The heat is on

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling the heat lately and try to get out early in the morning and sometimes a little in the evening in the veggie garden if it cools down. So my gardening time is limited to when it is cooler. Of course it’s not as hot as where I grew up in Phoenix, AZ (I escaped)! Above is the forecast thru July 28 for Santa Fe. Looks like it’s going to cool down a little.

With this heat wave it is time to water your garden a little extra. Water your garden either first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening in addition to your normal watering. Today is the last day of temps in the 90s-tomorrow is suppose to be 89-still hot for here and then the temps drop to mid 80s. To see if my plants need extra water, I stick my finger in the soil up to my second digit and if it is dry when I pull it out and the soil doesn’t stick, it’s time to water. If it comes out wet, and the soil sticks to it, it still has good moisture. Also a real sign your plants need water is if they start to wilt. I try not to let them wilt. Plants in pots can dry out very quickly so water them 2x/day when it is hot.

One good thing is the tomatoes are just starting to come on. I now have a bowl of them on the kitchen table. I know they won’t set fruit when temps reach 92 degrees but they will keep producing blossoms and will set fruit once the temps cool down. And once they set some fruit, they don’t mind some heat. Some of my early varieties set their fruit in June. That’s why I try to plant so early-this year June 2nd, to give them a chance to set some fruit before the heat really sets in and they get blossom drop. But of course, that means putting them in wall of waters so they can deal with freezing nights that early in the season, but I don’t mind if I can get some tomatoes a little earlier. After all, it’s been since last November since I’ve had some home grown tomatoes. The wait was worth it!

COVID strikes

I’m not looking for sympathy but in case you were wondering why I haven’t’ posted lately or approve comments, it’s because I had been sick with COVID. It lasted 20 days for me and I was sicker than a dog. I took Paxlovid pills and was starting to feel better when I started to feel bad again. Turns out I had a relapse. Hence the 20 days. I had my vaccinations and one booster and was going to get the second booster the week I got sick. I had escaped it for 2.5 years but went to a party in June and wasn’t as good as I should of been, pulling my mask down and pushing it up frequently. Turned out that 17 out of 30 people got COVID from that party. So be careful folks-wear your masks. I know we all are experiencing burnout but the new variations are extremely contagious and you don’t want to get Omicron, whatever version-it’s no picnic (at least for me).

So now that I’m over it, I’m finally returning to the garden (Yay!) and will post what’s up in the garden in July. I got lots to catch up on! Stay tuned.

What’s up in the veggie garden

Yesterday:

Elodie Holmes and I took off all of the wall of waters off 24 tomato plants and put the cages on them and the row cover over them to protect the plants from the beet leafhopper which can transmit Curly Top Virus to the tomato plants and kill them out here in the Southwest. All this in the FRIGGING HORRIBLE WIND. What a challenge! The winds have been horrible all spring-worse than usual and there seems no end in sight. A great big thank you to Elodie to help me on her day off!

Other things I’ve been busy with in the garden this week:

-Planted 7 planted peppers in wall of waters (WOWs). Peppers need protection from the cold nites and the WOWs provide protection. They are a great spring extension but must be taken off when it gets hot, sometime later in June.

-Planted a new dry bean (Sondrio Select-vining type) that Chris Salem gave me to help her grow out. It is hard to find in the US.

-Planted 2 varieties of cowpeas to grow out for William Woys Weaver to help keep his supply of seeds fresh. He is one of the biggest seed savers of rare varieties of seeds in the US. The seeds are Big Red Ripper, a vining variety and Risina del Trasiorfino, a rare bush variety of cowpeas from Italy.

-I built and installed successfully a new drip timer system and it is working well with no leaks. The old drip timer system really needed to be replaced. Plus I finally put on a sediment filter for our hard water out here that will hopefully make all the drip lines last longer (they can get clogged with our hard water). Also put in almost all new drip lines in the garden.

-I’m growing from seed inside the greenhouse all the butternut squash and summer squash seeds as Roly Polys tend to eat the seedlings right when they break ground as they germinate but won’t touch them when they are about 3 inches tall, so this is a way to thwart them.

Today:

-I will direct seed cucumber seeds and will put Sluggo Plus on the ground where the seeds will come up to keep the Roly Polys from eating them. The reason I’m starting the squash seedlings inside the greenhouse and not the cukes is because I have way too many cuke seeds to start. Sluggo Plus (not Sluggo) is great for keeping the Roly Polys away.

-I’m going to direct seed some Royal Corona bean seeds outside AFTER I weed the area I want them in.

 

Fall veggie garden tour-2021-Nice to see it when it was in it’s prime!

2021 was a year of abundance in the garden as we had much needed rain from monsoons and almost everything thrived. Here is the fall garden tour that I filmed in September 2021. I held off posting this till now as I like to revisit the garden to remind me of what the garden looked like in it’s glory. Now in January the garden is dead, dead, dead so it’s nice to see it when it was thriving. Something to dream about again!

Garden starting to wind down

I noticed this week, the garden is starting to wind down except for the tomatoes which are still kicking ass.

The raspberries, grapes and blackberries will continue being harvested this month as well.

The potato leaves are starting to yellow which is a sign that once they (almost) die, they will be ready to harvest. I’m thinking 2-3 more weeks before they are ready.

The green beans are basically done and the dry beans leaves are yellowing and the pods are starting to dry out on the vines. Once they are dry, I will pick them all and store them until winter when I will shell the dry beans inside on a winter nite. Too busy right now with harvesting tomatoes!

The poblanos, Jimmy Nardello, Espellette and Lava Red peppers are continuing to ripen and I’m harvesting them as they ripen. The cucumbers are starting to slow down.

The Butternut winter squash are starting to turn color to their tan color but will be several more weeks. The summer squash harvest is bonkers. Looking for victims and new ways to use them!

The onions can get a little bigger before harvesting.

The cauliflowers an beets are harvested, while the kale and chards are loving the cool weather.

My garlic and shallots that were planted last October were harvested in June.

Butternut winter squash

Here is a winter squash I really like-Butternut squash. I’ve mentioned it before but it’s worth repeating.

Butternut squash doesn’t usually attract squash bugs. I’ve grown the very sweet Waltham Butternut, an Italian variety called Rogosa Violina and a huge variety called Tahitian Butternut-all don’t seem to attract squash bugs, at least in my garden and all have the wonderful flavor we associate with butternut squash.

It also doesn’t attract squash vine borers. The stems are solid and the squash vine borer like to lay it’s eggs in hollow stem varieties of both winter and summer squash. 100 days to harvest so if you plant right now, you may get to harvest as it will be ready right at the end of our season.

2019 Garden pics!

Here are some pics of my garden this year. Now that we are in September, I wanted to capture it in all it’s glory before it’s gone. I’ve worked hard tweaking out the infrastructure with new framed beds and weed barriers and wood chips in the paths this year. Having retired from the Santa Fe Farmers Market two seasons ago has allowed me to do more in the garden. I also added some perennial fruit like raspberries and blackberries since I don’t need space for 125 tomato plants anymore! By mid-October or sooner, it will be toast with the first frost so might as well enjoy it while I have it. I have an abundance of flowers this year that I grew for my edible flower class and besides being beautiful and edible, they attract many beneficial insects and pollinators. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Winter is here early

Fall harvest-tomatoes, Tahiti Butternut squash, Bradford watermelons and Craupadine beets

I just heard last night’s snow was the earliest on record for Oct 14th in Santa Fe. The weather apps have said it was going to be 27°F last night. Woke up this morning to a light snow, ice and the temperature was 24°F here. Harvesting has been intense the last few weeks. Why is there always so much to pick in the end? The only annual crops left are a few kale, beets and cabbages outside in the main garden and greens in the greenhouse and cold frame. I’m not sure how they fared as I wasn’t able to go out and check today, and in truth, with 34°F for a high, I was in no hurry to see if they made it. They were covered with winter weight row cover with the hopes they make it and I will check tomorrow. I was more concerned the barn animals were ok with this first cold snap and made sure all the heaters in the water tanks were working and the chickens had their heat lamps on. I guess winter is here.

Borlotto Beans

Borlotto beans in the garden

Last season I planted a new dry pole bean called Borlotto  (also called Borlotti). They are an Italian heirloom variety. The variety was Lamon which is supposed to be the best for flavor. It got around 6 feet high and I grew it in the garden on one of the 3′ high perimeter fences. As it got taller, I added bamboo stakes to let it continue upwards. They are a very beautiful bean on the vine when growing. I planted around 12 plants, 6 inches apart right at each drip emitter. You can shell the bean fresh but I just left them to dry on the vine.  I got my seeds from Seeds of Italy.

I particularly like dry beans. I picked them after they dried on the vine which is towards the end of the season but before the first freeze. I find dry beans are so easy to grow, needing nothing except water and a vertical support of some kind and then harvesting at the end. They are very different then fresh beans which you must pick daily. There is also a bush variety of these beans but they are not Lamon.

I left them in their shells in a basket until last week when I took the beans out.  I find it fun to shell them on a cold winter night. The beans are very beautiful being cream color with maroon stripes. I got 3 cups of the precious bean. Good for 1 meal.  I will save some to replant too. This year I will definitely plant more.

Tuscan Bean Soup recipe from Ialian Food Forever

I like that I can make a hearty soup or stew from them and eat them in the winter. Here is a recipe from Italian Food Forever for a traditional Tuscan bean soup using Borlotto beans. When cooking the beans before hand, you must cook for a long time here in Santa Fe due to our high altitude at 7000 feet as you want them soft and creamy. I just cooked mine in a crock pot all day and it worked well. You can also leave out the pancetta for a vegetarian style soup. There are many recipes for Borlotto bean soup out there that all sound wonderful! Can’t wait to try them.

NEW! ‘Veggie Gardening 101’ radio show starts Jan 14

I’ll be on the Santa Fe Master Gardener’s Gardening Journal radio show with host Christine Salem twice a month now. My original show gives tips and advice about what to do in a vegetable garden each month as the gardening season progresses. This assumes you have an existing vegetable garden.

We are adding a Vegetable Gardening 101 show. It seems we have many people here in Santa Fe that either have never started a garden or haven’t had success here in our challenging garden area. Many want to be successful organically growing their own food and need help on where to start. So I will take us from the beginning through planning and building a garden, creating good soil, raised beds vs in-ground beds, starting seeds, transplanting plants, varieties that grow well for beginners and even harvesting tips. This will be more basic info but even advanced gardeners might benefit from some of the tips I’ll be giving.

Go here to listen to past radio show podcasts and pick up awesome information -https://giantveggiegardener.com/radio-show/

Here’s the rundown:

SHOW #1—my regular radio show-‘Monthly Veggie Garden Tips’

Where:  airs on KSFR 101.1 on the Garden Journal

When: on the last Saturday of each month

Time: from 10:00-10:30am

Topics: What to do in our gardens for each month, problems that arise and solutions

SHOW #2—my NEW radio show-‘Veggie Gardening 101′

Where: airs on KSFR 101.1 on the Garden Journal

When: on the 2nd Saturday of each month

Time: from 10:00-10:30am

Topics: Beginning vegetable gardening from start to finish and everywhere in between.

Growing Season for 2016/Fall Harvest

fall-harvest-crop_nov-2

Fall harvest in 2016-tomatoes, beets, carrots and kale are just a few of the vegetables still being harvested here on my micro-farm

This has been a most remarkable growing season this year. In fact, I can’t remember in all my 21 years here of weather like this. After two months of unseasonably hot summer weather at the beginning (when the tomato blossoms dropped because it was too hot) and then two months of very cool summer weather (when the tomatoes didn’t want to ripen because they need heat to ripen once they are set) we now have been in an unbelievably wonderful fall. Nice and warm in the 70’s in the day and cool but not freezing nights.

But all this is going to change very quickly now that we are in November. Weather prediction is for it to change to colder weather. Like duh, it’s NOVEMBER dude! Of course it will get colder! My fruit is done-apples (we made hard cider!), apricots, grapes, strawberries and raspberries are done here. Most of my warm season crops are gone (cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplants, pumpkins, corn, etc. except the tomatoes, my favorite crop!)

Meanwhile the fall harvest continues with tomatoes still ripening (at least this week) and all the cool season crops are kicking it and should be for quite some time if I cover them with winter weight row cover. The kale is going gangbusters, cabbage is ready, onions and potatoes are ready to harvest, carrots and beets are ready to be dug out too and chard is busting out all over.  My broccoli and escarole I planted in August at my fall garden class are almost ready too. Then pantry is bursting and the refrigerators and freezers are overflowing too! Enjoy what we still have left of this season!

Organic Pesticide and Disease Control Class Review

class pests picToday I taught the Organic Pesticide class and added Disease Control too as we are or will  be dealing with pests and disease soon in the middle of the gardening season. The class was great and we had good comments from some of the attendees. I talked about what’s going on the our gardens now and what insect and disease controls we can implement. Attached is the pdf from the class for anyone who wants to know what I do.

ORGANIC PEST and DISEASE CONTROLS

Also attached is the pdf with photos of certain insects that may be attacking our plants now as well. This is in color so it would be a great reference for you to keep when you need to identify a bug you may think is a pest.

CLass pests pics

I recommended the book, Good Bug, Bad Bug for everyone to get which is a great ID book that will show which ones are good beneficial bugs and which ones we consider pests and what crops they attack.  I got mine at Amazon.

Good Bug Bad Bug book

Then we walked around the community garden and looked for plants that are being attacked or are sick and I showed everyone the plants so hopefully it will help them go back to their gardens and look at their plants and see what is going on.

Other than the heat, I thought the class was great. Thanks to all 20 of you that attended!

Tomatoes, peppers and eggplants in!

tomatoes 05 24 16

All my tomatoes get planted into wall of waters when first transplanting them. Really helps them get a good head start.

So I’m gonna try to catch up on the garden in the next few posts…

All the tomatoes went into the garden in their Wall of Waters on Wednesday, May 24. My friends, Janet, Mernie and Linda plus myself manage to get all of my tomatoes in by 2 pm.  Thank you for your wonderful help! I was 5 tomatoes short, so I went over to Agua Fria Nursery (my favorite nursery) and picked up what I needed the following day and they are now in as well. I have 3 sections in my main garden and now section 1 is filled. One third done! I always espoused we should harden off out tomatoes before setting them out, but I’ve found out that if you put them into Wall of Waters, one doesn’t need to  harden them off. The Wall of Waters, act like a little greenhouse and keep them warm at nite and the winds at away-well worth the money and effort. Once the tomatoes reach the top sometime this month, remove the WOWs. Still have many things to plant but the ‘maters are in!

rhubarb spring

Rhubarb is doing well even with a hail storm we had. Somehow it was sheltered.

My perennials are coming up-rhubarb, raspberries and grapes-yeah! I didn’t have to do anything (except water)! The cabbage is already in as well.

GRAPE VINE ROW COVER

Himrod green seedless grapes grow great here. They are recovering from deer damage

Some deer came by an munched about half the leaves and grape flowers on one grape plant so now they are under row cover and recovering nicely. I pulled it off so you can see the recovery. I hope  we get the grape flowers (that will become grapes) again. The deer have not been back or at least haven’t eaten any more of them.

FUSHIMI PEPPER PLANTED

Fushimi pepper and all peppers planted under fencing material and row covered until they adjust to heat

This week, June 1-4, I transplanted all peppers-the varieties are: Jimmy Nardello (sweet Italian frying pepper), Poblano (mildly hot use for chile rellanos), Fushimi (similar to shishitos only bigger-not hot), Shishito (good frying pepper-not hot) and Corno de Toro (big sweet Italian pepper).  I put epsom salts in bottom of hole to increase flowers and peppers. I also planted all my eggplants-the variety is Fairytale. I love them, they are my favorite-I don’t grow any other. The bigger eggplants take longer to ripen and you only get a few on each plant vs fairytale eggplants are extremely prolific and ripen earlier. Fairytales are small, never bitter, thin-skinned, great sliced in half and sautéed with garlic in oil or on the BBQ-ed on the grill. You can still use them for Eggplant Parmesan, only takes more.

 

What’s up in the garden!

I’ve been busy in the garden. Which is why I haven’t written lately. Hard to write when so many things need to get done. Here’s the latest update.

WEATHER: How about this crazy weather? Hot, cold, hot. Go figure! That’s how it is this time of year. It actually hailed 6 inches last Saturday between Harry’s Roadhouse restaurant and Seton Village Drive on Old Las Vegas Highway-a very small section of land. Drove through it right after it happened-would not have want to been in that one. Luckily we didn’t get much hail at the farm-thank you universe! Just missed us. One friend of mine was not so lucky and all her veggies got wiped out. Now it is getting warm again.

HARVESTING: Still harvesting lettuces and spinach. In fact I picked almost all the spinach as it will bolt soon with the warmer weather and the lettuce will also bolt soon, so much of that is picked too. The old kale is done now. The new kale ready to go in. The rhubarb is fantastic with many stalks ready to pick. I feel a strawberry-rhubarb gallette coming soon!

PLANTING: The main garden is about half weeded-Ugh! But the beds are all cleaned up and ready for all the tomatoes that will be planted next Wednesday. Now I just have to finish weeding the pathways.

DRIP SYSTEMS: The drip systems are now up and running. I hate it when they act up. Sometimes it takes 2-3 days to get everything going and not leaking. Feels great when it’s done. I can’t believe it went as smoothly as it did this year.

GIANT PUMPKINS: My first giant pumpkin was planted today at my friend, Deborah’s house. Hope it does well out there! Still have 3 more to plant next week here in my garden plus I have some giant long gourds and 2 giant zucchini (marrows) to put in. I’ve had trouble the last 3 years with getting any of my giant pumpkins successfully grown. Hopefully one of the pumpkins will do well this year. I have a plan!

DEER!: We had some deer come and eat all the Orach (which is ok) and half of one of my grape plants (which is NOT ok). Ate the leaves and the flowers of what woulda been future grapes. I covered the rest up with row cover. Hopefully they will not explore and find the plants. There is not much in the main garden to eat so hopefully they will move on. Luckily they did not eat the garlic plants!

MORE PLANTING: The peppers and eggplants starts will be planted the first week of June and the seeds of other warm season crops will go in next week too.

Busy time of year! Phew!

 

Transplanting tomatoes

IMG_8961

So many have asked, “Am I’m going to plant my tomatoes in the ground soon?” The answer is not too soon. I just transplanted all my tomatoes into 2″ pots and they need to get bigger! (Look Linda and Lava, how big they are already!) All you who ordered your tomatoes will get them, don’t worry. When? As soon as they are ready.

I actually delayed starting them this year as I don’t want to put them in their wall of waters (WOWs) too big. Wall of waters are great protecting our tender plants from the cold nights and from the WIND. I will still put my plants in WOWs even if it doesn’t freeze at night anymore because they like the warm environment the WOWs provide. And tomatoes love heat. It does look as if the freezing nights are over but one never knows. Might be one of those early warm years. Wouldn’t that be great!

Many newbies and some of us oldies get impatient to plant outside as soon as the May 15 (or even sooner) magical date has arrived. Really? It’s a guideline, not carved in stone. Will you be out there come hell or high water, cold temperatures or crazy winds trying to get an early start? To what advantage? I’ve found those with patience have the biggest advantage as they know that if they wait maybe just a little longer than that magical date, they may not only catch up to those who planted sooner, but may surpass them in growth. Why? Because the earth gets warmer, the nights gets warmer and the days will surely get warmer too-all good things when planting tomatoes (and other warm season crops). So don’t be in such a hurry-slow down and enjoy the beginning of this next growing season.