Start seedlings indoors for March/April plantings. Sow seeds. Transplant! If seeds and tending seedlings aren’t for you, wait and get transplants and pop them right in the ground per their right times!
Santa Barbara’s average last frost date is January 22, so I planted seeds! They are in the Greenhouse! Soonest, start peppers from seed! Peppers often take their time, much longer than other plants. If you planted some Zucchini in the ground, I did, there could still be another frost and you will have to replant. Know that no matter how early you plant some plants, they still won’t produce fruit until they have enough hours of sun, and for some, warmth including day and/or night and/or ground temps.
Start eggplants and tomatoes seeds! Go for gorgeous Heirloom tomatoes if you have disease free soil. If your soil has wilts, choose wilt resistant varieties. If you have space, at the same time, plant indeterminate/vining varieties for all season long production! They take a little longer to produce, but once they start, they don’t stop! They are water savers since no time is lost starting more determinate/bush tomato varieties, having periods of no crop while waiting for them to fruit.
If you get in-the-ground planting fever, put in small fruited varieties and cherry toms to start your tomato season. Plant patio and determinate, early varieties for soonest production and/or if you have little space. But you can better use that area for quick grown plants for their leaves, until it’s the right time to plant toms. Planted at the right time, plants thrive, grow faster, and produce naturally. Waiting and waiting for fruits to ripen, or plants than are off their cycles and don’t produce fruits at all, loses nutritious gardening time and spends your soil with no return. Plants grown for their leaves produce continuously and can be removed when you want the space, and you shall have had lush harvests. Think of kales, chard, lettuce, beets, even mini dwarf cabbages. Perhaps you will leave some of them as understory plants and plant taller peppers like Pobanos or Big Jim Anaheims, and tomatoes among them. If you do that, keep the understory plants on the sunny side of where your tall plants will be.
From Seed, Sow beets, caraway, celery, carrots, chard, chervil, chives, collards, cilantro (coriander), dill, endive, fennel, garlic, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuces, mustards, green onions, bulb onion sets, flat-leafed parsley, peas – mildew resistant varieties, white potatoes, radishes, shallots, spinach, and turnips. With our temp changes, get bolt resistant/slow bolt varieties, and especially drought tolerant varieties.
Transplant artichoke and asparagus crowns and rhubarb rhizomes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, horseradish, kale, leeks, lettuce, onions, peas, and spinach. It’s the best time to plant strawberries, so they can grow well before the weather warms and they put out blossoms. Be mindful to ask your nursery for bolt resistant/slow bolt and drought tolerant varieties!
Summer Garden Design
- Install pathways, berms
- Waffle Garden, basins & windbreaks, Water Garden
- Gather cages & trellises
- Terrace slopes
- Build raised beds, Hugelkultur
- Get new containers, pallets
- Organize straw bales
- Setup Compost areas
With your summer garden layout in mind, get SEEDS if you haven’t already! Start them indoors NOW! Check your 2015 seed catalogs for drought and heat tolerant varieties or look in southern states or world areas that have desert low-water-needs plants and order up! The seeds of these types may need to be planted deeper and earlier for moisture they need. They may mature earlier. Be prepared to do second plantings and use a little water.
Spring planting soil prep!
- Add compost & amendments to your soil all at the same time.
- Add well aged manure as appropriate. Less in spring because you want fruit production, not leaf, unless it is a plant grown for its leaves, like kale or cabbage! None for carrots, peas or beans.
- Add 25% worm castings. As little as 10% works. They are potent, help with plant immunities to disease.
- Sprinkle with a tad of coffee grounds to reduce wilts fungi.
- Don’t cover with mulch unless you need it for erosion control. Covered soil is cooler. Let your soil warm up.
- Water your prepped areas when you water your other veggies. Moist, not flooded soil is rampant with life!
You could choose to put in green manure where you will grow heavy summer feeders like tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, chilis, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, melons, and corn; hungry stalk vegetables like celery, fennel, rhubarb, and artichokes; or continually producing green, leafy vegetables like lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard. Green manure can be beautiful favas, bell beans, or a vetch mix to boost soil Nitrogen. Favas are big and you get a lot of green manure per square foot. With our warming weather, longer days, your green manure will grow quickly! Whack it down, chop and turn under as soon as it begins to flower. It’s more tender to chop then. Taller is not better.
Standard Veggie Care
Sidedressing! Hard working plants need fuel and water. As broccoli starts to head, give it a fish/kelp tonic! After the main head is cut, your side shoots will flourish!
- When you put in new transplants, sprinkle a bit of Sluggo type stuff around immediately to keep snails and slugs from seriously damaging them while they are small. Before you anticipate your seedlings coming up, sprinkle some pellets around the plant, along both sides of rows. That keeps the creatures from mowing them overnight, making you think they never came up! Do this a few times, and there will be no tiny vegetarian predators for a while.
- Pull away those blotchy sections the leafminers make on chard and beet leaves. Hose aphids off kale and brocs. Keep doing it for a few days to catch the ones you missed. Remove any yellowing leaves that attract white fly. Remove whole leaves that are too funky for rescue. Harvest the bigger outer lower leaves more often to stay ahead of the miners. Water a tad less so leaves are less soft and inviting.
- Gophers You can still put in wire protective baskets or barriers, especially now while the soil is softer after the rains. If you see a fresh mound, trap immediately.
Glance at beet roots, turnips, in general, for low soil, especially after rains. Maybe you aren’t quite planting your seeds deeply enough or maybe you are watering in a way that washes the soil away? Anyway, cover up beet, carrot, radish and turnip shoulders to keep them from drying and getting rough looking and tough.
Thin any plants you intentionally over planted – carrots, beets, turnips, kale, chard, mustard. If you planted too close together, take out the shorter, weaker plants. They are all great in your salads along with small tender Brassica leaves.
COMPOST always! Soil building is the single-most important thing you can do for your garden. Compost is easy to make. Added to your soil, it increases water holding capacity, is nutritious, soil organisms flourish, your soil breathes! Make a compost pile, put clean green waste/kitchen trim in alternate layers with straw/leaves in a bin, trench in kitchen trim, lay layers on top of your garden with a light covering of soil so all the nutrients are contained and it doesn’t draw flies! The soil organisms will work at the top as well as from the ground soil up. Throw on some red wriggler worms to speed the process and enrich with castings! Giving back to Mama Earth is nature’s natural way! Ask neighbors or kin to save non-predator type kitchen veggie scraps for you. Go lightly on coffee grounds.
Have a wonderful February! May your seedlings grow well!
The Green Bean Connection started as correspondence for the Santa Barbara CA USA Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden. We are very coastal, only a mile from the beach, in a spring/summer fog belt/marine layer area most years, so keep that in mind compared to the microclimate niche where your veggie garden is. Bless you for being such a wonderful Earth Steward!
Leave a wild place, untouched, in your garden! It’s the place the faeries and elves, the little people can hang out. When you are down on your hands and knees, they will whisper what to do. All of a sudden an idea pops in your mind….
Think Seedlings and Soil! Happy Planting!
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