March 2010 Hot

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Hopefully a lot of people are going to attend the Edible Landscaping Workshop this month at UC Davis. Last year when shopping for plants to put into my yard I was looking at edibles. There so many options out there, plus you don’t feel so guilty when spending money on plants that are going to double as a food source. When looking at trees look at fruit and nut tree options, (even a sweet bay.) If you need to cover and arbor think about grapes, kiwi, passion fruit, or runner beans. Shrubs could be camellia tea, pineapple guava, blueberry,current, gooseberry, or perennial herbs like rosemary, oregano and ginger. You can try lots of other plants, prickly pear cactus, taro, sunchoke, ground nut, pawpaw, rhubarb, and more. Don’t forget all the edible flowers, daylily, rose, nasturtium, viola, pansy, sunflower, borage, calendula, lavender, beebalm, citrus, squash, artichoke, fig and more. With a little research you can find that there are so many alternatives to the type of plant you want that are edible. Check with your zone requirements for borderline tropicals that might need to be brought into the house or a greenhouse for the winter. Some varieties tolerate cold better than others and might winter over at you house if planted in a warmer micro climate and given a little loving care when the temperature dips down.

When you have edibles in your yard you need to be careful about what is sprayed and broadcasting the yard. Herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides can be a very bad thing when they end up on the dinner plate. If you live in town you might also need to check to see what your neighbors are spraying.This could be a great time to think about using IPM or going “au natural” in your garden. Using weed block, mulch, beneficial insects, traps, compost, and other safer methods. The UC IPM website also has acceptable organic methods listed if you are trying to grow organically.

Right now is a great time to get those veggie beds ready

Right now is a great time to get those veggie beds ready if you haven’t already. Double diggings a good method to get the soil ready for planting. You want to start with about a 1 foot trench along the short end of the bed with a short flat bottomed spade, using your body weight to push the blade down instead of brute force. If you can get down about a foot that is great otherwise go down as far as you can. Use a flat board to stand on so you don’t compact the soil. This first section of soil should be put on a tarp or in a wheelbarrows you will need it later. When you have moved the soil then take garden fork and use your weight to push it as far as you can go at the bottom of the trench. Wiggle and loosen the soil along the whole bottom of the trench. Start on one side facing the middle of the bed to loosen the first part then turn around and work backward toward the other side. Then start a second foot wide trench right next to the first carefully moving the soil into the first trench. Less churning of the soil allows more of the inhabitants to live. It might be easier to do in two 6 inch passes. When that is done use the garden fork to loosen the soil at the bottom of trench two. When you have done this thru the entire bed put the soil from the first trench back into the bed. You can then top dress the bed with compost mixing it slightly with a rake or the fork and smoothing out the top.

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Now you need something to put into the bed. Starting your own seedlings in flats can save you money and space. When they get large enough to move use a nitpicker to help pull them up and separate the roots. You can then use the nitpicker to plant the seedling in your bed or a small pot. Another way to save money is keep the bottom section of your onions, leeks,and shallots from the kitchen in the veggie drawer. When you have enough, go plant them in the garden. We eat the leaves of these plants and the stems will re-grow another top. When harvesting spring/green onions and leeks from the garden cut the tops off leaving the stems in the ground. I also plant many of the veggies too close so I can harvest every other one as a baby veggie.

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