Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘planting’

Harvest Basket - Rainshadow Organics

August is the last of your big harvests!  Harvesting keeps your plant producing.  For some of you, it means canning, freezing, fermenting, storing, drying.  When you decide all is done to your satisfaction, decide which plants were your healthiest top producers and allow them to seed.  Seeds are your second harvest! 

We generally have heat, so keep up with watering, especially your short rooted plants like lettuces, beans, cukes, strawberries.  They are all in high production and need it!

In our hot foothills and further south, watch your melons and pumpkins for their best harvest time – when they ‘slip’ off the vine.  Hold off irrigating melons about a week before they will ripen so their sugars will concentrate. Harvest okra while it is small and tender – bigger is NOT better!  Let your winter squash harden.

Give last feeds to plants you are keeping in production through August, September.  Often summer favorites are kept into October.  Consider, though, that winter plants that get a good start while there is still some heat, will be producing a lot sooner than plants started while it is cooler, and you will have a much earlier crop.  One clever trick, to have it both ways, is to plant baby winter plants beside, among, still producing summer plants!  When your summer plant is done, carefully remove it, not damaging the baby.  Put peas below finishing beans.  Pop some kale between the tomatoes and peppers.

When an area is done, clear away insect hiding places. Remove any mulches from under where diseased plants were.  If your soil is high for the area, plants there were diseased, and you have a plentiful compost stash, maybe remove the couple top inches of soil and generously lay on some of that tasty compost!  Dig it into the top 4 to 6 inches.  Design your fall layout, and amend your soils for fall planting per the plant that will be grown in that area.  Build your new raised beds, make more compost, install gopher barriers!

Time to select more cool temp hardy veggie seeds, especially lettuces.  Lettuces that head prosper in cooler weathers.  ASAP start seeds for transplants in Sep.  Greenhouse style works, or even put in seedling nursery areas in your garden for later transplanting as space becomes available.  Plant your seeds far enough apart to get your trowel in to pick your little plants up to move them one by one to their new home.

Yes, some summer plants thrive right into fall and you can plant last rounds, best in early August.  I’ve seen tomato transplants and bean seeds started in August produce plentiful crops late September, October!  That will be especially true if we have warm temps.

Start from seed  Brassicas/Coles:  Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, collards, cabbage (especially red and savoy types, which resist frost better), turnips and kohlrabi.  The leaves of all of them can be used for greens!  Start peas, bunch onions, lettuces.  Lettuces grow slower in cooler temps, so plant a few more for the same supply as you had in summer, unless you eat less salads in ‘winter.’  If you need to feed an army, plant Fordhook Giant chard!  They grow prolifically and huge, and are a super healthy food to eat!  Culinary dandelions are the highest in Vitamin A!  Beets come in lovely colors and are doubly valuable because the leaves are an edible green too.  Use small young leaves in salads, steam the bigger ones as you would any green.  Celery is crunchy tasty and great stew flavoring.  And what about some carrots?!  Plant a triple row!  Lay in some radish, carrots and kales all together.  The radish grow fast and shallow, the carrots take their time and grow deep.  The kales will be your forever crop!  In SoCal, it is essentially a perennial.  Keep carrot and parsley seeds plenty moist until they come up.  Parsley doesn’t like being transplanted, so put them right where you want them to remain.

Make your  own Seed Strips!  It’s easy, a satisfying evening activity, that saves your back, and seeds, when you are planting!

ONIONS  For the biggest, sweetest harvests, late summer and early fall are the prime times to sow seeds of short- or intermediate-day onions. Fall-sown short- and intermediate-day onions tend to yield more and are larger and sweeter than those seeded or transplanted in early spring.  Onions have stupendous flavor and come in white, yellow, red!

A word about Bagrada Bugs.  They like Brassicas, and Brassicas are THE SoCal winter garden plant!

  • What some of the local organic farmers are doing is planting mustards as a trap plant.  The Bagradas prefer them, so they go there rather than your brocs.  Mind you, you still have to remove them by whatever means you prefer, or the brocs are next.  Bagradas are fast reproducers, make virtual swarms, and when they suck juices from your plant toxic disease producing stuff gets in your plant.  In hot days, I’ve seen a plant go down in 3 days.
  • I highly suggest biodiversity, interplanting – that’s mixing it up, even interplanting different varieties of the same plant (especially broccolis), rather than monoculturing – a row of a single kind of plant.  With rows of a single plant, the pest or disease simply goes plant to plant and you lose the whole row.  This also stops leafminers (typical on soft leaved chard & beets) from going plant to plant.  Slows them way down.
  • Plant so mature plant leaves don’t touch!  Stop the ease of transmission.  If you can’t help yourself, and go monoculture, remove infested or diseased leaves immediately.
  • Don’t lay down any mulch until the Bagrada season is OVER.  They hide out in the mulch then climb back up on the plant when you are gone.  I’ve seen it.  Stand very still and wait…sure enough, there they come.
  • Use mycorrhizae fungi when you plant.  The fungi network linking your plants is proven that when one plant gets a disease or pest, it warns the neighbor plant.  That plant then boosts its own defenses!

If you have just a small area or are container gardening, select compact varieties known for excellent production.  For example, broccolis are a cut and come again plant!  When the main head is mature, still in tight formation, cut it off the main stem below the head diagonally, let side shoots grow.  There are low growing varieties that make huge 3″ side shoots.  These are a terrific veggie investment!

Read Full Post »

Happy New Year, JANUARY 2013!
To Your Outstanding Health!

January – Lots of rain, and, Baby, it’s been cold outside! 

Frosty Lettuce Winter Solstice 2012 - Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden

Here are some images I took on our frosty Winter Solstice morning!  And these were taken Christmas morning when I went over to see how the frosted plants had done!  Frost Watch! This is the time to look at your weather predictions, even daily! Down near 32 degrees, grab your cheap sheets you got at the thrift shop, spare beach towels, old blankies, and cover your plants mid afternoon if possible! For things to know about cold weather and plants, and more tips on how to save your plants, click here!

With all the rains we have had, I hope Santa brought you some pretty or good hardworking garden boots! How nice to be able to step out of them at your door, rinse them off, leave the mud outside, then jump back in them again!  Great Rain Tips!  Please click here!  Mulch your lettuces lightly to keep them from getting mud splattered.  When the rain is done, pull the mulch back so the sun will warm the ground up.

Forgive me.  Both November and December I forgot to remind you to start your pepper seeds.  Super oops.  If you didn’t then, start your pepper seeds NOW to get them in the ground in March!  Believe it!  That’s what commercial growers do. Peppers are slow little devils. They teach you patience. Nature is.

This is bare root time – plants without soil on their roots! For us SoCal gardeners that’s cane berry bushes, deciduous fruit trees, strawberries, artichokes, asparagus, short day onions. Think twice about horseradish. It’s invasive as all get out! If you do it, confine it to a raised bed or an area where it will run out of water. Rhubarb, though totally tasty in several combinations, ie strawberry/rhubarb pie, has poisonous leaves! That means to dogs, small children and unknowing people. Either fence it off, or don’t grow it. I don’t recommend it in community gardens because we can’t assure people’s/children’s safety. Bare root planting is strictly a January thing. February is too late.

It’s Lettuce month! It germinates quicker at theses cooler temps! Grow special ones you can’t get at the store, or even the Farmers’ Market! They like a soil mix of well aged compost, organic veggie fertilizers, chicken manure. Pay special attention to what the seed packet says about planting depth.  Either they go right on at soil surface, barely covered 1/8 inch, pat them in, OR 1/4 inch deep.  That small difference is life or death for them.  Water gently with a watering can, or use the mist setting on your sprayer. Keep the bed moist. That might mean watering even twice daily! If it is going to rain heavily, cover the bed so the seeds don’t wash away or get buried too deeply. Slug and snail cocktails (Sluggo or cheaper store brand products) make sense or your seedlings may vanish overnight. If your seeds just don’t germinate, be sure your seed is fresh. Feed the bed once a week – fish & kelp works wonders, quick uptake. Fast growth keeps your lettuce sweet; slow growth is bitter! Eat the younglings you thin from the patch, or transplant them. Pluck those larger lower leaves for robust winter salads! Plant another patch in 2 weeks to a month to keep a steady supply!

As you harvest your winter veggies, keep planting, from seeds or transplants. Transplants will speed things up by a good 6 weeks if you can find them. Your winter veggies are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, lettuce, parsley, peas, chard. Seeds of beets, carrots, lettuce, peas, radish, turnips, do well. Pop in some short-day onions.  Choose varieties with less days to maturity, so you will have room for upcoming spring planting.

Remember, harvest your cabbages by cutting them off close to the bottom of the head, leaving the bottom leaves. New smaller cabbages will grow from those axils at the stem/leaf junctions. You might get as many as four babies! Do the same with lettuces! Once you harvest your main broccoli head, let the side shoots form mini broccolettes! The further down the stalk you cut, the fewer but fatter your side branches.

The SideDress Dance continues – if you harvest, you fertilize. That’s a good rule of thumb. Sprinkle some fertilizer or drizzle your favorite liquid mix, especially before a rain. Dig it in lightly, but not in a circle. You don’t want to break all the tiny rootlets that spread out at the surface from your plant. So do it on a couple sides max. Dig it in a bit so the N (Nitrogen) doesn’t just float away into the air…. Use half strength of summer feedings to avoid a lot of tender growth a frost would take.

Strawberries! Here’s the word on sidedressing from a grower: Fertilizer [like manures] should be applied at least three times each year; apply the first time when new growth starts (late January or early February, or early April), the second in mid-May and final application in mid-July to mid-September. Nitrogen applications should be heaviest in autumn to encourage the production of large crowns, and lowest in spring as nitrogen has adverse effects on fruit quality. Avoid heavy nitrogen applications just before or during the heavy fruiting period.  You want fruit, not just leaves!

If you tossed wildflower seeds, keep their beds moist.

Start a garden journal, especially enter your genius thoughts! Domestic harmony? Clean up your shed/working space, or build one. Build a greenhouse!  Build your raised beds – that’s with frames if you want frames.  As plants finish, start souping up your soil for bountiful spring planting for abundant summer harvests! Lay in the compost, manures.  And, as always, install gopher barriers, especially now with the rain softened soil!

Plan your spread – where will your taller plants go, the big tomatoes? Will your shorter crops go under the tall ones or have their own separate beds?

Go crazy, order seeds! Order fall seeds now too so they won’t be sold out later on.  If you have any spare ground, plant some jicamas there! Start looking for those seeds now – check with your Latino gardener friends. Fresh jicama is amazing! Delicately crisp and super juicy! No comparison to store bought.  Planning on trying tomato grafting for three times the growth?!  Don’t forget to get your Maxifort tomato seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, and some Japanese grafting pins!

Read Full Post »

Time to start compost for spring planting!   

Did you make rich fall soil?  If so, your bin and sheet composting is really paying off now!  If you have more compost available now, incorporate it with the soil in your new planting places, and plant another round!  Keep ‘em coming!  Now it is time to start the cycle again for your spring garden – start some more fat compost!  SOIL!  I’m always talking with you about soil because it’s the legs of your horse!  Can’t run without it!

When you restore, recondition soil, you can imagine how much the ground must be welcoming you, screaming up to you in its own way, how grateful it is to be so lovingly fed, organically to boot!!!  You are going to have wonderful soil, and very soon!  Just the act of planting adds life, the plant roots busting through, little creaturelets thriving!

There are so many ways to build wonderful soil!

  • Tuck kitchen trim in the top 6” of your soil, where the microbes and buglets are hard at work!
  • Make piles and fill bins with compost from kitchen trim, cuttings, leaves, straw for aeration.  Whack it up!  Smaller pieces, thinner layers decompose faster and fluffier.  Dry brown on the bottom, then up and up, alternating layers.  1 green wet, 2 dry brown, 1 green wet….
  • Sheet composting – build your compost in place, no moving later!  Lay down straw, cover with green and wet waste like kitchen trim, cover with straw.  That would be the simplest of all.  If you can, keep layering, up to 18” deep if you are starting raised beds, because you know that stuff is gonna sink down!  2 brown dry to 1 green wet is the formula.  Inoculate it with soil microorganisms by flinging a few handfuls of nearby soil onto it every couple of layers.  If you have them, put some red wriggler surface feeding worms in there.  They will chomp about and add their castings for free!  If you are seaside, chop up some seaweed for trace minerals!
  • Plant Nitrogen fixers – fava, peas, beans, clovers and other ground cover legumes.  At home plant Leucaena trees!  Not only do they fix N, and are drought tolerant, but the young pods are edible!  Be warned though, they grow FAST, and can be invasive – if you aren’t ready for that, like burning them for firewood, not a good choice.
  • Let your local livestock, goats, chickens, bunnies add their part!  Horse manure has more N than cow manure.  For excellent info and fun reading, check out the scoop on poop, Manure Matters! by Marion Owen, Co-author of Chicken Soup for the Gardener’s Soul.

Margaret Frane, President of the California Rare Fruit Growers, reminds us, ‘FEED THE SOIL, AND THE PLANT!  When planting a garden, especially a fruit garden, don’t just focus on individual plants; remember the importance of looking after your soil.’  She further says, ‘…let the soil provide the nutrients. Don’t fertilize your plant; feed the soil and the soil will feed the plant. And for the most part, everything you need to feed your soil is already on your property!’

Frane says:  Trees benefit most from the nutrients available in their own leaves. Most leaves beat manure for mineral content; when incorporated into the soil, they add nutrients, improve aeration and soil structure and encourage earthworms. So don’t rake leaves up and throw them away! Leaves are not garbage, they are an important food for your soil!

Planting immediately and directly in your sheet composting, lasagna layers?  Of course!

Are you doing seeds? Ok, a little preparation is needed.  Time for a little potting soil.  It’s good to get the seedlings started – it has the water holding capacity they need – just like the little transplants you get at the nursery, which they feed, probably daily, kelp, fish emulsion mix, other concoctions.  After that, seedlings have to hit something with real nutrition in it, like a mix of compost and soil.  Most seeds are planted directly in soil, just like Mother Nature does the job.  That’s where they immediately get the most nutrition.  I would get a deep bowl, a bucket, put in ½ soil, then compost, mix it up.  Put the mix in the planting hole, make a little hole for the potting soil, and put your seeds in that.  No more potting soil than if you were filling up one of the little transplant containers.  Obviously, not a lot would be needed.  To keep the soil from falling through the lasagna layers below, you could line the hole with two or three sheets of newspaper, saturate them.  That will keep things where you want them until it all decomposes together, the newspaper, the lasagna.  It won’t hurt your drainage, and little roots will poke right through!  And you are only going to lightly sprinkle, water, your seeded areas, right?  You don’t want your seeds to wash away, get buried too deep or uncovered.  It’s a good thing to check seedlings after a rain.  Recover or rebury anyone who needs it.  If you are doing transplants, you just won’t need any potting soil.  Make your compost/soil mix and pop your cute little transplant right in there!

In the biggest sense, “We are part of the earth and it is part of us … What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.” — Chief Seattle, 1852

Take good care of yourself…and your soil.

Read Full Post »

Cucumber Flowers

June is another grand month for planting, more heat, fast growth.  Plant in spots that have already finished; plant for succession, a continued harvest of your favorites!  If you couldn’t take advantage of April or May, step up to it now!  Seeds are good, transplants are faster if your summer palate is salivating!  Hotties like corn, cucs, beans, jicama, melons, okra, peppers, pumpkins, New Zealand spinach, all squashes!  I’ve planted corn in August and got great October corn!  Plant tasty year-rounds – beets, carrots, chard, cilantro, radish, turnips.  Tomatoes with basils now and next month.  More tomatoes if you will be dehydrating for camping, winter stews, snacks.   Try something new –maybe something you can’t get at the store!

Why are we discussing okra in June? Because it is time to plant okra seed for fall gardens. Depending on the variety, first pods are ready for harvest about 2 months after planting. If you plant in mid-June, you will not harvest until mid-August. If you wait until later, cool nights will decrease production. Of course, many gardeners have okra already growing that will continue to produce until frost. If these plants are too tall, they should now be cut back to a height of 4 feet so that re-branching and production will occur before cool weather arrives.  If you are an okra lover, it’s double your pleasure because it is in the hibiscus/hollyhock family and makes breathtakingly lovely flowers!  Okra is like little stars in a salad; you cut it in thin slices across the raw pod.  Or cook it traditionally, steamed, in stew, jambalaya over rice, or deep fried.  If you are driving through Mojave, there’s a restaurant on the main drag that fries it to perfection!  Perhaps the most important thing to know is okra has to be harvested while small to medium, while tender.  Otherwise, you end up with an unchewable tough monster.  Big is not better, trust me.

Biodiversity really works!  Mix it up, spread out your plantings.  Solid blocks (except for corn for pollination) of one plant or overplanting same kind plants in leaf touching rows are particularly susceptible to pest and disease spread, gopher loss.  Lose one, lose ‘em all.  To further confuse pests, pop in some herbs, basil with tomatoes, marigolds, as an understory in the between spaces!  Grow arugula and lettuces in the shade of your mighty corn!

Two on one trellis!  Check out the good size dark cucumbers hanging, and the ‘hammock’ supported melons!

Enjoy your luscious harvests!

Read Full Post »

Have you already seen Part 1?  Why soak or presprout, all about seeds, how seed coats function; soaking times, seed soaking solutions.

Soaking Pea Seeds - Floaters are Dead, Sinkers You Plant!

Scarify Seeds  Scarify pea seeds to speed up absorption of water, and therefore, germination.  Rub them between sheets of coarse sandpaper, or clip them with a nail clipper by making a slice through the seed coat, not the seed, with a nail clipper [not removing a chunk]! This happens naturally in nature when a mouse with muchies comes along and nibbles seeds.

EZ Planting Techniques!  

1.  You will find that small wet seeds do not sow as well as dry seeds. They cling to your fingers, and tend to drop in gobs. This can easily be remedied by laying the seed on a paper towel for a little while. Not only will they be really easy to see, but the surface water will be drawn off, and the shell of the seed will continue to remain soft and moist until you have time to plant them.  They germinate in 2 days usually!

2.  Nutsy but fun!  With smaller seeds, you can make seed tapes if you plant in rows or if you plant in blocks, you can even just glue them to a thin paper napkin with some Elmers glue (the white, water soluble kind) to ensure the spacing you want without having to thin them. Purely optional though.  Maybe the kids could do it for you, or as a class project?!

3.  Carl Wilson, Denver County Cooperative Extension Agent, Horticulture says pre-germinating seed indoors is helpful in early spring because sprouted seed will grow in soils too cool for germination. It’s easy to sprout seeds on moistened paper towels sealed in a plastic bag for a few days. The difficult part is to sow fragile young seedlings without injury to them. The solution is sowing in a fluid gel, called fluid seeding.

To make a gel for planting seeds, add one tablespoon cornstarch to one cup of water and bring to a boil. Cool the starch mixture to room temperature before pouring it into a plastic sandwich bag. Gently ease your germinated seeds into the gel and close the bag with a twist tie. If the weather is not right for planting, store the gel bags in the refrigerator for a few days until conditions improve. To plant, snip the corner off the plastic bag and squeeze the gel and seedlings into the planting furrow as you would toothpaste from a tube.  [Great for carrot seeds!]

4.  The easiest method for sowing seeds after soaking is to put them in a plastic squeeze bottle along with some water. If you keep swishing the solution in the bottle as you hold it in an upturned position, you can get an even distribution of seeds. This, of course, is for fine seeds such as parsley, onion, celery, asparagus, and carrots.

Hot weather seed tricks:  Water furrow deeply before planting. After planting, place a board over it to keep soil moist and cooler. Requires regular peeking for signs of germination. Presoak your seeds. Plant deeper. Space farther apart.

You can plant carrots, parsley, celery, lettuce, coriander, etc. in 100-degree temperatures. Keep the soil cool, reduce light intensity and maintain soil moisture. Add humus to soil first.

Carrots, parsnips, peas don’t like recently manured ground but the cabbage family, fennel, onions, lettuce and late squash and corn love it.

Water the garden area thoroughly the day before planting. Moist seeds, moist soil = quicker germination. After that, you have to watch your seedlings and make sure they don’t dry out or that they are not drowned by over-enthusiastic watering.  [Practice until you get it right.  Don’t give up if you don’t get any seedlings the first time, even the first few times you try – be sure your seeds are viable.]

Au Naturel!  From Glib at iVillage Garden Web:  In my view, a better technique involves watching the weather forecast at the appropriate time of the year. When 80%+ rain is forecast, abandon any other project and seed the hell out of the garden. There are a few windows of opportunity during the year when direct seeding is easy.  Part of the art is knowing when the time is right for direct seeding. It is not just the rain but also the overcast skies that help.

This works well in spring and early summer around here (Michigan). Rains are fairly frequent, and seedlings “know” that if they emerge and the air temp is a bit low they should stick close to the ground for a while. There will be no transplant shock, and the workload is truly minimal (minimal work is always interesting to me). When the temps increase, they are 100% ready and take off.

In August this does not work so well, if you have to plant your kale for Fall and winter. Then soaking, followed by twice a day misting, is the least worst technique. Still, if you have your seedlings coming up under a searing sun it is not good. You still want to look at the forecast and see if you can catch a cloudy day or two. Lacking that, keep those Ikea cardboard boxes around, opened flat. They can cover a bed in mid day if needed.  [Or pole up some garden shade cloth, or prop up some of those latticed plastic flats, the ones with the 1/4” lattice.]

There you have it!  Take your pick or don’t!  If you do, let me know your successes…and failures.  

Please also see Part 1! Why soak or presprout, all about seeds, how seed coats function; soaking times, seed soaking solutions.

Read Full Post »

The 3rd Annual Seed Swap was a great success!  I found some great fava beans donated by Tom Shepherd, Shepherd Farms.  I’m still looking for some jicama seeds.  There were wonderful talks, was lively music, new friendships made, and, of course, seeds gathered for mighty planting!  If you didn’t make it this year, be sure to come next year! 

Feb 5 Banana Plantation & Mulching Party at Mesa Harmony Garden!  8 AM to 1 PM, Holy Cross Church, Meigs/Cliff Dr.  Wheelbarrows, picks, pitchforks, shovels needed – bring if you can!  Over 100 fruit and nut trees have been planted already, now it’s BANANA planting time!  Come see the 34 plot community garden and the project!  Get inspired!  

Feg 14  Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Feb 19 The Seed Ball Making Party!  11 AM to 4  PM at Plaza de Vera Cruz  – across the street from the Saturday Farmer’s Market, where Sol Foods Festival was.   If there is rain the new location will be posted on eatthestreet.org.  If you have seeds to share, please do bring them.  And bring some snacks or dishes to share if you wish!

What is a seed ball?  Think of them like this:  Little Adobe Gardens  Imagine then, a clay ball the size of a large marble. Imagine also that it contains seeds for a complete habitat. The seed ball could contain plant potential for an entire ecosystem.  It can be made by anyone, anywhere in the world where there is clay, compost, seed and water.  The ball is tossed wherever you want to plant, rain moistens it, the clay ‘melts’ its nutrients into the surrounding soil and blankets the seeds with minerals & vitamins.  Covered & moist, they germinate, voila!  Flowers!  Or veggies! 

In honor of Masanobu Fukuoka, the Father of Seed Balls, The Story of Seed Balls by Jim ‘Catfish’ Bones:


Feb 27  Santa Barbara Guerilla Planting Day!  The Seed Ball Party is purposely planned to precede a day of Guerilla Planting, planting anything and anywhere, respectfully!  Particularly it is emphasizing planting unused land – flowers or vegetables!  Some people will be planting trees!  Several downtown Santa Barbara businesses are already planning creative events!  One brewery is going to plant Barley!   

Feb 26  10 AM  Vegetable Gardening with Oscar Carmona  La Sumida NurseryRain or shine. Class is free! 

Feb 26-27 Santa Barbara Spring Home & Garden Expo!  HOME should be an experience, not just an address. 
Earl Warren Showgrounds     Saturday 10 – 5,  Sunday 10 – 4
Admission: Adults $6.00, Kids 12 & under are free  Parking: Free
*A portion of the proceeds benefit the Community Environmental Council (CEC) 

Fairview Gardens Urban Homesteading is an exciting new series of classes scheduled throughout the year.  Some of the classes filled the first day the announcement was made, so sign up right away for any you are considering, and ask to be on a list for a 2nd group to be formed!   It is a wonderful way to reconnect with the earth. The series, designed by the staff at Fairview, covers everything from container gardening, composting and raising chickens, to canning, preserving, and more, taught by the best people in our community on site at the farm.  (805)967-7369  info@fairviewgardens.org

Apr 16 & 17, CEC’s Earth Day Festival 2011!

Give your Valentine a basket of veggies and some seeds to plant!  Have a great month!

Read Full Post »

Happy October, Month of Magic!

The next months…so you can plan ahead!       

October  Transplants of all fall crops, but specially of cabbages and artichokes.  Cut Strawberry runners off to chill for Nov planting.
November  Seeds of onions for slicing.  Wildflowers from seed (don’t let the bed dry out).  Strawberries in no later than Nov 5.  More transplants of winter veggies.
December is winter’s June!  Crops are starting to come in, it’s maintenance time!      

My campaign this fall is for garden cleanup, and turning the soil to expose the fungi that affects our tomatoes, and other plants, so the fungi dries and dies!     

Purple Broccoli, Bright Lights Chard, Cauliflower, Yellow Mangetout Snow Peas, Radishes or Beets of all colors, ‘Licous Red Lettuces!

This is Southern California’s second Spring!  Time to plant your winter garden, all the Brassicas, that’s, cabbage, brocs, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kales, plus celery, chard and peas, peas, peas!  All kinds!  And what I call the ‘littles,’ the veggies you plant all year, beets, bunch onions (the ones that don’t bulb), carrots (bonemeal yes, fresh manure no), radish, spinach, arugula, and, especially, all kinds of lettuces!   Plant gift plants or bowls or baskets for the holidays!  Start making holiday gifts, herbal wreaths, powdered herbs, pretty vinegars and oils, shampoos, soaps, or candles!      

Winter weather?  Bring it on!  Starting to cool down now!  Your plants will grow fast then start to slow down.  Less weeds and insects.  Aphids & White Flies are a winter crop problem (see below please).  Some people prefer the cool slower pace of winter gardening to the more phrenetic hot summer labor and work of big harvests, distribution, storage.  Harvesting cold hardy vegetables after they have been hit with a touch of frost can enhance the flavor and increase the sweetness of greens such as kale and collards.     

Extend the crop! Cut and come again!  Harvest your big greens – kale and collards, and lettuces leaf by leaf rather than cutting your plant down.  Many lettuces will ‘come back’ even if you cut them off an inch or two above ground.  Leave the stalk in the ground, see what happens!  Rather than pulling your bunch/table onions, cut them off about an inch to 2 inches above the ground.  They will come back 3 to 4 times.  Leave a potato in the ground to make more potatoes.  After you cut the main broccoli head off, let the side sprouts grow and snip them for your salads or steam them.  Cabbages?  Cut off right below the head, then let them resprout, forming several smaller heads at the leaf axils.     

Gather your last lingering seeds midday on a sunny dry day.  Dry a few seeds from your favorite tomatoes!  Sidedress continuing and producing plants.  Then cleanup!  Remove funky habitat for overwintering insect pests, fungi.       

Build wire bottomed raised beds for gopher protection.  For very useful information, please see University of California, Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Pocket Gophers.     

Prepare your soil!      

  • If you are a new gardener at Pilgrim Terrace, ask other gardeners, or the previous person who had your plot, how the soil  was tended.  Some plots may need no amending, others may need a lot.  Add compost, manures, seaweeds, worm castings as needed.  Some people do the whole garden at once, others conserve valuable materials by preparing only where they will specifically plant, for example, a large plant like a broc.  If it is a lettuce bed that you will do repeated plantings in, you might opt to do the whole bed at once.
  • Since mulch keeps the soil cool, some people pull it to the side in winter, to let the sun heat the soil on cool days.
  • Simple soil test!  Test the soil by putting a drop of vinegar in a teaspoon or so. If it fizzes, it’s too alkaline. Then test it by putting in baking soda mixed with a little water. If it fizzes, it’s too acidic.

Garden Design       

  • In addition to planting your veggies, plan ahead to plant flowers, to always have some in bloom, to attract pollinators.  Borage is a lovely plant, blooms all year, has purple blue star flowers that are edible and good for you!  Toss a few on top of your salads!
  • Make habitat!  Plants for beneficial insects, poles for birds, rocks for lizards! 
  • Plant tall in the North, the mountain end of our plots; plant shorties in the South.  This is especially important in our winter gardens because of the low sun long shadows.
  • Give your big plants plenty of room to become big; plant fillers and littles (beets, bunch onions – the ones that don’t bulb, carrots, radish, spinach, arugula, lettuces) on their sunny south sides!
  • Put plants that like the same amount of water together (hydrozoning). 
  • Put plants together that will be used in the same way, for example, salad plants like lettuces, bunch onions, celery, cilantro.
  • Biodiversity.  Planting the same kind of plant in different places throughout your garden.  It can be more effective that row cropping or putting all of one plant in one place, where if disease or a pest comes, you lose them all as the disease or pest spreads from one to all.
  • Layering example:  Transplant peas at the base of any beans you still have.

How to plant!       

  • This is the time to put your mycorrhiza fungi to work!  One of the great things mycorrhiza does is assist Phosphorus uptake.  Of the N-P-K on fertilizers, P is Phosphorus that helps roots and flowers grow and develop.  Sprinkle it on the roots of your transplants when you plant them!  More about mycorrhiza:  http://www.mycorrhizae.com/index.php?cid=468&    http://www.mastergardeners.org/newsletter/myco.html      Island Seed & Feed carries it.
  • Use vigorous fresh seeds, choose vibrant not-fruiting transplants that preferably aren’t root bound (having a solid mass of roots).  If the transplant is pretty big for the container, pop it out of the container to make sure it isn’t root bound.  If it is the only one there, and you still want it, can’t wait, see what John R. King, Jr (2 min video) has to say on how to rehabilitate your plant!
  • Lay down some Sluggo (See Slugs & Snails below) right away, even before seedlings sprout, when you put your transplants in, so your plant isn’t overnight snail and slug smorgasbord! 

Strawberry Runners!  Mid Oct cut off runners, gently dig up if they have rooted, shake the soil off.  Clip all but two or three leaves off, tie ‘em together in loose bunches. Plastic bag them and put in the back of your fridge for 20 days.  Plant them Nov 5 to 10!  Prechilling your plants makes them think they had a cold winter.  When days get longer and warmer, they will produce fruit, not as much vegetative growth.  You can then either keep your plants that produced this year, or remove and compost them, start fresh with new plants!     

Watering – Morning when you can because plants drink during the day, and we want them to dry so they don’t mildew!  Water underneath, especially late beans, and your new peas, who are especially susceptible to mildew.  Except for your short and shallow rooted plants, once a week and deeply is good unless there is a hot spell or rain.  Then, check ’em.  Poke a stick in the ground to see if the soil is moist under the surface.     

Happy playing in the dirt!

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: