Stews are Better with Home Grown Winter Vegetables

winterstew[1]As the days shorten and the earth cools down it becomes the perfect recipe for planting a garden for fall and winter vegetables.

In California, vegetable gardening doesn’t stop with the fall harvest. There are many varieties of vegetables that do best in cool weather. Lettuce, cabbages, root vegetables such as carrots and beets are a few of them. It’s also an ideal time to start a winter hardy herb garden. The cooler temperatures will allow the herbs to be firmly established by the warmer days of spring. Herbs also do well in containers or planted along walkways where their fragrance is released as someone brushes against them.

Remember, a garden started now means fresh vegetables for winter stews and garden salads as well as herbal seasonings all year round.

If you haven’t planted your winter vegetables yet, this would be a good time. The vegetable starts are here now with fresh shipments arriving weekly. Use our Recipe for Good Garden Soil and then get ready to plant.

Fresh carrots, onions, cabbage will all taste great in winter stews and casseroles. Come in and choose now. We have Kale, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Chard, Cabbage,  Parsley, Spinach, Herbs, Lettuce and much more from seeds or starts, and we have Garlic and Onions from bulbs.

Onion Bulbs Are In!

Ready to plant now for harvest next summer. Choose from red, yellow, or white onions, or choose shallots. Place bulbs 3 to 4 inches apart in rows that are 15 to 18 inches apart. Begin to harvest the green tops in 3 to 4 weeks, if you like. Onions are shallow rooted plants, so keep them moist and free of weeds. Winter rains will soon do all the watering for you, making onions one of the easiest vegetables to grow ín the garden.

 

October Vegetable Guide

October vegetable gardening includes the addition of garlic, shallots and onions to the mix of leafy greens and cabbage/cauliflower relatives already on the table.

Garlic, shallots and onions from bulbs go into the ground now through mid-November

Leafy greens, peas, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots thrive when planted now before weather cools.

Vegetable Plant Time Amount
(family of 4)
Special Notes Plant Now
Artichoke Year ’round 3 – 4 plants Permanent, perennial. 4″ Pots
Garlic October – January 10 – 20 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. Note: plant through EARLY January for best results From Bulbs
Onions (bulb) September – March 30 – 40 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown.  Onions are available as bulbs in fall and as bare root plants in early November.   From Bulbs
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
Parsley Year ’round 1 – 2 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
Broccoli August – February 15 – 20 ft. row Can be planted more than once/year for a continuous harvest. From Starts or Seeds
Brussels Sprouts August – February 15 – 20 ft. row N/A From Starts or Seeds
Cabbage August – February 10 – 15 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Cabbage, Chinese August – February 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Cauliflower August – February 10 – 15 plants Tie leaves up and over head to protect from frosts. From Starts or Seeds
Celery August – February 20 – 30 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Chard August – February 3 – 4 plants Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Endive August – February 10 – 15 ft. row N/A From Starts or Seeds
Kohlrabi August – November 10 – 15 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds
Leeks August – February 10 ft. row N/A From Starts or Seeds
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. From Starts or Seeds
Mustard August – April 10 ft. row N/A From Starts or Seeds
Onions (green) August – December —- 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
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. From Starts or Seeds
Spinach September – January 10 – 20 ft. row Suitable for a small garden if compact varieties are grown. From Starts or Seeds

 

Seize the Season

With Fall officially rolling in this month on the calendar (though maybe not on the thermometer), it’s time to design and plant your cool season garden!

Your wheelbarrow is brimming with starts and seeds for broccoli, cauliflower, beets, carrots, green leafy lettuces, kale, chard, cabbage, snow peas, snap peas, and mustards. Now what? Take a moment to envision how and where you can enhance your landscape by sowing this bounty.

Welcome

Create a welcoming entry statement in your garden with a small gate or pergola. This marks your garden as a special “place”.

Layout your crops with an eye for pattern. Plant colorful lettuces in a square instead of straight rows. Use cabbages to punctuate the corners. Border them with herbs or annuals – why not edible annual flowers like violas or nasturtiums? Or try a dynamic arrangement of diagonals or chevron patterns to lead your eye through the garden.

Add exclamation marks to the center of your plantings. Taller flowering herbs like dill or fennel or yarrow can give you some height while attracting all important pollinators. Or use a decorative structure such as a painted tee pee, a wire obelisk, colorful tomato cage or ornate trellis, or an Artichoke!

Plan tidy pathways made of bark or gravel to surround and organize your beds. No water use here. Put a couple of layers of overlapping cardboard underneath to keep down weeds.

Subdivide the interior space of large beds with an arrangement of stepping stones. Alden Lane has a beautiful collection of natural slate stepping stones.

Please protect your young tender seedlings from our still high temperatures with frequent watering and some shade during the hottest part of the day. Enrich your soil before planting with G & B Organic compost and Sure Start organic fertilizer.

Weren’t the Pluots heavenly this year? Don’t forget the after harvest fruit tree feeding. A good deep soak (15 gallons of water) followed by fertilizing with Master’s Fruit Tree fertilizer promotes vitality during the spring flowering and fruit set season. Add a shovelful of worm castings or chicken manure around each tree to condition the soil.

Cover Crops Improve Garden Soil

Cover crops are fast growing plants that are utilized by farmers and gardeners for one or more of their beneficial qualities and not usually intended as food crops.

A gardener will usually work these crops into the soil or remove them before they set seed. A healthy garden can benefit in several ways when cover crops are included in the annual rhythm of sowing and reaping.

It seems that for most any problem, there is a cover crop solution. Try one and you’ll notice over time how much better your garden performs with less input of extra water, fertilizer, and insecticide. Cover crops are the natural choice for a naturally better garden.

Some crops add nitrogen to the soil, pulling it from thin air. Others pull up minerals from deep underground and concentrate it in the topsoil as you till the plan under. Other cover crops work like a rototiller to loosen heavy soils with their vigorous roots.

How to Get Started with Cover Crops

Preparation can usually be minimal for sowing cover crops. Cultivate the soil to a depth of about 1 inch and rake out any large debris or weeds. Sow the seeds at the rate recommended on the packet. Seeds can usually be scattered evenly. After sowing, tamp down the soil lightly to create good contact between seed and soil. Water immediately after sowing, and keep the area moist until your plants emerge. After establishment, most cover crops require minimal additional water.
cover-crop-cloverIt is usually best to cut down or incorporate cover crops before they produce seed. Cut or till the plants just as they begin to flower or before. Small plants can be directly tilled into your soil. Larger plants can be cut down with a weed trimmer or mower and left on the soil surface to dry for a few days before they are roto-tilled in.
We carry an assortment of cover crop seeds from botanical interests as well as larger bags of Fava Beans, purple vetch, clover, alfalfa, and more.

Recipe for Good Garden Soil

Gardening is not just about taking care of plants, it is about taking care of the soil. Good garden soil has texture, moisture, oxygen, nutrients and microbial life. If everything adds up below the ground 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. Now 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 unfold.

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.
  • Incorporate 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.
  • Improve 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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.