We have had a mild winter here in Santa Barbara and some hot March days, so many of us at Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden have planted early. It will be important to plant more rounds in a month or two to keep our table in fresh supply later on!
Soil temps at Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden are from 62 to 68 degrees now! Get yourself a little soil thermometer, and plant just at the right times in the right places. It makes the most difference to peppers. If planted too soon, sometimes they just never recover. Warm soil, 65°F+, and nighttime temps above 55°F is what they like! BEST PLANTING TEMPS PER VEGGIE! Night air temps are now close to holding 55°F and above. Soon. Very soon.
Start MORE seedlings indoors early April for late May/early June plantings. Okra is a good choice to seed now, plant in June. Sow seeds directly in the ground too! Transplanting is faster by six weeks! If seeds and tending seedlings aren’t for you, only get transplants and pop them right in the ground per their right times!
April 1 or as close to it as you can, start your Jicama seeds! Winter squash for sure. It needs time to grow big and harden for winter storage. Melons now but cantaloupe in May.
Eggplant, limas, okra and peppers, pumpkins! Transplant early-maturing varieties of beans, cucumbers, eggplant, melons, peppers, squash, and tomatoes. Sow and/or transplant asparagus, beets, carrots, celery, chard, corn, herbs, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, heat-tolerant leaf lettuce, okra, summer-maturing onions, parsley, peanuts, the last peas (choose a heat-tolerant variety such as Wando), white potatoes, radishes (with cukes to repel cuke beetles, and eggplant to repel flea beetles), rhubarb, and spinach. Choose heat and drought tolerant varieties when you can.
Keep ’em coming! If you have already done some planting, mid to late April, pop in another round! Poke in some bean seeds where your last peas are finishing, add cucumber seeds between the beans, plus dill at each end of the trellis to be there when you pickle your cukes! Plant radishes with the cukes to deter the Cucumber beetles. Plant corn in blocks, not rows, for good pollination! In a good hot area, lay in some cukes, melons or winter squash, to ramble among the corn, soon as they are tall enough. They all act as a living mulch, reducing water needs.
Spread down a thick straw mulch to keep leaves and fruit off the ground, out of the insect zone. That is most importantly true for cucumbers. They are even more susceptible than tomatoes to the wilts fungi, die pretty instantly, in about 3 days, if they get infected. So when you plant them, treat them similarly to your tomatoes if you have wilts fungi in your garden. Keep the LEAVES OFF THE GROUND. Completely AVOID WATER SPLASH. Plant them on a raised mound/basin with good drainage. You can almost dry farm your tomatoes, but that won’t do for cucumbers, they need their water. If you are comingling them with beans, lower along a trellis, plant the beans between the raised mounds. Beans don’t get the wilts, but love the water. They are a big plant with continuous high production and small roots!
Another common technique for cukes, and melons, is to grow them up over a frame. The cukes are off the ground, hang and grow straight, are easy to harvest. As you see in the image, you can plant lettuces that prefer less heat but also love water, in the shade of your trellis.
Water Wise Practices!
- Please always be building compost. Compost increases your soil’s water holding capacity.
- This California drought year consider planting IN furrows, where the moisture settles. Plant crosswise to the Sun’s arc so the plants’ root areas will be slightly shaded by the depth of the furrow in early AM and late afternoon.
- Make mounds with basins on top. Rather than losing water to evaporation from overhead watering, put the water right where it will do the most good and nowhere else. For larger leaved plants, put a stake in the center of the basin so you know where to water.
- And, PLEASE MULCH. It keeps your soil cooler, moister, less water needed.
- Sprinkle Mycorrhizae 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.
Natural Disease & Pest Prevention!
- Be wise and pick the right plant varieties for your temps and conditions! Get heat tolerant, bolt resistant, drought tolerant, disease tolerant/resistant (VFN). 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.
- 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. Split up groups so pests won’t go from one plant to the next, and the next. Think biodiversity!
- Make top notch soil! Make compost. Grow worms for castings. In planting areas add tasty properly aged manure mixes. Add non-fat powdered milk for immediate immune system support at planting time; put in a finely ground bone meal for later uptake when your plant gets to flowering time. Sprinkle mycorrhizae fungi directly on transplant roots, all but Brassicas, at planting time to increase their uptake of nutrients and water.
- 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. More details and all the recipes.
- 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 side-dressing), or adding fish/kelp emulsion mixes if you don’t have predator pests like skunks! Keep your plants watered and vibrant, but not so much as to make their leaves soft and inviting to munching insect pests. Trap gophers immediately if you are able.
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. Be mindful where you plant them… 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, basil, chives, coriander (cilantro), and parsley thrive in richer soil with more frequent watering. Wise planting puts chives where you need to repel Bagrada Bugs, 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 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! Grow beauty – cosmos, marigolds, white sweet alyssum – all benefit your garden in their own way!
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul. Alfred Austin
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, and during late spring/summer in a 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….
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
See the entire April 2015 Newsletter!
March was a brilliant month at the garden! Enjoy some colorful Garden Images including a just born Swallowtail Butterfly!
Happy Spring gardening to you all!