Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Seed or transplant for Fall

Now is the time to finish seeding or transplanting 50 to 60 day crops to mature in Fall. We just finished installing kale, red and golden beet transplants (photos). Even though it's hot now, these crops and others including lettuce will grow and be of good quality as they mature in cooler fall temperatures.

Planting a second crop where spring crops leave "vacancies" increase yields from a given square footage of soil during a growing season. Rotate crops and don't plant same family plants such as kale following cabbage. We planted beets following lettuce and cabbage, and kale following beets.

This higher demand on garden soil is equivalent of a full season crop such as tomato or potato. It requires adequate organic matter and fertility to meet the needs of the second crop so do be sure your soil is prepared to handle succession planting.

Photo credit: Transplanted kale, red beet, golden beet - all Carl Wilson

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hail recovery hope

To encourage those with gardens struck by hail, this post features pictures from a previous year's hailstorm. While chances of recovery depend on the extent of the damage, plants can surprise. Fruiting vegetables always seem to sustain the worst damage, particularly the big-leafed vegetables like squash and pumpkins. Roots escape underground and regrow. Leafy vegetables generally come back.

These photos of tomatoes and straightneck summer squash are from a July 21 hailstorm. White hailstones are visible in tomato photo. Click on photos to see enlarged view.

The photos below show plants August 17, about a month later. The Yellow Taxi tomato is sparse and shows hail-nicked foliage but did ripen fruit. The summer squash put on an amazing amount of growth and more fruit.

Photo credit: All five photos in post - Carl Wilson

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Use of Mid-summer Transplants

While many people think of transplants as only a May start-of-season planting technique, they can also be useful in midsummer for planting crops for fall harvest. In midsummer you don't even need a greenhouse to grow them!

There are always two ways to plant - direct seed or transplants. Mid-July is a rough date to have 50 to 60 day vegetables direct seeded to mature for fall. Using this target date, you can plan whether transplants or direct seeding will best work in your crop scheduling following spring crops.

Perhaps you have a crop growing that won't be harvested in the end of July and direct seeding another would not allow it to mature before frost. Answer is grow transplants. Or perhaps you have difficulties directly seeding the garden because of wind and sun, soil crusting or other physical soil condition, inability to frequently water to germinate seed, garden pests on young seedlings or whatever reason. Transplants may work better for you.

Growing transplants in pots placed on the ground (or bark mulch) as pictured works well. Floating row cover fabric thrown over the pots and tucked under the trays conserves water and helps seeds to germinate. Remove when seedlings have begun to develop true leaves or leave on to protect from birds and insects. Grow for 4 weeks or so and you are ready to gain a jump on the fall harvest season by transplanting into your growing beds.

Photo credit: Trays of pots growing on bark mulch, Kale (bottom) and beets (top) grown as midsummer transplants - both Carl Wilson