General PT Info | February | Soil First! | Seed Starting Basics
Rainy Day Tips | Winston Smoyer Memorial Community Garden
The L.A. Community Garden Council | Botany Buddies
Permaculture Investing | Volunteer 40th Earth Day!
Dear Pilgrim Terrace Gardeners and Garden Friends,
John Cookson joins our list. He already gardens at home and has 14 fruit trees! Tony Miller, who lives in the ‘hood, is thinking about getting a Pilgrim Terrace plot. People who signed on at the 2nd Annual Seed Swap are Ann Lasko, Tina Smarsh, Wendy Robins, Don Hubbert, Francisco Villarreal, Theresa Russ, Mindy Lau, Susan Green, Chona P….ck, Rebecca Traver, Teresa Bothman, Amy Rhiger, Chris Ahlman, Mark Wilson, Ann Lawler, Brad Lauster Plot 40 at Yananoli Community Garden!, Indi Saleh, Cat Almo, Laurie Constable, Carrie Clough, Heather Shea, Teisha Rowland, Madya Penoff, Michael Barney, Todd Richardson, Wynn Stone, Stevie Richardson, Iris Scott, Krista Harris, Laura Lynch, Catherine At…., Andrew Goldstone, Liz Gorman, Meg West, Jim Bell, Kristy Lee, Amy Jacobs, Reese Lamar, Ryan Dixon, Caroline Richardson, Madeline Moreaux, Kathy Hunley, Scott Chatenever, Kristen La Bonte of the Greenhouse & Garden Project UCSB, and Judy Sims of s’Cool Gardens, which aims to develop gardens in all public schools throughout Santa Barbara County! I list all your names to keep the networking going!
FYI I talked with Jim Roehrig, our Backyard Harvest hero. He often offers, FREE on Craigslist, 40+ days old compost, to pickup, a combo of horse, bat and chicken manure!
General Pilgrim Terrace Garden info:
There was a great turnout for the 2nd Annual Seed Swap! It was a perfect time of year, with spring planting imminent, to share seeds and garden knowledge! I represented the Community Gardens and gave mini talks on Seed Saving Tips. It is generally agreed we need more community gardens, like on the Mesa, in Goleta, more in SB. Several of us were filmed, and may be put on YouTube and/or the Green Shorts Film Festival!
Seeds for Haiti When the Seed Swap was over, I was given the remaining seeds to give to you Pilgrim Terrace gardeners. But a call came out for seeds for Haiti, so they are on their way there instead. If any of you have seeds to spare, please contact Brenda Cooper at email@example.com She’s leaving from La Fayette GA with a team for Jacmel, Haiti Feb 11, so no time to lose!
At our garden meetings with Antonio he mentioned the possible use of Roundup in our pathways. It has already been used. If you don’t prefer it to be used by your plot, to insure good organic food, keep your pathways weed free! While the soil is soft from the rains, try to get the nutgrass out before it gets its 4th leaf. The nutlets are about 3 to 6” down, and are linked by ‘roots,’ so dig a bit to get the whole plant if possible. If you can’t get the whole plant, just keep at it, it will exhaust the nut in time. Talk with your neighbors, see if they will help you by keeping their half of the pathway clear. You don’t have to do the whole area at once, do just 5’ or 10’ at a time, a little each time you are at the garden will get the job done!
Across-the-Plot Gardening Tips:
PLANT! Petunias, potatoes, bareroot artichokes, more beets, broc, cabbage, carrots, celery, lettuce, kale, potatoes. Feb is the last chance to plant peas! Choose a disease resistant variety since they will mildew easily when the weather gets warmer! You like onions? Onion seeds sprout extremely easily! San Felipe and Pronto S intermediate day-length onions are good choices.
SIDEDRESS Are your lettuces or some of your plants a little pale, or yellowing? They are likely needing some nitrogen! This cool time of year slows the uptake, and if you have been harvesting, they need a little boost. You will get more side shoots of broccoli, and your lettuce will green up! Give them bloodmeal for a quick perk up, then a fish/kelp combo (2-3 tablespoons/gallon – watering can), some chicken manure, alfalfa meal, and/or compost tea! Your choice.
SEEDLINGS IN THE GREENHOUSE?! Did you get seeds at the 2nd Annual Seed Swap? Now is the time to be starting your little guys in the greenhouse! There is a great selection of planting containers in the shed – go for it! If you didn’t, come to the many Neighborhood Exchanges and trade seeds, transplants. When you grow yours, start some extras to trade and giveaway! If you don’t have time, get some organic seeds at Island Seed and Feed in Goleta, or order online at Seeds of Change and Abundant Life Seeds, two good sources! Get the best because you may want to save some seeds at season’s end for next year’s planting.
Aphids/White Flies Season Keep an eye out for these critters in your broccoli, cabbages and kale. The simplest thing to do is spray ‘em with a jet of water from the hose, both topside and underneath the leaves! If the infestation gets beyond your tolerance, or the plant gets badly stunted or loses its healthy shape, remove the plant – don’t compost it. Don’t procrastinate on this because aphids/white flies spread. This is one of the prime reasons to plant your plants in separate groupings or areas, rather than in a row, so the invaders can’t walk plant to plant.
GOPHERS Sorry to say, we got ‘em. There are traps in the shed, or you may wish to bring your own, or maybe you would never trap a poor cute little gopher. But. They make children. Bill Henderson, Plot 25, has helped many of us learn how to use the traps. I can show you, and Joe Diaz in Plot 3 can help you if you would like that. For very useful information, please see University of California, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Pocket Gophers. You can plant onions throughout your plot, some say that deters them, but don’t plant onions where you would grow peas. Onions stunt peas. (Carrots enhance peas.)
Slugs and Snails can eat a plant overnight, only the bare stem remaining, if that. Some good strategies are below. For important details, please see University of California, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Snails and Slugs
- Remove hiding places – leave a few hiding places (traps), remove the snails that gather there
- Use drip irrigation to reduce humidity and moist surfaces = less habitat
- Choose snail proof plants as possible
- Use copper barriers
- Make habitat for natural enemies ie tall poles for birds
- Use bait like Sluggo/Escar-Go. Sluggo is organic, safe for birds and animals, pets and children, can be used on the day of harvest, and is effective even after watering or rain! Is it really ‘organic?’ See this article by conscientious Golden Gate Gardener
Soil First – Get ready for spring planting!
What is the difference between Compost, Worm Castings, Mulch?
Compost you put in your planting holes, dig in, or put on the surface and cover with mulch. It replenishes your soil. It supplies Nitrogen, the prime ingredient plants need for good growth.
Worm castings, vermicompost, are very low in N (Nitrogen) but have special plant-growth hormones. The humus in castings improve your soil’s capacity to hold water. Castings suppress several diseases and significantly reduce parasitic nematodes, aphids, mealy bugs and mites.
Compost and castings need to be dug in or covered with mulch. The Nitrogen in compost will simply off gas, if left exposed on the surface. If not mulched, both compost and castings will dry out, making nutrients unavailable for use by your plants.
Mulch you put on the surface to preserve your soil, keep it moist, the temp cool for more fragile plants in summer. In winter it keeps rain from splashing mud up on your lettuce leaves; in summer it keeps fruits like cucs and strawberries clean. But what most of us love, is it prevents light germinating weed seeds from sprouting! Yay! Organic mulches, like barks, straw, leaves, what you chop and drop, deliberately grown mulch plants that are then felled in place, can be nutritious to your soil as they decompose. But you might want to leave bare soil under tomatoes and peppers. They thrive with the heat!
Seed Starting Basics!
The hardest part to starting seeds may be choosing which to start! There are so many choices! But basically, the process is easy. The trick is to mimic Mama Nature if you aren’t planting in the ground – you need light, soil, water and food. That’s it.
So if you didn’t fling seeds about the garden last fall, broadcast, to start when and where they will, here goes! A windowsill, that gets 8 hours of bright light, or maybe grow lights will do the job, or the greenhouse – someplace where, if possible, you could put your starts in a tray to get water from the bottom. If you are using a greenhouse, shorten the start time by a week since a greenhouse is usually warmer. If you use a windowsill, turn your plants often to keep their stems vertical. Spindly? Not enough light. If you will be moving your starts from smaller to larger containers, potting up, keep the need for enough space to do that in mind. Any container with drainage will do, especially recycled ones!
If you have a seed packet, it will tell you when to plant, or check online if you don’t. Know that bell peppers take a long time. An old trick is to start another batch in a week or two, or in a month. If one group fails, another may do fine. If you took a chance it wouldn’t freeze, but lost, you have a backup batch to plant. If you are buying seeds, get enough.
Pick some good soilless potting mix – it’s light, water retentive but drains well, disease, insect, weed seed free. Fill your container then water it to settle the potting mix. A general rule is to plant 3 – 4 times as deep as the width of your seed. If the seed if very fine, just cover with a fine layer of your mix. Some seeds need light to germinate. LABEL with date and plant name!
Since potting mix doesn’t have nutrients, you need to add some once the first true leaves (the ones that form after the two cotyledons) have developed. Half-strength doses of fish emulsion/kelp once a week will do the job the first three to four weeks. Then give full strength every week, or two.
Two common problems are planting too deep, and over watering. Either way your seeds will rot, or your baby plant will get the vapors, a fungus called ‘damping off,’ and, uh, expire. Now that’s sad. So pay attention to your planting depth, and much as you love your little guys, don’t keep their surroundings too humid or wet. Remove them from soaking trays as soon as the soil is moist. On the other hand, letting them dry out, or get too hot, is the literally the end. Steady attention is required. Each year you will learn more. Get a baby sitter if you have to be away, a trustworthy plant-experienced sitter.
If you get one tiny whiff of a disease or pest, or any of your plants die of damping off fungus, remove those plants immediately. Things can spread quickly among plants that are close together, young and tender. Don’t reuse the potting mix. If you have mold, things are too wet. Start over, or scrape it off, stop watering a few days, increase air circulation, even use a small fan. That may do the job, or, it may not. Let the soil dry out a bit between watering.
Room temp water is good. Let chlorinated water sit overnight to let the chlorine dissipate. Avoid softened water because of the salts.
The last part of the process is called hardening off. First let them have an hour of shady outdoor time during the warmest part of the day. Don’t put them on the ground if there are slugs! Then into the sun a few hours. Then some overnights. Then into the ground, on a cloudy day if possible, into well watered soil! If it is a warm day, you might want to rig some shade. Don’t forget to add some mycorrhizal fungi at the roots. Congratulations, you did it! You are a plant parent!
Rainy Day Tips – Anticipate!
Fertilize before a rain so the fertilizer will soak in.
Take the cover off your compost to let it get wet.
Tie or stake plants that may topple from wind or weight.
At home, set up to collect rainwater for later use!
Make raised beds, mounds, to help with drainage issues.
Mulch to keep soil from splashing up on your plants, keeping your harvest clean, and soil from eroding from where you want it.
Plant for air circulation so foliage dries quickly. Plants too closely spaced tend to get mildew easier.
Choose mildew resistant plants! Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and potassium bicarbonate are quite effective as sprays against mildew and certain other diseases.
Water less frequently and at the ground, not overhead.
Check frequently to see how your plants are doing.
Practice arm-chair gardening! Read garden books, magazines, browse web sites, buy some seeds from mail-order catalogs, make your garden layout!
Get some seeds, soilless potting mix, gather containers with, or make, drainage holes. Start some seeds
Other Community Gardens:
This stunning made-from-recycled trellis lives at the Winston Smoyer Memorial Community Garden, Alhambra CA. The garden boasts nearly 100 individual garden sites that are tended by gardeners who enjoy planting fresh flowers and garden vegetables. They also enjoy getting together once a month for informative monthly meetings and workshops on gardening. To see more of the trellis builder’s doings, please click ToroIchiban. Be sure to read the mouse-over infos at that site!
The Garden is named after Winston Smoyer, a retired Alhambra High School teacher, who was one of the most ardent Alhambra Community gardeners in its history. He loved his plot, and provided friends with a never-ending supply of fresh vegetables, including some of the largest zucchini known to Alhambra. He was also a community activist, serving as long-time President and Curator of the Alhambra Historical Society, member of the Board of the Alhambra Day Nursery, member of the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce (where he won the Chamber’s prestigious “Citizen of the Year” award), and other community organizations.
Los Angeles County has nearly 3,800 plots in 60 public community gardens, but nearly all have waiting lists. Eight acres in Long Beach accommodate 308 gardeners, but volunteer coordinator Lonnie Brundage says the waiting list has been capped at 85 — and she still she receives about 30 phone calls a week from residents eager to dig in. The 50-plot North Hollywood community garden also has a waiting list. Santa Monica’s community gardens have 117 plots spread out across three sites, but 175 people are still in line for a spot. So how about yard sharing?! You may have land but no inclination to till , or “the will to till, but not the land.” Check out GrowFriend.org! Santa Barbara County could use an organization like this.
Here are their 5 Steps to Successful Garden Sharing!
- get to know each other – talk about everything!
- write down your garden sharing agreement
- print it out and sign it
- check in with each other regularly as the season unfolds
- have a harvest festival – invite the neighbors!
The L.A. Community Garden Council says: “Approximately 70 community gardens are growing in Los Angeles County, serving 3,900 families. Community gardens are vibrant, cooperative organizations that build neighborhood self-reliance, and reduce poverty, mitigate global warming and benefit the LA River and Ballona Creek watersheds. Los Angeles devotes little taxpayer money to community gardens yet they return abundant neighborhood benefit.
Good Green Thinking!
What was once a 90-foot steel frame structure that housed new trees, shrubs and the occasional pile of brush at the University of Science and Arts in Chcikasha, Oklahoma, is now teaming with new life and activity as the location of a Community Garden! The project is funded by several sources.
Fourth grade students from Chickasha Public Schools are participating in the garden as Botany Buddies! “What we did with the Botany Buddies was go to the store and buy a variety of seeds and starter kits. We took them to the fourth grade class and asked them to figure out what they wanted to plant. The students grew the seeds in the classroom. The kids then came out and planted their seeds. We showed them how to plant and how to compost. The kids got a kick out of knowing they would be eating something that was grown in cow poop. J
Upcoming Local Events:
1) Thursday, February 4th, 7-9 pm the Santa Barbara Permaculture Guild will offer a FREE presentation (no charge or donations) by permaculture teacher and natural investment advisor Michael Kramer. He will share his thoughts on “Natural Investing and Financial Permaculture.” That includes community, corporate and regenerative investing.
This meeting will be held at the Karpeles Manuscript Library, 21 Anapamu St. in downtown Santa Barbara. There is city parking right behind the building.
3) Saturday, February 13, 7-9:30pm ~Mycelium Running~ How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, Paul Stamets at the Fe Bland Forum auditorium, SBCC West Campus, 721 Cliff Drive. Admission $20 ($10 SBCC Students), no reservations, first come basis. The event is sponsored by the SBCC Center for Sustainability and the Santa Barbara Permaculture Network Non-Profit. For more information, (805) 965-0581, ext. 2177; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paul has discovered four new species of mushrooms, and pioneered countless techniques in the field of edible and medicinal mushroom cultivation. He received the 1998 “Bioneers Award” from The Collective Heritage Institute, and the 1999 “Founder of a New Northwest Award” from the Pacific Rim Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils. In 2008, Paul received the National Geographic Adventure Magazine’s Green-Novator and the Argosy Foundation’s E-chievement Awards. He was also named one of Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World” in their November–December 2008 issue. He has written six books on mushroom cultivation, use and identification.
3) April 17th and 18th at Alameda Park, 40th Anniversary of Earth Day!
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” — the Dalai Lama
May you and your garden flourish!
“In the garden of thy heart, plant naught but the rose of love.” Baha’U’Uah
“Earth turns to Gold in the hands of the Wise” Rumi
Cerena Childress, Plot 46
elist holder Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden