Glorious September – Pea Lover’s Month!
What a fine time to be planting, great weather! Fall transplants are in the nurseries! I have already planted purple broccoli and cauliflower along with some late summer lettuces. I’m going to clear spots in front of my finishing beans for the new little peas, also available now as transplants at the nurseries. I saw them at La Sumida – Patterson, along with some red cabbages! You know we have that Bagrada Bug now (see next post please), so it is recommended to generously plant stinky plants like onions, garlic, parsley among the Brassicas/Coles – brocs, cauliflowers, kale, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, to put off the Bagradas. Believe me, you don’t want them. I have seen an infestation, and it is a sad thing.
Remember, it is so easy to sprout peas! Dampen the paper towel, spray the towel to keep it moist. You will have sprouts before you can believe. You just have to be careful not to break them when you plant them. Clearly, you get 100% production this way, no empty spots in the line!
Gopher barriers NOW! Before you start your fall planting, get that gopher barrier in! A perimeter 18” to two feet deep, plus 6” above the soil line, each section well joined to prevent push-through access. Gophers love lettuces, chard, peas. Or your can plant in baskets, purchased or home-made. Baskets can be in small areas, for example, just the lettuce patch in the corner, or the single basket for your celery plant. Just be sure they are deep enough for that plant.
Soil Prep is Key for fat growth! Clean away debris, spent or unhealthy plants. Now it the time to lay in that compost you have been making, and a generous portion of worm castings! Add some manure to your lettuce, parsley and garlic beds, Brassica areas. Peas are a legume and make their own Nitrogen, but sometimes they can do with a tad more if that soil is depleted. Some spots may need a bit of peat moss. Or, ‘lasagna garden,’ starting with cardboard/newspaper, layer on dry/wet, that’s straw/alfalfa (high in Nitrogen) and green waste like grass, kitchen scraps, until you have a pile 18” high or as high as you can make it with the materials you have. At various points throw on a bit of manure, scatter some soil to inoculate it with soil organisms. If you have some Vermicomposting worms, toss some of them in too. Nature will do its work, your pile will sink down. To plant immediately, scoop open a spot, put in compost, plant your plant. The heat from the decomposing pile will get your plants off to a great start! You want humusy soil that is nutritious with great water holding capacity.
Yummy fall veggies include all your Brassicas – cabbage, brocs, Brussels sprouts, collards cauliflower, kales. Plant celery, mustard greens, spinach, chard and lettuces in shadier spots behind plants that will protect them during the September heat, but who will soon be done allowing your lettuces and friends full sun when it is cooler later on. Remember, September can be HOT. Put in some lettuce from seed, and some from transplants for an earlier harvest – two rounds at once! Parsley seeds need to be kept moist for 20 DAYS! Perfect time for cool weather lovers arugula, cilantro, curly cress. Plant peas at the base of your finishing beans. Plant Sweet Peas for Christmas bloom! Plant the all-years beets, carrots, chard, radishes, rutabagas, turnips.
Plant favas where you will plant your tomatoes next summer, or where you didn’t plant favas last year. I was quite pleased with the health and production of the veggies I planted where the favas were last year. Why favas? They are a legume and put Nitrogen in your soil. The delicious beans are, loCal, high in protein, iron and fiber. The tender tops are a wonderful steamed green. They become green manure when you chop them while young, just as they start flowering, and till them into your soil. They are a great winter cover crop, producing one of the highest rates of compostable organic material per square foot!
The weird thing about favas is when you let your best plants’ pods dry for seed saving, you don’t harvest the pods until they dry and turn really ugly, black!!! I didn’t know that early on, thought my pods were diseased and rotten, carefully cut them off and threw them away…groan.
Reminder! You can buy bulk organic fava seeds at your natural foods stores! Ask for them if you don’t see them out on the floor displays. Here is a great short John Kohler vid on saving MONEY buying bulk seeds at natural food stores, and presprouting to plant your fall favas. Presprouting equals 100% germination and mucho time saved since favas have a notoriously low germination rate! It’s a no-brainer since it is so easy to do!
For Pests and Diseases? Drench young plants with Aspirin solution to get them off to a great start!
If you are wondering what happened with the Maxiforts (tomato grafting), I hurt my hands late July, so didn’t get to participate in the experiment, but will let you know how it goes with my other Master Gardener friend’s tomato grafts.
Have a delicious September, Dear Gardeners!