It has been a stormy week for those of us here in the high desert. Corona cases jumped from 4 to 41 in our state one weeks time. We have been sent home & stayed home, social distancing for a … Continue reading
Over the years I think the most common question I get asked as a garden teacher is “What do I plant, and when?” I have answered the best I can, sent people to my favorite books, taught classes, blogged about it….But I fear I may be giving too long and complicated answers… the basic home gardener doesn’t want calculate and compute, they just want to know what to plant and when and get on with it, am I right!! So here is this years attempt to make gardening in the high desert all the more straight forward and accessible to everyone. Please keep in mind, many might argue with me, as we gardeners all love our own way of doing things..I am just sharing what I do and what I believe you can do too. This post is loaded with links so be sure to click on them for more info.
Plant–Greenhouse (Indoor south-facing window) Onions, Leeks, Scallions, Tomatoes(yes it seems early but is works for me)Lettuce, Cilantro
Cold Frame– Spinach, Mache, Cilantro, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens.
Plan– Decide where you might want to put everything measuring square footage, you can use graph paper, or this fancy software. Once you know how much of what it is you want to grow, you can really start.
Plant- Greenhouse (Indoor south-facing window)Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards (these can also be direct sown outside next month),Tomatoes
Cold Frame– Spinach, Mache, Cilantro, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens, Carrots, Chard
Outdoors with Row Cover-Spinach, Mache, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Cilantro, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens,
Plan-Order Compost (I like to put down compost every year, about 1inch thick on all my veggie beds, if you can produce this much on sight, well done!!, if not it is worth buying some here) Plan/Purchase Irrigation system–lots to say on this matter, but this year we are going with t-tape.(more on all that later)
Greenhouse (Indoor south-facing window)
Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, (can also be planted directly at under cover outside)
Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant
Cucumber, Melon, Winter Squash (Pumpkin, Butternut, Acorn, Etc…)Summer Squash (zucchini, Yellow Squash) These all do well direct seeded outside later in the season
Flowers- Calendula, Marigolds, Sunflowers, Snap Dragons, Tithonia, Zinnias (direct sowing works very well for all of these later in the season, I just have a greenhouse and can’t help myself!)
Cold Frame– Spinach, Mache, Cilantro, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens, Carrots, Chard, Beets
Outdoors with Row Cover-Spinach, Mache, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Cilantro, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, Carrots, Chard,
Outdoors in the great wide open– Potatoes, Spinach, Peas, Radishes, Lettuce, Dill, Chives, Flowers- Sweet Peas…I always try to get these guys in by St. Patty’s day, but am usually about a week or so late.
Just a note-March is when I really start planting outside as I am lazy with cold season watering. If I were more serious about production I would be gardening year round, but March really feels right to me, everything must rest, right?!! Remember, once you put seeds in the ground, you need to keep them moist for them to germinate and grow, granted the soil dries-out much slower in the cool season, but this is the desert, so only sow when you are ready to hand water (irrigation usually isn’t turned out till May). If you are watering outdoors in the cold months (you should be watering perennials and trees every 2-4weeks with these dry winters)…..always drain and unhook your hoses, they can freeze and burst and cause you real trouble!!
Plan- Spread compost and lay irrigation if that is part of your plan. Till or dig any bed you plan to turn.
Greenhouse (Indoor south-facing window) I am full up in the Greenhouse by this time and just watering my babies. I always try to have a flat of sunflower sprouts growing, you can sow these once a week.
Cold Frame-Pepper, Eggplant (If your cold frame is tall enough this ensures a nice hot mini greenhouse that you can close up if we get frost before they ripen in the fall)
Outdoors with Row Cover- Spinach, Mache, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Cilantro, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, Carrots, Chard,
Outdoors in the great wide open- Onions, Leeks, Scallions,Potatoes, Spinach, Mache, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Cilantro, Dill, Chives, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, Carrots, Chard, Beets, Parsnips, Flowers- Marigolds, Snap Dragons, Sweet Peas
May (Last Frost date May 15th)
Plan-Spread compost and lay irrigation if that is part of your plan. Till or dig any bed you plan to turn.
Outdoors in the great wide open- (Direct seed or transplanted from the greenhouse)
Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, Carrots, Chard, Beets, Parsnips, Beans, Corn, Squash, Cucumbers, Melons, Amaranth, Basil, Flowers- Calendula, Marigolds, Sunflowers, nasturtiums, Cosmos, Zinnias
Who Did I Forget?- Garlic is planted in the fall, sweet potatoes I have yet to try though they are getting experimented with in gardens all around me, Bok choy- yet to really succeed against the flea beatles, but will let you know when I truly get a successful crop!
Well I hope that helps– never a short answer from me, but hopefully somewhat simple and straight forward? Happy gardening!
May is lovely- but can be wild too. As we have seen this weekend in Santa Fe- a foot of snow!!
It is such a transitional time, the last burst of winter before it finally passes. I looked back on my calendars and it does usually snow every year in the first week of May, so though odd, it is actually to be expected.
But the good news is no harm done over here. All the little cool season greens and seeds were tucked under row cover and only seemed to perk up from crisp air all the moisture gifted to them. If you are wondering how cold CAN your cold season crops get…well
How low can they go?
The hardiest of the winter vegetables are Kale, Collards, Peas and Spinach which can take Temps as low as low 20’s and in the high teens.
Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Mustard Greens, Parsley, Radish, Parsnip, Turnip can all take temps 28-25 degrees.
All of these can survive under thick row cover all winter, though they may not show many signs of growth, they will start to spring new leaves in February.
Other semi-hardy vegetables are Beets, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chinese Cabbage, Endive, Lettuce, Radicchio, Rutabega, Salsify, Bok Choy, Tatsoi and Swiss Chard, tolerant of Temps from 32-29degrees. These can usually be harvested till Christmas under heavy row cover, but will need to be replanted in the spring under row cover as well. (with the exception of Swiss Chard, this patch was almost invisible all winter under no row cover… but is coming back just fine!)
So not to worry, the storm has passed, we have gathered the moisture and now we prepare for hardening off and the planting out process… More on that to come.
As some of you may have noticed I have been a bit distant lately… I think my last post was ……What can I say, “The Trump Effect”, Three children, and some however all my techno gadgets got completly full to the point of not functioning at all…. A good metaphor for my brain I suppose. I am in need of some serious spring cleaning and when you put something down for a while it can be hard to pick up again.
It has caused great reflection; who am I now, what do I do, what do I share, what is the most important thing right now? I am sure I am not alone in these musings, it is in the collective consciousness to reassess right now, and I pray that that only brings more clarity, action and commitment to good work in the world… But while I have been eddying in my overwhelm the gardening questions are starting to pop up in my inbox and messages, the seeds are starting to sprout and I just realized I better snap out of it and stop trying to answer life existential questions… there is work to be done!!
My work has always been grow food, feed people, teach them so…. and so though it may be simple work I am getting the message that it is still important, relevent and imperative in these crazy times. People will always need to eat and resistance creates hunger!! So I am here to feed and nourish the notion to do so…
So with no further ado I am back to my good old simple straight forward work of gardening. This morning I sunk the very first seeds of spring into my garden flats and it not only brought me a familiar calm but it just made sense. I think in these crazy times we all need to find those grounding acts that makes sense to us, the good work of our heart and hands that must be done to care for life itself.
I didn’t get a chance to make my gardening Calender yet this year, though I still may, but I will post here what I am doing, how and when, so that you too may following along virtually and we can sow seeds of hope together.
Today is a leaf day according to the biodynamic calender, meaning the moon is in a water sign, good juice for growing seeds… I planted Kale, Cabbage and Chard in my greenhouse and though it feels actually very late for those things, better late than never right!
Sending greetings of hope and new life your way today, Happy Planting!
What an honor to have our little 1/5acre of paradise featured on Soule Mama’s Blog this weekend. I was shocked at how many visitors this little blog of mine got and since a few of you asked to see more, I am so happy to share. You may have noticed I love taking pictures of my garden just about as much as I love taking pictures of my kids, so I have a lot of images to share. I put together an extended garden tour from photos I have taken over the past 5 years when I started this blog of mine, so it was also a good reflection for me to see how far we have come in seven years… so with no further ado, Welcome to our humble abode…
Thanks again Soule Mama for encouraging me to share and thanks to all of you who know small is beautiful and there is no place like home!
Just as simple as that … Out trellising cucumbers this evening and I was looking for what I had in the yard to get them up off the ground. I found an old plastic coated wire clothesline lying around and of course, clothespins. It turned out to be the perfect materials for cucumbers to latch onto and climb.
I hate to buy stuff I really can’t use for a million different things and re-use a million times, so there is no guilt when I buy even more clothesline and clothes pins to finish the job. I mean really can you have too many clothes pins? Never!So there is my clever garden invention for the day and with the evening backlight on my little cucs, I couldn’t help but share!
So up and away the garden grows!!
I plan my garden very strategically so that there isn’t much work to do in June and July… For many reasons… Maybe first because I was a garden teacher for so many years that I planned spring and fall gardens with very little summer maintenance. Even though I am not running a school garden this year, I now have a tiny baby and can’t really garden much at all…so it is convenient that I don’t have much to do but harvest in the high heat. It is also convenient for leaving town during the hottest, driest time of year which we all want to do.
And probably the biggest reason I plan so much for spring and fall gardening is that is when gardening in the high desert is at it’s best! There is cool air, cooler soils and real water falling from the sky! I start things outside as early as February (my pea crop was started then and yielded my best crop yet!) and am eating out of the garden till Christmas eve. Summer is for being lazy anyways right!?
So though I am still being very lazy, I am starting to think about the transitions about to happen out there, the good old ‘fall flip’. This is when I pull out all the lettuce and peas that have stopped yielding and bolted into pure bitterness that may still remain and I plant a whole new slew of cool season crops.
Because it is only the 9th of July I can still plant a nice beet & carrot crop. Later in the month I will plant more lettuce, spinach, cilantro, and whatever other cool season greens I wish. I also have started planting big beautiful marigolds this time of year to have for autumn garlands.
High summer I hear a lot of people say, ‘oh I am too late to have a garden this year’…but you are not! Autumn harvest is within reach. Plant now and you will abundance you will reap!!
I am sure many of you spent Mother’s Day weekend filling shopping baskets with new baby plants to bring home and fill your garden with, it is a Mother’s Day tradition, (and it may be the only day of the year you can get the whole family to help you in the garden without complaint). I received the wonderful gift of my son and mother planting a brand new climbing rose for me while I took a nap!! Heaven!!
However around these parts Mother’s Day week and weekend is also famous for snow storms, which is why the last frost date is in fact May 15th- not May 5th! Transitioning things outside and toughening them up enough to go from lush nursery conditions to exposed windy high desert gardens is an important step to protecting your investments.
Here is a post from years back that talks about the hardening off process and why it is important.
Here is another on with ten transplanting tips.
And lastly one about transplanting tomatoes, which is what I will be doing this weekend… and for many days to come until these babies are tucked cozy in the ground! If you are planting according to the Bio-dynamic Calendar, Friday and Saturday are not only fruit days but (specially good!!) So hope you are hardened off and ready to go!
What a spring we have had! Erratic whether, moisture, crisp cool air, and really spring greens like nothing better! I have begun harvesting multiple pounds of Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Chard and Chinese Cabbage every week and just wish I had more garden space to plant more.
If you are doing succession planting in your garden planning, timing and leaving space for the future is everything!! You have to think about how long it will take for a head of lettuce to produce,(about 60 days in the spring) and then plan what you will pop in its place once harvested. In these pictures above and below you can see I planted Cabbage babies among the cut and come again Lettuce, so that by the time the Lettuce is bitter the Cabbage will take over.
I usually plant a lot of cut and come again varieties of Lettuce, Spinach and Kale and Chard so I don’t have to keep planting…but this year I knew I could sneak in a bunch of head Lettuce before the warm season crops needed the square footage, so now the garden is full of butterhead and romaine varieties so I can remove the whole plant and put in warm season crops the same day…..lots of salad ahead for Mama’s Mini Farm CSA!
The next three days are leaf days, so in go the last of my greenhouse Romaine starts and I will be sowing directly more Cilantro, Spinach, Arugula and Lettuce. Possibly for the last time till mid July, as once my attention and garden space goes towards the warm season crops I simply don’t have enough room or time for greens…not to mention when the weather heats up many of these spring babies go bitter or bolt quickly. Luckily my Chard and Kale keep pumping through the heat and I may not even need to replant them if I care for them right…
Which is to say I have found that if you shade cool season greens in the high summer they really like it and last longer. As you already know I am a huge fan of row cover for a long list of reasons… but when it gets too hot and plants don’t get enough fresh air they can get very flimsy and over succulent. So much so that they couldn’t survive one day in full exposure and they will just turn to mush before your eyes, so I try to gradually remove the row covers for more and more hours at a time to toughen them up to the real world.
I often raise the row cover so wind and beneficial insects can find their way in on the ends, because another set back of having your crops under constant cover is pests, namely good old aphids can take over while you aren’t watching.
At some point when cool spring breezy days shift to hot summer days, Often around June 1st. I take the row cover off all together and replace it with shade screen. This lets light, water, and beneficials in, but it takes the edge off those sweltering afternoons that will cause a cilantro to bolt in one day!
I have found in full sun gardens these shades are very helpful for almost all crops even warm season crops, throughout the whole summer. I have learned my lesson with more than one June hail storm destroying my precious babes! More info on what to use is in this previous post.
So if you aren’t out there already….get sowing!! You can plant pretty much any cool season crops, flowers and roots right now and in a few short weeks it will be tomato time!! Hooray!
It was 7:30 pm last night when the rain first hit our roof….soft at first, then…. patter patter pat! I could not resist, I left two children inside alone, in bedtime mode to run outside and uncover my garden beds. … Continue reading