They have deep tap roots, so usually watering nearby plants is sufficient. Short rooted plants like beans, beets, lettuces need frequent watering to keep moist. Some plants just need a lot of water, like celery. Eggplant needs 2″/week!

Don’t be fooled by Temporary High Temps! Non heat resistant or tolerant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, stop flowering and fruiting when temps rise above 85 to 90 degrees F for an extended time depending on humidity. Humidity causes pollen to stick and not fall to pollinate. Dry heat causes the pollen to fall and not stick! When weather cools, you will have blooms again and be back in production. Rattlesnake beans, on the other hand, keep right on producing at 100 degree temps! So choose heat tolerant veggie varieties, like Heatmaster and Solar tomatoes, from locales with hot weather. Wonderful heat tolerant varieties are out there!

Zucchini Lasagna! Eat it hot or cold on a summer evening!Cool summer evenings enjoy Zucchini Lasagna! You can even eat it cold, and for breakfast!

Though July is more a maintenance and harvest month, Yes you can plant more! At this point, transplants are best, but many plants will not still be available at nurseries, and it is a tad late to plant many summer plants from seed. What you can plant is beans! They grow quickly and if you grow bush beans and quickly maturing heat tolerant varieties you will still be eating beans in Sept and Oct if it doesn’t get cold early! Get patio container types of quick growing heat tolerant determinate tomatoes if you can find them. Previously planted tomatoes may be done producing, or bit the dust for one reason or another – likely a blight or wilt. Remove the old plants to reduce further spread of disease – do NOT compost them – bag and trash, not green recycle. Beef up the soil and plant your late tomatoes in an entirely different spot.

More lettuces! In summer you want heat tolerant, slow bolting, tip burn resistant lettuce! Lettuce Leaf and Red Sails and Outredgeous are great. Jericho from Israel is great. Sierra, Nevada. Nevada is a Green Crisp/Batavian that grows BIG, doesn’t bolt, and is totally crispy! Green Star is ruffly, grows big around! Parris Island Romaine is slow bolting. Green Towers Romaine tolerates moderate summer heat and has some resistance to tipburn and bolting.

Transplant basil, celery, chard, cucumbers, dill, kale, leeks, summer lettuce, green onions, white potatoes, summer savory, New Zealand spinach. In our hot foothills and further south, go for more melons, okra, pumpkins, summer & winter squash. I’ve seen tomato transplants and bean seeds started in August produce plentiful crops into October! Rattlesnake pole beans do as they are supposed to, make beans in up to 100 degree weather! Yard long beans tolerate late summer weather and make magnificent beans! And some varieties of those don’t get mildew!

Corn is an exception – late plantings often develop smut. But. That smut, from a fungus called Ustilago maydis, is considered a delicacy by many. It’s insanely delicious and luxurious, like black truffles.’ In Mexico it is known as huitlacoche. – weet-la-COH-cheh. Your neighboring gardeners may especially not be pleased, however. See more!  

Fall transplants need babying! Transplant late afternoon or evening so plants have the whole night to begin to recover before they’re hit with a full day of sun and heat. Water well and provide shade from intense mid-day sun. Prop up and secure some of those plastic plant flats that have the smaller grid pattern to filter the light. Keep your transplants moist for at least a month or until they’re well established. Mulch to save water unless they thrive on hot soil.

Harvesting See Grow Veg’s great post on ‘How to Tell When Fruits and Vegetables are Ready for Harvest’ Harvesting has special little techniques and storage varies considerably from veggie to veggie! See more for details!

Be really patient with your big Bells and sweet roasting Peppers. Both like to wait until the nights are longer and cooler in late summer before fruiting and plumping up – making their thick walls. Peppers need time on the plant to absorb nutrients and water and plump up their flesh. Some will still be needing to change color.

>> At the end of the month, SoCal gardeners start your early winter crops first plantings! Sow carrots (they do best from seed), celery and Brassicas. Brassicas are arugula, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage (especially red and savoy types, which resist frost better), cauliflower, and kohlrabi, mizuna, mustard, pak choi, radish, rutabaga, turnip.

Mid to late July start preparing by clearing areas for late July first fall plantings. Remove finishing weakened plants that attract pests and get diseases. Remove debris insects live in. Remove and trash mulch from under plants that were diseased and replace with clean mulch. Decide where you will plant your green manure patches/aka living mulch/cover cropsLiving Mulch!  Cover Crops Add worm castings to mini nursery areas where you will be planting seeds. Castings speed germination and add water holding capacity to help keep the soil moist. Leave space so the seedlings can be removed by a narrow trowel to their permanent place when they become big enough and space becomes available. Keep the soil moist and shaded until they’re up, and then gradually allow them more sun over a week’s time.

It’s time to get seeds if you don’t already have them! If seeds and mini nurseries aren’t your thing, wait until your local nursery starts having the transplants that make you happy! Late August they might start trickling in. Labor Day weekend is a favorite planting time for some gardeners depending on how hot it still is. October is just fine too! One year it stayed so hot we all planted the first couple weeks of November!

Delicious Healthy Recipe Zucchini RollsTasty Zucchini Rolls made with Sunflower Seeds Pate, Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach! See complete recipe by Chris at Sprout People!

If you are just starting, just got your first plot at one of the community gardens, first, prepare your soil! While waiting for fall planting time, plant a few patches of fast growing, less water needing, heat lovers, lots of summer heat tolerant lettuces for your salads! They may need a little shade cloth protection. Plan out your fall/winter layout, remembering tall to the north, short to the south. Winter plants don’t take up as much food in cooler weather, so use less compost and manure. Remember, nature’s soil is naturally only 5% organic matter, but we are growing veggies, so a little more than that is perfect. Too much food and plants go to all leaf, but then a lot of winter veggies are just that, all leaf! Cabbage, Chard, Kale, Lettuces. Oh, lettuces thrive with manures, so put more in the lettuce patch areas, but none where the carrots or peas will grow. They don’t need it. Garden Design/Seed Selection   Fall/Winter Garden Design   Magic of Permaculture!

Important Habitat! As plants finish, let some of them grow out to save seeds. A carrot, celery and cilantro produce masses of seeds! Besides being food for pollinators and beneficial predator insects, they are beautiful! Birds will have seeds for food and scour your plants for juicy cabbage worms, whiteflies, aphids, earwigs, grasshoppers, cucumber beetles and grubs! Chickadees even eat ants!

Seedsaving is really a no-nonsense game! Besides being our second harvest, it insures the purity of your line! The seeds are from a plant that grew well at your place! It’s important to our world community, as Thomas Rainer says, to preserve our garden heritage & biodiversity! Besides, it’s fun! Keep some for you – some as spices & others for planting. Package as gifts, and reserve some to take to the Seed Swap in January! 2020 Note! As your plants come into seeding time, consider sharing them as soon as possible! “Little Free Seed Libraries” are Sprouting Up to Help Gardeners Share Seeds in Troubled Times. Take a look at some very clever and loving ideas!

Let some beans go until they are completely dry in their pods; let corn dry until the kernels are hard on the cob. Let a cucumber turn yellow and tough. Save some seeds from your favorite and best tomatoes. Dry them further at home. When ready, put in an envelope, label with their name/variety, date/year, where grown, any other info you think you would be helpful. See more about SeedSaving!

Be ready for winter rain! If you garden at home, please look into water capture and gray water systems – shower to flower, super attractive bioswale catchments. In Santa Barbara County there are rebates available! Call (805) 564-5460 today to schedule a FREE water system checkup! Check out the Elmer Ave retrofit!

Gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes. ~ Author Unknown

Tomatoes, Red Slicers and Cherries!

Oh, and please see more about Tomatoes in February’s Newsletter!

Updated annually


Happy Fourth of July and Delicious Tomatoes to you!

June 2021 was cooler than average, no rain. Here in Santa Barbara some of us, per location, got a late start. Nonetheless, please enjoy a delightful array of tasty summer images at Rancheria Community Garden! We are Sowing the Future! Happy gardening!

Check out the entire July 2021 Newsletter! It includes these and more!

Vacation, Super Busy?! Self Watering Systems!
Seasonal Soil Care for Veggies!
Leaffooted Bugs, Leptoglossus zonatus

Harvest & Storage Tips for Our Summer Favorites!
SeedSaving! A Beautiful Annual Ritual & Celebration!
Upcoming Gardener Events! 


Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

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Container Laura Gasparrini creative bag garden quick easy

Many thanks to gardener Laura Gasparrini who shared her photos and inspired me to write this post!

Smart Gardening! If you are just beginning, or are experienced but have little time, your soil is bad ie hardpan or contaminated, or you don’t have a soil area, just get a bag of compost, garden soil, raised bed & potting mix. Choose the best your budget can afford per the ingredients! Plant roots do best in a mixture of soil and organic matter compared to organic matter alone. Then go for it!

No worries about sorting out your soil, no weeding, no digging! The bags can be different sizes as your design needs. If you already have raised beds, just plop the bags on top. Don’t dig them in! Use that 100% great ‘soil’ in the bags! No digging is good, height is good, less bending that is hard on your back and knees. If you are putting them on the ground, lay down some newspaper or cardboard to stop weeds between your bags. Make a dozen or more drainage holes (screwdriver) in what will be the bottom of your bag, and additional holes around the lower sides in case of heavy rains and your bags flood. As well as drainage, roots of some of the plants will grow through the holes and on into the soil below, but most veggie annuals don’t need more depth than a deep blocky bag of garden soil. Cut out a rectangular area on the top leaving a 2″ border. You’re in biz!

Better than Raised Beds! Raised beds are notorious for being warmer, dry out sooner, then you water and water and the soil is leached of nutrients, the soil is compacted, the soil level significantly lowers, and the plants use it up. With the heavy plastic bags, the soil is intact, more moist, needs less water, more nutrients remain. Why mix good soil that is full of fresh nutrients with depleted soil and deplete the nutrients overall? Often deep raised beds have soil all the way to the bottom of the container. It would take a lot of amending to make all that soil better. As said above, most veggie annual roots don’t need more depth than a blocky deep bag of garden soil!

Amending a whole raise bed is a lot of unneeded labor. In fact, you might need to remove some of the raised bed soil to be able to add enough better soil to make a difference. That’s another reason why so many raised beds fail as the years go on. The soil gets poorer and poorer. What is often unsaid about raised beds is that most gardeners replace all the soil in them every year! That’s a lot of work. With the vibrant nutrition in the bag you will get a sooner, better crop. As I walk my neighborhood with my dog I often see raised beds abandoned in only one year, dry and dead. And there they sit, often for years. Especially sad to see when growing in bags is such a simple solution.

Laura’s bags lasted THREE years! Depending on the condition of your bags, at the end of the season, work what’s left into more permanent beds if you wish, use it as mulch in your landscaping, or simply get more bags when you are ready to plant again!

In summer heat, Mulch your bags after you have planted. Keep them moist, the soil cooler, less watering, save money! The gardener of the images covers them deeply with straw. There are some exceptions — see more!

You can get as many bags as you wish and put them wherever you want, in any configuration! Raised beds can be moved, but it is a lot of work. If you are on a balcony, or don’t want raised beds, you have ultimate flexibility! Put your containers, bags, few or many, just as you wish! If on a balcony, be sure your balcony supports the wet weight, and check with your downstairs neighbor regarding drippings. If you have a lot of space and little time, no inclination or physical ability to dig, this is the ticket to ride! Get out paper and pencil and design your garden. You already have the size of the bags. You could cut little bags out to scale and just move them around until you are happy. Include comfortably spaced planting, tending and harvesting pathways. Summer Design  Winter Design

Planting in bags is a form of container gardening. Clearly, you will replace the bags more frequently than containers, especially depending on whether you have desert heat that degrades the plastic or cool coastal moistures. The convenience, of course, is there is no need to consider digging, amending the tired soil in a raised bed, a big container, or repotting! See more at Container Gardening, Garden Anywhere!

Sun is always the important first consideration. 6 – 8 hours is the standard. If your area is big enough but shady, you might put your bags on those flat dollies and move them with the Sun’s path during the day.

Container Laura Gasparrini Bags single plant - fencing

That little fencing in the foreground might be to keep raccoons and skunks, kitties and doggies out. Don’t you love the ‘vertebrae’ stones in the back?! Laura Gasparrini photo.

What to plant is up to you with some limitations! There is a huge difference between a mature artichoke plant, 6′ diameter or more, and a head of lettuce, and artichokes have deep roots! Except for container varieties, tomatoes have deep roots. Perennials, plants that grow year after year, like a lot of herbs, have deep roots. But most garden veggies are annuals with 6 to 8″ deep roots. Bush beans and peas and cucumbers can have short 3″ roots, and that’s it. You do have to keep them steadily moist. You can see in the images you can get sixes of some plants in your bags. Others, like zucchini, above right, want a bag of their own!

❤ If you are savvy to Companion Planting, Biodiversity, consider mixing in plants that repel pests and reduce diseases. Mix the type of plants in one bag! Spread them out across your whole garden – two here, two there, and so on. Comingle flowering plants of all seasons to bring and feed pollinators like hummingbirds, bees and feed hoverflies that eat aphids!

Container Laura Gasparrini hybrid system bags and in the ground

Laura Gasparrini photo.

Your garden design might also allow for in-the-ground plantings of the deep rooted or permanent perennials or like the handsome red stemmed Chard in the image above. It would be a flexible hybrid system that allows the happiness of tomatoes in cages. Remember, vertical gardening, gives you much more available ground space! Cages, trellises and arches get beans, peas, cucumbers, squash vines and indeterminate vining tomatoes off the ground, giving room for more other plants! See Vertical Gardening! If you don’t have that extra room, grow bush beans and peas and determinate, bush tomatoes, container varieties.

Container Bag on end deep rooted plants tomato jaz@octoberfarmThe other option, especially for deep rooted tomatoes, is to put your bag on end! Make drainage holes at the bottom. Push two strong stakes down through the bag a foot deep into the garden to hold the bag upright. One plant per bag. You can choose long stakes so 3 – 4′ are above the top of the bag, then slip a tomato cage in the bag to hold the tomato up. This will work well for less tall determinate tomatoes but not for vining indeterminate tomatoes. Please see some other great instructions at CA Grown! Do what works for you! Terrific image by jaz@octoberfarm

Otherwise, select container tomato varieties that have the shortest roots, least height, are compact. Some of them are amazing little producers and may give you all you need.

However, another option, if you don’t have hardpan or contaminated soil, is to just grow large vining indeterminate tomatoes in your flat bag! Julianne, commenter online, grows them successfully in the larger bags. She cuts a big X across the bottom and the top. The plants get off to a great start with the super medium in the bag! First the roots spread through the entire bag, then, when they discover the X, they grow right on down into your soil! Put a tall enough cage over it that fits over the bag. The cage holds your plant upright, saves space, you have cleaner fruit and more veggies per square foot! Stake the cage securely in place. When your plant gets big, the cage will have a lot to support in a strong wind.

Depending on your overall space, you could use container variety plants to great advantage. Their names often indicate their suitability for container planting: dwarf, patio, tiny, pixie, little, mini, container. There are short carrots like Little Fingers, mini melon vines like Sugar Baby Watermelons with much smaller leaves, small tomato bushes that produce like crazy, bush zucchini, mini eggplant and cucumbers. Many peppers love growing in containers! Some container varieties are bred to produce so much in a small space, gardeners should consider growing them in their non container gardens, replacing varieties with much larger footprints! Since container varieties are smaller in stature, they produce sooner too, even sooner than some early varieties!

What to plant?! Some gardeners plant for the return they get per the plant’s footprint. Others consider the costs. Should you grow inexpensive common veggies like carrots or potatoes? Some veggies are not available at the store or are very expensive. Grow your own from seed! Other gardeners plant for nutrition, plants high in vitamins or antioxidants, for example Garden Purslane. Maybe you choose a plant because it is your sweetie’s favorite or your grandma grew it and it’s a tradition!

How many to plant is sometimes decided by how productive it is, how many fruits you and your family will eat. Zucchini, tomatoes, beans and chard give big returns.

If you have time and love growing from seed, don’t mind extra waterings and tending, plant seeds! Be sure to label them so you will know what to expect – date planted, name, number of days to germination/maturity! If you don’t have that time or inclination, nursery transplants per the season are perfect for you!

Get the right kind of soil bags for your plants that prefer acidic soil – blueberries, cranberries, beans, cucumber, eggplant, parsley, parsnips, pepper, radish, rhubarb, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Another site says: Chicory, eggplant, endive, potato, rhubarb, shallot, sorrel, sweet potato. SFGate says ‘Vegetable plants that do best in mildly acidic soil include carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, garlic, sweet peppers, pumpkins, winter squash and tomatoes. Another site says: Bean, Brussels sprouts, carrot, chive, collard, corn, cucumber, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, parsley, pea, pepper, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, squash, sunflower, tomato, turnip, watermelon. Get a soil test kit or use your intuition. You can see there are differences of opinion among the ‘experts!’ Woody mulches help maintain acidic soil pH. Specific info about soil pH for veggies

Before you plant, loosen the ‘soil’ in the bag. If it was in a stack at the nursery it may be quite compressed. Turn it, roll it, shake it, squeeze it, pummel it a bit, work it until the stuff in the bag is loosened. Young roots will find it easier to make their way through it to feed.

Put your bag(s) where they will live; on a dolly if they will be moved. Gardener, Amelia Allonsy, recommends 40 lb bags, and to add 1 cup of 5-10-10 fertilizer for every 2 1/2 cubic feet of potting soil. One 40-pound bag of potting soil is roughly 3/4 cubic foot, so this amount works for approximately three 40-pound bags of potting soil. Your plants will need those high 10-10 counts later to produce blooms and function well. I add a handful of bonemeal in the planting holes of plants that produce by blooms. Plant your plants. Water gently. Some say water first, plant second. Do what you think will be best. Transplanting Tips!

During the season you may want to do some easy amending. Like strawberries love fish emulsion feeds every two weeks. For other veggies, at bloom time there are liquid feeds of fertilizers high in Phosphorus, for more blooms! Your nursery person can help you. These are super easy to apply with your watering can. If you get more into it, see also Veggie Feeding Schedule for Your Summer Favorites!

The one thing you need to do is water frequently. Some do once a day for small plants just starting. In hot weather seedlings may need water three times a day. Water lightly. You don’t want to wash seedlings or soil away, or waterlog and rot your soil. If things get smelly, you need to add more holes and/or water less frequently or more lightly or all of these. Jut like with raised beds, too much watering leaches nutrients away. We want even moisture for most veggies.

One of the most wonderful advantages of growing veg in these bags is there are no soil pests or diseases, no weeds! In short, little maintenance.

Growing in bags in the UK is so popular companies vie for the best planter bags even developing their own special ingredients to please the gardeners! These long 3-Plant Levington bags are at the Cardwell Garden Centre. Bags vary a lot in size; some are 34″ long by 10″ wide. They say: ‘Levington Tomorite Giant Grow Bag is ideal for growing tomato plants and other fruit vegetable and salad crops. This bag is enriched with Tomorite plant food and has added seaweed to give full flavoured tomatoes.’ Just a few other brands are Miracle-Gro, 4 Plant by Evergreen, Incredicrop and Forker and Clover! It’s big business there!

Container UK Levington Tomorite Giant Grow Bag

Grow your own terrific veggies, 100% fresh & ORGANIC!

Updated


Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. In 2018 they lasted into September and October! Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is.

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June Garden Wedding Lyons Farmette CO

What’s a garden for? Fertility and good living! Bridgette and Hoyt got married on a supermoon evening at Lyons Farmette & River Bend, Lyons CO! 

June is Midsummer Magic month! Divine small Faery beings will be celebrating your garden! June 21, 24, 25 or a date close to the Summer Solstice, any day June 19–24, is celebrated as Midsummer Night; June 24 is Faery Day! In Santa Barbara the 2021 Summer Solstice festival and parade will be virtual, airing on YouTube June 27!

Abundance is flowing, harvests are happening!

Tomato Indigo Rose Purple AnthocyaninsIn our area, near the beach in Santa Barbara, the weather has been so cool and cloudy that tomatoes are barely coloring up. However, their sidekick basil is potent delish, Zucchini and lettuces of all kinds are being eaten. Some gardeners are eating first beans. Peas, cool temps lovers, are still producing well! Haven’t seen any cukes even blooming yet, BUT, the 30th I saw the first western striped cucumber beetle. BAD news, a vector for bacterial wilt and mosaic virus! Please – very carefully read the info in Pests below and the link about them there. Bell peppers are budding, humongous Seascape strawberries are here and tasty! Be careful with some of your harvests. Clip rather than break away and damage or pull your plant up.

Cherry tomatoes come in first. Fertilize your toms with a slow release fertilizer, like alfalfa pellets, once the fruiting begins. See the Summer Feeding Schedule for all your favorites!

I have had the pleasure of growing Pink Boar Tomatoes, from the Wild Boar series bred by farmer/breeder Brad Gates. As High Mowing says, ‘Deep pink skin is stunning with contrasting olive stripes and luscious deep red flesh,’ and it was!

Unexpected benefit! Reviewer Rebecca of Old Mosses Secret Garden said: I bought [Brad Gates Blue Berries] tomatoes for my whimsical choice. My experiences were similar to others opinion, they are abundant, vigorous and salad enhancing, plus they make a wonderful antioxidant jam spread. What I wanted to share about the blue berry tomatoes is that they are top of the menu choices for BATS. Bats were not on our urban radar, four years later five thousand bats have moved in and troll the garden where the fence lines are abundant with these little tasty gems, which get devoured. This plant is the greatest organic gardening boon ever sprouted. For fair reveal though I have hundreds of evergreen spruce that also get bat vacuumed for more meaty choices, so Thank you Baker seed, your diligence to excel is my secret weapon for a fantastic garden.

Harvest at your veggie’s peak delicious moment! Juicy, crunchy, that certain squish in your mouth, sweet, full bodied flavor, radiant, vitamin and mineral rich! Besides being delicious and beautiful, it keeps your plant in production. Left on the plant, fruits start to dry and your plant stops production, goes into seeding mode. The fruit toughens or withers, maybe rots, sometimes brings cleanup insect pests that spread to other plants. Keep beans picked, no storing cucumbers on the vine. Give away or store what you can’t eat. Freezing is the simplest storage method. Cut veggies to the sizes you will use, put the quantity you will use in baggies, seal and freeze. Whole tomatoes, chopped peppers, cut beans, diced onions. Probiotic pickle your cukes. Enjoy your sumptuous meals! Sing a song of gratitude and glory!

Plant more! Try some new ones too!

In those empty spots you have been saving, plant more rounds of your favorites! Check your lettuce supply. Put in more bolt resistant, heat and drought tolerant varieties now. Some heat tolerant lettuce varieties are Sierra, Nevada, Jericho, Black Seeded Simpson. That ruffly little beauty queen Green Star has excellent tolerance to hot weather, bolting, and tipburn. Rattlesnake beans keep right on producing when temps get up to 100 degrees! Plant more of everything except winter squash, big melons, pumpkins, unless you live in the hot foothills.

Put in plants that like it hotter! Long beans grow quickly from seed now. They grow later in the season when your other beans are finishing. They make those enormously long beans in the ample late summer heat. Keep watch on them, in spite of their size they grow quickly. Harvest promptly, usually daily! Certain varieties of them don’t get mildew either! Their unique flavor keeps your table interesting. Plant Okra now, it grows quickly in this warmer weather! More eggplant and also tomatoes you have been waiting to put in the now drier fungi free ground. Plant mini melons like Sugar Baby watermelons!

For those of you that are plagued with fungi diseases in your soil, the drier soil now makes this a better time to plant. Select wilt and blight resistant Tomatoes. Remember, when you plant your tomatoes and cukes, build a mound and make a basin whose bottom is higher than the surrounding soil. You want drainage and a wee bit of drying to reduce the potential of fungi – verticillium and fusarium wilts, blights. They have deep roots, so water nearby plants but not your Tom! More Special Planting and growing tips for your Tomatoes and Cucumbers!

❤ Companion Planting Teamwork

Plant WHITE potatoes with Zucchini to repel squash bugs, radishes with cukes and Zucchini to repel cuke beetles, and radishes with eggplant, potatoes and arugula to repel flea beetles.

If you have more space or you lost a plant here or there, think on putting in some perfect companion plants! One of the Three Cs are super!

  1. Calendula – so many medicinal uses, bright flowers, and traps aphids, whiteflies, and thrips! Yep. Plant Calendula by tomatoes and asparagus.
  2. Chamomile –  is called the Plant Dr! It heals neighboring plants and improves the flavor of any neighboring herb! The flowers make a lovely scent and the tea is sweet.
  3. Comfrey – aka Knitbone, is an amazing medicinal herb, a super nutritious compost speeder upper! Plant it by your compost area. UK gardeners make Comfrey Tea for their Tomatoes!

Tasty herbs – chives, parsley, or more permanent perennials like rosemary, oregano (invasive), thyme are flavorful choices that often repel pests.

Hot Peppers emit a chemical from the plant roots that helps prevent Fusarium wilt, root rot, and a wide range of other plant diseases!

Pat Mycorrhiza fungi right on the roots of all your transplants except Brassicas. It increases uptake of nutrients, water, and phosphorus that helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Ask for it bulk at Island Seed & Feed in Goleta. Support your local nurseries.

Here’s your tending list for Beauty and Bounty!

Summer Solstice SunflowerWater regularly so everyone is moist the way they like it! Seeds and seedlings daily, even 2 to 3 times daily on super hot days. Shading them may save their lives. Peppers like moist, so as they need it. Others not so water critical on average need an inch a week; water beans, cukes, lettuces and short rooted varieties of strawberries more frequently – lettuces could be daily on hot windy days. To double check use the old finger test or push your shovel in and wedge the soil open enough so you can see if it is moist as deep as it needs to be. Watering at ground level, rather than overhead watering, keeps your plant dry. That means less mildew, less fungal diseases, especially for fuzzy leaved plants like toms and eggplant. They don’t like water on their leaves.

If at all possible, water in the AM before 10:30 to let leaves dry before evening to prevent mildew – beans, cucumbers and squashes are especially susceptible. Plant fewer beans further apart for air flow. If your plants are near a street or there has been a dusty wind storm, wash the dust off your plants so they can breathe, and to make them less attractive to Whiteflies.

Some plants need MULCH now, and if the mulch is tired and flat, replace it with fresh clean mulch. No more than an inch of straw mulch under toms and cukes. They need airflow so the soil can dry a bit and reduce harmful fungi. Otherwise, put on 4 to 6 inches minimum to keep light germinating seeds from sprouting. Mulch any Brassicas you are over summering – broccoli, kale – 4 to 6 inches deep for them too. They need cool soil. Melons and winter squash – Butternuts, acorn, pumpkins – need heat! They are the exception – no mulch for them if you are coastal. Yes, they will need more water, so be sure their basin is in good condition and big enough so they get water out to their feeder roots. Put a stake in the center of the basin so you know where to water when the leaves get big. The only place for straw for them is right under the melons. See more at Mulching ~ Why, When, With What, How Much?!

Keep a sharp eye on tomatoes. Remove leaves touching the ground or will touch the ground if weighted with water! Trim so neighboring plants don’t touch and spread diseases like the wilts or blights. Remember, the wilts are spread by wind as well as water, so neighboring plants are very likely to give it to one another. Try planting other plants between. You can still do rows, just mix up the plants! Your healthier tomatoes will produce more, bigger toms, and longer. 

POLLINATION is vital & easy to do!

Pollination Cucurbits Male Female Flowers     Pollination by Hand Cucurbits Male Stamen to Female Stigma

Hand Pollination of Cucurbits! In left image, male flower on left, female right.

Improve your tomato, eggplant and pepper production by giving the cages or the main stems a few sharp raps, or gently shake the stems, to help the flowers self pollinate. Midday is the best time. Honey bees don’t pollinate tomatoes, or other Solanaceae! Build solitary bee condos for native bees. Native bees, per Cornell entomology professor Bryan Danforth, are two to three times better pollinators than honeybees, are more plentiful than previously thought and not as prone to the headline-catching colony collapse disorder that has decimated honeybee populations. The very best Solanaceae pollinator is a Bumblebee!!! See more! Plant plenty of favorite bee foods, especially ones with purple and blue colors, their favorites!

While you are helping your tomatoes pollinate, if you are growing them in cages, also very gently help them up through the cages. Remove any bottom leaves that might touch the ground when weighted with water. Remove any diseased leaves ASAP! Do NOT put them in compost! Bag and trash.

Squashes, melons and monoecious cucumbers can easily be hand pollinated. Cukes are notorious for needing help being pollinated! Cucurbits have male and female blooms on the same plant. If there are not enough pollinators about, we need to help. Also, multiple visits from the bees are required for good fruit set and properly shaped cucumbers. Male flowers open in the morning and pollen is only viable during that day. Hand pollinate during the morning hours, using only freshly opened flowers. You can use a small pointy paint brush, a cotton swab, Q-tip, your finger, and move pollen from the male stamen to the center of the female flower. Or the best, most complete method is to take the male flower off the plant, pull the petals off, and gently roll the male flower anther around and over the female stigma in the center of the female flower. The pollen is sticky, so it may take some time. One male anther can pollinate several females. Repeat. Female blooms will simply drop off the plant if they are not pollinated or not pollinated adequately. So when your cukes are in production, you need to do this daily for more fruits.

Don’t be confused by the little fruit forming under the female flowers and think pollination has already happened. The flower needs to be fertilized, and adequately, or the fruit just falls off. Flowers not pollinated enough, that don’t abort, make misshapen fruits. That goes for corn having irregular to lacking kernels. Strawberries are called cat-faced. Squash and cucumbers can be deformed. On an unwindy day, tilt the stalk so the corn tassels are over the silks and tap the stalk. You will see a shower of pollen fall on the silks. You may need to do it from one plant to another so you don’t break the stalk trying to get the pollen to fall on silks on the same plant.

Planting a lot of plants close together stresses the plants. At higher densities, plants compete for water, nutrients, and sunlight, and the resulting stress can lead to a higher proportion of male flowers, less female flowers, the ones that produce. If you really want more fruit, give them room to be fruitful. The same goes for other stresses – damage from insects or blowing soil, low light intensities, or water stress – less female flowers are produced.

Weather affects pollination. Sometimes cool overcast days or rain, when bees don’t fly, there is no pollination. High humidity makes pollen sticky and it won’t fall. Not good for wind pollinated veggies like tomatoes. Drought is a problem for corn pollination. Too high nighttime temps, day temps 86°F and above, will keep your tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables from setting fruit unless they are high temp tolerant varieties. Too windy and the pollen is blown away. See Pollination: Honeybees, Squash Bees & Bumblebees!

If it is your cucumbers that are not pollinating well each year, try parthenocarpic varieties. Parthenocarpic varieties produce only female flowers and do not need pollination to produce fruit. This type of cucumber is also seedless. Try a few varieties and see if you like them.

Did you know? Flowers can hear buzzing bees—and it makes their nectar sweeter!

SIDEDRESSING! This IS the time! Feeding when your plants start to bloom and produce is a pretty standard recommendation. But if your baby is looking peaked, has pale or yellowing leaves, an emergency measure could be blood meal. Foliar feeding a diluted fish emulsion/kelp is easy for your plant to uptake. Foliar feeding a tea mix per what each plant might need, is the ultimate feed and it’s not hard to make tea mixes! Your lettuces love it if you scratch in a 1/4″ chicken manure, but no manure in a tea on leaves you will be eating! Pull your mulch back, top with a 1/2″ of compost and some tasty worm castings! If you prefer organic granulated fertilizer, easy to apply, sprinkle it around evenly. But remember, that has to be repeatedly applied. Recover with your mulch, straw, then water well and gently so things stay in place. That’s like making compost and worm tea in place!

Face up to pests!

It’s easier to deal with them when there are only a few rather than losing your whole plant or a row of plants. This is the time you will see Cucumber beetles foraging on Zucchini flowers, on Tomatillos. They are deadly to cucumbers because they transmit bacterial wilt and squash mosaic virus and cucumbers are the most susceptible to the wilts than any other garden veggie. Squish those beetles. Put one hand under where the beetle is, reach for it with the other hand. Be prepared! They are fast and can see you coming! See more Here are tips for Beetle prevention for organic gardeners:

  • If possible plant unattractive-to-cucumber beetle varieties. In 2012 U of Rhode Island trials, best pickling choices are Salt and Pepper and H-19 Little LeafMarketmore 76 was tops for slicing cukes. If you find more current research on best varieties, please let me know!
  • Plant from transplants! The youngest plants are the most susceptible.
  • Interplant! No row planting so beetles go from one plant to another.
  • Delay planting! In our case, most of us already having planted cucumbers, can plant another round late June or when you no longer see the beetles. Start from seeds at home now since transplants may no longer be available in nurseries later on.
  • Plant repellent companion plants BEFORE you plant your cukes. Radish with eggplant, cukes & zukes act as trap plants for flea beetles and to repel cucumber beetles. Radish are the fastest growers, so get them in ASAP if you didn’t before.
  • Natural predators are Wolf Spiders, daddy long legs and Ground Beetles! Let them live! They eat beetle eggs and larvae. And there is a tachinid fly and a braconid parasitoid wasp that parasitize striped cucumber beetle, and both sometimes have large impacts on striped cucumber beetles. When you see a dark hairy fly, don’t swat it! It is doing important garden business!
  • Here is a super important reason to use straw mulch! Per UC IPM ‘Straw mulch can help reduce cucumber beetle problems in at least 3 different ways. First, mulch might directly slow beetle movement from one plant to another. Second, the mulch provides refuge for wolf spiders and other predators from hot and dry conditions, helping predator conservation. Third, the straw mulch is food for springtails and other insects that eat decaying plant material; these decomposers are important non-pest prey for spiders, helping to further build spider numbers. It is important that straw mulch does not contain weed seeds and to make certain that it does not contain herbicide residues which can take years to fully break down.’
  • Organic mulches foster diverse populations of beneficial soil microorganisms that trigger the plant’s internal defenses.
  • At the end of the season or when your plants are done, remove garden trash, tired mulch and other debris shortly after harvest to reduce overwintering sites.

If you are by a road or in a dusty windswept area, rinse off the leaves to make your plants less attractive to whiteflies. Also, asap remove yellowing leaves that attract whiteflies. Pests adore tasty healthy plants just like we do. They also make us see which plants are weak or on their way out. Give those plants more care or remove them. Replace them with a different kind of plant that will do well now and produce in time before the season is over. Don’t put the same kind of plant there unless you have changed the conditions – enhanced your soil, installed a favorable companion plant, protected from wind, terraced a slope so it holds moisture, opened the area to more sun. Be sure you are planting the right plant at the right time! Remove mulch from under plants that were diseased and replace with clean mulch. Do not compost that mulch or put it in green waste. Bag and trash it.

Please always be building compost and adding it, especially near short rooted plants and plants that like being moist. Compost increases your soil’s water holding capacity.

Reduce your carbon footprint! Grow local!

Summer Garden Mary Alice Ramsey in her North Carolina backyard

Mary Alice Ramsey in her North Carolina backyard. Photo by Hector Manuel Sanchez

May You enjoy a super beautiful, bountiful & juicy June!

Oh, and please see more about Tomatoes in February’s Newsletter!

Updated annually  



Summer Solstice and Father’s Day are June 20 this year! Congratulations to Grads and their families!
 Here are some wonderful ideas for green and loving gifts for any and all! You can even start some seeds now! Click here

May 2021 was a way cooler than average, no rain, but a FIRE! Please enjoy a delightful array of early summer images at Rancheria Community Garden! You may get some ideas for those Father’s and Grad’s prezzies! We are Sowing the Future! Happy gardening!

Check out the entire June 2021 Newsletter!
It includes these and more!



Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is.

Little girl eating Watermelon! Red!
Are you having fun?! Does your garden make you this happy?! PLANT MORE! 

Coolish April temps but bell peppers planted early are growing well! Night temps have been in the late 40s, early 50s. Daytime has generally been mid 60s, but we are predicted for early 70° temps right away! The ground temp April 28 at 9:30 AM, Rancheria Community Garden (3.5 blocks from the beach) was 62° both in the shade and sun. Sweet peppers need nighttime temps that are steadily above 55°F, some say 60, and soil temps above 65°F. Get out your soil thermometer and check the soil temp where you garden! If planted too soon, sometimes plants miss their natural sequence of production, and never produce. Best to replant if you suspect this is happening. See Best Planting Temps Per Veggie!

May, June Planting Timing

MAY is time for cantaloupe, sweet bell peppers, pumpkins and squash! Try some Urizun Japanese Winged Beans! Wait until the soil has warmed to 70°F before planting squash and melons. Many wait until May, some even June, for warmer drier soil, to plant tomatoes to avoid soil fungi. Some gardeners wait until JUNE to plant okra. Okra really likes heat and grows quickly when happy. Choose faster maturing varieties for coastal SoCal. If YOU anticipate a HOT summer, plant a tad earlier, but be prepared to deal with it if summer is overcast as often is the case after all.

Long beans are spectacular and love heat. Late May, June is the best time to start them. They grow quickly from seed. They will last longer than other beans, hitting their stride toward the end of summer. Certain varieties of them don’t get mildew either! Their unique flavor keeps your table interesting. See more!

While we are waiting for the right temps, do soil preps that are still needed. Weed out plants that won’t help your summer lovers. Make your soil fluffy with water holding compost, only 5 to 10%, while also adding tasty well aged manure! Add worm castings to areas that will be seeded. Castings improve germination, germination is sooner, seedlings healthier! Plan for year round bee habitat and install companion plants in advance.

Plant another round of your favorite heat lovers! Might be eggplant, limas, bell peppers and pumpkins! Transplant or seed different varieties of beans, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes than you planted before! Sow and/or transplant asparagus, beets, carrots, celery, chard, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, heat-tolerant leaf lettuce, summer-maturing onions, parsley, peanuts, rhubarb and spinach! Add white potatoes and radish with zucchini, radishes with cukes to repel cuke beetles, and with eggplant to repel flea beetles. Add fillers and littles under bigger plants as living mulch! Put some color in your choices! Plant RED table onions, pink celery, fancy multi color lettuces! Tips for super Successful Transplanting!

Choose heat and drought tolerant varieties when you can. For example, why wait when it gets HOT and your tomato stops setting fruit?! Get heat tolerant varieties the heat doesn’t bother! Heat tolerant tomatoes keep right on producing when temps get up to and above 85! Rattlesnake beans are a winner! They produce in up to 100 degree weather! They have a slightly nutty flavor. You do have to keep watch and pick almost daily because they get long and plump quickly – and are still tender!

Problem temps for tomatoes:

High daytime temperatures (above 85 F)
High Nighttime Temperatures (above 70 F)
Low Nighttime Temperatures (below 55 F)

Check out this nifty page of heat tolerant tomato varieties at Bonnie Plants! If your plant is not heat tolerant, wait. When things cool down, it will start making flowers and setting fruit again. See also Tomatoes are the Fireworks of Your Summer Garden!

Time for heat and leaf tip burn resistant, bolt-resistant lettuces of all kinds! Sierra, Nevada, Jericho, Black Seeded Simpson are some. Green Star wins the beauty and production award!

Tomatoes! Heirlooms are particularly susceptible to the wilts, Fusarium and Verticillium. If your soil is infected, instead, get varieties that have VFN or VF on the tag at the nursery. The V is for Verticillium, the F Fusarium wilt, N nematodes. Ace, Early Girl, Champion, Celebrity, are some that are wilt resistant/tolerant. In the Mother Earth News tomato survey, they found gardeners chose heirlooms over hybrids if their soil is wilt/blight free. Otherwise, the longer the gardener has gardened, they more they chose wilt resistant toms if their soil has fungi. Home Improvement/ACE has the largest tomato selection in the Santa Barbara area! See Special Planting and growing tips for your Tomatoes and Cucumbers! 

Once you have these strong varieties installed particular maintenance will keep them healthy longer.

  • Remove any leaves that will touch the ground if weighted with rain, dew or by watering.
  • Remove infected leaves the curl the length of the leaf or get brown spots.
  • Lay down a loose 1″ deep straw mulch blanket to allow air circulation and the soil to dry. No friendly fungi habitat. The most important purpose of this mulch is to keep your plant’s leaves from being water splashed or in contact with soil, which is the main way they get fungi/blight diseases.
  • When the straw gets flat and tired, remove (don’t compost) and replace.

Companion Planting Set, excellent use of space!

Flowers or veggies that are great companion plants for your tomatoes!

❤Companion Plants! Always be thinking what goes near, around, under, with, what enhances your plant’s growth and protects it from damaging insects and diseases, or feeds your soil! Keep the biodiversity rolling! Plant pest deterring plants first so they will be up and working when you put in your seeds or transplants! If you forget, you can always add your companions later.

  • Alyssum is a great old fashioned pretty border plant, an understory living mulch. And WHITE Alyssum repels the cabbage butterfly.
  • Basil repels several unwanted insects, is great near tomatoes but not in the basin with the tom. The tom needs less water. Plant the Basil beside the tom basin. The deeper tomato roots will get water used to water the Basil!
  • Beans, Cukes, Dill, Radish Combo! Cukes and Beans are great on the trellis, one high, one low. Dill to go with pickling cukes. Radishes to deter Cucumber beetles.
  • WHITE Potatoes with Zucchini & Cukes to repel squash bugs.
  • Radish with eggplant, cukes & zukes as trap plants for flea beetles and to repel cucumber beetles.
  • Carrots love being with cilantro and chamomile, and chamomile improves the flavor of any neighboring herb!
  • Calendula traps aphids, whiteflies, and thrips! Plant with tomatoes and asparagus.
  • Chamomile is a love! Pretty, great tea, known as the “plant doctor,” chamomile has been known to revive and revitalize plants growing near it. That’s especially good to know for plants that are susceptible to diseases. Plant it by plants that are wilts susceptible, like your tomatoes & cucumbers .
  • Spanish Lavender, Purple Cosmos are favorites of pollinators that love purple! More at SFGate
  • Marigolds are brilliant and called the workhorse of pest deterrents!
  • Lettuce and carrots make a great understory below larger plants like peppers, eggplant. They act as living mulch! Leave a little open space to lightly dig in some compost or manure later in the season. If you already have enough lettuce and carrots, scatter a living mulch, soil feeding legume seed mix under those plants. At the end of the season you can turn it all under – aka Green Manure. Or remove the larger plants, open up spots in the living mulch and put in winter/summer plants! See much more – Living Mulch/Green Manure!
  • Hot peppers emit a chemical from the plant roots that helps prevent Fusarium wilt, root rot, and a wide range of other plant diseases!

Now is the time watering becomes critical!

Water, a Vital Resource for our Plants!

SEEDS need to be kept moist. If they dry they die and you either replant or if you don’t have time, just go get transplants. Of course, the advantage of seeds is you have a lot more variety choices than what you can get at the nursery if you aren’t too late in the season to get them if you don’t have any more… Always purchase extra seed for accidents and incidents, ie birds or insects, high temps.

TRANSPLANTS need to be kept moist the first few days until they acclimate to their new home. Gentle watering. I water once, then go back and do the whole area again, giving the first watering a chance to soak down. Flooding is not necessarily a good choice. Soil needs oxygen, and plants can literally drown.

THE SCHEDULE What schedule, LOL?! It all depends on the weather or if you have planted seed have seedlings just up. In our area there are hot days, cool days, overcast days, not often windy. But very hot and windy together might mean watering twice a day, whereas cool and overcast might mean an inch of water a week could be just fine. Water beans, cukes, lettuces and short rooted varieties of strawberries more frequently – 2 to 3 times a week, daily, in very hot or windy weather. If you have seeds in, you might provide shade and water twice a day! Poke your finger in the ground after rains to see just how deep the water soaked in. Use your shovel and wedge a spot open to see if the soil is moist deeper.

To SAVE WATER In Santa Barbara, a long summer, low water table area, consider getting only indeterminate tomatoes. To keep a tomato supply for your table, if you plant determinates, that have a burst of tomatoes then taper off, you have to keep planting, wait for another two months to produce. Your new tomato will need water while there is no production. Indeterminates produce all summer long, with no waiting. Determinates are good for cooler northern short summers and crops that come in all at once for canning! Early determinates are good for getting tomatoes on the table soonest!

  • Use a long water wand to water under your plants, not the foliage. Use one with different settings so you use only what your plant needs, and an easy to use shut off valve so you use water only when you need to.
  • Furrows, basins and berms are perfect for water capture, just like the SW indigenous peoples did with their waffle gardens. The water collects at the bottom, the drying wind goes over the berms. You can raise your tomato and cucumber basins onto the tops of your mounds so there is better drainage and your soil dries somewhat. For plants that are not wilt fungi vulnerable, dig your basins and furrows down, less work because no berms need to be made. Let the normal soil level be the ‘berm’ for the wind to blow over.

Most plants need to be kept moist. Kept moist. Dry crusty soil keeps your soil from breathing. Compost, mulch and planting living mulch are all good answers. Compost has excellent water holding capacity. Work it in gently around your plant to just beyond its dripline. So as to damage as few roots as possible, maybe only do one or two sides of your plants so all the feeder roots are not destroyed. Feeder roots get nutrition and moisture for your plant, and it will set your production back if your plant has to stop, gets hungry, must regrow them. Mulch only if your soil temps are up to par. Otherwise, wait, so the mulch doesn’t keep your soil cool. In a cool summer you might choose not to lay down mulch.

Living mulch has two advantages over dead mulch like bark or straw. 1) Living mulch can be an edible understory of small plants I call Littles. Their shade keeps the soil cool and moist. On balance they need water too, so you might use a wee bit of more water, but you also get 2 crops in the same space! 2) Living mulch can be soil feeding legumes under your bigger plants. They too shade and keep your soil moist and looser. In Santa Barbara a good choice can be White Clover. Get bulk seed at Island Seed & Feed.

The plant that does well with straw is cucumbers! It keeps the fruits clean and soil free, and, drum roll, might slow cucumber beetle movement from one plant to another! Plus, it is great shelter for wolf spiders, daddy long legs and other predators. The more spidies the more healthy your garden!

The first plant you mulch is any over summering Brassica – broccoli, kale. They like cool soil, so pile it on good and deep, 4 to 6 inches, or plant a dense understory of living mulch that won’t be harvested, or if you do harvest, cover that spot with straw ASAP! Peppers are quite the reverse, the last plants you mulch. They like soil temps above 65. Mulch keeps the soil cooler, so use your soil thermometer to see if the mulch is cooling it too much for your peppers.

Pumpkins, melons and winter squash may do much better with NO mulch at all! They all need heat. Rather than trellis these crops, up in the air is cooler, leave them on the ground where it’s good and hot. You might even put in a straw bale windbreak for them if you have the room. Put the bales on their sides in a U shape that opens to the hottest time of day sun! Put reflective pie tins under fruits, or mulch under the fruits to keep them clean and above ground insect level.

Sprinkle and pat on Mycorrhiza fungi right on the roots of your transplants when you put them in the ground. It increases uptake of nutrients, water, and phosphorus that helps roots and flowers grow and develop. Ask for it bulk at Island Seed & Feed in Goleta. The exception is winter plants in the Brassica family – Broccoli, Kales. They don’t interact with mycorrhiza.

Garlic, bulb onions, and shallots naturally begin to dry this month. When the foliage begins to dry it’s time to STOP watering them. Dry outer layers needed for long storage will form on the bulbs. When about half of the foliage slumps to the ground, bend the rest to initiate this maturing. The bulbs will be ready for harvest when the foliage is thoroughly dry and crisp.

Natural Disease & Pest Prevention!

  1. Be wise and pick the right plant varieties for your temps and conditions! Get heat tolerant, bolt resistant, drought tolerant, disease tolerant/resistant. If you are just starting, just start! You will learn as you go. Our climate is changing, so we are all adjusting and plants will be being hybridized, and hybridize naturally, for new climates. We can get varieties from other areas that are already used to conditions we will be having. Together we will do this. Locally, save seeds from plants that do the best with the heat and share some of those seeds at the Seed Swap and with other gardeners.
  2. Think biodiversity! Plant companion plants that repel pests, enhance each other’s growth so they are strong and pest and disease resistant. Mix it up! Less planting in rows, more understories and intermingling. Split up groups so pests won’t go from one plant to the next, and the next. Allow enough room for air space between, no leaves of mature plants touching each other. That breaks up micro pest and disease habitats.
  3. Make top notch soil!
  4. In planting holes
    – Add worm castings for your plants’ excellent health. 25% is best; 10% will do if that’s all you got.
    – Add a tad more tasty properly aged manure mixes where manure lovers like peppers will be planted.
    – Add non-fat powdered milk for immediate immune system support at planting time
    – Put in a finely ground bone meal for 2 months later uptake when your plant gets to flowering time.
    – Add Jamaican guano high in P, Phosphorus, at planting time. It helps your plants continue to bloom LATE in the season! Its NPK ratio is 1-10-0.2, takes 4 months to become available to your plants. Other guanos don’t have this particular NPK ratio.
    – Add an eency tad of coffee grounds (a 1/2 of a %) if you have wilts in your soil
    – Sprinkle mycorrhizae fungi directly on transplant roots, all but Brassicas, at planting time to increase their uptake of nutrients and water.
    – Use acidic compost in strawberry patches and work in a little where you will be planting celery and string beans.
  5. Immediately drench your transplants, foliar feed, with a non-fat powdered milk, baking soda, aspirin, soap mix to jazz up their immune systems. Specially give your peppers an Epsom salt and soap mix bath for a taste of sulfur. More details and all the recipes.
  6. Maintenance! Keep your plants strong while they are working hard! Be ready to do a little cultivating composts and manures in during the season (called sidedressing), or foliar feeding fish/kelp emulsion mixes if you don’t have predator pests like skunks! Some sites say with good starting soil you shouldn’t need to amend during the season. Your plants will tell you if they do need more food. Maybe your soil wasn’t perfect. Maybe your plant has phenomenal production and gotten hungry. When production slows down, decide if you want more. Feed your plant a bit and see what happens.
  7. Keep your plants watered and vibrant, but not so much as to make their leaves soft and inviting to munching insect pests like aphids, leafminers.
  8. Trap gophers immediately if you are able.
  9. Harvest promptly. Insects and diseases can signal when plants/fruits are softening and losing strength as they age. Insects are nature’s cleaner uppers, and they and disease organisms are hungry! If leaves are yellowing or not looking up to par, remove them. Whiteflies are attracted to yellow.
  10. Prevention A frustrating typical spring disease is Powdery mildew. It’s common on late peas, Curly Leaf kales, broccoli, cucumbers and zucchini. Choose mildew resistant varieties! Plant leaving plenty of space for air circulation. Apply your baking soda mix. Drench under and upper sides of the foliage of young plants to get them off to a great start! Do this the same or next day if transplanting. A super combo is 1 regular Aspirin dissolved, a 1/4 cup nonfat powdered milk, heaping tablespoon of baking soda, a half teaspoon liquid dish soap per gallon/watering can. Reapply every 10 days or so, and after significant rains. Not only is prevention so much better than after mildew has set in, but this mix stimulates your plant’s growth! See Aspirin Solution.

The usual May culprits!

  • Cucumber Beetles get in cucumber, squash and melon blossoms. They aren’t picky. Depending on your location, they are yellow greenish with black stripes or dots about the size and shape of a Ladybug. They are cute but are the very worst garden pest. They carry bacterial diseases and viruses from plant to plant, such as bacterial wilt wilts, Fusarium and Verticillium, and mosaic virus, deadly to cukes. Radish repels them, is a champion plant, a hero of the garden! Plant enough radish for you to eat and to let others just grow, be there permanently or at least until the beetles are done, gone. IPM data Straw mulch recommended.
  • Cucumber Mosaic Virus, CMV, per IPM ‘…has a very wide host range including cucurbits (except watermelon), tomato, spinach, celery, safflower, beans, blackeyes, peppers, beets, potatoes, many ornamentals and weeds. The virus is transmitted by many species of aphids and could be seedborne.’ Buy your seeds from reputable seed houses.The 303 Plots, each 20′ X 30′, Long Beach CA Community Garden has been doing trials under guidance of entomologist, Dr. Perring at UC Riverside. Gardener Joanne Rice reports:1. Since aphids carry the virus from specific perennial weeds, we are trying to keep everything weed free.2. Starting January 1st, all members have been asked to put up yellow sticky cards to reduce the number of aphids for the year. Aphids hate hot weather so their mating time is the cold months. Dr. Perring says that will help. Also, since aphids hate hot weather, we will probably not plant squash or cucumbers until July when our real heat starts.3. Dr. Perring, when we talked, said that CMV does not damage the soil. The CMV, is on the roots of the infected plants and if when you remove the plants you do not remove every root,  you will get CMV at next planting. [REMOVE suffering plants immediately so they don’t make more infected roots. If you think you may have missed some, remove any questionable soil well beyond the dripline and Do Not put that soil anywhere you will be growing vegetables.]4. We are currently working on a list of veggies, Summer and Winter, that are known to be CMV resistant. If you have such a list, I certainly would appreciate it. [If any of you have a list, please send it to us!]
  • Squash Bugs like your Zucchini and other squash, cucumber and melons. Plant radish and WHITE potatoes amongst them to repel the bugs. Let some of the radish grow full height, eat the others as usual! You will get three crops instead of just one! IPM info
  • Flea Beetles look like large black fleas and do hop mightily! They seem harmless enough, make tiny little holes in the leaves of eggplant, potatoes, arugula. But, those tiny holes add up. As the beetles suck out the juice of your plant they disrupt your plant’s flow of nutrients, open the leaves to disease, your plant is in a constant state of recovery, there is little production. Your plant looks dryish, lacks vitality. The trap plant for them, one that they like best, is radish! Thank goodness radish grow fast! Better yet, plant it ahead of time, or ASAP when you put seeds and transplants in. IPM notes
  • Whiteflies do the honeydew thing like aphids do, leaving a nasty sticky black sooty mold or white fibers all over your plant’s leaves. The honeydew attracts ants, which interfere with the activities of Whitefly natural enemies. They are hard to get rid of, so keep a close watch on the undersides of leaves, especially if you see little white insects flying away when you jostle your plant. Whiteflies develop rapidly in warm weather, in many parts of California, and they breed all year. Prevent dusty conditions. Keep ants out of your plants. Hose them away immediately. Calendula is a trap plant for whiteflies. See more

Beautiful graceful design of Hugelkultur style compost!

Now is the time to be thinking of soil prep for the future! Gather and dry good wood now for trial Hugelkultur composting at the end of summer, early fall! Woods that work best are alders, apple, aspen, birch, cottonwood, maple, oak, poplar, willow (make sure it is dead or it will sprout). Hugelkultur can be a simple huge pile or an elegant graceful design like this one. Could be right in your front yard! See more!

Plant Bee Food, Herbs and Flowers! Sow or transplant basil, borage, chervil, chamomile, chives, cilantro, comfrey, dill, fennel, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, tarragon, and thyme. Comfrey, mint and oregano are invasive. Remove the bottom of a 5 gal container, sink it where you want your plant and plant in it. That contains the roots where you want them. Mint can jump ship, so keep a constant eye on it! Be mindful where you plant your herbs… Mediterranean herbs from southern France, like lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory, and thyme, do well in hot summer sun and poor but well-drained soil with minimal fertilizer. On the other hand, soft herbs like basil, chives, coriander (cilantro), and parsley thrive in richer soil with more frequent watering. Wise planting puts chives by your broccoli, kale, but away from peas if you are still growing some. Cilantro, a carrot family workhorse, discourages harmful insects such as aphids, potato beetles and spider mites, attracts beneficial insects when in bloom. Dill is a natural right next to the cucumbers since you will use the dill if you make pickles. They mature about the same time.

Let some of your arugula, carrots, lettuces, cilantro bloom! Bees, and insect eating birds and beneficial insects love them and you will get some seeds – some for the birds, some for you, some to take to the seed swap! Grow beauty – purple cosmos, marigold, white sweet alyssum – all benefit your garden in their own way! See Stripes of Wildflowers! Here are some special considerations – Courting Solitary Bees!

To plant a seed is to believe in tomorrow. Audrey Hepburn, born May 4, 1929

Updated annually


April we had varying hotter and cooler than average weather, but very few plants bolted! Some flowers came in early! See our images:  an unexpected cheddar cauliflower, Sweet Peas galore, amazing BreadSeed Poppies, Beans, Tomatoes and summer squash blooming, and more! You may get some ideas for those Mother’s Day prezzies! We are Sowing the Future!

Check out the entire May 2021 Newsletter:

  • The Magic of Melons ~ Cantaloupe, Honeydew!
  • Pollination: Honeybees, Squash Bees & Bumblebees!
  • Mulching ~ Why, When, With What, How Much?!
  • Super Success with Tomatoes that Make Trusses!
  • Upcoming Gardener Event!

Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is.

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Tomato Cherry Multi Trusses

Fancy this! Cherry Tomato with Triple Trusses!

From Containers to Canopies, tomatoes that make trusses just make you feel abundance is flowing! How luxurious to clip off a cluster of tomatoes along a stem with a single snip! What a splendid gift to share!

They can be big tomatoes or mini cherries. It can be one of many on a single truss, as in the case of cherry tomatoes, or one of several larger fruit, such as beefsteak slicing tomatoes. Either could take several sittings to finish eating! You could grow one plant or a farmer’s row!

Graham Tranter of Bridgnorth in Shropshire, UK, grew a single tomato stem (or “truss”) that yielded a record 488 tomatoes when counted during the October 2010 harvest. Green-fingered Graham beat his own record, set the previous year at 304 tomatoes.

Outdoors or in your greenhouse! There are special truss tomatoes bred specially for greenhouse growing! Advantages are no bugs, grow all year.

Varieties make a decided difference!

Size is important! You can get squatty container varieties, patio plants, or Determinate Bush types that don’t get very tall but produce sooner and all at once – great for canning! You can get vining Indeterminate types that go on all summer long, keeping your table filled with toothsome happiness!

Fantastic Rapunzel Tomato Trusses - up to 40 tomatoes per truss! Tomatoes Truss Container

Clusters can be long or short, be cherries or sandwich filling slicers! And cherries can be smaller or larger! Cherries: If you are looking for long drama, Rapunzel – up to 40 fruits/truss, suitable for container growing, at left, and Sweet Million, are great choices! Super Sweet 100s are shorter and faster, but still long enough to get complimentary comments! They are a prolific cherry tomato F1 hybrid, Indeterminate, 65-70 days, great-tasting, heat tolerant and disease resistant! The vigorous indeterminate vines produce dozens of irresistibly sweet, bite-sized tomatoes on long trusses. Other great cherries are F1 Sun Gold, Sunrise Bumble Bee, and heirloom Black Cherry.

Tomato Goliath Slicer Double TrussSlicers! Look at this handsome double cluster VFFT 10 to 16 oz Goliath Italian Beefsteak Tomato, plenty of disease resistance, at left! Tanager Beefsteak is another red coming in at 8.9 – 10.5 oz, also great resistance! Frederick F1, 7-9 oz, is good in mildew prone areas including greenhouses and tunnels! Short internode lengths result in a compact plant, which works well for shorter less tall tunnels.

Plants can have no disease resistance or a lot of resistance. Look for resistance to powdery mildew, like Merlice. If you are getting slicers, look for crack resistance to avoid losing a good portion of your tomato. You worked hard to grow that beast!

Plants can be early varieties for northern short season cool summers or heat and drought tolerant. There are special greenhouse varieties and for tunnel and hoophouse growing. See Johnny’s super informative page Top-15 Tomatoes for Hoophouse & High Tunnel Production! Quite an education. They say: ‘Hands down, ‘BHN 589’ is the best determinate tomato for the hoophouse.’ There are several BHN tomatoes grown for specific purpose, for example their BHN 975 is an early tom to be grown in fall! They cater to farmers who want the best productive crops all year long!

Planting is the same as for non truss varieties. Various parts of the country have the same pest/diseases, where others have locality specific pests/diseases. Blights and Wilts Fungi are common to many areas. Please see special planting techniques and maintenance treatments to combat them at Wilts & Cucumber Beetles, Tomatoes & Cukes! Smart selection of Companion Plants makes a huge difference. Please consider merging important Companion Plants with your tomato beauties! See Tomato Varieties! Humble to Humongous & More – Companions!

Remove Side shoots, Suckers

Remove the side shoots from indeterminate tall varieties, but not from determinate bush varieties!

On the left is a side shoot. On the right is a supported Truss ‘branch’ with flowers!

Tomato Truss Side Shoot  Tomato Truss starting along main stem with Support Clip

All tomatoes get side shoots, suckers, the little sprouts that grow between the main stem and the branches. Many growers remove them no matter what kind of tomato they are growing. The side shoots are not producers, block air flow, create micro habitat that lets fungi flourish, shades the fruits slowing ripening. With growing trusses it is vital to remove them because you will only get so many trusses from each plant and the whole truss needs sunlight to ripen all the way down at once!

A truss ‘branch’ grows from the main stem and has the flowers on it that turn into tomatoes! Do not remove those!!! 

Late summer, if your bush varieties are still producing lots of side shoots, even flower clusters, remove some so your plant’s energy goes into the flowers and fruit already maturing.

If it is early times in the season and you want more plants, let strong side shoots grow to 6″ or more, cut and plant them! That’s faster than starting from seed!

Support your Trusses!

Amazon.com : 100 Pcs Tomato Support Clips Tomato Vegetable Support J-hook  Clips to Prevent Tomatoes From Pinching or falling off : Garden & Outdoor  Plastic truss support - 6TB1000 - Bato Plastics B.V. - for tomatoes

Fruit of larger varieties can become quite heavy. There are several types of ties, clips, hooks, foam wire to protect your plant, and more! Clips extend from the truss to the tomato plant’s main stem or to the support system, such as a cage or other structure, holding the plant up. The little branches can pinch or kink. They can break in strong winds when heavily loaded. Install your supports while the little branches are still small and pliable.

At the end of a thread, here was the original questioner’s response due to his trials: I love the J hooks on most of the large trusses; but some of them needed the foam wire because they were too far from my drop lines. The J hooks are really easy to use but you do need lines to hook them to. I would love it if they made a J hook that had the J on both ends so you could hook it to another limb for support if a line wasn’t nearby. The foam wire works really good on those trusses that stand up and are far from the main stem. It is much easier to use and holds them more securely than tying the trusses with twine. The arches help a lot with those smaller trusses that have a shorter stem on them but you need to put them on early before the stem gets more rigid. All they do is give the stem a nice supported bend so when the weight of the fruit starts pulling it down they don’t kink as often. For more useful details, see the thread.

Luster Leaf Rapiclip Foam Wire Tie 835 safely holds heavier trusses, reusable, with no harm to plant or fruit. Search around for the best deal or something like it that works well for your needs.

Helping Trusses to Set Fruit

Tomato flowers are self-pollinating, which means that each blossom is composed of both male and female organs, and the wind usually disperses the pollen to the sticky end of the stamen.

Trusses have problems just like other tomatoes, but a special one, that ruins the symmetry, is Blossom Drop. Flowers can fail to pollinate, don’t (set fruit) and those flowers drop off their stems. You can pretend you are a Bumblebee! They do buzz pollination by wrapping their legs around the flower, vibrating their wings at high speed causing the pollen to drop! Some people say ‘gently tap the plants.’ I give mine mighty whaps, to the main stems that have flowers, and they produce prolifically! About 11 AM is the best time. If you are tech oriented, use an electric toothbrush, battery shaver or (blush) vibrator!

How Many Trusses will your tomato make?!

It’s good to remember that fewer trusses will usually produce ripe tomatoes sooner than one that has more trusses! Hmm, I would probably opt to wait a bit longer, LOL!

There are varying ‘rules’:

  • Four trusses for plants grown outdoors
  • Five or six trusses for plants in a greenhouse or polytunnel
  • Four trusses (maximum) on a large variety but seven or eight on a cherry.
  • If the plant is healthy, allow 7 to 8 trusses to form.
  • If you live in a cool Northern area with a short summer it might be best to let only 3 trusses form, especially in poor summers.

There is also the consideration of when to stop your plant so it can finish maturing the trusses it already has before cooler weather sets in. Remove the growing tip two leaf branches above the top truss. Remove any trusses that come on later.

How Many Toms will there be on a truss?!

Of course we count them, LOL, as we eat them! It depends very much on the variety and growing conditions.

A medium size variety that has faced the demons of outside weather may only produce six tomatoes on the first truss, and be proud for it! Vigorous grafted varieties may produce around twenty! See Tomato Grafting?!?! THREE Times the Growth! From a vigorous cherry variety, you could get around fifty tomatoes on a truss in a good season!

Maintenance

Tomato Truss Maintenance Removal Lower Leaves after Ripe

As your plants mature, remove leaves that shade the lower trusses right back to the main stem! That gives more air flow and less disease. Your plant works more on production than leaves. We want a minimum of 6 hrs sun per day. When a truss is ripe, all branches below the ripe truss can be removed.

Like other tomatoes, Truss Tomatoes are also susceptible to Blight, Fusarium and Verticillium Wilts, Fungi! Please see Wilts & Cucumber Beetles, Tomatoes & Cukes! for special growing tips! As I scanned UK sites, again and again, Comfrey Tea was mentioned! One gardener recommends seaweed products to add minerals that are closely linked to flavor.

GRAFTING!

Many gardeners don’t have enough room to get the quantity of tomatoes they want. Some compensate by planting several plants, removing almost all the leaves, having larger fruits sooner but fewer of them, though en total, they get more tomatoes per the space used. Plus they have free space below to use for additional plants of other kinds. Grafting might be a smart choice for them…

Now here’s a treat! GRAFTED DOUBLE F1 SUNGOLD/SWEET MILLION! 65-75 days. Cherry Combo–Two of the most popular Territorial Seed cherry tomato varieties on one plant. Double variety. Sungold‘s fruity or tropical flavor is a big hit with everyone who tastes it. The bright apricot-orange round globes are 1 1/4 inches across and are borne on long, 10-15 fruit, grape-like trusses. The vigorous indeterminate vines produce equally well in the field and the early spring greenhouse. F 1-2, TMV, V. Trial ground visitors can’t get enough of red Sweet Million! They keep sneaking back for these flavor packed cherry tomatoes. The indeterminate 3 foot tall plants produce 1-1 1/2 inch fruit in grape-like clusters. A truss of these “two bite” size tomatoes is welcome next to any mixed greens salad. Very disease resistant. F 1-2, TMV, ToMV 0-1.

See Tomato Grafting?!?! THREE times the growth! The tomatoes come in sooner, produce longer! Imagine that with a tomato that makes monster trusses! Alice Doyle, a co-owner of Log House Plants in Cottage Grove, OR, says the root balls of grafted tomatoes can stretch 4 to 6 or even 10 feet wide and deep, compared with a regular tomato root mass of 2 to 3 feet. So not only are they able to find more water and nutrients during a drought, their vigor helps them deal with extended heat. If you would like to try a grafted tomato, see Banner Greenhouses’s offerings! Though their offerings are probably meant for farmers, you will see the possibilities and may decide to do it yourself! Grafting is not difficult. See how!  Johnny’s Seeds offers fine rootstocks, each best suited to a specific purpose, and will ship grafted tomatoes ready to plant!

Beautiful SunGold Tomato Trusses Ripening by Renee's GardenNow. The question is ‘What if you don’t know your tomato is a truss tomato, or what a truss is?’ For years I grew Sungold cherries, a truss tomato, see those beauties at left, under exactly those conditions. When they got ripe I harvested and ate them on the spot. Yes, they did grow in little rows, but not so long as to be super impressive. Probably they didn’t get long, as I’ve seen in many images now, because I let them ALL grow at once, never limited the number of trusses, forcing growth to the few trusses allowed to remain! Worked for me. I got lots of tomatoes all summer long. So if this truss tending business isn’t for you, fine. If you like a certain variety, just grow it like any tomato and eat your toms as you will. Tomatoes have grown just fine without human intervention! None of what you don’t do damages your tomato except for no water. If you don’t know about trusses, you won’t wail about not having enough or long enough trusses, LOL! Nope. You just eat ’em as they are, right there at the garden, maybe dripping down your chin…

The magic of trusses is the beauty of their remarkable long chain or the gorgeous cluster of those tomatoes all in one place! The best thing about Truss tomatoes is they will keep ripening in the fruit bowl if you keep them attached to their stem.

Happy counting and Happy eating, LOL!

Updated


Love your Mother! Plant bird & bee food! Think grey water! Grow organic! Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!

The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. All three of Santa Barbara’s community gardens are very coastal. During late spring/summer we are often in a fog belt/marine layer most years, locally referred to as the May grays, June glooms and August fogusts. Keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is.

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