Keep the Harvest Coming!

harvest
You aren’t tired of tomatoes yet, are you? Should we ask your neighbors how they feel about your zucchini harvest? Here in California, we have another 6 to 10 weeks of productive growing time left. To ensure that there will be more to come, take the following steps:

Fertilize your summer vegetable garden monthly to receive the highest production possible using Master’s Tomato and Vegetable Food or EB Stone Tomato and Vegetable Food.  Remember, water one day, feed the next. Avoid feeding when hot, 90 plus.

Maintenance

Summer vegetable garden maintenance is most important this month.

  • Fertilizing will keep your plants producing right up to the cooler weather.
  • Check for insect or disease damage. Bring a sample of the damage into the nursery and we’ll diagnose it for you and recommend the best cure.
  • Water cucumbers a lot and tomatoes deeply but infrequently (twice a week or less). Harvest frequently.
  • Finally, if the plant is finished with its production, remove it. Leaving an old or damaged plant will only spread diseases to the rest of the garden.

Prepare vegetable plots for winter gardens. Use our Recipe for Good Garden Soil. Mix into a depth of eight inches. Add Master’s Tomato and Vegetable Food or EB Stone Tomato and Vegetable Food and you’re ready to plant. Come into the Nursery and choose 6-packs of winter vegetables or seeds. Among them select peas, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and more.

Edible Landscape – Saving Water


You’ve just savored that juicy tomato fresh from your garden – vine ripened and still warm from the sun. A little salt is the only accompaniment it needs. And that tree ripened July peach – so juicy you had to lean over the grass to keep the drips off of your front. There is more harvest from your backyard to come: grapes, apples, figs, winter squash and . . . mercy(!) another couple of zucchinis to bake into zucchini bread.

We’ve had some record breaking heat this summer, and our usual run of the mill heat, which kept me running to the hose for in-between-the-schedule-watering. So it seems like a good time to consider a few ideas for trimming your water use for your next garden. But no worries, we will never water shame you!

Tips for Saving Water

  • What better way to use a precious resource than growing your own bountiful garden full of tasty produce?
  • Prepare your soil well with compost (Bumper Crop and G & B are two we like) and replenish yearly. Or make your own from all those fallen leaves, grass clippings, and kitchen scraps. Compost acts like a sponge to hold water.
  • Water use is mainly influenced by temperatures. Schedule plantings for the appropriate season. Cool season veggies: leafy greens, peas, broccoli, etc. grow well in the fall and spring and are less water intensive than warm season veggies.
  • Soak soil to saturate root zones and below so that a reservoir of soil water is available for the plant to draw from, eliminating the need for frequent, shallow watering.
  • Reduce tomato watering after the fruit has set and is beginning to color up.
  • Heat wilting of big leafed plants (squashes, pumpkins etc.) on hot afternoons is normal and doesn’t always mean the plant is thirsty.
  • Prune fruit trees in summer. A more compact tree uses less water.
  • Try an Earth Box. It’s a space saving growing system with a built in reservoir and soil cover and is surprisingly productive.
  • Provide a bit of afternoon shade with taller, more sun loving plants (tomatoes) planted south of those that could use a break from broiling afternoon sun (peppers, eggplant, cucumbers). Or set up your beach umbrella temporarily.
  • Mulch Mulch Mulch. Much Mulch!

Plant Seeds for Winter Vegetables Now

Snap peas growing on a vineHard to believe but you can now start planting winter vegetables!

California enjoys a long growing season. The cool side of summer and the warm side of winter both count for bumper-crop gardening. Planting now allows for a deep, established root system and a very long growing season resulting in larger harvests.  Sow seeds directly in the garden as space permits, or start seeds indoors and set out in September.

We have our first set of 2018 vegetable seeds from Lake Valley Seed. Sow seeds directly in the garden as space permits, or start seeds indoors and set out in September.

We also have some starter plants ready to go in our bedding department.  These provide a few weeks head start on those planted from seed.  (Remember to protect young starter plants from intense heat if temperatures spike; improvise a shade cover. We have shade cloth to help.

Veggies to plant now include members of the cabbage family and leafy vegetables including cauliflower and broccoli, as well as parsley, snap peas and snow peas, along with beets, carrots, radishes, onions, lettuce, kale, spinach, and chard.

 

Herbs for Cooking

With vegetable garden well established, now is a good time to consider adding some herbs to flavor those dishes!

Herbs can make a familiar dish new or lift an ordinary entrée to gourmet status. Their subtle magic transforms soups, stews, salads, bread, and even desserts. With a bouquet of herbs or a scattering of herb flowers as a garnish, your food will look as wonderful as it tastes.

basil Basil – It’s warm, heady flavor lends itself to Italian or Mediterranean cooking, especially tomato dishes or with eggs, cheese or salads. Special tips: Pesto Sauce: blend 2 c. of fresh basil, ¼ c. of parmesan, ½ c. of olive oil, 3 tbs. of pine nuts or walnuts and 3 cloves of garlic minced. Use on pasta and vegetables.
chives Chives – The subtle onion flavor of chives is perfect in omelets, salads, soups, or on potatoes and other vegetables. Special tips: Get rid of onion odor by chewing on a fresh parsley sprig.
dill Dill – Used for pickling, dill is also wonderful in salads, sauces, soups or bread on vegetables and fish. Special tips: Try pickling green beans, carrots, new potatoes or peppers with a bit of dill.
lavender150 Lavender – The addition of culinary grade lavender in tiny amounts can jazz up dishes as diverse as grilled pork chops, to scones, cakes, and even candy.
margoram150 Marjoram – Like oregano but sweeter, this flavor is perfect in Mediterranean dishes, meats, and vegetables.
mint150 Mint – The flavor of mint is refreshing, cool and sweet, especially good in iced drinks and teas, with lamb or in salad dressings. Special tips: Minty sun tea: Put 8 tea bags, ½ c. of fresh mint leaves and 1 gal. of water in clear glass jar. Set in a sunny spot for several hours. Serve over ice. Plant mint only in a container. it can take over a garden bed if planted in the ground.
parsley150 Parsley – For a clean sharp and peppery taste, add to vegetables and salads as a garnish. Include in sauces, soups, stews, and stuffing. Special tips: Parsley is high in Vitamins A, C, and B.
rosemary150 Rosemary – The flavor of rosemary is bold and piney. Use it in pickles, jams, preserves, and sauces, as well as meats and soups. Special tips: Use a branch of rosemary as a basting brush at your next barbeque, or put some on the coals for a great aroma.
sage150 Sage – Warm, slightly bitter, this flavor is a must for turkey stuffing, as well as pork, duck and sausage seasoning. Special tips: Dried sage leaves are used as a substitute for coffee or tea.
tarragon150 Tarragon – A spicy, sharp flavor with licorice and mint overtones, tarragon lends itself to French cooking, egg dishes, fish, and salad dressing. Special tips: Tarragon vinegar: Pour a qt. of cold vinegar over ½ c. fresh tarragon leaves, cap and store for 4 weeks.

 

 

August Vegetable Guide

August is the month to think about winter vegetables, yes, it seems too hot, but seeds for broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and snap peas can be started in the ground this month. August is also the time to keep an eye out for mildew. as the sun sets lower in the sky and days shorten, fungus diseases like mildew begin to affect squash, pumpkins, cukes and melons. Treat with Bonide Copper Fungicide.

The following chart includes notes for vegetables that can be started this month.

Vegetable Plant Time Amount
(family of 4)
Special Notes Plant Now
Carrots Year ’round 20 – 30 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest.
From seed
Radishes Year ’round 4 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest.
From Seed
Florence Fennel June – August 10 – 15 ft. row Grown for it’s bulbous base. Sensitive to root disturbances.
From Starts
Parsley Year ’round 1 – 2 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts
Chives Year ’round 1 clump Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts or seeds
Beets February – April then later again in August 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest.
Late Aug from seed
Broccoli August – February 15 – 20 ft. row Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest.
Late Aug from seed
Brussels Sprouts August – February 15 – 20 ft. row N/A
Late Aug from seed
Cabbage August – February 10 – 15 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
Late Aug from seed
Cabbage, Chinese August – February 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
Late Aug from seed
Cauliflower August – February 10 – 15 plants Tie leaves up and over head to protect from frosts.
Late Aug from seed
Celery August – February 20 – 30 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
Late Aug from seed
Chard August – February 3 – 4 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
Late Aug from seed
Endive August – February 10 – 15 ft. row N/A
Late Aug from seed
Kohlrabi August – November 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
Late Aug from seed
Leeks August – February 10 ft. row N/A
Late Aug from seed
Lettuce August – February 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest.
Late Aug from seed
Mustard August – April 10 ft. row N/A
Late Aug from seed
Peas September – January 30 – 40 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest.
Late Aug from seed
Rutabaga August 10 – 15 ft. row N/A
Late Aug from seed
Spinach September – January 10 – 20 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
Late Aug from seed
Turnips February – August 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
Late Aug from seed

 

Treat Mildew to Protect your Veggies

mildew-pumpkin

Squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons are all susceptible to mildew as the days of summer begin to shorten. The weeks into late summer and fall can be very productive for many veggies as the milder fall temperatures coax new leaves to grow. Many vegetables are preparing for an encore performance but Mildew is also waiting for an opportunity to take hold. Don’t let it rob productivity.
It’s normal for leaves to begin to look a bit weather worn and tattered now but productivity can continue if a disease does not set in or insects take over. Keep a watchful eye out for problems and don’t assume its time for a swan song just because your plants don’t look as prime as they did at the peak of summer. You may see fresh new leaves emerging now, with the agreeable climate, you might also see older leaves touched with mildew.

If mildew is allowed to establish it will be tough to control and will eventually send your plant to the compost pile. Keep an eye out for odd spotting, early signs of mildew, and treat quickly to hold the disease at bay. Hand picking leaves can help before a thorough spraying on both top and bottom sides of leaves. We have had good results with Bonide Copper Fungicide.

Summer Citrus

Citrus are among the most versatile of the trees and shrubs that grow in our valley. They can be grown as a single specimen, in hedges, as a trellised espalier or in containers. Citrus offer beautiful foliage, decorative fruit and fragrant flowers. Summer, with all its warmth, is a perfect time to plant citrus. Establishing a citrus plant before frost can help it weather the winter.

Citrus collectionCitrus prefer a hot south or west facing location with good draining soil. A reflective wall or fence is helpful and planting a citrus under the south or west facing eve of the house will provide some important protection from winter cold temperatures. Citrus should not be planted in a low or soggy spot that has poor drainage or in a lawn. In fact, if possible, place the citrus in a raised bed for improved drainage.

Dig a planting hole three times as wide as the root ball and just as deep as the root ball. The edges of the planting hole should then be dug out deeper than the center to accommodate additional soil amendments.

Test how well the planting hole drains by filling the 1′ deep x 3′ wide hole 1/2 way with water. Make sure it drains completely overnight. If the water does not drain it may be necessary to raise the overall soil level by creating a mound or building a planting box or look for an alternate planting location. An open-bottom-box measuring 3’x3′ wide and 12″ deep makes a great raised bed.

Plant by carefully removing tree from its container. Gently loosen the outer edges of the root ball if the roots are tight, and place it in the hole so that the top of the root ball rests slightly higher than the existing ground level (never place any soil above the root ball, covering the stem). Improve the existing soil from the planting hole with Master Nursery Acid Planting Mix at a ratio of 75% Planting mix to 25% existing soil. To this improved soil, add the appropriate amount of Master Nursery Master Start or Sure Start and Iron Sulfate or Iron Plus; mix thoroughly. Back fill around the root ball with the improved soil mixture. Tamp to compress the soil as you go. Use some of the extra soil to build a circular dam around the new plant to hold a generous quantity of irrigation water.

citrus-plantingWater the plant thoroughly in the pot before planting and then again after you have finished planting it. Let the water soak in, and then water again. Citrus plants need less frequent watering than most garden plants once established. Give it a deep soak once or, at most twice week once established. Frequent watering is the most common cause of failure with citrus. Of course, if the weather is excessively hot, check daily and water as needed.

Begin to feed your new plant after a month with Master Citrus Food. Citrus plants appreciate a steady, light feeding, so divide a year’s supply of fertilizer into 12 equal parts and give your new plant a monthly feeding, year ’round.

We do guarantee our plants to grow, and we also recognize that we are partners with you in caring for your new plant. If you have any concerns about the health or vigor of your plant, please let us know right away. Often, we can suggest a corrective measure to keep plants thriving and healthy.

 

Thyme for Edible Garden Design

Nasturtium

An old shiny silver orb sitting atop a tomato cage graces our small Veggie Demonstration Garden at the nursery. Why on earth is it there? Does it reflect more light around so the plants grow better? is it a bird deflector? A fun house mirror for the squirrels? All good reasons, but no, not really. It’s just an impromptu decoration for the garden – simple, charming and eye catching. Helping to add some height to the initial short plants, it makes a nice focal point for your eyes to rest on. Do we care if the veggie garden has a focal point? Well, it is one way to bring in some thoughtful style to your yard, which can ramp up your enjoyment of it. When you are sitting out in your yard on one of our delicious summer evenings after you have just enjoyed some of your garden’s bounty, take a look around and envision some of these ideas to enhance your edible garden design for the next season:

Focal Points

Add some interest. Make it fun . . . or elegant or modern or Japanese or gnomish or whatever your personal style is. Think colorful glazed pottery, metal artwork for the fence or wall; simple painted bamboo teepees for cucumbers and beans to climb; a burbling fountain alive with glinting splashing water.

Evergreen/Deciduous

Play off deciduous and evergreen plants with each other. Wow does Sweet Bay Laurel make a beautiful hedge or tree (use the leaves fresh for seasoning!), and it pairs so nicely with other edibles which go dormant during winter months, such as blackberries, raspberries, dwarf peaches and nectarines, and even figs. Other good looking edible evergreen trees or small shrubs are Loquat, Chilean Guava (the variegated variety is uber gorgeous), Strawberry Guava and Kumquat.

Why not companion plant a row of deciduous fruit trees (apples, plums, pears, etc.) with some evergreen flowering shrubs that attract our pollinator friends? Ceanothus, rosemary, manzanita, grevillea, and alyssum are all terrific choices to help with fruit set.

Edging

Neaten up and define the borders of beds with a nice little planting of thyme. Or chives or even some of the greens like chard or colorful lettuces.

Layout

Create spaces in your planting areas as places for you to be in, instead of long static rows. If you are planning more than one raised bed for veggies, why not arrange them with space in the middle between them for a small bistro table and chairs (or that focal point). You can use gravel or flagstones for the flooring. Use a triangle plant spacing for a lusher look.

Start small or with an overhaul – Plan one or two weekend projects, or develop a whole new master plan. It’s all about increasing your enjoyment of your own little piece of the neighborhood while harvesting the freshest possible produce ripe from your own yard!

Summer Herb Gardening

herbtable[1]

Now that most vegetable gardens are well under way consider doing a little herb gardening in your garden to round out the flavor palate. Herbs can slip into a small pot or a corner of the garden, they require very little growing time before they are useful and they add a lot of pop to barbecued meals, salads and side dishes.

Try grilling chicken with an oregano, chive, and basil marinade or filling a roasting chicken with rosemary, garlic, and oregano. Potatoes take on an entirely different flavor when roasted with a basting of olive oil and rosemary, chives or dill. Take a few minutes and add herbs to the vegetable garden. You’ll find that their magic can add a savory taste to all your cooking!

Basil
There are so many different varieties available to plant. Basil adds zest and color to bottled vinegar, use this when preparing a fresh salad dressing.  Basil is great for salads, marinades, or fresh fish dishes. The most popular basil is sweet basil with its fragrant leaves. Use it in pesto, sprinkle it with chopped garlic on prime rib, and use it liberally in Italian dishes. We also have Spicey Globe and Thai. Basil also makes a bright accent in the flower garden. Basil plants have the added benefit of repelling flies.

Chives
This spiky plant looks like a cluster of onions. In late May it is crowned with lavender flowers. Clip and chop handfuls of it to season potato dishes, salads, dressings, egg dishes, and soups. It is one of the most versatile kitchen herbs. You can flavor white vinegar with a few stems of this herb and enjoy it splashed over garden ripened tomatoes.

Dill
Used for pickling, dill is also wonderful in salads, sauces, soups or breads on vegetables and fish. Special tips: Try pickling green beans, carrots, new potatoes or peppers with a bit of dill.

Lavender
The addition of culinary grade lavender in tiny amounts can jazz up dishes as diverse as grilled pork chops, to scones, cakes, and even candy.

Marjoram
Like oregano but sweeter, this flavor is perfect in Mediterranean dishes, meats, and vegetables.

Mint
The flavor of mint is refreshing, cool and sweet, especially good in iced drinks and teas, with lamb or in salad dressings. Special tips: Minty sun tea: Put 8 tea bags, ½ c. of fresh mint leaves and 1 gal. of water in a clear glass jar. Set in a sunny spot for several hours. Serve over ice, or simply make iced mint water. It’s so refreshing!

Oregano
This pungent herb is no foreigner to cooking. Use it in marinade; grind it to add to pizza, spaghetti sauce or salad dressings. And one summer favorite is to add it with fresh basil to an oil and vinegar marinade for fresh from the garden flavor.

Parsley
For a clean sharp and peppery taste, add to vegetables and salads as a garnish. Include in sauces, soups, stews and stuffing. Special tips: Parsley is high in Vitamins A, C and B.

Rosemary
Wonderful flavoring for chicken or any barbecue. Evergreen, woody shrub has aromatic foliage (It’s actually related to mint.) The flavor of rosemary is bold and piney. Use it in pickles, jams, preserves and sauces, as well as meats and soups. Special tips: Use a branch of rosemary as a basting brush at your next barbecue, or put some on the coals for a great aroma. Plant in full sun.

Sage
Warm, slightly bitter, this flavor is a must for turkey stuffing, as well as pork, duck and sausage seasoning. Special tips: Dried sage leaves are used as a substitute for coffee or tea.

Tarragon
A spicy, sharp flavor with licorice and mint overtones, tarragon lends itself to French cooking, egg dishes, fish, and salad dressing. Special tips: Tarragon vinegar: Pour a qt. of cold vinegar over ½ c. fresh tarragon leaves, cap and store for 4 weeks.

July Vegetable Guide

sungold-tomato

Vegetable Plant Time Amount
(family of 4)
Special Notes Plant Now
Artichoke Year ’round 3 – 4 plants Permanent, perennial. 4″ Pots
Beans, String April – May Then later again in July and August 15 – 25 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Starts or Seeds
Carrots Year ’round 20 – 30 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Seeds
Chives Year ’round 1 clump Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Corn, sweet April – July 20 – 30 ft. row Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. Soil must be warm. From Starts or Seeds
Cucumbers April – July 6 plants N/A From Seeds
Florence Fennel June – August 10 – 15 ft. row Grown for it’s bulbous base. Sensitive to root disturbances. From Starts
Parsley Year ’round 1 – 2 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts
Parsnips May – July 10 – 15 ft. row N/A Seed
Peppers April – July 5 – 10 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown From Starts
Radishes Year ’round 4 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Seed
Squash, summer April – July 2 – 4 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From seeds
Squash, winter June – September 2 – 4 plants Known as winter Squash because it stores over winter but it grows in summer-fall. From seeds
Tomatoes March – July 6 – 10 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Weather permitting, starting in March is possible. From Starts
Turnips February – August 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Seed