Garden Monthly Update: February 2017

Garden News

February was the month of the great carrot harvest. I had a great crop, about 20 - 30 pounds, of very yummy carrots this year that lasted a couple of months (we ate and shared lots of carrots in February).

The last of the broccoli was harvested and then I let them flower, so the bees are very happy right now. The 2nd planting of cauliflower has matured and expect to harvest that in March.

The garden flowers, nasturtiums, poppy's, marigolds and African daisy's all came into full bloom in February.

I continued to have a bountiful harvest of lettuce, spinach, peas, kale and tomatoes in February.

The pepper, eggplant, and summer squash transplants are doing great. The chili peppers and eggplant that over-wintered have started to re-leaf and are already starting to flower and produce fruit.

I have been harvesting and drying a lot of dill in February. The basil that over-wintered is coming back with the warmer weather. The oregano, sage and parsley planted in the fall are all starting to take off. The mint also revived in February.

The tomato transplants are doing great and already setting fruit.

All of the remaining grapefruit and lemons were harvested in February.

 

Web site updates - Separate recipe page and separate Q&A page added for easy access to all recipes and Q&A's.

 

February garden harvest picture - red & green cabbage, kale, spinach  tomatoes, carrots, peas, lettuce, cilantro, dill, nasturtium, cosmos, gaillardia, african daisy & poppy.

 

Highlights

Great harvest of carrots!

 

The snow peas continued to be top producers.

 

The black krim tomato was in full swing in February to ripen up the winter tomatoes so it can start to rejuvenate for spring.

Lolights

The cilantro and some lettuce have already started to bolt in late February.

 

The last of the 1st bok choy planting was harvested.

 

"Hot" Topic

Transplants - The best time to plant your new pepper, eggplant and tomato transplants is the late afternoon to early evening as the sun is going down. Give them a good drink of water and check on them in the morning. Transplanting can be very stressful to a plant and then, if done during the heat of day, can add even more stress on the plant causing them to go into shock impairing their recovery and growth or may even kill them. Peppers and tomato plants also prefer to have some shade after transplanting, so use a shade cloth if they are not getting natural shade for the first week or so.

Tip of the Month

Check your watering system - Now that the daytime temperatures are on the rise, it is also time to check your watering system to make sure your plants and garden are getting the proper amount of water. Your fruits trees should be watered 3 ft. deep every 7 - 10 days in the hot months. Make sure your tress have enough bubblers around the trees canopy. Your vegetable garden should be watered to 6" to 1'  depth every 2 - 5 days. A top dress of mulch will help retain water in the soil reducing stress on your plants & trees and water reduce waste.

March Do List

1. Fertilize citrus and fruit trees when they leaf out.

2. Thin deciduous fruit to 6-inch spacing. The earlier this is done after fruit set, the more size response will be expected in fruit remaining on the tree

3. Plant new citrus trees (2 - 5 yrs. old are best).

4. Place shade cloth (no more than 50%) over tomatoes to keep out leaf hoppers.

5. Trim back dead growth in your herb garden.

Fertilize your producing vegetable plants.

March Don't List

1. Don't cheat on soil preparation.

2. Don't fertilize dormant Bermuda until April/May.

3. Don't plant roses with western exposure.

March Planting

Vegetables: (Blue font identifies "ideal" planting time items)

Seeds - snap beans, beets, carrots, corn, cucumbers, armenian cucumbers, jicama, okra, green onions, pumpkin, radish, summer squash, winter squash..

Transplants - artichoke, eggplant, peppers, tomato.

 

 

Herbs: Anise, Basil, Bay, Caraway, Calendula, Chamomile, Chives, Epazote, Fennel, Dill, Feverfew, French Tarragon, Lavender, Lemon   balm, Lemon grass, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Rue, Safflower, Sage, Savory, Thyme.

 

Flowers: Alyssum, Begonias, Chrysanthemum, Coreopsis, Cosmos, Gaillardia, Hibiscus, Hollyhock, Mirabilis jalapa, Marigold, Petunia, Poppy, Portulaca, Society garlic, Sunflower, Sweet Peas, Vinca, Zinnia.

 

Fruit:  Cantaloupe, Watermelon

            - Transplants: Apple, Grape, Plum, Pomegranate, all subtropical

 

Recipe of the Month

-  Caribbean Baked Chicken w/Mango

  -  You can use your fresh cilantro and jalapeno for this low calorie dish, while mangos are in season and plentiful at the market.

 

Best Advice

Pest Control: Whenever possible do not use or hire someone to use a broad spectrum insect spray in your yard. I never spray inside or outside my house and I very seldom have anything more than an occasional small spider make its way in to the house. Nature has a wonderful way of balancing the bad pests with the good insects and animals. If you kill off all the bad insects in your yard, you will not attract the good insects and animals that keep them under control. As much as possible use direct natural methods to control pests. It is such a pleasure to see all the lizards, geckos and many species of birds & good insects (praying mantis, lace wings, lady bugs) in my yard knowing that they are helping to control the pests.  See planting guide insect control page for more info.

Favorites

Garden Books: Extreme Gardening by Dave Owens and Desert Gardening for Beginners by Cathy Cromell, Linda Guy and Lucy Bradley.

Web Sites:

 

Questions/Answers

Q: I am ready to start a garden, what advice can you give me on getting started?

A: Here are a few considerations -

 

1.  Decide the type of planting area that is best for you and size (typical community garden beds are 2- 2.5 W x 6 or 8 L), as well as the location.

My demonstration garden faces south (all day sun) and is roughly 2.5 W x 6 L and I currently have lettuce, cabbage, onions, cilantro, bok choy, brussel sprouts and spinach growing in this raised bed. In my north facing backyard I am growing cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce, and cilantro, which all do well growing in the shade in winter. In summer, most plants will require some shade. I grow my basil on the east side of my house, so it gets morning sun, but afternoon shade.

  • Raised beds are a great option to quickly get your garden started with less physical work. Keep in mind that the width of your raised bed should allow you to reach the center of the bed easily from either side. This is typically no more than 2-3 ft. wide.

  • Ground level gardening will require some digging and removal of the very alkaline/clay soil here in the low desert. You will need to amend/mix the native soil with compost, sand and manure to a depth of 8 to 12 for best results. Again you will need to pay attention to the width to ensure you can reach the plants for caring and harvesting.

  •  The other option is containers. I still grow many plants in containers, mainly peppers, eggplant, mint (invasive if grown with other plants), and some cherry tomatoes. You can grow most plants in containers, so for a first time gardener it can be a good option. I have grown onions, ginger and peas in containers before and there are many more vegetables you can grow in pots.

 

2.  Make a list of the fruit or vegetables that you like to eat.

  •  It is great to experiment with growing different plants, but you will get the most satisfaction from your edible garden by growing the food that you enjoy and that you would like to share with others.

 

3.  Decide if you will start your plants from seed or purchase small plants.

 

I started out purchasing plants as this is a fast way to get your garden going, but over time and experience realized that a mix of both was most practical. Make sure whether starting by seed or plant that you choose early maturing varieties (on the seed package it will list number of days to mature). Because we have a short spring growing season before temperatures rise, you need plant types that mature faster.

  • Start from seed, plants that only last 1 season (annual) and or have minimal production per plant. For example cilantro is a cool weather herb that is very easy to start from seed, but it is done once the daytime temperatures reach 90 degrees. Additionally, cauliflower are huge plants that only produce 1 head per plant, so if I were to buy a plant for $2 - $4 dollars, then take care of the plant for several months, my investment for that 1 head of cauliflower would be well above the cost of buying a head of cauliflower at the market.

  • Good options for buying a small plant to start, would be chili pepper plants. Peppers can last for several years and produce lots of peppers a couple times a year. So, it is easy to recoup your cost of the plant and care in a short period of time. There are also some herbs that will last many years (perennials) like French thyme or oregano, that are difficult to start from seed, so buying a small plant is a good option and makes fiscal sense.

 

2017 Preview

Biointensive Gardening and Square foot Gardening

February Pictures

Link to Photos Here

 

Related Topics

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