Cover Crops

Cover crops in Raised Beds

Cover crops in Raised Beds

I’ve had question from a  gardener about the use of cover crops instead of leaves or hay.  Yes , you can plant cover crops.  They are an excellent way to replenish the nutrients in the soil. Here is a link to an article about the types of seeds and the way to plant.

http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/cover-crop-basics

I am planning to plant Field Peas and Oats.  If you read the article you will see that these die down during the winter, making it easier to plant again in the Spring.  I bought the seeds some time ago from Fedco but I have seen packages of seed at Wentworth Greenhouse for home gardeners.

Happy Fall, Ellen

Garden Lethargy

It’s a curious thing that just when your garden is producing and doing what you have waited for all season, that a kind of garden lethargy sets in. I don’t know exactly what it is.

The Heat? Anticipation is greater than the Reward? The plants look ratty? School is about to start? Just plain tired?

Whatever the reason I have actually been heard to groan at the sight of yet another ripe tomato.

But we cannot give in to complacency now! Along with ripening tomatoes there are also ripening weed seeds. It’s time to admit that the volunteer “kale” is really Lamb’s Quarters and that “chard” is Pigweed and yank it out of your bed! There are a lot of weeds out there and they are sowing themselves back into your bed and your neighbor’s bed right this minute.

Please take some time now to tend your beds. Pick that ripening tomato and pull up those weeds.
We’re not done yet. You’ll thank me in the Spring.

See you in the garden, Ellen

Colorado Potato Beetles-Not just for potatoes!

Colorado Potato Beetles are back in the garden.  Here they are in all their stages.  The best way to manage these is to put on a pair of gloves, pick them off your plants and squish them.  Sorry, but these guys are resistant to just about every other method, including natural predators.  They over winter in the soil and in the field margins.  They also eat tomatoes, eggplant and pepper.  Crop rotation can help but is difficult in a Community Garden setting.  If you see them on your plants or someone else’s please eliminate them!  Thanks

Colorado Potato Beetle larvae

Colorado Potato Beetle larvae

Potato Beetle Eggs

Potato Beetle Eggs

Adult Colorado Potato Beetle

Adult Colorado Potato Beetle

More About Planting Tomatoes and Other Heat Loving Vegetables

carefully transplanting

carefully transplanting

Yesterday I posted a warning about planting tomatoes and other heat loving vegetables too early and suggested that planting after Memorial Day would be safe  Then I looked at the calendar and realized that Memorial Day is about a week early this year. Better to give you specific guidelines about the necessary conditions for success.  After checking my own opinion against the information available I have these instructions to share:

Plant when the nighttime temperatures will not drop lower than 55 degrees.  There are some who say they can get by as long as the temperatures don’t dip below the high 40s, and that may be true for some cold tolerant varieties, but to be safe stick with 55 degrees.  Wagon Hill is windy and on the cool side anyway.

Harden off. If your tomatoes have been living in a warm, controlled environment like a greenhouse, cold frame, or living room, they need a little time to get used to the wilder climate outside. Give them a few days to adjust to the swinging temperatures, harsh sunlight and strong wind by bringing them outside for a few hours, then increasing to half a day, a full day, and finally a day and night.

Choose a cloudy day, or the cool of evening. To alleviate seedlings from shock, transplant on a cloudy day, or if it’s not in the forecast, plan toward the end of the day, when air and soil temperatures cool and the sun is won’t scorch the young plants.

In the case of tomatoes, plant them deeply.  Tomatoes can develop roots all along the stem so planting them nice and deep builds a stronger root system that will provide more support for the crop.

Tickle the soil around the roots to loosen them from the root ball and to help them absorb the water you will be sure to give them.   Water well and often as the plants establish themselves.

And, just for perspective:  Imagine transplanting rice!  Hope this helps!

agri-rice-planting images

Flower Density Improves Tomato Yield

Dear Gardeners,  Last season we encouraged gardeners to plant flowers, for pollination and beauty’s sake.  Now, a study done in San Francisco’s community gardens and urban setting has shown that flower density has a significant impact on tomato yield.  I’m sure we can extrapolate to other vegetables.

Even more surprising, neither the size of the garden nor the amount of green space in the surrounding area impacted the amount of pollinator service a plant received. Instead, the key factor was the “floral resource density,” or the abundance of flowers present within the garden in which the tomato plant was located. The more densely flowers were grown within each garden, the higher the yield of tomatoes.

Here is the link to the entire article. http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2015-02/sfsu-upg021215.php

Let’s continue to include flowers in our garden plans!  See you tomorrow afternoon.  EllenIMG_0961

 

Garden Inspiration

Welcome to the new growing season. By way of inspiration during this snowy time, I thought I’d share with you a sampling of vegetable and garden products I am still enjoying from last year’s harvest.

In the basket are russet potatoes, beets, a cabbage, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. In jars are mixed pickled veggies, bread and butter pickles, green beans,tomatoes,  salsa and pesto. In my freezer I have chard, roasted tomatoes, and pumpkin puree. They weren’t photogenic enough for the photo op.

The potatoes, beets and cabbage have all ambitiously started to grow roots and sprouts. I am wondering if I should really eat them or just replant them! The cabbage,which I stored in the refrigerator is also growing little cabbages around the base. I also stored the beets in the refrigerator and while they are now starting to get a little soft up until a couple of weeks ago they were still crisp and firm. I can eat the softer ones and they taste fine. The squash and potatoes were stored in my basement. They do need to be eaten soon or I could cook and freeze them. The vegetables pictured are just a few of the ones I have left to eat.

So, as you page through your seed catalogs, be sure to consider some vegetables for storing. You will enjoy having them in the depths of winter.

Think Spring! Garden Steward, Wagon Hill Community Gardenstorage vegetables

Flower Power

At our Garden Opening this year we encouraged gardeners to plant more flowers.  They did and the gardens are beautiful with blooms.  Here are just a few to enjoy.

Pink Zinnia

Pink Zinnia

IMG_0961

Zinnia

Cleome

Cleome

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Red and White Zinnia

Red and White Zinnia

 

 

Cosmos

Cosmos

Gardener with dog and flowers

Gardener with dog and flowers

IMG_0962