Early Spring Planting-Three Important Factors

Three important factors should be considered before planting seeds in early spring:

Amount of daylight hours-In the winter the sun is weaker in the northern hemisphere and we have less daylight hours. If you plant seeds too early either outside or in a greenhouse, the seedlings will be spindling when they germinate. Once we have 10 hours of daylight (we currently have over 10 hrs), we can start planting our cold hardy seeds. So in Santa Fe, we now have enough daylight hours. But wait, there are several more factors we need to consider before we plant seeds.

Soil temperature for germination for different vegetable seeds

Soil temperature for germination for different vegetable seeds

Soil temperature-If you are thinking of planting OUTSIDE, forget about it, your soil is probably frozen so of course you can’t plant anything! Even if it’s not frozen, it’s probably still too cold to plant outside. However it will warm up soon. How can you tell what temperature your soil is? You’ll need a soil thermometer. I prefer a compost thermometer that is about 18″ long so you can check both the soil and a compost pile. A soil thermometer is invaluable, as different veggies like to germinate at different soil temperatures. Insert it about the depth of the root zone of the plants, about 4”-6″ in the soil to see how warm it is. Notice the chart above gives an optimum range for each veggie.  If you have a cold frame, hoophouse or greenhouse your soil is probably much warmer already. So are you ready to plant? Not quite. There is one more factor to consider.

Air Temperature-The air temperature is also important and is the main thing people think of in considering when to plant seeds. It’s too cold at night to plant most veggie seeds outside or even in a greenhouse without extra protection BUT there are some wintergreens that are very cold hardy, some even hardy below 32°F at night. Even in an unheated cold frame or greenhouse, the temperature dips below freezing at nights so if you have a one, I suggest you put some row cover (winter weight-.9-1.0 mm.) over your beds. If you don’t have a greenhouse and will be planting outside in early spring, definitely put row cover over it at night but don’t forget to check your soil temperatures too.

I’ve compiled a list of these very cold hardy crops that can be started in a greenhouse now if the soil temperature and daylight hours are good. Many of these cold hardy crops can be planted outside as soon as the soil warms ups in March. For the list go to my blog at: http://giantveggiegardener.com.

So many things to do for the vegetable garden in March!

Time to Get Busy!!

March is an incredibly busy month for gardeners. So many things to do (or should do) that it makes my head swim. New garden sections to make, ordering my final seeds, starting seeds inside, starting seeds outside, transplanting seedlings, amending the beds-the list goes on and on and I love it! Soon my hands will be brown again from digging in the dirt. No wonder I liked to play in the dirt when I was a little kid!

Next I will complete the new beds, finish the area around the new garden, make two gates for the new garden section to keep the rabbits out. Then I will put horse manure as a soil amendment on all the beds both new and old. My trailer was so full, my Forerunner could barely pull it. I bet I have about 2000 lbs of poop in it!  The stuff I got is still a little hot (oh really? the manure was a little steamy when it was loaded!) but will cool down over the next 2 months before I plant tomatoes. I’ll use my really aged (6 months or more) horse manure, aged chicken manure and compost for the potatoes and fava beans that will go in the old section later this month. The vegetables I plant in May will get this newer ‘aged’ manure as it will have time to decompose and cool down.

I’ve decided to put the greenhouse on the back burner until the garden is in and then have it ready for fall which makes more sense anyways as it will be hot in June.

2012 Vegetable Seed Lists

2012 SEED LISTS

I’ve researched and updated the seed list for this year.  I created a legend with abbreviations for each seed/nursery and then put them at the end of each seed listed.  I also show which tomatoes Amy Goldman’s ‘The Heirloom Tomato’ book recommends which I use as my ‘tomato bible’! I’ve put this in my page section called ‘Seed Lists’  at the top of the blog for later reference.

Here is the legend:
AFN-Agua Fria Nursery (plants)-1409 Agua Fria Street/Santa Fe, NM/505-983-4831
SFGHSanta Fe Greenhouse (plants)-2904 Rufina Street/Santa Fe, NM/505-473-2700
BHBaker Heirloom (seeds)
SSESeed Saver Exchange (seeds)
TSTerritorial Seeds
JSKGJohn Scheepers Kitchen Garden
KSKitazawa Seed (seeds)
WCSWest Coast Seeds (seeds)
CGCooks Garden (seeds)
TFTomato Fest (seeds)
TGTomato Growers (seeds)
TTTotally Tomatoes (seeds)

2012 TOMATOES
RED

*AG/Pantano Romanesco-red/70-80 days-BH,TF(seeds)
*AG/Costoluto Genovese-red/78 days-TG(seeds)
*AG/Goldsman Italian American-red-BH (seeds)
Fireworks-red-50 days-TG (seeds)
Honey hybrid-red-76 days-TG (seeds)
Beefy Boy-red-70 days-AFN (plants)
Original Goliath/pio-red-65 days-TT-seeds

ORANGE/YELLOW

Jaune Flamme–70-80 days-SSE (seeds)
Aunt Gertie’s Gold-TG-75-80 days (seeds)
Lemon Boy-AFN (plants)-hybrid

BI-COLOR

Striped German-bicolor-super sweet-super sweet-SFGH (plants)
*AG/Gold Medal-bicolor-75-80 days-BH (seeds)
*AG/Ananas Noir-fantastic flavor, I’m growing 2 this year-BH, SSE (seeds) plants)
Virginia Sweet-super sweet, AFN (plants)

BLACK OR PURPLE


Paul Robeson-black/75-85 days-AFN (plants)
Cherokee Purple/80 days-AFN (plants)
Black Pear-70 days-AFN (plants)
Brown Sugar-BH- ?days
Southern Nights-BH-? days

CHERRY TOMATOES

*AG/Black Cherry-black/75 days-AFN (plants)
*AG/Green Grape-green/AFN (plants) or SSE (seeds)
Sun Sugar-yellow cherry-62 days-TT (seeds)-hybrid
Golden Pearl-GS-hybrid

* AG-recommended by Amy Goldsman’s book, ‘The Heirloom Tomato’

2012 VEGGIE LIST
BEANS-Rattlesnake bean snap OG (remarkably flavored pole bean)-SSE (seeds)
Emerite bean, pole bean-JSKG (seeds) ALSO
Tarbais bean pole-for dry bean
Fava Bean-for dry bean

CARROTS-Atomic Red-BH, Cosmic Purple-SSE, Paris Market-SSE

PEPPER-Shishito (Japanese non hot pepper)-AFN (plants) or KS(seeds)

SUMMER SQUASH-ZUCCHINI-Costata Romanesco (best tasting zuke around)-BH (seeds)
CALABICITAS SQUASH-seed from local grower

EGGPLANT-Fairy Tale (best sweet, no bitter taste and soft skin eggplant I’ve tasted)-AFN (plants) or TS (seeds)

FENNEL/FINOCCHIO-Di Firenze-BH (seeds)

CUCUMBERS-Parisian Pickling, De Bourbonne, Boothsby Blonde, Poona Kheera, Armenian and Russian- I grow cukes for either taste or which variety is best for different types of pickles-all BH (seeds)

CORN-again not this year (I’ll get it from our Farmers Market)

LETTUCES–Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce, and Little Gem-CG (seeds)

SPINACH-Bloomsdale-CG (seeds) and Tyee

CARROTS-Cosmic Red BH (seeds) and

ARUGULA-Apollo-SSE (seeds)

BOK CHOY-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-BH (seeds)

CHARD-5 Color Silverbeet-SSE (seeds) and Argentata Swiss Chard-JSKG (seeds)

PEAS-Dwarf Sugar Gray-SSE, Oregon Spring II-BH (seeds)

TOMATILLO-Green-70-80 days-SSE (seeds) or -AFN (plants)

JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE

POTATOES-fingerling types
2012 GIANT PUMPKINS
All came from private growers
895 Grande 08 (1016 Daletas x 1385 Jutras)
421 Cabossel (895 Grande x self )
1046 Grande 10 (901 Hunt x 1385 Jutras)

OTHER GIANT VEGETABLES
GIANT GREEN SQUASH-all came from private grower
340 Cabossel 11 which came from 903 Noel 07 (848 McKenzie x self)

GIANT MARROW-(like giant Zucchini)-all came from private growers
75.4 Wursten 09
62 Cabossel 11

GIANT TOMATOES
-7.18 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Timm x open)-private grower
5.416 N, Harp 09 (5.58 Harp x open)-private grower
Big Zac/TT (seeds)

GIANT PEAR GOURD-private grower
103 Cabossel 11 which came from 89 Scherber 10

LONG GOURD-private grower
135 Jacobus 10

GIANT SUNFLOWERS
-Titan-SSE, BH (seeds)

2012 EDIBLE FLOWER LIST-
Following is the list of edible flowers that will be planted or are already on the property:
Borage-great honeybee plant
Calendula-Orange King-BH (seeds)
Chives-AFN (plants)
Cilantro-AFN (plants)
Dill-AFN (plants)
Lavender (in existing different area)
Marigold-Lemon Gem-TS (seeds) this is the only edible marigold
Nasturtiums-Tip Top -CG (seeds)-prettiest nasturiums
Pansies-get them anywhere
Violas-get them anywhere
Roses (in different existing area)
Black Oil Seed sunflower (for the birds!)-WCS (seeds)

2012 HERBS-Following is a list of herbs that will be planted or exist on the property

Basil (Genevese)-new SHGH (plants), 
Lime Basil-new-SFGH (plants), 
Thai Basil-new-SFGH (plants)

Oregano-must replant rabbits ate it this winter

Thyme-exists
, Lemon Thyme-exists
,

Chives-exists
.

Dill-usually self seeds
,

Marjoram-new-SFGH (plants)

Mint-exists

Sage-exists
Lavender-exists

Winter Savory-exists

Lemon Verbena-exists

10 Things to Do in March in the Garden

Now is the beginning of our season for fruit and vegetable gardeners. I got my light boxes out! Woo! Hoo! Here we go! Here are 10 things to do for or in your garden this month.

1. Finish ordering your seeds or getting your seeds if you haven’t already.

2. Get your light tables and heating mats out and ready to go. Use florescent lights that are at least 3000 lumen. I use the daylight ones. They produce less ‘leggy’ veggies.

3. Start tomato, pepper and eggplant seeds indoors to set out later as transplants depending on variety.

4. Finish your garden plans

5. Get your soil tested to see what amendments you might need to add to it.

6. Put  horse manure that has been aged for at least 6 months on your garden beds and dig in. Don’t put on ‘hot’ manure.

7. Hurry up and finish pruning your fruit trees. Not much time left.

8. Spray your fruit trees with dormant oil before their buds turn color to smother any dormant bugs.

9. Water your trees.

10. Plant COOL SEASON vegetable seeds OUTSIDE on ST. PATRICK’S DAY.  Some varieties include carrots, beets, lettuces, spinach, arugula, bok choy, swiss chard, onions, brocolli, cabbage, peas, radishes, mustard, kale and other greens.