Tag Archives: Organic Gardening

Preparing Your Garden for the End of Summer

Hello Harvesters

As much as we would like to deny it, the end of summer is upon us. Labor Day marks the last gasp of summer festivities, and a warning sign for gardeners to start preparing for the colder season. We still have a bit of growing season left for fall crops like potatoes, spinach, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, but it’s time to start planning ahead for how to protect and regenerate your garden over the winter.

By Alan Manson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Alan Manson (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

A great way to regenerate your soil over the winter is to plant cover crops. Cover crops are planted at the end of the growing season, and then tilled into the soil at the end of winter instead of being harvested. Erosion, planting, harvesting, and foot traffic inevitably damage your garden’s soil structure. Cover crops help to reverse this process by restoring aeration and drainage to your soil, as well as preventing nutrient leaching. Some crops, like clover, also help to fix nitrogen in the soil, which is critical for growing crops like tomatoes. At the end of the winter, when the cover crops are tilled under the soil, the organic matter acts like compost, restoring more nutrients to the soil and preparing your garden for another healthy growing season. Check out these pages explaining cover crops and helping you decide which one to plant!

Blossom_(2762263328)

“Blossom (2762263328)” by Harald Hoyer from Schwerin, Germany – BlossomUploaded by russavia. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blossom_(2762263328).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Blossom_(2762263328).jpg

If you want to extend your growing season and get the most out of your garden, you may want to consider building a cold frame. Cold frames are small, insulated boxes with a transparent lid that act as miniature greenhouses. Most cold frames are small enough to fit on urban properties, as they are much smaller than traditional greenhouses. The lid allows heat from the sun to enter the frame, but prevents that heat from escaping by convection. It also protects the plants from the excessive moisture that we often experience in the Pacific Northwest. If you’re interested in building a frame, check out this page on how to build a good frame. This fall, try planting crops from the Brassica genus, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussel sprouts, or radishes, lettuce and spinach in your cold frame. Let us know how it goes!

 

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Planting Carrots

March has arrived, which means it’s time to plant! Hopefully this will give you something to look forward to as we endure the rainy season.

It is really important that you make sure your soil is completely free of rocks, weeds, and other impediments. Like you before your coffee in the mornings, carrots need their space.

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If you haven’t gotten around to preparing your garden bed, check out our previous post Planning your Garden.

When your garden has been thoroughly prepped, it’s time for seeds. Well, it’s almost time for seeds. It’s still a little cold, so you should probably still wait a few weeks before you plant.

Setup

If you’re using the square foot gardening method it’s important to make sure your seeds are spaced apart appropriately, about 2 inches.

If you’re using the row method, make sure each row is a foot apart, and your seeds have 2 to 3 inches between them.

Digging Holes

When digging holes for your seeds, you want to make sure the holes are ½ inch deep.

Plant about 4 to 6 seeds per hole. You can thin them out later if needed. You can buy seeds from most hardware stores or plant nurseries, but one of my favorite places to buy seeds is the Territorial Seed Company.

When covering, mulch well. The seeds need to be well covered to speed up germination. However, be gentle when tamping down the soil.

After about 2 to 3 weeks, you’ll start to see little sprouts!

ID-10013392Early Care

Carrots need about one inch of water per week. However, it is the rainy season so remember to take into account how much water your garden has already had.

It’s important to make sure the soil is loose and not over or under watered. This will mean the difference between having a traditional looking carrot, and one that looks like a two-pronged fork.

Lastly, don’t neglect to weed and thin! When the tops of the carrots are about an inch tall, thin them out to 3 inches apart.

Harvest Preview

For the first few weeks, keep watering, weeding, and thinning. Carrots typically take about 2 to 2 ½ months to fully mature.

Next month, we’ll tell you how to know when your carrots are ready and how to harvest them.

Happy Gardening!

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