In the meantime, check out the archived blog posts for what you can be doing in your garden now and in the coming weeks.
We're back and attempting to get this website up and interactive. Bear with us as we make this happen and I'll get busy with the interactive blog. Yes, you'll be able to ask questions and I'll respond for everyone to see so we can all be successful gardeners.
In the meantime, check out the archived blog posts for what you can be doing in your garden now and in the coming weeks.
Yesterday I mowed more of the crimson clover cover crop growing in the garden. The clover is growing so nicely and just hitting bloom stage, it's almost too pretty to mow off. But it must be mowed in order to till that organic matter into the soil and get the minerals/fertilizers into the soil. Just as it hits bloom stage is the perfect time to incorporated this green manure into the soil and it will start breaking down quickly. I'll be planting those beds in a few weeks.
I'm actually not planting much so if you're following my lead be patient. The cool temperatures are keeping soil temperatures down which slows seed germination. We may get close to a frost this weekend so take care of anything you've planted that could be hurt by the frost and cold winds. Then in another week we'll really start planting.
Today I pulled weeds from the onion patch. Yes, sometimes we just pull weeds to get the garden ready for spring. If you've got weeds, pull them! Then work up a small patch of soil to get ready to plant in the coming weeks. Sometimes we look at our beds, see lots of weeds and get frustrated. Weeding a bed can be very therapeutic, I solve a lots of the world's problems on my knees pulling weeds.
As for tilling in the garden, simply turn over a couple square feet every time you go to the garden. If you plant a few things then spend a little time getting another few square feet ready, you'll gradually work your way across the garden. Tilling is detrimental to the soil biome, so don't fret if your bed doesn't get tilled, the earthworms and beneficial fungi will thank you.
The full moon for March, the Worm Moon, occurred yesterday morning and in this part of the world we missed an eclipse. The Worm Moon is for the earthworms that are stirring now as the soil warms. And since this full moon is the first after the spring equinox, this Sunday is Easter. And that makes this Friday Good Friday which is traditionally when we plant potatoes. So have at it!! Actually the almanac says today is better than tomorrow but in any case we have good days to plant.
It was 29 degrees on my back porch Tuesday morning but I didn't see damage on anything planted in the garden so far. There is plenty of warm weather in the 10 day forecast so we'll really start planting next week. Next week I'll plant peas and the first crop of green beans.
We have a stack of good lumber left from the gazebo project and it is useful for those of you that want to make a short vertical extension to your beds. We don't have 20' pieces but you could easily cut a couple of the 16' pieces and build a few additions to your beds if you'd like. Think about framing an 8'x8' box as an example which would sit nicely over a portion of a 20' bed. And as long as you want new soil for your beds help yourselves to the soil we've been getting for the rebuilt beds we're working on. If you get to the soil before my volunteers you may take what you need for your beds. We'll keep buying soil as long as you keep moving it. Then once we finish filling the rebuilt beds and I don't see or hear of additional demand for soil we'll stop for this year. Next winter we'll do the same bed rebuilding project, so we'll have soil again.
As for amendments, everyone will be reimbursed for $50 worth of compost such as Black Kow, Chicken compost or mushroom compost. It's about $5/bag, so if you'll make the effort, we'll reimburse you for it. Bring your receipt to Jenny after you've put your amendments on your bed(s) and she will get you paid.
The beds have been mineralized/fertilized for the spring. During the growing season you'll need to add additional Nitrogen to your beds as you replant follow-on crops. Best product to use at that time is bloodmeal. it's fast acting but won't burn your plants. The heat and rain burn up extra nitrogen so we can't store it in the soil. Other than Nitrogen, any other fertilizer/mineral you add to the soil will be a waste of your money. Don't even think about using Epsom salts unless you want to make bricks with the subsoil under your bed.
Don't be in a hurry to plant, we're getting close, today I prepped for potatoes which I'll plant next week. Then once we're into April we'll really get started with spring plantings.
Things are starting to get extra busy around the garden. With the warmer weather and longer days our list of chores increases. This week I've started pepper, eggplant, and tomato seeds under lights in the basement. Both peppers and eggplants like warmer soil to germinate so I have a heat mat under the rack and I actually leave the lights on all the time for a bit more warmth. Those two also take longer to germinate, so be patient. Tomatoes are much easier to start, much less fussy, but they will respond nicely to the extra heat from the heat mat.
The cabbage seedlings grew out nicely so today they went into the garden. We've got a week of nice weather ahead so the transplants won't have too much shock.
Although it's too early to plant potatoes in our gardens, we did put our crop of potatoes in at Kedron. As for my crop, wait 2 weeks to the traditional planting date of Good Friday. Yes, tradition says to plant potatoes on Good Friday.
With the dry weather we've had, the soil should come in to fill the new frames. Additionally, the fertilizer shipment came in today so Saturday we'll be fertilizing/mineralizing the entire garden. If you're available to help please join us. You have to a bit anal, each bed gets 33grams of Boron, 16 grams of Copper, and 41 grams of Zinc. Also there is 6 ounces of sulfur, 1.1 lbs of K2SO4 and 2 lbs of N. If you are up for a challenge of evenly distributing 33 g of Boron across an entire bed, come join us.
One other note, I'll be holding a intro class at the garden Saturday morning. If you're new, welcome! Come play in the soil with us Saturday morning but don't be in too much of a hurry to start planting.
As expected, the cabbage seeds arrived last week just in time for planting. I checked the almanac, found Friday to be a great day to plant seeds so I started fifteen 48 count flats. Some will be for me and some for Southern Ground Farm where we'll start a demo/kitchen garden for the campers to enjoy. I kept a heat mat under the racks holding the seed flats and I'm happy to report the germination rates were excellent. Today I backfilled the sites where the seeds didn't germinate. I was surprised to find a lot of weeds also sprouting with the cabbage. Generally potting soils are sterilized to prevent weed seeds but there they were. I snipped the weed seedlings so that issue is done with.
Tomorrow, the plastic lumber posts for the water spigots will arrive so I'll be working that project. I was planning on 4x4 treated lumber but after digging the holes for the posts and seeing the standing water I opted to go with the recycled plastic 4x4 posts.
This week the first load of soil for the renovated beds arrived and was of suspect quality. I had nightmares of that first growing season when the soil turned into a brick in the hot summer sun. So I had a serious chat with our supplier and we've come up with a recipe for a good soil mix...2 parts compost, 1 part soil and 1 part sand. Now as long as he can get us a homogenized mix we'll be in business. Certainly it will help him and us if we can get a stretch of dry weather, it will make his mixing easier and our filling beds easier.
At the garden centers now you can find seed potatoes. I bought one package each of the 3 potato colors available for use by the fourth graders at Kedron. We won't be planting those anytime soon as it will be awhile before the soil will be warm enough to plant. I'll store the seeds potatoes in the fridge until it time to plant. Tomorrow the student growers will plant hyacinth bulbs for indoor forcing. That will give us lovely scented flowers in about 4 weeks. Tomorrow the students will also get their math lesson as we evaluate the soil test results and measure out the necessary inputs for the raised we have in the school courtyard.
It's time to start the new year and as you read in the newsletter we use the off season to make improvements to the garden. Hard to believe we're entering our 5th growing season, congratulations to those of you that have been with us since the beginning...some of you were the first to put down deposits before we even had a site identified.
As mentioned in the newsletter, we have started the process of replacing the lumber bed frames with a long lasting recycled plastic lumber. This product will outlast a lot of us and is a visible representation of all the plastic water/soda bottles and milk jugs people recycle. So keep recycling! Originally we would have liked to have used this plastic lumber but budgeting constraints prevented that. The plan is to gradually purchase plastic lumber for all the beds but accept the fact this will be a multi year project.
The new deeper lumber beds will be stocked with fresh soil. An added benefit is the deeper beds will help with the drainage issues. I thank all of you that took the time, effort, and money to raise your individual beds. Obviously you've invested a lot in our community garden and in time you'll get the plastic lumber and additional soil. I will make one proposition, if I get at least 10 gardeners to pay ahead for 3 years we can order additional plastic lumber. I require at least 10 due to the shipping cost involved.
The El Nino weather pattern has dumped copious amounts of rain over the area including the garden. I've identified areas where we'll install French drains to carry off the excess water. More importantly, we're going to raise the water hose bibs out of the ground valve wells and they will be mounted on posts. No more reaching into stagnant water to turn the water on and off.
We have a new pavilion, let's put it to good use. And electricity too!
In the meantime, I put a stack of seed catalogs in the garden library box. I've ordered all my seeds and it's Christmas in January as packages show up at my doorstep. For the record, cabbage seeds get planted as soon as they arrive sometime in the next 10 days. "Farao" cabbage did wonderfully for me both as a spring and fall crop.
Here's looking forward to a wonderfully productive growing season,
Onions are in and ready to plant for a spring harvest. I'll have them at the market Saturday. Typically I plant them on 4" centers. Fortunately we have dry weather for the next week so we can get our onions in the ground.
What a crazy wet month...1.35" yesterday on top of the 9.8" we've had already. And it looks like a killing freeze coming over the weekend.
So our gardens are winding down for this growing season, the fall crops and the last of the summer veggies are enjoying the moderate temperatures and rain. I picked the last green beans last week, had I known it was going to stay this warm this late I would have planted another crop of beans back in September. Obviously the El Nino pattern is worth remembering. I still have peppers and eggplants producing but even those crops are being affected by the shorter days and cool nights. I will pick all the green tomatoes next week and store them away for winter ripening.
The sweet potato crop was sporadic. With the abundant rains we had this season, I found sweet potatoes much deeper in the ground than usual. Typically sweet potatoes swell up an out of the ground, this year they followed the moisture down into the soil. If you are still waiting for your sweet potatoes, check deeper under the plants and you might find your treasures.
Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are doing well although I am seeing black spot fungus on the broccoli crowns due to the wet weather.
Speaking of rain...4.5" last weekend. I'm glad we sat out in the field and watched the airshow Saturday afternoon!
But now for the topic of the day; next year, already. Last week I planted garlic so it is that time of year. The moon started waning so the garlic crop went in. I only grow the elephant garlic, does well and has a good garlic flavor. I didn't plant all I had so I'll bring the seed garlic to the farmers market if you want to pick some up to plant.
Also last week we replanted strawberries. If you want good strawberries in the spring, plant them now so they will be established. If you have strawberries growing, clean out the old mother plants from this year and the new daughters will make your crop in the spring. I ordered more than I needed so I have a few of those for sale also.
Lastly, onions will be arriving in a few weeks. Once they are in I'll have those at the market also.
Mother Nature abhors bare ground. I dropped off a supply of clover seeds in the garden shed. A small cup is included in the bucket, that cup is all you need for an entire 20' bed. Scatter the seeds, rake them into the soil and we'll grow a nice cover crop to help build the soil for next year.
Wow, where did September go. Between work and vacation, the month just disappeared. So where do we go from here? There is still gardening to be completed including putting our gardens to bed for the winter.
Keep an eye on your sweet potatoes. It's been at least 90 days since we planted sweet potatoes so they should be ready to harvest. Scratch around the base of the slips you planted and you should find the tubers. In some cases the tubers have expanded and pushed out of the ground, in some cases the tubers are still buried underground. My crop is both of the above, some are exposed, some incredibly deep and in some cases the slips didn't even produce tubers...what's up with that? All our sweet potatoes need to be dug before the tops freeze, watch the weather. Store the freshly dug potatoes, unwashed, in the shade for a few days and the skins will cure. Then enjoy.
We've got a big problem with aphids according to the VP of quality control. The warm moist weather of late is aphid heaven. Harvest your lettuce and greens and blast the aphids off with water.
The warm moist weather reeked havoc on the first crop of broccoli. Hopefully we'll get sunny dry weather for awhile to dry out the broccoli.
This time of year is all about the cover crops. Next week I'll drop off a supply of crimson clover for everyone to use. I'll inoculate the seeds so the clover will grab nitrogen and store it away for our garden next spring. Plant clover in any blank areas up to and including the entire bed. Cover cropping does a lot for us, we grab nitrogen and make lots of organic matter to till into the soil next spring.
Larry Dove, of Two Doves Farm, our Chief Farmer.