Sunday, October 24, 2010

Re-Seeding the Winter Garden

I started seedlings for a late fall harvest back in July in the hopes that I would be harvesting root and leaf vegetables around this time. FAIL! Despite a cooler summer, most of the seedlings either burned up in the sun or died during the transplant process (a temporary black thumb effort on my part). A small group of broccoli, cabbage, and snap peas survived only to be eaten by slugs. Some hardy lettuces have sprouted as well as arugula from plants I allowed to go to seed last winter. 

My next experiment in is to re-seed now and have a harvest in late winter/ early spring. Using a pen, I poked holes in the still damp dirt in 2.5 foot rows. I deposited two nursery-bought seeds in each hole and covered gently with my weeding tool. I did not water the seeds to allow them to sink and find root in the soil. I'll let the rain and existing moisture water the plants until the soil dries out completely. To top it off, I added a fine layer of nitrogen-rich vegetable fertilizer. My re-seeded vegetables are radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, arugula, romaine, leeks, carrots, yellow onions, and snap peas.

  For my flowers, I used seeds that I had gathered and dried at the beginning of summer. I planted them in a similar process, but instead of rows, I planted the nasturtium at random to fill in spaces in the butterfly garden. I planted the sweet peas in their own separate bed surrounding the base of over-turned round tomato cages. The cages will act as supports as the plants grow. These two types of flowers have also popped up on their own, re-seeding themselves from last year's flowers.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Season's End

I approach autumn with a degree of ambivalence that builds slowly into apprehension. On one hand, I am happy to have the opportunity to work on other projects and goals and not be so tied to tending garden. But as the golden sun spend less and less time in the sky, I grow uneasy with the coming winter: cloudy skies, shortened daylight, plant dormancy or (gasp!) plant death. As it currently stands, I only have an hour of light to tinker in the garden when I come home from work. When Daylight Savings Time officially ends in November, there will be no light left for garden tasks. Although I planned my garden’s winter dormancy ahead of time because of my foot surgery, I feel like the last 3 weeks of weather and light have been stolen from me. Tending garden is my meditation, my retreat from the world that both keeps me grounded and connects me to my roots.

Perhaps this is the time to refresh and renew, to seek out new inspirations and new vistas to help find next season’s purpose. Also, I have many other goals to complete; they cannot be neglected because they do not bring me as much pleasure as growing the perfect tomato.

Hubby contemplating the waves from Self-Realization Fellowship Garden in Encinitas, CA

Friday, October 15, 2010

October Bloom Day

Its been three weeks since foot surgery and I'm doing well all things considered - I just need to get that toe joint moving so I can avoid physical therapy. Before going out on garden leave, I planted cyclamen, sunset orange snapdragons, and winter lettuces. These have successfully taken root and are growing nicely. I can't say the same about my chrysanthemums, but I am treating those as annuals anyway. Rounding out the pictures are my Double Delight Roses, still going strong after some TLC, and Hubby's precious pomegranates.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tomato Plant Timing or "When do I see "red". By Papi Tomato

This is a Sprite.

First of all, I wanted to thank Rosie Tomato for the opportunity to fill in while she recovers from her foot surgery. Sources close to Rosie tell me she is recovering well with a prognosis for full recovery.

My first post will deal the timing for planting tomatoes. Most varieties of tomatoes will mature and fruit in approximately 90 days. There are some fast developing varieties for colder climates that mature and fruit in 60 days or less. Other varieties that can be north of 100 days, but as a rule of thumb, you can count on 90 days as a good estimate. Any good seed catalog will provide the days for a particular tomato variety to mature.

Rosie planted most of her tomato plants from mid March to Mid April (think Clairemont Garden Show). If you add 90 days to those planting intervals you start seeing red (as in red tomatoes) sometime around mid June to mid July. However, there are other matters to consider. Soil temperature and ambient temperature in March and April are not what they are in the summer, but the temperatures are sufficient to allow tomato plants to grow, albeit more slowly. Also, this summer in San Diego was gloomy and cool. This will also affect the amount of time tomatoes will take to mature and fruit.

Most of my tomato plants went into the garden around the June 1st. I started seeing ‘red’ on some plants mid August with good overall production at the end of August and first part of September. As of this post (October 5th) I still have two or three tomato plants producing tomatoes. The plants look rather ‘long in the tooth’, but they will maintain tomatoes for some time if you continue to water. I was able to pick over two pounds of red San Marzano roma tomato this past Sunday to make spaghetti sauce. Yesterday I picked nearly a pound of Sprite, Fiorentino and Black Pearls.

Normally, I plant about 1/3 of my tomatoes April 1st, May 1st and June 1st respectively. This usually gives me three months of garden tomatoes for consumption, cooking and gifts. The photos below were taken in my garden toward the end of September. As you can see, there is still a lot of ‘red’ there.

Miscellaneous plants.

This is a Fiorentino

Black Pearl (I am so a fan of Pirates to the Caribbean)