Tomato plants transplanted into pots

This past Friday, April 19, all the baby tomato seedlings were transplanted from the germination trays into 2.25 pots where they will stay until we plant them outside. There are 155 total tomato plants.

My main helper, Linda Archibald has been doing this with me for about 4 years and this year Tom Pollard joined us to learn how to do it all. It took us 4 hours to transplant them. Thank you folks! There were 4 tomato no shows which isn’t bad for how many we planted. It is amazing how fast the seedlings grow since it has only been 16 days since we planted seeds.

We use Moonshine potting soil from Agua Fria Nursery to grow them in-amazing stuff as everything grown in takes off really fast. So now they are off the heat mats and still inside under lights that will be 3 inches away from the tops of the tomatoes. I put the lights close so they grow sturdy stems. If you put the lights higher they can get too tall and lanky. As the plants grow, I raise up the lights with them. I will actually have around 28 tomato plants and Linda will have 59! The rest are orders. Looks like it’s going to be a big year for tomatoes for Linda! I hope she buys another freezer to store all that sauce she’s gonna be making! I’m hoping to get them out in early May again this year but Mother Nature will decide when they will go out, not me!

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.

IMG_3363

-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.

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.

Master Gardener Intern Class-Vegetables

I’ve been totally busy teaching classes lately and the last class I taught was the Santa Fe Master Gardener Intern Class on Vegetables. All I can say to the interns is hang in there. Yes there are some difficult classes to get through but there are some great instructional classes as well that are like a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t till I became a Master Gardener that I really blossomed as a gardener. And now I am a rabid gardener! The knowledge you will continue to gain afterwards, the contacts, camaraderie and friendships you will develop will help you grow as well as the plants you will be growing! Hopefully you enjoyed and learned a lot from the Vegetable class. (Yes it was my favorite class when I was an intern!) So for those of you who couldn’t come to class or aren’t in the program but are interested, here are the information sheets. I want to make them available to all.

VEGETABLE GARDENING IN SANTA FE  gives an overview of vegetable gardening in Santa Fe.

INFORMATION SHEET covers what the differences are  between an Heirloom, Hybrid and GMO plant and explains what mycorrhizae fungi is and how it helps plants grow.

HERBS is a list of perennial and annual herbs we can grow here in Santa Fe.

PLANTING TOMATOES and PLANTING SQUASH both address how to transplant them into the garden and some of the things I add to help grow these beautiful vegetables and also how to help thwart the dreaded squash vine borer and squash bugs.

SEED STARTING DATE CALCULATOR from Johnny’s Seeds is the same one from the previous post but if you didn’t read it, then here it is. A great tool for when to start seeds or transplant them into the garden.

And now if you will excuse me, I will continue starting my seeds inside! Perfect day-cold, windy and snowy!

Garden Seed Catalogs for 2012

You should have a bunch of seed catalogs by now. More come in everyday and brighten my evenings. So far I have Johnny’s, Seed Saver’s Exchange, Tomato Growers, Totally Tomatoes, The Cook’s Garden, John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden and Baker Heirloom Seeds. Below are my top 4 favorites. I like many other catalogs but this year these are my favs. If you don’t have any of these you can just click on their name below to be taken to their site. There, you can order one-they are all free.

1. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

My number one favorite catalog of all time-Baker’s Heirloom Seeds has the most fantastic photos of all their heirloom vegetables and flowers (and they only sell heirlooms). The photos are so beautiful, they make me want to buy all their seeds! Wonderful selection of hard to find vegetable seeds. A must have!

2. Seed Savers Exchange

This is my number 2 favorite. I absolutely support what they do for all vegetable gardeners. They collect heirloom seeds and make them available to us. If you become a member (and I highly suggest you do), besides getting their catalog, you will also get another huge catalog for members only.  In it are members who are offering seeds, many of which have been kept in families for years and unavailable on a commercial level. Well worth it and besides I want to support all seed companies promoting heirlooms and seed saving. A close second for me.

3. The Cook’s Garden

Number 3 and number 4 are really tied for me. I like this catalog particularly because it has the most fantastic mesclun and lettuce mixes that I’ve seen. You don’t have to mix your own with them. In addition, they have many other varieties of vegetables and flowers that are coveted by gourmet gardeners.

4. John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds

I also love this seed catalog because I get many unusual varieties of vegetables that aren’t necessarily carried here in the US. Since I like to cook, I want to try some of these varieties that cooks’ from other countries have available to them and this catalog is good for that. John Scheeper’s Kitchen Garden Seeds doesn’t have photos but lovely hand drawn pictures of their items. Another must have.

Fall Garden Projects-First up-putting the pumpkin patch to rest

Horse manure on top of pumpkin patch

I’ve been really busy this fall around the garden since the Pumpkin Bash. It seems like I never have time to do any projects when the garden is going so I try and get some of the projects done in the fall before the dead of winter. Last week cleaned out the pumpkin patch and then I rented that Bobcat where I spread out about 4 yards of horse manure on top of it. I really needed to dig it in or it would blow away before spring.

giant rototiller-16 hp

So yesterday I rented a giant rototiller (16 hp) and plowed in the 4 yards of manure, 50 lbs dried molasses (it smells so sweet), 50 lbs mushroom compost (are we cooking here?), and 50 lbs of gypsum (for calcium-makes strong bones, I mean strong plants!) in the pumpkin patch.

final pumpkin patch done

Now it looks so beautiful and is ALMOST ready for next spring! I still have to dig in some leaves (in the holes where I will be planting the pumpkin plants next spring) and a little (I mean very little) composted chicken manure to start the decomposition process so they can decompose over the winter and become leaf mold or should I say leaf gold by spring. This will be the third year for this pumpkin patch and boy what a difference three years makes when you add amendments each year. It’s starting to look good and the rototiller just cut through it fluffing it up together. I don’t like to rototill very much because of how hard it is on the soil microbes but felt that I needed to do it for now since this dirt was so void of any organic material and hard as a rock. I think after this year I’ll won’t have to do it again. I will add more mychorrizial next spring to help replenish the soil microbes.

Bobcat madness!

I rented a Bobcat yesterday to regrade the driveway. It was bad. Really bad. How bad? Well a friend said it was like a third world road! We had 2 storms this summer with torrential rain that wiped it out. The ground was still damp from that little snow storm  and perfect for working it. Anyways I had to rent the Bobcat for a whole day. It only took about 3.5 hrs to do the driveway and then I thought hmm, what can I do with it now?! At that moment, Javier pulled up with 2 trailer loads of horse manure, so I spread it out over the pumpkin patch that I had just cleaned up the day before. How fortuitous!  Then I went out to what will be the new garden addition (say what?!) on the back of the existing main garden. I know I said I was done adding on but I’m trying to get a three-year rotation for my tomatoes. I had cactus, piles of dirt, old compost bins and a lot of junk over there just on the other side of the long gourd tower. Well I took the Bobcat and ripped out the cactus, smoothed out the area, removed the junk and cactus, and spread out the old compost inside a couple of hours. Still had some time left so I ran it over to the area I want a greenhouse and leveled it out, removed rocks and cactus and dug up old tree stumps that would have been right in the middle of it. I had to get out of the Bobcat to push  a big piece of cement and some tree stumps into the bucket and dropped a big tree stump on my big toe loading it. Not sure but it’s either broken of severely bruised. I’ll figure that out tomorrow as I am dirt tired as I say.

Phew! Got it all done under 8 hours!

My Future Veggie Garden (can ya see it!?)

MY FUTURE GARDEN-CAN YA SEE IT!??(click picture to see bigger)

Well, I told everyone on my blog and in the Master Gardening classes about Arrow Ranch’s free horse manure here in Santa Fe that they load for free  and when I went to get some, they were all out! So I had to scrounge around to find some OLD manure and finally did in Eldorado horse stables. Went and got 2 trailer loads full and got it all dug in main veggie garden except for 3 small beds that I will finish up this week. I will hook up the drip system and make sure it is working also this week. Here is a picture with what will be! Not much now but just you wait!

We’ve been having some great weather, but this week it’s suppose to get cold at night again so I think unless the weather changes, I will wait till next week to plant tomatoes. Now all I got to do is wait for good weather…

Santa Fe Master Gardener Vegetable Class

Tonight and tomorrow am, I ‘m teaching the Vegetable Garden class to our new interns in the Santa Fe Master Gardener Class. I can’t wait! There is so much useful information that it will be hard to share it in only 2 hours. Coming to my blog is a much better way to get information on a daily basis as we move forward in this new gardening season!  I’m planning to give more how-to info and advanced info on vegetable gardening this year. I hope many of you will also exchange useful information with me this year. You can send your information via commenting on a post so others can see it and learn as well. Now is the time to get busy in our veggie gardens! Plant something that still likes cold nights-like greens!