In the Garden
Gardening with Chickens
by SCMG Janet Barocco
Just as there is no single way to garden, there are many methods of keeping chickens. Some gardeners find ways to incorporate their flocks into existing gardens through trial and error. Others design and plan their landscapes to include chickens from the very beginning. Read more>
Growing Food in a Drought Year
- How much available water will I have for a food garden?
- How much food do I need to grow and can I grow it with available water?
- What supplemental water is available and how safe is it for edibles?
We need to educate ourselves about the water needs of various crops and stages of plant growth that require irrigation. In this regard, we should explore crops and varieties that may be new to us, but are drought-tolerant.
The Food Gardening Specialists (FGS) group are providing water-saving strategies Sonoma gardeners can employ and outlining best practices they can put in effect to retain moisture in the soil and use water efficiently as well as what planting choices may allow them to bring crops to a successful harvest. Their action plan for food gardeners is contained in these documents:
Food Gardening with Less Water
Drought-Tolerant Crops and Varieties
The following two expanded documents provide additional guidance to help Sonoma County food gardeners answer two important questions: Will I have enough available water to have a food garden this year? – AND – If I have available water, how much water does my food garden need?
A More In-Depth Look at Food Gardening With Less Water
How Much Water Does My Food Garden Need?
Free food gardening workshops are held in Sonoma County community gardens and are open to the public. The FGS are conducting new workshops this spring (commencing late March) titled - Food Gardening in a Drought. Workshops will be repeated in the fall. Check the SCMG Calendar for the dates and locations near you.
Harvesting & Preserving Garden Bounty
Food Garden Tips
The average first frost date for Sonoma County is November 10 (it varies greatly from year to year). Watch weather predictions this month and, if necessary, protect citrus and harvest frost-tender crops. You can extend the growing season by covering some crops with cloth or plastic-covered hoops during cold nights – remember to remove the cover when the sun appears.
Between November 18 and January 23, there are less than 10 hours of daylight. As a result, plants stop growing. Some cool weather crops, if they are near maturity before this time, will overwinter and start growing again when daylight and temperature allow.
Turn off automatic watering systems when rainy weather arrives but be aware that crops and landscape will need intermittent water is there are long periods of cool, dry weather between rainfalls.
If this is a fairly dry November, it is a good time to till a new vegetable bed for next spring. But, remember that we’re in a drought with water restrictions. Don’t make your bed larger than you can support with available water.
Fall is an ideal time to add aged manure to provide the nitrogen that your leafy crops will need next spring. Apply 1 lb of dry steer or dairy manure per square foot of soil surface –OR – 1 lb of dry poultry manure per four- to five-square feet of soil surface. If there is straw, shavings or sawdust in the manure, apply nitrogen fertilizer before planting next spring. Alternatively, apply two or more inches of compost to amend the soil.
Established berries can be pruned after harvest, but selecting the canes to remove or shorten is easier after leaf fall. See University of California’s guidance on berries.
Peach and Nectarine Trees: To address problems with peach leaf curl and shot hole fungus, spray with fixed liquid copper around Thanksgiving. See University of California’s guidance on safe use of pesticides and copper fungicides. [ http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74126.html and http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7426.html]
Citrus: Apply 1/2 lb of 7-3-3 mixed with 1 tablespoon Epsom salts and water well.
If your citrus tree has been in a pot for more than three years, carefully remove the citrus from the pot, trim an inch off the root ball and replant in fresh potting soil.
Inspect crops regularly throughout their growing season for early problem diagnosis and resolution. Refer to University of California’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) site. Good cultural practices (i.e., the correct location, light, water, pruning, fertilizer, planting date) contribute to healthy plants.
- KALE, thru Nov, C, D/T, 65-75 days to maturity
- GARLIC, thru Nov, C, D, 120-185 days to maturity
*NOTE: Planting dates are approximate for Sonoma County; weather patterns, microclimate and other growing conditions must be considered when direct seeding and transplanting. “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.
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.
W+ = warm season crops that need extra protection to keep them warm if planted early in season.
C = cool season crops that grow best in soil temps of 60-65 degrees and air temps of 65-75 degrees.
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
Selected Kitchen Garden Recipes
Dilled Cucumber Soup
Bok Choy Stir-Fry
Carciofi alla Romana
Classic French Omelet with Herbs de Provence
Fennel Pollen Update
Fennel-Pollen Crusted Halibut
Grandma's Herbed Triscuit Hors d'oeuvres
Grilled Padron Peppers
Honey Fig Jam
Lemony Rice and Shrimp Salad
Other Fennel Recipes