Blossom End Rot on Tomatoes

Blossom End Rot

The first tomatoes to ripen in Tri-Valley gardens are often marred by a leathery brown patch of brown known as blossom end rot. Usually, blossom end rot is caused by a calcium deficiency. Spraying Monterey Foli-Cal will quickly provide the necessary calcium to reduce or eliminate this problem. You can also reduce blossom end rot by growing a larger set of roots.

Early in the season, tomato root systems are not large enough to pull an adequate supply of calcium from to soil into the leaves to meet the production needs of the plant.  Deep infrequent watering throughout the projected root zone of the plant will help establish a large network of roots to pull in calcium, other nutrients, and water from the soil.

Deep watering provides a large reserve of water in the soil below the plant. Infrequent watering forces the roots to grow larger in search of water. Short, frequent watering can hinder this process.

Get ahead of the game by spraying the leaves now with Monterey’s Foli-Cal. Foli-Cal is designed to supplement the plant’s calcium needs with foliar feeding, reducing or eliminating the condition on tomatoes.

Apply at 14-day intervals throughout the growing season.

Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening

Raised Bed Kits &  EarthBoxes

Growing vegetables in raised beds solve several problems and make gardening more productive and more rewarding. Our heavy clay soil can be tough to work and slow to drain. Adding compost helps on both of these fronts.  Using a raised bed with well-improved soil allows one to garden in a deep friable earth that drains well, plants love and does not require too much bending over to maintain.

The benefits of raised bed gardening over conventional row gardening include being able to give your plants the perfect soil mix, allowing for easier weeding and the ability to block gophers (Using hardware mesh across the bottom of the bed). We sell redwood raised bed kits in 2 sizes, 2’x4’x16″ and 4’x8’x16″.

EarthboxWe also sell EarthBoxes which have many of the same benefits as raised beds… They are self-contained systems, so they use water very wisely and grow more produce in a smaller space.  We are all surprised at how much produce you can harvest from a single EarthBox.

June Vegetable Gardening Guide

Vegetable Plant Time Amount
(family of 4)
Special Notes Plant Now
Artichoke Year ’round 3 – 4 plants Permanent, perennial.
4″ Pots
Beans, lima May – June 15 – 25 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
from seed
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
Cantaloupes/Other melons April – June 5 – 10 hills Soil must be warm.
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 Starts or 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
Eggplant April – June 4 – 6 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts
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
Pumpkins April – June 1 – 3 plants N/A
From Starts or Seeds
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 Starts or seeds
Squash, winter June – September 2 – 4 plants Known as winter Squash because it stores over winter but it grows in summer-fall.
From Starts or seeds
Strawberries June – September 12+ plants Bare root in November – 6-Pack arriving in Feb.
6-Packs
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
Watermelons April – June 6 plants N/A
From Starts or Seeds

 

Summer Vegetable Gardening

veggs[1]Nurture and Support your Growing Vegetables

Many gardeners have planted their vegetable gardens and are looking forward to tasty, mouth-watering tomatoes, snappy beans, sweet corn or crunchy peppers.  Take action now to improve the quality of harvest and prolong it, too!

First, fertilize the vegetable garden with Master’s Tomato and Vegetable Food or E.B. Stone Organic Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer. Remember it’s better to under fertilize than over fertilize. And never feed a thirsty plant. Water the garden thoroughly the day before feeding.

Water established tomato plants deeply and less frequently. These plants have deep roots and frequent watering encourages plant growth without much fruit production.

Water Cucumbers more often. Cucumbers need to be kept evenly moist to help prevent them from being bitter.

Train cucumbers, squash and pole beans to climb trellises or poles to save space.

When harvesting your first fruits, pick the fruit on the small size. This will give you a sweeter, milder tasting vegetable. For tangy peppers, pick when green, or wait until they are red for sweetness.

Control garden pests before they control you! Snails and slugs are out in force, as well as earwigs, cutworms, whiteflies, and tomato hornworms. Sluggo provides slug and snail protection and Sluggo Plus adds insect control. Both these products are listed for organic gardening. Captain Jacks (also organic) is suitable for insects and caterpillars and leaf-eating worms and Take Down for small sucking insects.

For those who have not yet planted a vegetable garden, It’s not too late!

June is a great month to plant a vegetable garden. Alden Lane has a good selection of vegetables in various sizes that will help you establish a garden quickly. Gallon size vegetables provide several weeks head start compared to seeds or seedlings.

Stop by the nursery and let us get you growing this season!

 

 

Kid’s Classes

Kidz Club Fun – 2017!

kids-club2017 Summer Kidz Club News

Kidz Club is an hour long experience packed with gardening fun at our Alden Lane Farm.

We learn about what it takes to grow our own food by “hands on” practice and take a special treat home each week.

We love to energize your kids about nature! Kidz Club is designed for kids 5 to 10 years old.

Please pre-reserve your child’s spot 5 days in advance of each class. The charge is $10 per child and is non-­refundable unless you want to apply the fee to a future class.

June 15th from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Sense-sational Plants!

Get to know our plants by touching, tasting and smelling them as we are introduced to the Alden Lane Farm. See the progress as seeds transform into flowers and veggies. We will meet “the girls” in our henhouse and wrap up with planting a little something to take home.

July 13th from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Garden Friends
see what other critters we can find. Learn about the “friends” we have in our garden and why it is important we keep them happy and coming back. Finish the hour with a craft to take home.

 

Planting Cucumbers, Melons & Pumpkins

Join us on May 13th at 10:00 a.m. as we discuss planting your melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins. We will also cover the subject of fungus control.

  • Top Cucumbers: Diva • Japanese • Persian • Lemon; Spaced two feet apart.
  • Top Pumpkins: Atlantic Giant • Howden’s Best • New England Pie • Jack B’ Little; Spaced five feet apart (plant pumpkins from seed through mid-June).
  • Top Melons: Ambrosia • Hale’s Best • Cantaloupe; Spaced five feet apart.

Conditions: All like sunny conditions, however, cucumbers can use support along a fence or trellis. Pumpkins and Melons prefer lots of room to grow. They will spread out from the center with large leaves filling any available space about a foot from the ground.

Planting Times: Try to plant seeds 1-2 weeks after the average last frost, but only if the weather will be consistently warm for a week (2-4 weeks for pumpkins). They prefer to start when the soil temperature is warm; during April-May. Any sprouted seedlings in a cell pack can be put in the ground right away. This allows them the time to acclimate to their new home.

Soil: 50% native soil, 50% Bumpercrop®

Water and Feeding: Regular water (3x per week). Keep cucumbers evenly moist to prevent bitter fruitGive new plants a gentle boost with E.B. Stone’s Organic Starter Fertilizer®, then feed monthly with Master Nursery Tomato and Vegetable Food® or E.B. Stone’s Organic Tomato and Vegetable Fertlizer®. Apply the fertilizer sparsely around the base of the plant. It can be mixed into the soil or left underneath a thick layer of mulch.

Prevention: To prevent weeds, use Concern Organic Weed Preventer. Apply to soil surface right after planting and water in. Add mulch to further reduce weed growth. A thick layer of mulch will make it easier to remove weeds and provides insulation for your soil. For weed elimination, spray weeds with undiluted distilled vinegar. Take care to not get vinegar on veggie leaves.

Solution to Common Problems: Cucumbers: Careful pruning and training on a trellis will lead to a stronger network of stems to support your large cucumbers. Allow spiders a home in between stems, or let loose some ladybugs or praying mantis on your plants to eat potential pests. Pumpkins & Melons: Mulch will prevent mud from splashing onto your pumpkins & melons. (Use organic veggie fertilizer to feed your pumpkins monthly and make them grow even bigger!)

Pest Control: Sprinkle soil/mulch surface with pet-safe Sluggo®. Place a SLUGX® container under the leaves using beer as an attractant and pest-killer. Bird netting can deter both birds and small animals from nibbling on your cucumbers.

Support: Cucumbers: Use big stakes connected with bird netting to create a fine trellis that doubles as an animal repellent. They are naturally curly on the ground when grown without a trellis. Pumpkins & Melons: Keep them on a flat even surface to minimize gravity’s effect on their shape.

Harvesting: Cucumbers: Begin growing in the summer around July and should be harvested before they get too mature. Use pruning shears to cut the stem an inch from the fruiting body. Pumpkins & Melons: (depending on their planting time and desired size) Use a Razor Tooth Pruning Saw to harvest your pumpkins from late summer to early winter, and your melons from late summer to fall.

Reference for planting times: http://www.almanac.com/gardening/planting-dates/CA/Livermore.

May Vegetable Guide

Vegetable Plant Time Amount
(family of 4)
Special Notes Plant Now
Artichoke Year ’round 3 – 4 plants Permanent, perennial.
4″ Pots
Beans, lima May – June 15 – 25 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
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
Cantaloupes/Other melons April – June 5 – 10 hills Soil must be warm.
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
Chayote May – June 1 – 2 plants Vine
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
Eggplant April – June 4 – 6 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.
From Starts
Okra May 10 – 20 ft. row N/A
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
Peppers April – July 5 – 10 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown
From Starts
Pumpkins April – June 1 – 3 plants N/A
From Starts or seeds
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 Starts or seeds
Squash, winter June – September 2 – 4 plants Known as winter Squash because it stores over winter but it grows in summer-fall.
From Starts or seeds
Strawberries June – September 12+ plants Bare root in November – 6-Pack arriving in Feb.
6-Packs Soon
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 Starts
Watermelons April – June 6 plants N/A
From Seeds

Versatile Peppers Warm and Cool

Peppers are definitely a diverse group in the garden, from sweet to blazing hot.  Every garden needs at least one either to warm a dish or cool a plate. Peppers like growing conditions similar to tomatoes but benefit from a bit of late afternoon shade. The following describes a few we have on hand today.

ANAHEIM PEPPER
80 Days to maturity. A mild California chili. Ripens from light green to dark green to red and grows 6-10 inches long by 1-2 inches wide. Can be used at any stage but is most often used green. Most often seared to remove the skins and then dipped in batter for chile rellenos. When red, it is hotter and usually dried for use. Many cultivars exist, hence their wide range on the Scoville scale (400-4000).

DeARBOL PEPPER
90-100 Days to maturity. A long (3-4″), thin, hot pepper. It is mature when red in color. Related to the Cayenne pepper, it rates 50,000-65,000 on the Scoville scale. Plants produce high yields. It is also dried, for craft projects.

CAYENNE LONG SLIM PEPPER
(Hot) Very hot fruits 5 in. long and ½ in. thick. Use fresh or easily dried for winter use. Harvest starts about 75 days after plants are set out. CAUTION: Use rubber gloves, or clean hot peppers under running water, to avoid skin burn from the pepper juice. 50,000-65,000 on the Scoville rating.

FRESNO PEPPER
90-100 days to maturity. A California hybrid similar to the jalapeno but meatier and thinner skinned. Medium hot when used green, hotter when red. Usually used fresh, not dried, in salsas. 5,000-10,000 on Scoville scale.

HABANERO PEPPER
90-100 Days to maturity. Fruits are 1-2 inches long, and lantern shaped. They start out green and ripen to bright orange and are reported to have a slightly fruity or citrus after-taste but is hotter when red.. 200,000 to 350,000 on the Scoville scale! Plants are bushy and can overwinter in a greenhouse.

SERRANO PEPPER
85 Days to maturity. Similar to a Jalapeno in size but thinner and meatier but most importantly, up to 5 times hotter! They emerge green and ripen to orange or red. 10,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville scale. Do not dry well.

JALAPENO PEPPER
80 Days to fruiting. Fruits are 3 inches long, smooth, green to red, with a slight taper and blunt end. Dry streaks or “stretch” marks are common and often indicate a hotter pepper. It is considered medium hot on the Scoville scale, rating 5,000-7,000. Can be eaten either green or red but is hotter when red.

EUROPEAN RED BELL PEPPER
70-80 Days to maturity. Fruits are 3-4 lobed, 6-8 inches long, have thick walls and a sweet, crisp flavor. Red bells provide 100% of the daily requirement for vitamin A.

YOLO WONDER PEPPER
70-80 Days to maturity. Fruits are 4 inches long and blocky, with thick skin and sweet flavor. This pepper does double duty as it can be eaten green or left to further ripen and enjoy it as a red bell.

GYPSY PEPPER
65-70 days to harvest. Fruit is 4 ½ inches long by 2 ½ inches wide and color from green to orange to red. Mild flavor Plants are compact.

COSTA RICAN SWEET PEPPER
70 days to harvest. Fruits are 3-4 inches long and tapered and are best picked when they turn a deep ruby red. Flavor is sweet with a fruity finish. They are great for frying or in salads. Plants are compact. Burpee selection.

ZAVORY PEPPER
90 days to harvest. An exciting breakthrough sure to become the conversation piece of your summer garden. Habanero peppers have a distinctive taste, but… ‘Zavory’ is the first ever Habanero with a mild heat registering only 100 Scoville’s! You can bite into one just like an apple and survive to tell the tale. The beautiful, shiny, 1-2 inch cardinal red fruits appear in large numbers in late summer on vigorous branching 30″ plants. Burpee selection.

Prepare Soil Now for a Great Summer Garden

Gardening is not just about taking care of plants, it is about taking care of soil. If your soil is amended for improved texture, if it contains a balanced supply of moisture, nutrients, and minerals and is teaming with microscopic life, your plants will probably thrive without much additional effort from you.

bumperOver the course of a year, nutrients are used up and soil organisms break down organic matter in the soil. This is a good time to add compost fortified with chicken manure. The organic matter and nutrients in the soil are restored while improving soil texture.
Three to four inches of Bumper Crop worked into the top 8″ of soil will yield a 9-12″ deep layer of suitable garden soil that drains well, nurtures life and produces a respectable garden harvest. Ongoing care of the soil will result in a garden that produces better and better as the years pass.

Good Garden Soil Starts Here!!

If you are preparing a vegetable or flower garden bed here’s a tried and true soil preparation recipe that works wonders. It lightens our heavy soil, nourishes it and buffers the pH to make it ‘just right’ for the success of your vegetable and flower seeds or transplants.

Good Soil Tips

The following is a do list that can help you nurture your soil:

  • Plant in a Raised Bed: Improves drainage, helps warm the soil.
  • Incorporate Organic Material: It acts as a wedge to hold clay soil open and allows water to drain more freely and permit air to occupy more of the space between soil particles.
  • Add Gypsum: Helps leach salts from the soil, adds calcium and relaxes the clay.
  • Add Mulch: Apply 3″ of bark or Bumper Crop to reduce weeds, save water and moderate soil temperatures.
  • Add Nutrients: Fertilize with a mild fertilizer which includes micro-nutrients (EB Stone Organics, Maxsea). Micronutrients are essential for healthy plant development and are sometimes missing from soils.
  • Water Appropriately: Water thoroughly but infrequently enough so that air is allowed back into the soil between waterings, usually only every 3-10 days.
  • Use an inexpensive Moisture Meter to judge soil moisture more accurately.

 

 

 

Remineralize Your Soil

Azomite is flour-fine rock dust

California’s big Central Valley is the breadbasket of the nation. Its alluvial soils are rich and friable because centuries of seasonal flooding have deposited minerals from the eroding Sierras into the fertile lowlands.

Alluvial soils are perfect for growing crops partly because they are so full of minerals and nutrients.  Adding minerals to your own soil using rock dust is similar to centuries of valley flooding. Spread a 40 lb. bag of rock powder around your landscape 3 to 4 times a year. Gardeners doing so have achieved noticeable improvements, not only in leaf color and vigor but in fruit and vegetable flavor and production as well.

Where do you suppose vegetables get their nutrient content from… “the soil” Azomite replenishes and enhances the soil. Azomite® powdered rock is a naturally mined mineral product with 70 micro-nutrients rarely available in one place. It is odorless, won’t burn your plants and won’t restrict aeration or water penetration. Unlike some products, Azomite® powdered rock is not a manufactured, chemically prepared fertilizer. It is 100% natural with no additives, synthetics or fillers.

Azomite® has been shown to loosen hard soils, build healthy, more pest-resistant and drought-tolerant plants and promote lusher growth. Use Azomite® powdered rock to improve all your gardening and landscape areas from lawns and vegetable plots to compost piles and enjoy:

  • Increased fruit and flower production
  • Increased vitamin content in your fruits and vegetables
  • Better tasting fruits and vegetables
  • Increased pest and disease resistance and greater cold tolerance in all your plants
  • Lawns with better color while using less fertilizer

Best of all, Azomite® powdered rock is easy and economical to apply – one 40 pound bag can cover 1000 square feet. Azomite® powdered rock – gardens and landscapes have not had it this good since the last ice age.