Food Gardening with Less Water
Can you have a food garden with limited available water? Yes! You can grow nutritious veggies with less water and a better taste than those found in the grocery store. Find out how with guidance and a video produced by the UCCE Sonoma Master Gardener Food Gardening Specialists. Click here for more information.
In the Garden
by Master Gardener Ellie Samuel
There are three main varieties of spinach: Savoy (Curly), Semi-Savoy and Flat Leaf. Baby spinach involves harvesting immature leaves. Most varieties mature in 40-50 days. Before planting, think about which kind of spinach you like to eat and how you will use it. Select disease-resistant varieties to avoid viruses and rust.
By Master Gardener Susan Shaw
The Cool Weather Food Garden
What’s not to like about cultivating a cool weather garden? It delivers a fresh, robust harvest in autumn, winter and early spring (depending on type of plant and variety) with fewer pests and low-stress watering! For more info and a list of cool-weather crops for Sonoma County, Click Here
Your own dried herbs will be fresher and more pungent than any you can buy at the supermarket. The process is easy; learn the basics.
Food Gardening Specialists in 2015
by SCMG and Food Gardening Editor Stephanie Wrightson
The Food Gardening Specialists (FGS) is a subgroup of Sonoma County Master Gardeners. Members have specialty training and a passion for growing food. Their first planning meeting of 2015 last month started with a question: What new thing are you going to do in your food garden this year? The answers were varied with a few themes weaving throughout—not the least of which was food gardening with less water.
Food Garden Tips
Don’t stop weeding… they are still growing and competing with your vegetables for water and light.
If you did not replenish the food garden soil last month, add two inches of good quality compost on top of the soil now. Why? Compost 1) builds soil structure by creating pores for air and water; 2) improves moisture retention in light soil; 3) improves drainage in heavy soil; 4) feeds microorganisms that provide a symbiotic relationship between the soil and your plants so that plants can use the nutrients; and 5) provides all the nutrients – in combination with the soil – that your plants need. Higher soil nutrition helps plants produce better yields with the same amount of water!
If September is hot, set out fall/winter vegetable transplants later in the afternoon and use a row cover for a week or two to protect tender seedlings from the sun.
In Sonoma County, the summer food garden is still in high production. If you have an overabundance of squash, pick them when they are very young and tender. If you have more produce than you can use, your neighborhood food bank or a neighborhood gleaning program will be happy to help you out.
Mulch will help with water retention and weed suppression now and protect against cooler weather in October and November. Use three to four inches depending on the size of the mulch particles. Mulch should not touch the plant stems.
Stagger plantings of leafy greens and other favorite crops that can be harvested before mid-November (the average frost date for Sonoma County) and hardy crops that will survive the winter for a continued harvest.
Remove the tips and small fruits of winter melons as they won’t have time to mature. Also, pinch off the last blossoms of tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and squash to encourage larger fruits.
Clean up fallen fruit after harvest. Dispose of diseased material.
Citrus: apply 1/2 pound 5-2-1 mixed with 1 tablespoon Epson salts and, then, water well
Apples: renew coddling moth lures in traps.
Raspberries: foliar feed with liquid fish two times this month
Inspect crops regularly throughout their growing season for early problem diagnosis and resolution. Refer to University of California’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) site. If you find snails and slugs in your garden, build a trap using a 12- by 15-inch board raised off the ground by 1-inch runners. As they collect under the board, scrape them off and destroy daily.WHAT TO PLANT THIS MONTH
NOTE: Planting dates are approximate for Sonoma County; weather patterns, microclimate and other growing conditions must be considered when direct seeding and transplanting. This is a brief summary. Refer to the Vegetable Planting Summary and other SCMG website articles for more detailed information. “Days to maturity” is approximate and depends on the vegetable variety and your garden’s specific growing conditions. This information will facilitate planting dates that lead to successful production before the growing season ends.
C = cool season crops that grow best in soil temps of 60-65 degrees and air temps of 65-75 degrees.
W = warm season crops that grow best in soil temps of 65-80 degrees and air temps of 75-90 degrees and little cooling at night
D = seed is usually sown directly in the garden
T = crops are usually planted from transplants
D/T = seeds can be planted directly into soil or transplants can be used