What are the Food Gardening Specialists up to in 2016? They have some ambitious personal food gardening goals as well as exciting Sonoma County initiatives. Read more.
In the Garden
In Sonoma County, lettuce plant cool-weather crops in February and March once the soil can be worked. If you carrot all about good nutrition, beet the path to your food garden bed.
Don't be radicchio--it's not chard to salsify your desire for healthy greens, vegetables and hardy herbs. Endive right in. The savings from growing your own is no small potatoes. Cauli(ta)flower or call it broccoli, these are the tastiest blooms to turnip on your plate. Like Popeye, be strong to the finish when you eat your spinach.
Chipped Branch Wood (CBW)
by Master Gardeners Tommie Smith and Bernadette Nouel
Food Gardening with Less Water
Food Garden Tips
We are thankful for the recent rainstorms. But with the water deficit from recent drought years and scientists’ warnings about future drought, continue your conservation preparations for spring planting (prepare to plant only what you will consume, install drip in the food garden, add water-holding compost to the soil, plan to mulch, etc.).
Continue to protect frost-tender plants on cold nights. If you use a tarp or sheet on evergreen plants, use stakes to make sure that covers do not touch the leaves. If you use lights as a heat source, do not use the new energy-saving strings as they do not generate enough heat. Buy “the cube” which automatically turns on lights at 35 degrees and turns them off at 45 degrees. Pull the mulch back from the plant so that the soil can absorb solar energy during the day. Potted plants can be moved under shelter. Finally, make sure that plants are well-watered as the freezing temps will turn the water in the soil to ice, making some of it unavailable to the plants.
Spray fixed copper to peach trees just before bud swell to control peach leaf curl and brown rot. This also helps with fire blight.
Plant bare root fruit trees. If you planted trees last year, remove stakes over one-year old.
If you haven’t already pruned dormant fruit trees, there is still time for most fruit trees. See UC’s guidance on pruning and training fruit trees.
Spray fruit trees with dormant oil after pruning and before buds start to open. Click here for a calendar of fruit tree tasks.
If gophers are a problem, affix hardware cloth under raised beds and use wire baskets for plants outside of a protected raised bed. When offered, attend a free Master Gardener class on how to use traps to reduce your gopher population.
It may be time to harvest citrus. Since it only ripens on the tree, sample one to determine its ripeness. If scale insects are present, spray citrus with volck or superior oil.
Prepare pots, hanging baskets and other containers if they will be used for vegetables or herbs this spring; add fresh potting (not garden) soil. At a minimum, replace one-fourth of the soil each year and add a light balanced fertilizer following the manufacturer’s instructions. When you purchase seeds or transplants for pots, look for clues like “pixie,” “mini” or “patio” in the variety name.
Start tomato and other warm-weather vegetable seeds indoors so that they’ll be ready to plant outside after the threat of frost has passed. While the last average frost date in Sonoma County is about April 15, this is a 30-year average. Most gardeners delay planting warm-weather vegetables until early- to mid-May.
A few vegetables can be planted this month. However, vegetable garden soils should be moist, but not wet, and dry enough to crumble when pressed in your hand before preparing it for planting.
As spring planting begins in earnest, select disease-resistant crop varieties (especially important in a small garden where crop rotation is difficult). The abbreviations on the tag are important (e.g., “VFN” means that a plant is resistant to Verticillium wilt, Fusarium wilt and Nematodes). Inspect crops regularly for early problem diagnosis and resolution. Refer to University of California’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) site. .
WHAT TO PLANT THIS MONTH*
RHUBARB, Dec-Mar, C, D/T, 1 yr maturity from roots, 3 yrs from seed
ASPARAGUS, CROWNS, Jan-Mar, C, T, 2 yrs to maturity from roots/crowns
PEAS, Jan-Apr, C, D, 60-80 days to maturity
ONIONS, BULB, Jan-May, C, D/T, 100-120 days to maturity
ARUGULA, Feb-Mar, C, D/T, 30-40 days to maturity
BOK CHOY, Feb-Mar, C, D/T, 40-60 days to maturity
SPINACH, Feb-Mar, C, D/T, 40-50 days to maturity
TURNIPS, Feb-Mar, C, D, 30-55 days to maturity
GREENS, ASSORTED, Feb-Apr, C, D, 35-45 days to maturity
RADISHES, Feb-Apr, C, D, 20-60 days to maturity
POTATOES, Feb-May, C, D, 100-120 days to maturity
LEEKS, Feb-Jul, C, T, 120-150 days to maturity
SWISS CHARD, Feb-Aug, C, D/T, 60-80 days to maturity
LETTUCE, Feb-Oct, C, D/T, 50-60 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.
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