August, First Fall Plantings!
A treat from blog In My Kitchen Garden – Waltham 29, Green Sprouting Calabrese, & Early Purple Sprouting Broccoli! The joy of planting seeds is you can get varieties not available at nurseries, and plant as many as you like!
August is the time of the turn of the seasons here in coastal SoCal!
It can be blazing hot, with harvests you can’t keep up with, to planting the first seeds of your winter crops! If you have space and want to, another round of fast growers like beans, or transplants of early maturing corn, are plenty successful late summer for early fall harvest. And, as always, plant your year-rounds, beets, bunch onions, carrots, summer lettuces, radish, to keep a colorful variety for your table. Otherwise, keep harvesting and wait for September or October planting.
Design Your Fall Garden! Decide where next year’s tomatoes will go, reserve that area to plant favas in November. Put tall plants to the north, or on the shady side, and shorter ones to the south, or on the sunny side of the tall plants. Select areas you want to be permanent beds for perennials, work around those. Choose your crops for taste, beauty, nutrition.
Get your seeds! A hint about broccoli – intermingle different varieties for pest prevention! UC study explains
Plant from seeds! As your hot crop plants finish, improve that soil for fall seedlings to be started there. If there isn’t room for full space yet, start a nursery area mid month August in a semi shaded spot – celery, Brassicas: cabbage, brocs, Brussels sprouts, collards, cauliflower, kale babies. Mid-August is one of the best times to plant Swiss chard from seeds! Move plants from the nursery area as space becomes available. But have a plan. Tall plants to the North or on the shady side, then plants of graduated sizes to the South or sunniest areas. If you are starting them in 6 packs or flats, plant mid month to be put out late Sep, Oct. If starting seeds isn’t your thing, too much tending, or you will be away and can’t keep them watered, not to worry! You can wait and do September transplants, Labor Day Weekend is perfect!
Plant sweet potato slips in late summer for harvest around Christmas! Jenny Knowles, gardener at Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden, harvested these tasty beauties Dec 28, 2011! She let sprouted taters grow into plants while on her kitchen window sill. She planted them in Aug/Sep, on the sunny side of her black composter. Clearly, between the super compost nutrition, and the heat of the composter, both the black color and the warmth of the decomposing compost, she succeeded! She got several smaller pups before she took the main plant and the large central potatoes. I was lucky to witness this fine harvest!
Keep SeedSaving! Seeds are drying well now. If they are what you could plant again, scatter some about! Or store them in a cool dry place for next year’s plantings. Remember, these seeds are from your best plants, adapted to you and your locality. If you are willing, do take any of your extras over to the Seed Library at the FoodBank! While you are there, pick up some of your favorites, or get some new ones to try out!
Keep your watering steady to avoid slowing or stopping production or misshapen fruits – that’s curled beans, odd shaped peppers, catfaced strawberries. Water short rooted plants like beans, cucumbers and strawberries more frequently. Keep them well mulched, especially the cucumbers. Keep them off the ground to protect them from suffering from the wilts fungi. I put down straw a good 6″ deep.
Give your heavy producers a good feed. Eggplants have a large fruit, beans put out a ton of beans, tomatoes are big and working hard, peppers can be profuse! They like a tad of chicken manures scratched in, bunny poop and straw (pick up Thursdays at the Animal Shelter), well aged horse manure and compost makes them dance with the faeries in the night time! Fertilizers highest in P, Phosphorus, keeps blooming and fruiting at an optimum.
Keep turning your fall compost pile, start one if you haven’t! This warmer weather will help the pile decompose faster, and your plants will be blessed when you give the compost to them! If you aren’t hot composting, remember, thin layers and smaller bits decompose faster. The ratio is 1 wet/green to 2 dry/brown. Throw in whatever kitchen trim, torn tea bags, coffee filters/grounds, crushed eggshells – anything worms can eat will decompose faster. I’m talking faster because starting now is a little late, so this is what you do to ‘catch up!’ Sprinkle with a handful or two of living moist soil to innoculate your pile, and some red wriggler worms here and there to make your pile jump up! Turn it as often as you can to aerate and keep things humming. Once a day if possible, but do what you can. Compost improves your soil’s water holding capacity and adds and stabilizes N, Nitrogen! Yes!
Further follow up on Tomato Grafting! The Maxiforts had about an 80% germination rate. Not the best for such expensive seeds, $23 for 50. They are now grafted and we are waiting to see how they do!