I am a bit of a crazy gardener in that I will try to grow almost anything. A friend of mine had grown peanuts last year and had been successful. So when I was at the garden center and saw Valencia peanuts on the seed rack I couldn’t resist. I had no idea how to grow them but I would give them a try. I planted the seeds out in late May in a raised bed near the greenhouse. The plants would get full sun there. I waited and slowly but surely I had one plant grow. I waited another week and no more seeds grew. So I planted more seeds thinking germination levels must be low. It wasn’t until after I planted the second group of seeds that I saw a squirrel run by. It was then I realized I had been planting someone’s lunch. I think the tiny black squirrel who lives in the garden probably laughed at me once my back was turned. As it was I had only one plant grow. It isn’t much to show but maybe I will cover them next year so the critters don’t get at them first.
Yesterday I dug up the one peanut plant as I was curious to see how it was doing. Much like a potato plant the peanuts hung from the roots.
Six peanuts were harvested yesterday, that’s it. I look at it as having 12 seeds for next year. Whether I can find room to grow them, that’s another question. Farmer Jim was happy to see that we could actually grow peanuts here.
I brushed them off and let them dry on the counter for a day. Last night I took a few flowers, some painted mountain corn and the peanuts for our show and share table at the garden club meeting. Out of all the beautiful plants people could talk about I was asked over and over again about the peanuts. Did you really grow them? How do they grow? So in the end they became a conversation piece and that’s okay as I love to talk about gardening.
Now that I have grown them once I know that they need to be cured after harvesting and not to harvest until close to our first frost. It was a lesson learned and one I can laugh about.
Cool fall mornings are here and its time to get some of the garden clean up done before frost arrives. I always start in the greenhouse and this week I pulled out the nine tomato plants as they were finished. We have decided that the tomato plants do much better outside so we won’t be using the greenhouse in the heat of summer. It gets too hot for them to be productive. Maybe I will grow peppers instead. Since we have ten raised beds of vegetables I know there will be lots of composting to do. Its time to check out the four compost bins to see how they are doing. Will they be full of great organic goodness? I hope so.
I had placed the containers of soil from the greenhouse back by the compost bins. Farmer Jim doesn’t like the way I compost but I have my method. So what do I do with all the containers of soil? There will be a few more containers from annual plantings over the next month. Some of this soil will be dumped on areas of the garden that can use a topdressing. After all, the soil was new in the spring so why not use it in the garden? I opened the compost bins to see they needed emptying. They were full and I wasn’t surprised. They kind of get forgotten during the busy garden season. It’s easy to toss our clippings to the green waste pickup and forget to compost. But think about it, the green waste goes to be composted at a big composting company and we buy it back as soil from the local garden centres. There is something wrong with this picture. So the wheelbarrow and shovel were in use this morning as I dug out finished compost from two of the bins. I was able to top dress the raised bed where the garlic will be planted and spread some compost on the fall vegetable beds where turnips and broccoli are growing.
It’s okay to add your container soil to the compost bin. Be sure to break up the root ball so it decomposes quickly. I added two containers of soil to the compost bins after I removed my gardeners gold to a wheelbarrow.
Farmer Jim had added a layer of grass clippings to each the bins creating a green layer. It’s important to alternate both green and brown layers. You cannot make compost from a bin of all grass clippings. You need to add leaves or soil from plant debris to make your compost work. It doesn’t have to be perfect but that’s why I save my container soil. Its often hard to find brown material for the compost.
Remember as we clean out our gardens to add any garden waste to the compost bins. Here you can see I have dropped in some split tomatoes and a cucumber plant. Warm weather plants are pretty well done this month so its time to pull them out. Plants like basil are feeling the cold nights and you can see the browning of leaves beginning. Use a shovel or clippers to chop up your green waste so it breaks down faster. It’s so hard to say goodbye to the garden at this time of year.
I was a bad composter this summer and forgot to water the bins. This week we have removed the lids so they get some rain inside. It’s good to aerate your bins when you get a chance. Its kind of like stirring the soup. I had this broken hockey stick handle laying nearby so I used that to poke holes in the compost and give it a stir. This allows air to get into the pile and help it decompose faster.
I have more soil than I need so the rest of the containers will sit near the compost bins and gradually they will be added as green waste is brought from the gardens. It’s all about the layers. Green and brown, green and brown. Okay, Farmer Jim thought it was funny to leave that creepy face in a pot near the compost. It was found in our attic years ago and he seems to be fond of it. It’s about as creepy as a clown. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been back there.
So now that some of the raised beds have compost on them I will add some leaf mold to the beds. With almost fifty trees in the garden there is no lack of leaves in the fall. This leaf compost was made from mulched leaves that we bagged last fall. A year later its a nice crumbly mix that the garden will love. Are you composting your garden waste or saving your leaves? For me its about being sustainable and using what mother nature provides to grow the best that I can.
Today my goal is to teach you how to save seeds so you can not only save money but learn to grow seeds that are adapted to your climate. You see, when we buy seeds they don’t always come from our country. The seeds that will do best in our climate are ones that are produced locally. Seeds that you collect from your garden adapt to the microclimate in your garden and will always be the most successful seeds that you grow. By growing from seed you have so much more choice in what you can grow.
So why I am so passionate about seeds? I delight in watching seeds grow. It’s amazing that atiny seed can develop into a full-sized plant for the garden and even better, I may be able to harvest it to bring to the table. It makes me feel more self-sufficient and gives me a sense of pride.
So what kinds of seeds are there?
Seeds are classed into different categories. Hybrids being a type of seed which is created from more than one parent plant. If you gather seeds from hybrids they will not come true as they are like our children having two parents. Hybrid seeds have been bred to achieve a desirable characteristic like disease resistance or improved flavour. If you intend to use hybrid seeds you need to buy new seed every year which can cost you money.
For example, Gold Nugget is an example of a wonderful tomato which was bred by crossing pollen from two different tomato plants through a breeding process. So its offspring could be different. I am not saying you shouldn’t try to grow hybrids out as they can successfully be grown but you may be disappointed with the resulting fruit or flower. The plant may also be not as vigorous.
I always try to look for seeds that are open pollinated. Open pollinated is when pollination occurs by insect, bird, wind, humans, or other natural mechanisms. Because there is no way to stop the flow of pollen from plant to plant it can cause some variation on plants but they adapt to your garden conditions. As long as pollen is not shared between plants you will have consistency with your seeds.
The last type of seeds are heirlooms. Not all heirloom seeds are open pollinated. Heirloom means the seeds have been used for more than 50 years. An example of an heirloom seed that I grow are Swedish brown beans that have been grown in this area for 100 years.
Now that we know the different types of seeds, how do we know which to buy? I want you to look at seed packages. On the package most seeds will say OP or F1. If it doesn’t, look it up online before you buy. If you start with open pollinated seeds you will rarely have to buy new seeds.
Easy seeds to save are peas, beans, poppies, nasturtium, kale and arugula. The first thing you need to learn is when to harvest your seeds. This is done as the plant matures and finishes either flowering or produces fruit. In the case of peas if you take a look at the slide you will see different stages of development. On top the pods are wrinkled and have lost their sheen and the pods at the bottom are tan coloured.
If you want to save seeds from peas and beans try to leave them on the vine until they start to turn yellow. When they reach the rattle stage its time to bring them inside and pop out the seeds. Try to collect seeds during dry weather and when the dew has left the plants. Wet seeds can easily go mouldy.
That brings us to dry and wet seeds. Dry seeds are the most commonly collected. Wet seeds are collected from plants of tomatoes, cucumbers, and fruit. Always try to collect seeds from healthy plants and try to collect from more than one plant. By collecting from more than one plant you increase the gene pool in your seed collection.
Other vegetable seeds that are easy to collect are kale seeds. Kale seeds are produced in long pods along the stem of the plant. The trick is to harvest the pods before they split open and disperse the seeds everywhere in the garden. Bring the dried pods in the house and carefully break them open and sprinkle the seeds into a bowl. One kale plant will supply you with enough seed for thousands of plants so share with your friends.
When selecting your seeds select from the healthiest plants you have. Above I am going to strip the finished flowers off a basil plant. One swipe up the stem and then I pop them in a bag or envelope. Some seeds like basil are tough to remove seeds from. I learned to place the seed pods in a bowl and use my knuckles to thresh the seeds. They popped out doing it this way. Basil seed is very tiny so it can be time-consuming to save but the freshness of your own seed doesn’t compare with store-bought.
Flower seeds are also easy to save but you need to know if they are open pollinated or not. Many flowers are now bred as hybrids and some do not produce seeds. Many plant have trademarks banning you from reproducing the plants. I grow flowers such as marigolds, Calendula, poppies and violas which are easy to collect seed from. They come back true from seed.
Marigolds are probably the easiest to collect seeds from if you are new to saving seed. Above is a photo of immature seeds. The seeds are collected from Marigolds when the flowers have turned brown. Grab a paper bag or envelope as you go and pinch the brown buds into a container. As you pinch open the buds you will should see black seeds like this photo. Each seed will grow a new plant.
Poppy seeds are collected as the seed heads change from green to tan. Little holes form on poppy seed heads so seeds can fall to the ground. It’s best to place a paper lunch bag over the poppy seed head as you pick them off as the seed is tiny and flies everywhere.
Nasturtiums are easy seeds to find. As the flower finishes the seeds fall to the ground under the plant and can be collected and dried.
Okay, you have done everything and wonder why your squash doesn’t look the same as the year before. The squash family includes different species. If you grow two types of zucchini you could have the two plants cross which means any seed saved could be a cross of the two and be completely different the following year. So best thing to do is grow one type of pumpkin, one cucumber and a squash that is not in the same family as pumpkins. I rarely save seeds from any of these plants unless it’s the only one plant I am growing. Even then, your neighbour could be growing some that could cross with yours. Bees don’t care which plant they land on and spread pollen to each plant as they travel.
Cucurbita moschata-butternut, golden cumshaw, cheese squashes
Cucurbita pepo- acorn, crookneck, scallop, spaghetti, zucchini, gourds and pumpkins
We have looked at dry seeds now lets discuss wet seeds. I am a tomato grower so I collect the seeds from tomatoes. With plants like tomatoes the seeds are enclosed with a gelatinous substance that inhibits germination.
You can save the seeds by scooping them out onto a plate and letting them dry but it doesn’t remove the gelatinous goo from around it. They will grow but take longer to germinate. To clean this substance off your seeds, you can scoop the seeds in to a mason jar. You add an inch of water, label them and place the jar in an average temperature room to ferment for about five days. You will see mould form on the water’s surface in the jar and at this time you can begin to rinse the seeds. Once they are cleaned they areplaced on plates to dry for a few days. Keep checking your seeds to be sure they are not sticking together. Once dry, they can be packed into envelopes. Other types of wet seeds are tomatoes, squash, eggplant and cucamelons.
How did your garden grow this summer? Now that September is here I am pulling in the last of the summer harvests. This year has been a good one for growing tomatoes on the west coast. Our cool summer with periods of rain and sun is perfect for tomatoes compared to last years record heat and drought.
This year I planted three raised beds of tomatoes with a mix of early season and late season plants. Gold Nugget was the only hybrid in the tomato garden bearing fruit as early as the last week of June. The latest tomato to ripen, and I am still waiting, is Mama Leone. Its covered in green fruit but it may have to ripen on the counter if the weather doesn’t cooperate. Mama Leone tomato plants struggled from the very beginning as I only had two seeds. From leaf spots to dieback, I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep them going. As it was I had only one plant survive.
The best tomato this year has to be Sylvan Gaume with its three-quarter pound fruit and Peacevine with its sweet red cherry tomatoes. It’s so hard to decide on a favourite tomato but this year I have saved seed from all of them. Be sure to look for my tomato plant list in the spring.
Celery has grown like crazy and I have so much more to harvest. This year I tried Red Stalk celery and Tall Utah and both were easy to grow from seed.
Yes, the weather has not been the best for vegetables this year. Warm weather plants like cucumbers, pumpkins, peppers and zucchini either sulked their way to late production or grew the smallest fruit ever. I never have problems with pollination but our rainy weather had the bees hiding when we needed them the most. I have had lots of questions about squash and cucumbers falling off the vine and its all about pollination. Last year I had 70 pounds of cucumbers from six plants. This year I have a total of three cucumbers. Late spring rains brought us powdery mildew and it covered early squash plantings. So there have been some disappointments but the successes make up for the losses.
Lettuce and other salad greens had an early start until we had a hot spell in May and our plants bolted and went to seed. I was thankful for the row of greens planted under the shade of the tomato plants. They are still doing well and more planting was done in August to ensure we had fall crops.
Herbs did well in the kitchen garden this year. I grew several kinds of basil that need to be harvested this week. From sweet basil, Thai and cardinal basil, I will have pesto all winter long. There is nothing better than grabbing a few sprigs of dill for the grilled salmon or rosemary to add to roasted tomatoes. I like to tuck in herbs along the edges of the raised beds. This year my beds are lined with holy basil which is new to me. I am in the process of drying the leaves to use as tea for the winter. It’s great if your immune system needs a boost and to aid in preventing flu and cold symptoms. I am all over that if it works.
So you never know from year to year what the growing season will be like. Mother nature is queen of the garden season and we have to go with the flow, adapt when we have to, replant if need be and be thankful for all the abundance we have grown. After all, we get to do it all over again next year.
I love Dahlias but often when I mention my favourites, people assume they are all the large dinner plate or cactus flowering types. I am a big fan of the collarette dahlias like Moonlight Mist, Alpen Cherub and Wheels. What I have found over the years is it is easier for the bees to reach the pollen on the collarettes as its so visible. Dahlias are a popular cut flower here with many of our farmers growing them to sell as cut flowers at the Ladner Village Market and at farm stands. Their beauty makes them a good choice for weddings and special events. What I love about them is their bloom time. If planted out in May they will be blooming by mid July and continue until first frost. Today I am showcasing six of my favourite dahlias that you should add to your garden.
This is Dahlia ‘Louise’ which was bought as a bedding plant a couple of years ago. In its first growing season the plant produced a large tuber which I store over the winter and plant out in the spring. Dahlia ‘Louise’ is a border plant reaching about 12″ high and about 12″ wide. Its hot pink flowers with white edges make it a choice plant for the front of the border.
Dahlia ‘Clearview Claret’ is new to the garden this year. I took a tour of Ferncliff Gardens last fall with the South Delta Garden Club and couldn’t resist buying some more tubers. The red flowers are about 6″ across and its considered a medium-sized dahlia. Look closely at the photo above and you will see it has deep purple stems which add to the plants interest.
Dahlia ‘Yellow Passion’ has huge lemony coloured flowers. The flowers are about 6″ across and you only need one to create a bouquet. In my west coast garden, this Dahlia grows to about 4′ high and 2′ wide so it needs some room.
Dahlia ‘Moonlight Mist’ has really come into its own over the years. At first I wasn’t sure if I liked it as it didn’t do well where it was. All it needed was more sun. I love the pale yellow flowers on this collarette dahlia. It’s not quite as bold as Dahlia ‘Yellow Passion’ but is easier to use in bouquets.
Above is Dahlia ‘Snoho Sonia’, another newcomer to the garden. Although its classed as lavender I find its more pink than expected. It grows to about 3′ high. I love the ball shape of this flower. On this flower bees tunnel inside each curved petal in order to find pollen.
Still at the top of the list is Dahlia ‘Mango Sunset’ which is the most prolific bloomer of them all. This cactus dahlia is a wonderful orange colour and I have it planted with orange and pink zinnias this year. This dahlia never disappoints me in the garden.
September is a busy month as we think about planning for spring colour. It’s a good time to start choosing your spring bulbs or transplanting new perennials to the garden. Spring is one of my favourite seasons with new life emerging from the soil. Last spring I made notes where the garden lacked spring colour. I hope to plant hundreds of bulbs to add a well needed burst of colour to the garden. After the long days of winter, spring bulbs are always a welcome sight and I am never sorry I splurged on them. They are worth every penny.
Choosing bulbs carefully is important. You want to check the bulbs to make sure they are firm to the touch. If they are soft and squishy they won’t grow. Check each bulb for signs of mould which is often a grey-green dust like coating on the outside of the bulb. Avoid any diseased bulbs as they will infect healthy bulbs planted next to them. Buy bulbs early for the best selection.
Shop around for the best prices. You can buy daffodils and tulips in bulk for relatively low prices. If you simply have to have a specialty bulb, you will pay for more for it. Plant it where you will see it everyday, not in some out-of-the-way spot.
Beware of bulk bins of bulbs. You may get a bulb you didn’t want as customers may return an unwanted choice in the wrong box. Of course, that errant bulb might be a very interesting plant but not match with the design you had planned. Each year try something new. I love the species tulips as they are early to bloom and open during the day and close at night.
Store your bulbs in a cool dry place when you get them home if you are not ready to plant. Plant your early blooming bulbs in September and later bulbs in October. For example, Narcissus ‘Tete a Tete’ blooms here in February so it should be planted in September. If you are planting mid to late-blooming tulips, plant them in October.
If you are planting your bulbs in the ground, decide ahead of time where you want them and plant one area at a time. I like to dig the planting holes for my bulbs all at once, fill them with bulbs and go back later to cover them up. All you need is one interruption while planting and you will find yourself looking at the ground wondering if you planted there. Don’t forget to add some spring bulbs to your fall containers for extra colour by your front door.
Todays post is based on questions I have received over the last month. I sell plants to new and seasoned vegetable gardeners and find there are always issues that come to light as we talk about their vegetable gardens.
Light-One issue is not having enough sun. Okay, as much as I see stuff on the internet about all the vegetables you can grow in the shade, you need some light. Yes, I tried it and the only vegetable that grew well was parsley. You need at least 5-6 hours of sun to have a decent crop. Maybe you don’t have any sun in your backyard. If not, grow food in your front yard. Before your decide where your garden will go, be sure to watch the sun as it falls on your garden. In the spring the sun is lower in the sky than it is during summer. As we go into August the sun drops again. An easy way to track the sun is to go out at 10am, 1pm and again at 4pm to see where the sun shines on your garden. If you have the sun from 10am until 4pm it will be a good spot for a garden. Remember that the ideal growing time for the west coast of BC is from April to September. Each month will be a bit different when light is checked.
Crop rotation– If I could tell a first time gardener one thing it would be this. Never plant a vegetable crop in the same place each year. I have seasoned gardeners saying they have grown tomatoes in the same spot for twenty years and wonder why they did so poorly one year. Think about it, the soil is depleted of nutrients. It needs a rest. There is a reason farmers leave some of their fields to fallow. It’s not that they don’t want to make money from a crop. They know the soil has to be renewed by growing a cover crop to add nutrients back. It’s all about the soil. By not rotating your crops you will have the same pests and diseases return year after year.
If you don’t think wire worms are hiding deep in the potato bed you used last year waiting for you to plant potatoes there again, shake your head. They have tiny forks waiting for lunch to be served. You need to fool them by planting your potato crop somewhere else. See all those holes in the potato. Wireworms are hiding in there.
Successive planting-Remember to plant short rows of crops and plant every two weeks so they don’t mature all at the same time. No one wants a garden bed that has 30 heads of lettuce ready at the same time. Even a vegetarian would be hard pressed to use up all that lettuce. If you grow that much be sure you have lots of friends and family to give it to or share it with a food bank. Lettuce is a quick-growing crop so plant more seed every 2-3 weeks as long as the weather is not too warm.
Soil nutrition-Feed the soil, not the plants. Take care of our earth as if your life depended on it because it does. Without good soil you will not have the harvest you hoped for. So where do you start? Have a soil test done if the garden is new to you. Add organic matter to the soil to improve structure and porosity. Use organic fertilizers when you plant.
Integrated Pest Management-This is the practice of monitoring your garden for pests and disease. Take a walk each day to see your garden. Check out plants that have known issues. For example, some plants are prone to aphids. You need to spot these bugs early to control them as aphids have live babies every three days. Grab the hose and give the aphids a hard spray to knock them off your plants. This week I have leaf miner mining leaves on my beets. I am out there every couple of days pinching off affected leaves and placing them in the trash. You want to break the life cycle of the pest to control the problem.
Don’t let pests get beyond control. Catch them early. The last thing you want to do is use any chemicals on your food. After all, you will be eating those vegetables. Encourage beneficial insects by planting to attract them. You want your garden to achieve a balance so the good bugs eat the bad ones. Don’t forget the birds love to eat insects too.
Dahlias are wonderful flowers that come into bloom in summer and keep on going into late fall. Tubers generally cost anywhere between $4-$15 depending on where you shop. I buy all my dahlias from Ferncliff Gardens as they specialize in them. So when I saw that I could grow dahlias from seed I thought why not give it a try? Perhaps I could save myself some money.
A couple of years ago I grew Dahlia ‘Alpen Cherub’ and was able to collect seeds from the plant. The seeds are located within each petal but the flower has to go completely brown and papery before you will see the seeds. To see how I collected dahlia seeds read here. It certainly wasn’t a plant I thought would produce seed as they are normally grown from tubers. The seedaholic in me just had to experiment. The seedlings grew easily in the greenhouse and I planted them outside in May. The plants developed tubers so they could be stored over the winter.
A reader asked me last month to show different photos of ‘Alpen Cherub’ to compare them with the original plant. What I noticed about generation 2 above is that some of the collarette petals are missing and it looks like there is dirt on it. It’s not as white as the mother plant at the top of this page.
Now its year three and I have planted the tubers outside once again and will watch to see how they do. Yesterday I noticed a plant growing in the front garden. I must have missed a tuber when digging them up last fall. Check out the complete lack of collarette on this third generation ‘Alpen Cherub’. I love the bright ring of yellow on this one and its simplicity. I will grow this one again next year but may not keep the dahlia with a collarette that doesn’t look that great.
I must admit the bees don’t care what the flower looks like. They are all over these dahlias so they must be loaded with pollen. I grow all my dahlias near the kitchen garden to ensure I have pollinators nearby.
I found some very interesting information over at the Portland Dahlia Society which explains in detail what to expect when you grow dahlias from seed.
It’s the crazy tomato lady again. Yes, I went overboard again this year and have three raised beds of tomatoes. If you have followed my blog over the years, you will know I am just slightly crazy about tomatoes. There are so many kinds of tomatoes to grow and I want to try them all. Today I want to share with you six great tomatoes to grow on the lower mainland of BC. I know what you are thinking, tomatoes are fussy and get blight easily. The blight thing I get but this year I rigged up covers that worked to keep the rain off. Tomatoes aren’t as fussy as people think. They just need a good start and proper supports as some plants can grow very tall. If you want healthy plants, buy them from someone who specializes in tomatoes. We are passionate about our selection and how we grow them. They are fawned over when babies like they are our own children. If you want to start tomatoes from seed, look no further as all of mine are grown from seed. Seeds are easy to start.
Often we have cool summers and those huge beefsteak tomatoes don’t ripen until late summer. It’s best to grow a short season tomato like Stupice for an early crop. I picked two pounds of Stupice tomatoes yesterday and have to pick again soon. Stupice is a perfectly round red tomato about the size of a golf ball. It’s slightly acidic but great for salads.
One of my most sought after tomatoes is San Marzano. I grew one flat of eighteen plants this year and sold twelve to one person. I will remember to grow more next year. It’s not the earliest tomato to ripen. I have had one tomato so far and as you can see they are still green. San Marzano tomatoes are paste tomatoes sought after for cooking.
One of the new tomatoes I grew this year is Kellogg’s Breakfast. This meaty orange beefsteak produced its first tomato weighing in at 1.5 pounds. The one above is just about ready to pick. There is nothing better than having one slice fill a sandwich. This is one tomato I will grow again. I would suggest growing this from seedlings as it does take longer to grow. Seeds would need to be started inside in March for this plant to mature for the home gardener.
I starting growing tomatoes for a seed bank several years ago. I love taking a limited amount of seed and being able to save hundreds more for the seed bank. Above is Sylvan Gaume which is a lovely tomato. It’s a bit of a funny grower with branches this way and that but certainly worth the effort after tasting this one. Tomatoes range from 2″-4″ across and are delicious fresh.
Another great tomato to grow is King Humbert, an Italian heirloom. It’s a paste tomato with excellent flavour. Unlike many paste tomatoes that have very meaty flesh, this one is juicy and great for fresh slicing as well as cooking.
I would be amiss not to mention my favourite red cherry tomato called Peacevine. I have had excellent feedback from customers about this plant. It can grow to five feet high but it’s so productive you will be picking cherry tomatoes almost everyday. The fruit hangs in large clusters making it hard to resist popping one in the mouth as you walk by.
August in the kitchen garden is a time for change. Last month I harvested the garlic and onions so two beds were empty. What was I going to plant next? I had started some cauliflower seedlings in the greenhouse so they were ready to be planted out. It was time to go through my seeds to see what else I could plant for fall and winter crops. I want to have crops in the garden that I can harvest in late fall or store to eat during winter when food prices increase.
I decided to plant some turnips, purple sprouting broccoli, cabbage and kale with the cauliflowers seedlings. How did I know what I could plant now? I checked out the planting chart over at West Coast Seeds and looked for vegetables I could direct seed this month. It was that easy. My cauliflower seedlings are not looking so well this week. I may have planted them too early, a sign of an eager gardener. The rest of the plants are up and doing great.
Once the seeds were planted, I carefully watered them as dried out seeds will not germinate. This is something you need to plant when you are at home, not just before you go on holidays. It’s important for seeds to have good contact with the soil and moisture to help soften the seed coat. I also planted carrots this month. I want to be able to have a few carrots in the garden over the winter. The last week was warmer than usual so I tried shading my newly planted carrot seeds with burlap. I made sure to water the seeds in well and placed the burlap over top and moistened it. When I came back the next morning the soil underneath was still moist. By the end of the week the carrot seeds had germinated and I was able to remove the burlap. Many seeds don’t germinate easily in hot weather and benefit from a shade cloth to get them going.
I look forward to harvesting turnips. They are so easy to grow. I will let them grow a bit before I do some thinning. Thinning is necessary if you accidentally plant too many seeds in one spot. You need to think about the final size of the vegetable you are growing. For example, I like to harvest turnips when they are about 1/12”-2” in size so I should have each plant that far apart for proper development of the turnip. If they are too crowded they may not grow properly. Did you know that the leaves of turnips are edible as well? The greens are best when picked young. Be sure to harvest turnip greens from your kitchen garden in the morning and cut them as you would lettuce as they are a ‘cut and come’ again leaf.
You will notice that most of the plants I sowed are all from the Brassica family. Growing them together makes crop rotation in the kitchen garden easier. The Brassica family of plants includes turnips, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli and rutabaga. They also have the same pests. By planting them all together I can use a floating row cover to keep the cabbage moth from laying eggs on the plants. Floating row covers are great for pest prevention but they can make the garden warmer than it should be.
I harvested the onions and wasn’t sure what to plant in the empty raised bed. After another look at the planting list for July, I was delighted to see I could plant more Cosmos. While the blog was being created I supplied flowers for a wedding and made several bouquets. Cosmos are wonderful cut flowers.
I planted Cosmos ‘Rose Bon Bon’ and ‘Double Click’. Both Cosmos are double petalled in shades of pink and white. I will have cut flowers well into the fall. They germinated easily despite the warm temperatures and are now about an inch high. I also planted some Scabiosawhich is up as well.
You are probably wondering why I keep planting. My motto is to never have bare soil. If you can grow more food, why not? After all, that’s why we built the kitchen garden.