In the Garden
by Sonoma County Master Gardener Tweedy Olson
COMPANION PLANTING FOR THE KITCHEN GARDENER
BY Allison Greer
Book Review by SCMG Maureen Karbousky
Companion Planting for the Kitchen Gardener: Tips, Advice and Garden Plans for a Healthy Organic Garden is an excellent book for anyone involved in food gardening. It is an easy read and is filled with wonderful color photos to complement the text.
Read the review>
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
Spray fruit trees with organic and vegetable oil-based dormant oil. The oil smothers overwintering insect eggs and pests.
Dormant pruning of fruit trees can be done from the beginning of leaf fall up to bloom. See UC guidance on pruning and training fruit trees. Little or no pruning of citrus is required: prune out any crossing, broken or shaded out branches from the interior of the tree.
If you don’t have a drip system in your food garden, buy supplies so that you’ll be prepared to install the system before your early spring garden is started. Drip is the most efficient way to deliver water to your garden—an important consideration during a drought.
Instead of raking and depositing your leaves in the green bin, run the lawnmower over them to shred them and use them as mulch on your winter veggies beds. These leaves contain many nutrients that the trees pulled out of the soil and atmosphere. In addition to feeding your soil, you will be protecting soil from erosion and moisture evaporation, retarding winter weed growth and preventing splash from rain that could deposit soil-borne disease on your winter crops.
If a heavy freeze is predicted, cover citrus trees with burlap draped over stakes, keeping fabric away from foliage and fruit.
Grow sprouts and herbs in a sunny kitchen window.
Read up on cold frames, plastic tunnels, row covers, cloches and other plant protection in order to extend the growing season next year. Take advantage of sales on the supplies you will need for planting early spring crops.
December 21 is the shortest day of the year with the longest shadows. At high noon, note where the yard is sunniest – this is the best place to plant your fall and winter food garden next year.
With fewer gardening tasks, this is a good month to research perennial weed problems. Look at University of California’s weed photo gallery to identify weeds.
WHAT TO PLANT THIS MONTH
- RHUBARB, Dec-Mar, C, D/T, 1 yr maturity from roots, 3 yrs from seed
*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