When removing spent pea vines, cut them off at the soil level rather than pulling them out. The roots have nodules that contain excess nitrogen which is released into the soil as the roots decompose. I knew this about beans, but it never occurred to me that peas would add nitrogen to the soil, too.
Since we’re on the subject:
When replanting areas where you have just grown vegetables, follow heavy-feeding leafy vegetables like spinach and cabbage with nitrogen-replenishing legumes such as peas, beans, and soybeans; or plant less-demanding root crops.
Rotate families of crops to avoid disease. Some major crop families are: nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants), mustard family (radishes, turnips, cabbage, broccoli and other cole crops), legume family (beans and peas), gourd family (squash), goosefoot family (purslane and Swiss chard), and parsley family (cilantro, fennel, anise parsnip, dill).
I’ve got the springtime itch and right now the garden has a very additive quality that I’m finding hard to resist. I got a lot of seeds started this weekend in preparation for next season’s garden. I’ll start some more seeds in a couple of weeks in an effort to stagger plantings and get steady yields. It’s a good theory. Time will tell how it pans out! Here’s what I’m working on. A few interesting tomatoes from my friend, Martha, who picked them up in her travels. Lots of sunflowers. I wasn’t going to do corn this year because it does take up a lot of room, but how could I resist the ornamental corn? Three different kinds of squash raise my chances at being successful at having at least one not die on me. Radishes and peppers, well, just because. Although my flats are not to scale, each square in a flat represents a six-pack planter.
Yesterday was tour day at Suzie’s Farm, and I attended the 10:30am tour with a few friends. We met the owners, Lucila and Robin, and wandered through two fields while Lucila talked about farming, vegetables and Suzie’s Farm. The farm is organic-certified and Lucila talked a lot about that. A lot of regulations to comply with and overplanting is necessary to make up for the loss of crops due to critters. Also, I learned a new definition for a Sun Belt. That’s the tan mark between your pants and the bottom of your shirt that you get when you are leaning over to plant and pick. Not so attractive on a 51 year old, so I think I’ll be extra conscious from now on to make sure my shirt is pulled down when I work in the yard! But I digress…..
Lucila is passionate about organic farming
Their farmlands are three miles from the Mexican border and the land is leased from the U.S. Navy. The Tijuana River runs right next to two of the fields. Between the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego and the U.S. Navy, the area is heavily patrolled by the Sheriff’s Dept, the Border Patrol, and the U.S. Navy.
I have never seen okra growing before and I have to say, it is beautiful.
A field of Okra
So much to look at. We came home sweaty and filthy from dust at the farm, but what a fun way to spend a morning. Here are some more images of yesterday’s visit.
Today we are feasting on our bounty! Mushroom, Rajas, and Corn Tacos with Queso Fresco (that was lunch!), Tomato Tart, Eggplant, Green Olive, and Provolone Pizza, and Eggplant Crisps with Skordalia and Oven-Dried Tomatoes.
No, not the guy with the orange hair. Although he can be a bit creepy. What I’m referring to is actual tops of carrots, the greens. They are toxic. Who knew? When you thin carrots out they look so cute. Well, it turns out they are cute AND toxic. This article from the NY Times delves into this and some other toxins lurking amongst our vegetables. The bottom line: Just because you are growing it doesn’t mean you can eat it. Food for thought.
Do you know the difference between Sweet Potatoes and Yams? They are both edible tubers; otherwise, they have very little in common.
Just a little educational minutae to throw into the mix when that certain family member starts to steer the topic at the dinner table into those toxic zones of religion, politics or philosophy! Happy Thanksgiving! Read on…..
So, the potatoes I ordered finally arrived. I’m not sure what I was expecting but they look like….well, potatoes. It was a little anticlimatic when I opened the box, because I spent about $35.00 for this little pile, which I was happy to do, but I think I’m just having a problem with having spent $35 on potatoes that look just like what I can buy at the grocery for a fraction of the cost. Having said that, I know that these potatoes, known as seed potatoes, are much less likely to be problematic because they are typically grown in a controlled environment, keeping them disease free.
Don't cook these for dinner!
I’ll give these little, expensive, starchy jewels a shot to see how they perform, but I’m curious to see how these and my supermarket crop will compare.
Here is some other useful info that came with my seed potatoes:
* Sprouting your seeds is called “greening” or “chitting.” Potatoes don’t have to be sprouting to be planted, but it does speed up the growing process and you tend to get a higher yield.
* During warmer weather, you can sprout your potatoes by spreading them out in moderate light and mild temps (60-70 degrees) for a couple of weeks to induce sprouting.
* During colder weather (now) you can sprout potatoes by placing them in a paper bag in a warm room (70 degrees) with apples, bananas or onions, which give off ethylene gas. This induces sprouting.
* If you don’t want to plant right away, put your potatoes in a paper bag and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks, then follow the chitting directions for warmer weather above.
* Expect your crop to be ready in about 50-60 days, maybe a little longer in cooler weather.
* Subsequent tubers from your original seed potatoes can develop disease, especially if you are reusing your soil so good practice is, if you are growing in containers, to replace the soil you grow your potatoes in after each planting. If you are planting in the ground, then rotate your potatoes out for 3 years. I don’t know about you, but crop rotation is a bit tricky in my smallish yard so I’ll stick to container potato growing.
Here is an informative video from You-Tube if you’ve got 9+ minutes to kill. (It’s amazing what I find when I do a search on Google!!!)
Okay, enough with the potatoes today. More to come when I plant. In the meantime, “chitting” is in order….
Faithful reader, Jessica, started her seeds last week and now that they are beginning to sprout, she wants some guidance on how to proceed, so here goes….
Make sure your seedlings stay moist. If they dry out you’ll lose them, or weaken them significantly. When you plant a seed, the first leaves to emerge are not considered true leaves. They are called cotyledons. Keep seedlings out of direct afternoon sun until the seedlings have developed at least four true leaves. The bigger the seedlings get, the faster they will dry out because there are more roots to suck up the water.
Once they look like little plants with at least four true leaves, you can start hardening them off (a gardener’s way of saying “toughen them up”) a bit by exposing them to more sun. The reason for this is so your seedlings don’t get completely fried when you transplant them. You’ll want to transplant your seedlings at about 3 weeks but you’ll have to just feel this out a bit, depending on what you’ve planted. The trick is to let your seedlings get big enough so they survive the transplanting, but not so big that they get root-bound.
After transplanting, mulch the soil lightly, and add another mulch layer in October and November for additional frost protection. Keep the mulch an inch away from the plant stems for air circulation and less potential for disease.
Snails and slugs are going to be your biggest headache because they can mow down your delicate seedlings overnight. That is FRUSTRATING, but you can preempt a lot of this problem with a perimeter of snail bait if you need to. Also, if you start another round of seeds every two or three weeks, your garden will yield a nice crop over a longer period of time. Happy Planting!