Cool season crops have begun

transplants-2-weeks-old

When I was looking through what I plant each year, I realized I actually grow many varieties of cools season crops (like greens/lettuce). I started some seeds of cool season crops inside under lights but no heat on Jan 17!  I never put the heat mats on for cool season crop seeds, only for warm season crops and it is way too early for them just yet.

I started:
Asian greens: bok choy, pak choy, Wasabi arugula

Lettuces: 4 Season Lettuce butterhead, Yugoslavian Red butterhead, and Santoro butterhead lettuce. Can you tell I like butterheads?!

Leeks: Solaise, King Richard and American Flag

Onions: Candy (it is an intermediate or neutral variety) which is they type of onion we have to grow here.

Spinach: Carmel-Just planted the seeds today. Still have some spinach plants that have overwinter nicely outside in a raised bed with only winter weight row cover on it. By planting a crop of spinach last fall, I’m hoping I get a bumper crop of spinach in March! The variety of spinach I like the most is called Carmel which overwinter last year and looks to do the same this year. You can get seeds from Johnny’s or plants from Agua Fria Nursery.

4-season-lettuce

four season lettuce is looking good

Today I transplanted up lettuces and Asian greens to pony pots from seed trays. The plants are looking good but need to grow more before I put them out in my green house or cold frame. You can plant outside in sunny raised beds in March but all-greenhouse, cold frames or just plain old beds will need winter weight row cover on the little starts to protect them from our cold nights.  I’m hoping to put them out by beginning of March. The varieties I grow at this time of year are very cold hardy. I’m trying to get a head start as our cool season crop season is pretty short here before it gets too hot and everything bolts. And there is nothing better than spring spinach or lettuce!

2015 Santa Fe Seed Exchange

hg-seed-exchange

Santa Fe Seed Exchange-TODAY!
Tuesday, March 10, 2015

If you are looking for seeds and ideas for your vegetable garden, come to the Santa Fe Seed Exchange on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 from 4 pm-7 pm in Frenchy’s Barn on Agua Fria and Osage Ave. The City Parks Division and Home Grown New Mexico are hosting this event for all community gardens, school gardens and home gardeners. Agua Fria Nursery donated over $750 of seeds so there are plenty of seeds available. Come even if you do not have any to share. Bring flower, herb, vegetable and other seeds if you do.

The Santa Fe Master Gardeners will be at the event with an “Ask a Master Gardener” table for gardening questions and will have seed starting handouts to give away.

SB_BusinessCard_Back_photoThe SeedBroadcast organization will have their seedbroadcasting station to answer questions about saving seeds and seed story recording equipment.  Tell your story about the seed, where you got it, how you planted it and more.  See their website for stories across America.

Poki from Gaia Gardens and The Tomato Lady will be there with seeds also.

If you have questions, please contact: homegrownnewmexico1@gmail.com  or leave a message at 505-983-9706 and we will return your call.

How to use my gardening website

apricot blossoms

Many people have contacted me about what’s going on in their vegetable and fruit gardens in the high desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico or in Zone 6a throughout the seasons and have particular questions. Feel free to write me but I want to go over how to use this website to your greatest advantage. Every few days I post something interesting to me or want to share. One way is to just go backwards (scroll down) and read them. But let’s say you have a question about growing tomatoes. You could go backwards which would take you forever as I have over 650 posts on various subjects (so far) but another faster way would be go over to the right hand column of this blog. From there:

Go down to ‘GARDEN TOPICS’ and scroll down to whatever interests you (in this case tomatoes) from starting tomatoes from seed, to garden hints, or all the way down to tomatoes in the vegetable section. That way you can cut out subjects that aren’t interesting for you. (What?)

Another thing I like in the right column is the ‘ARCHIVES’  section where you can read my posts for a particular month and even for a particular year. I use this a lot for myself as I look up when I planted something in previous years, or other info I want to review again for a particular month.

Another section is called, ‘PAGES’ which you can access from the right column or on the top menus on the blog. I think this is a great resource as you can look up the page for catalogs I like to get, my garden plans for each year, my seed lists of what I’m planting that year (and where I get them), classes I may offer,  films I enjoy, Santa Fe Master Gardener’s radio show, ‘The Garden Journal’ where I talk about what to do in the vegetable garden for the following month. and even the about me page with info about me and this website (if you care to know!)

So next time it’s snowing or cold and windy outside this winter, take some time to catch up on what’s going on. I know I do.

Reflections on the gardening year

winter veg garden

Here is the veggie garden in winter-now asleep

Happy Solstice! Yea-the days get longer now-and here it is the end of the year. As I look at winter, the first two months of winter-November-December are done and only two more months of winter (January-February) to endure. Then its early spring and off to the races! But let’s slow things down a bit. December is a great month to reflect on the gardening season and look at what worked and what didn’t work in the garden during the past year and what I might do differently.

So what worked and what didn’t?

-I only lost 10% of my tomato crops vs. last year’s 50 % tomato crop loss to the dreaded beet leafhopper.  I covered almost all of my tomato plants with row cover from May 15th until the first week of July. The leafhopper leaves when the rainy season comes and this year they hung out till the beginning if July when it started raining. -The downside of this is I really don’t like NOT SEEING my plants hiding under the row cover-I like watching them grow, but that seems to be a tradeoff. Also I want to try to transplant my tomatoes outside earlier than May 15th to try to get tomatoes earlier.

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-Rotating my crops seem to help with diseases. I have everything on a three-year rotation, which is why I made an additional 1000 sq ft section last year, giving me a total of (3) 1000 ft sections.  I move the crops around so they only return to the same section every 3 years. The pumpkins use to have their own additional section in the horse corral but now that I have a horse (Koko), I will put them into the rotation in the main veggie garden since the corral has been reclaimed by Koko.

-Speaking of pumpkins, I need to find a way to keep critters from eating them although it was almost impossiblerabbit damage to keep the rabbits away early in the season when food was hard to find for them-even with 2 fences and row cover over the pumpkins, something ate my prized potential pumpkin plant, so I’ll be thinking on that one a lot more this winter. Plus I want to get the plants outside earlier too if I’m to have a chance to break the state record again…

-I covered my eggplants with row cover for a while this year thereby avoiding the first hail storm’s devastating damage. That first hail storm set back many of my vegetables due to the severe damage by about a month. The downside was aphids found the eggplants underneath the row cover and it was a battle to get rid of them. The aphids also went after the summer squash and peppers with all the rain we got. I controlled them with strong sprays of water on them and insecticidal soap. Also lady bugs appeared and came to the rescue eating many aphids (and I didn’t have to buy them). I think I need to remove the row cover earlier.

The almost finished greenhouse was unbelievably hot last summer-110°F. Too hot to grow anything which was ok as it wasn’t ready anyways. So after I work to button it up this winter, I will have to find ways to cool it down next summer. Still, I have a greenhouse! I’ll take the challenges it will present.

swiss chard hail damage-I have to say I enjoyed all the rain we got after 4 years of an extreme drought. The fruit trees loved all the rain but 2 more hail storms almost wiped out the vegetable crops especially the chard and squash. It was amazing anything survived plus the one week of rain that we got-about 3 inches-watered down the flavor of the tomatoes for about 2 weeks but then they bounced back.

Most of the problems came from Mother Nature and there is not much one can do about her-she does what she wants and we need to adjust. We always think we have everything in control and then wham! She does a number on us!

-I will grow more tomato plants and other veggies to sell at the Farmer’s Market as many people seemed excited to try some of the different varieties I grow. To this effect, I think the greenhouse will be great asset this spring.

So now I will be going over all the catalogs that are coming in and start to plan the veggie garden for 2014.

Happy Holidays!

10 more things to Do in February For the Garden

We may not be able to get out in our gardens now but it is time to get busy with things to do to get ready for the garden. March will be seed starting time and there will be lots to do before for that. I will be elaborating on some of these items over the next few posts as I see there is more info I can offer.

1. Go over your current seed supply. Organize it. Get rid of any seeds over 3 years old unless you froze them. Fresh seeds are essential for good germination. Older seeds have less success of germinating.

2. Decide which vegetables you want for this year and order any seeds you may need to get from seed catalogs.

3. Talk to your local nursery to see what they might be growing this year. I give a list to mine and they tell me what they are growing so I don’t duplicate. I prefer to let them do the growing, it’s just that I want to grow so many varieties that they might not have so I have  to start some by seed.

4. Stock up on any fertilizers, amendments, compost, nutrients, mycorizzial, and biomicrobes you may need for veggies. i.e- tomatoes, giant pumpkins

5. Check your grow light boxes to make sure they work. Get new bulbs if necessary.

6. Check grow heating mats to make sure they work and get more if necessary. Last year I had one and ordered another as my seed growing expanded.

7. Consider purchasing a seed mat thermostat. Last year I had to get one because the seed heating mats were running too hot and burning up the seeds before they have a chance to germinate. The mats stay 10° F hotter than the ambient temperature of the room so if we are having a really warm spring and the temperature is 80° F inside than the temperature would run 90°F in the seed flats-way too hot. The thermostat will keep the temperatures in the pots at whatever is best germinating temperature.

7. Purchase soil seed starting mix. I use Metro Mix 100 to start seeds. This stuff is great. The water doesn’t roll off the ‘dirt’ like many seed starting soils

8. Clean and sterilize any containers you plan to reuse for seed starting or transplanting seedlings. Use a 10% bleach to water ratio to rinse off the containers.

9. Buy any containers you may need for seed starting/transplanting. Most gardening stores sell up to 3″ in the peat pots. If you want a 4″ peat pot, go to Territorial Seeds. They are the only ones that have that size. I need them for my giant varieties cause they grow so fast. I also like the flats that have a raised lid. good for germination.

10. Read at least one good gardening book your interested in each month during the winter. I’m almost finished with ‘Four Season Gardening’ by Eric Coleman and just ordered ‘The Compost Tea Brewing Manual’ by Elaine R. Ingham.

Time to start your fall vegetable garden?! But wait it’s still summer!

Photo courtesy of aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu

OMG! I’ve received newsletters already talking about starting our fall vegetable gardens! What?! Already?! I’ve barely harvested my spring garden and haven’t harvested the summer garden yet!! No! No! No!

Yes folks, it is time for us to consider planting our fall vegetable gardens mid-month. The fall garden is very similar to the spring gardens in the varieties of veggies we can grow. If you want lettuce, chard, kale, spinach and many of the cool season crops later in the fall, you should consider putting them in this month. I would either plant seeds inside under lights to transplant later or buy seedlings at the nursery (that way you can plant a little later). Just make sure you buy heat-resistant varieties of lettuce and spinach and give them some shade for now. If you plant by seed, most lettuces take around 60 days till fully mature which would put us in September-October. Hard to believe isn’t it?

To figure out when to plant each variety, just look on your packet of seeds and count backwards from the time of the FIRST AVERAGE HARD FROST (Oct.3 in Santa Fe ) and add 14 days for shorter daylight hours (I add 15 days to make the math easier for my memory). So if I have some lettuce that will take 60 days till harvest and I add the extra 15 days, that would bring me 75 days (2 1/2 months) ahead to plant before a hard frost. So if I plant on July 15th, I would harvest right around Oct. 1. Unbelievable! Now with spinach and kale you can wait a little longer as they can handle some frost. And if you want some in Sept. you better plant now-like this weekend! Just when you thought you could cruise till summer harvest!

New vegetable garden section update

Here is a picture of the new vegetable garden section this morning after a dusting of snow. It is now fenced completely except for the 2 gates, one of which was created today but still needs to be hung. All the raised beds are done.

My friend Adam, has been helping me and boy what a help he is! Quite the worker bee! He came out the other day and finished creating the beds except for one area that has a giant rock in it.  I swear  this rock keeps the whole neighborhood from sinking! So we let it remain (like we could dig it out-ha!) and will make an area with a bird bath and flowers to show it off.

The new garden has gone through an amazing transformation since I cleared the land last fall. I still have to put the horse manure in the new beds. It’s been a lot of work but is coming along nicely and should be ready by tomato planting time.