Saving Seeds

Download the Seed Saving Handbook

Saving Seeds in the Garden

Saving Seed 300x212 Saving Seeds

Download the Seed Saving Handbook

Now that we have been harvesting our crops, a number of people have asked about seed saving. Today I got a a copy of a new publication on seed saving. Although it is designed for teachers with school gardens, there is a bounty of really useful information included for everyone.

I have loaded the book onto our site, and you can read it by clicking this link: A Handful of Seeds – SEED STUDY AND SEED SAVING FOR EDUCATORS, by Tina Poles, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. If you would like to save a copy to your computer, right-click the link and select ‘save as…’ from the pop-up menu.

As I said, this is meant for use in schools, but you will find everything from basic botany, parts of flowers named and explained, what (and why) are there fruits, essays on our major food crops and our food pioneers.

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Soil Preparation and Backfill for Planting

Soil Preparation and Backfill for Planting:

I was at a party tonight (Happy birthday, Eileen!) and a lady told me a tale I had heard before. She bemoaned the fact that the more carefully she amended her clay soil, the worse her trees did.

There is a problem with the common wisdom on the subject. For as long as I remember, my dad insisted on mixing soil amendments into the planting holes of everything we planted – he was a landscape contractor, and that was a lot of plants and trees over the years. We made large holes, mixed in fertilizers, course redwood sawdust, blood and bone meal, etc.

We worked on the ory that you made life easy for the tree or shrub to get going and give it a nice place to live. Sounded good, and worked pretty good, most of the time, but we were often lucky in the soils we had to work with.

Today, research has shown that amending the backfill material with organic matter does not help, and may in fact hinder, plants becoming established.

The theory is that the change in soil texture creates a barrier to soil-moisture movement. The more sudden a change is soil texture occurs, the strong that barrier is. In the lady’s case, the clay soil is extremely dense, and the amended soil was very light.

In her case, whenever you watered the tree or plant, it would sit in a bathtub of water until it drains, which in clay soil is very slow. When you don’t water the trees or other plants, the root ball dries out too quickly, even though the clay soil still retains a lot of moisture, since available moisture is blocked from the roots by the sudden change.

Furthermore, the discontinuity in soil textures may prevent the roots from ever venturing out of the prepped hole. The roots may simply cirlce the hole, never moving out into the native soil.

The accepted way of planting is to plant in the native soil and enrich the surface, letting the natural soil denizens devour and distribute the amendments.

If your soil is really horrible, amend the entire area, not just the planting holes. One of the best ways to amend a large area is to ‘double dig’ it; this loosens the subsoil and speeds up the soil forming process. See the article on raised bed gardens for more on double digging. (http://gardening-coaches.com/raised-bed-vegetable-garden.php)

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Start Vegetable Seeds

Tomatoes grown from seed

How to Start Vegetable Seeds

Seed starting is pretty basic. Mother Nature actually does most of the work, all you have to do is not get in her way.

Getting in Nature’s way is pretty easy,  though. We try to get a jump on the growing season by starting plants indoors. This leads to low-light, low-temp and high humidity conditions. These are the perfect conditions for virus, fungus and mold organisms.

Bottom heat helps seeds start quickly, and many types of seed require warmth too germinate instead of rotting in the ground. This is especially true of beans which need warm, fast germination.

Good light, either natural or artificial is needed to keep the seedlings happy, short and stocky. If not enough light is present the seedlings will elongate to reach the light, become weak and spindly, and eventually fall over.

Sterile media and containers are required to prevent disease organisms from killing the seedlings. Clean used containers in a 5% – 10% bleach solution using a bristle brush to remove all material from the containers. Some suitable containers are foam egg cartons, 6-packs from previous purchases, yogurt pots, dixie cups, newspaper pots, and purpose-made seed trays.

Seed starting material must be sterile. Soil-less mixes are best. Peat moss, perlite, vermiculite and various mineral compounds for nutrients are the basis of many good commercial mixes.

Plant the seeds just as deep as directed on the seed packet. Cover the seeds with light material (the fine-cut seed starting mix is perfect) or the seedlings may not have the strength to emerge from the ground.

Water the newly-planted seed trays in a water bath. Let the water soak up from the bottom. This dislodges any air pockets, settles the media, and assures that the the seed is in firm contact with the moist media. This is the preferred watering method even  after the seedlings have emerged. Watering from above may damage the stems, it creates wet leaves which promotes disease, and it spreads any disease spores to other plants.

This video shows you how to start seeds successfully, the very first time you try. It’s really easy to do, and the video shows you how to have the plants you want when you want them.

 

Does the system work? You bet!

Todays Harvest 0031 300x225 Start Vegetable Seeds

One Day's Harvest - Heirloom Tomatoes grown from seed

Here is just part of a single day’s harvest from seedlings shown in the final shot… Each plant cost about 3 1/2 cents to grow, and produced 2 to 4 pounds of tomatoes a day. That is good return on investment…

Varieties shown include Black Krim, Sweet Persimmon, Yellow Perfection, Ace, and Costolutto.

You can results like this from your own garden, just follow the steps in the video.

Be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified of upcoming video lessons. We’ll cover an entire season of organic growing techniques.

Read the next article: Tomato Gardening

 

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Weeds!

Planting in Mulch

The same question has come up several times in the last week: What is the best way to manage weeds in my garden?

I guess the appearance of the first crop of winter-rain driven weeds in our gardens area has something to do with this!

Where do they come from, and why are they so tough?

Weeds, unlike the veggies and flowers we plant, have grown forever without any help from man; they are survivors. Our crops, on the other hand, are selected for food qualities, not survival.

Weeds come from everywhere; wind, birds flying over, seeds or burrs stuck to your clothes; all are effective ways weeds spread their seed. Think of the soil as a ‘seed bank’. There are withdrawals (weeds germinated and killed, eaten by insects, dying from old age) and deposits (weeds going to seed, wind, etc.).

Weed seeds have what is referred to as ‘latency’ or waiting for the right conditions to germinate. Some seeds will germinate as soon as they hit the ground, others will wait, and some have specific requirements, including being burned, before they will germinate. What this means is that you will have weeds popping up, possibly for years. “A season with seeds is a decade of weeds

Weeding

Weeds hurt crop growth through com­petition for nutrients, water, and sunlight. The best weed control method is to pre­vent weeds from becoming well established in the first place.

The main ways we control weeds are cul­tivation (as with a hula-hoe), mulching, and hand weeding. Proper cultivation means scraping the soil surface (very shallow penetration of no more than 1/4″) with a hoe or other suitable tool to cut off and remove small weeds. Deep cultivation can prune crop roots, which can cause loss of yield. This concept is covered in the first few minutes of this video on Home Vegetable Gardening, Part 1 (it is at the very bottom of the page). Do book-mark and spend some time on this page as there is some GREAT information in the videos.

Mulching is an efficient means of weed control, and it also helps conserve soil moisture. Organic mulches, such as sawdust, wood chips, straw, lawn clippings, or other such materials, should be applied in a 2″ to 4″ deep layer on top of the soil. Organic mulches can be turned under periodically to help condition of the soil. Some of these materials (saw dust & wood chips) will require nitrogen when are turned into the soil. You can apply about 2 pounds of fertilizer per 100 square feet to make sure nitrogen is available to the mulch and crops. Fertilizing is not needed unless the mulch is turned into the soil, and less is required if the materials have rooted on the surface..

Weed-block fabric (aka ‘Garden Cloth’), newspapers, and other such materials can also serve as mulches. They serve the same functions as organic mulches, but they do not offer the soil conditioning potential of organic mulches. Black plastic can be placed on the soil immediately after the soil is pre­pared for planting. Transplants can then be set through the plastic by cutting holes just large enough for the plant to fit through.

PlantingInMulch1 Weeds!

Planting In Mulch

My preferred method of controlling weeds uses deep layers of ground mulch over the planting beds. When plants are ready to put in the ground, I pull back the mulch, loosen the soil where I want to plant, make a hole and plant the seedlings in the ground. I try to pull a little soil up around the seed plug, and move the mulch back around the base of the plug. Ideally, the plant should not be far below the mulch, and the mulch should not actually touch the plants.

Associated Links

Weed management in vegetable crops – UC IPM

California Gardening, Vegetable page – UC CA Garden Info

Read the next article in this series: Building Healthy Garden Soil.

 

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Garden Design Ideas

4x4squarefootgarden

Now that we have garden beds, here are some garden design ideas to get you thinking about what to plant. Most of the designs I found on the net don’t really work for us – they are too general, based on some other climate, or entirely the wrong size. Here are a few with some merit.

4x4squarefootgarden 281x300 Garden Design IdeasHere is a plan for a square foot garden. The idea is to lay your garden out in 1′ x 1′ sections and plant each section with a different plant.

For other information on square foot gardens you might try the (self-proclaimed) ‘official’ square foot garden web site (warning, Mel has a lot of stuff for sale – this may cloud his judgment). He does lay out some good arguments for this type of garden. There is also a square foot demo garden at the Hansen Agricultural Center in Santa Paula.

Sunset magazine has an article on small-scale gardens here. There are some good ideas, and, as per Sunset’s usual standards, all are gorgeous…

Below is a video montage with some killer square foot and other community garden structures. The movie shows construction of beds, trellises and follows the garden through its first year. It has some really nice looking beds and great veggies to boot!

Another source of garden plan ideas is Renee’s Garden. She has a 3-season garden layout that works here. It is a rather odd size for us, but has a good selection of plants for each season. Click the picture to open the pdf file…

ReneesGardenDesigns 300x191 Garden Design Ideas

This pdf is from Renee’s resources page, located here…

This plan (actually, a whole season of plans) is for a slightly larger are than our family plot and feeds a family of four. It has a lot of good ideas for your consideration. These plans are drawn by the test garden managers and reflect their experience with these veggies.

read the next article: Garden Planning Basics

 

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New Blackberry and Raspberry pages

I have added two new pages to my web site on growing Blackberries and growing Raspberries. Check them out if you have any interest in growing your own berries at home. Both of these berries, as well as most garden crops, do best with even moisture. A drip garden irrigation system in combination with raised beds and a covering of mulch provides the perfect conditions for growing berries.

Just a note, since berries propagate by underground runners, we have decided not to allow them in the community gardens.

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Raised Bed Gardens

IMG_0441

We highly recommend creating raised garden beds. They provide easy creation of ideal soil and concentrate the nutrients in a deep, well-drained root zone. This excellent drainage helps prevent the spread of disease organism and helps you build healthy plants through healthy soil.

Here is a very good introductory article and video from the National Gardening Association. The full article is here: Making a Raised Bed Garden. The page also has some other video articles on vegetable gardening. Check it out!

Here is my take on the subject:

IMG 0441 300x200 Raised Bed GardensRaised bed vegetable gardens are great, regardless of your native soil. With raised bed gardens, instead of fighting poor soil conditions, you create an area above your soil line, where you gain control over the soil texture, pH and ingredients. Our Camarillo soil is alkaline, but porous, good and rich. It can become compacted, soggy and unhealthful (for plants anyway) during rainy periods, and even during normal watering.

What is a ‘Raised Bed Garden’?

A raised bed garden is any garden that is elevated above the soil; this does not mean one that built on stilts up off the ground. It may be filled with native soil, or if your soil is inadequate, soil-less mixes may be used. Our soil is young and full of minerals, and a good place to start.

The purpose of this exercise is to get the plant’s root zone above the soil where it has a chance to drain and breathe, even in times of heavy rain. Eliminating roots standing in water helps you control a large number of garden diseases. Any hard edging used around the beds is to maintain the contents of the beds.

Raised bed gardens can be contained with wood, stone, bricks, logs or other items to hold the bed shape, or they can simply be mounded up earth, as found in typical row-and-ditch type field crops. A cap over the soil made of compost, other organic soil amendment, covered with a layer of wood chips at least 2″ thick. The best moisture retention and wedd suppression comes once you get your mulch layer 4″ thick, but even 2″ of mulch reduces the water needed, reduces leaching of nutrients out of the root zone, and prevents the build up of salts, or ‘crusting’, at the soil. surface

Anything you plant – herbs, vegetables or flowers – will thrive in such a raised bed.

Raised Bed Garden Advantages

Raised bed gardens offer several advantages beyond a chance to create ‘customized’ soil, including:

IMG 0280 200x300 Raised Bed GardensRaised bed gardens warm more quickly in spring, allowing you to work the soil and plant earlier.
Raised bed gardens drain better and help prevent moisture-borne diseases.
Raised bed gardens are narrow enough to reach easily, so you don’t walk on or compact the soil. This loose soil aids the transmission of air and nutrients to the root system.
Raised beds mean less bending, squatting or stooping to tend your garden. This is an aid to both the young and old…
You can correct the soil pH in each raised bed to suit the needs of the plants you want to grow.
Even with the construction, upkeep of raised bed gardens is much easier than conventional garden beds.

How to Construct a Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Raised beds with some sort of hard, raised edge are the most popular. The hard edging helps keep the beds and their mulch in place, bring the work up to you, and just look nicer.

There are lots of different materials you can use for raised beds, and we hope yours can be built from materials salvaged from the waste stream, giving you maximum ‘eco’ points. Wood is popular, marginally renewable, easy to work with and (somewhat) cheap. Concrete blocks, recycled sidewalk slabs, granite from a local quarry, or brick are more permanent options, but require more expense and labor to build. You can even use hay bales, arranged in some box-like configuration, and fill the space with amended soil and a top-dressing of mulch. Hay bales only last a year, but as the straw decomposes it adds to your compost pile for the next year.

Most raised beds are built with wood-edges, so let’s look at building a wood raised bed garden.

Step 1: Pick a spot for the garden. Most vegetables, herbs, and flowers ineed at least eight hours of sun per day. A flat, level area with easy access to water and room to get around. If you are a community garden grower, your spot is already picked out, so…

Step 2: Lay-out the size and shape of your garden. There are several possible arrangements shown on the ‘Antonio’ garden page.

IMG 0228 200x300 Raised Bed GardensDuring the lay-out, take time to double-check that you can access all parts of the garden without walking on the soil in the beds. Also, try to imagine your plants grown to their full size – will you still be able to reach all of it? In a correctly designed raised bed, soil doesn’t get walked on and it doesn’t get compacted. The best garden width is somewhere under four feet. With a 3 foot width, you can easily access the middle of the bed from either side. If you cannot walk around both sides of a bed, three feet is too wide. See what you are comfortable reaching to and let that be your guide.

Any lay-out you pick will work, just keep the width reasonable. Six inches is a good height for the edging, and many vegetables grow well in loosened soil that deep. If you have a choice, go deeper. Consider ‘double-digging’ the beds – dig out a shovel’s depth and set the soil aside, then loosen anothe shovel’s depth, add amendment, and replace the first layer of soil you removed, amending it in the process. The additional depth guarantees your plants’ root will have room to stretch out!.

Step 3: Prepare the Soil Below the Site. Once the beds are laid-out, you can get to work preparing the soil. Soil prep is determined by the depth of the bed you’re building, as well as the plants you’re going to grow there. For most vegetables and herbs, a 6″ to 12″ deep bed is OK, but you really want to loosen the soil with a shovel or garden fork to a depth of eight to twelve inches.

When you dig up the soil under the new garden bed, be sure that you do not create a ‘bathtub’ in the compacted soil; make sure that water is free to drain away. This is especially important if you have clay soils.

Step 4: Building the Bed.

IMG 0229 300x200 Raised Bed GardensRot-resistant lumber such as cedar, redwood or one of the newer composite (plastic) ‘lumbers’ makes a long-lasting bed. Ideally, you will be able to ‘re-purpose’ lumber from the waste-stream for your beds. Two by six lumber is perfect, as it is easy to work with and will give you six inches of depth.

Cut your pieces to the desired size, then attach them together to make a simple frame. You can attach the sides in a number of ways. You can make a simple butt joints, and screw the corners together with galvanized screws. A short piece of 4″x4″ piece of wood in the corner and carriage bolts make strong corners. Metal angle (book-shelf) brackets also make a solid corner.

Step 5: Finalize the Location. Use a carpenter’s square to square up the box, and check with a level to make sure your frame is reasonably level in all directions. The filled beds won’t be moving very far, so anchoring them down is unimportant. If one side is too high, just remove some of the soil beneath it; once it is level, it will stay that way.

Step 6: Fill the Beds.

IMG 0268 200x300 Raised Bed GardensThe whole point of a raised bed garden is to create perfect soil. Make your bed’s soil from a good of quality topsoil, compost, and rotted manure. Rake the beds level, you’re ready to plant or sow seeds.

Maintaining your New Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

Raised bed gardens require very little maintenance. Each season (or re-planting), top dress with fresh compost or dig the compost into the top several inches of soil. Tilling is not needed, and in fact, not desirable, as it destroys the soil’s structure. Keeping a 2″ layer of mulch on the soil helps retain moisture and keeps weeds from germinating.

Best of luck growing in your new raised bed vegetable gardens!

See our related article on Building Healthy Garden Soil.

read the next article: the French Kitchen Garden.

 

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Plant Symptoms and Their Causes

Plant Symptoms and Causes

California’s soil is generally rich in minerals plants need. Unhealthy looking plants show similar signs to common diseases, no matter what soil they grow in. Here are some common signs and their causes.

Problem looks like: Possible cause Controls or treatments
Low fruit yeild, small fruit with poor taste Uneven Moisture Water properly during dry periods
Poor soil fertility Add compost, manures
improper temperature Plant at the correct time of year
Plants grow slowly and have light green leaves not enough light Thin the plants, don’t plant in the shade
weather too cool protect with floating row covers, cloaches
improper pH Test the pH; if alkaline, add soil sulfur, aluminum sulfate, peat moss
excess water Don’t over water; improve drainage with amendments or plant in raised beds
Seedlings do not emerge not enough soil moisture Supply enough water; multiple applications may be needed in hot or windy conditions
soil crusting apply light layer of fine mulch; keep moist as above.
damping-off don’t over water; avoid spraying water on plants; plant treated seed
improper planting depth follow packet instruction; use gentle watering techniques
slow germination due to weather Cover beds in spring and fall to warm the soil (see note)
root maggots Use floating row covers to exclude insects; registered soil insecticide as last resort.
old seed Use seed marked for current year and season
Seedling wilt and fall over soil too dry Water properly
damping-off (a fungus) Don’t over-water or water from above; use sterile soil-less mix; use fungicide
cutworms Destroy crop residues; keep weed free, hand-pick a night with flashlight
root maggots Use floating row covers for exclusion; soil insecticide
old seed Use seed for current season
chewed seedlings, plants, fruit birds, rodents, rabbits Fence garden or beds, floating row covers, wire mesh, netting
(or accept it and plant an additional row to share)
leaves covered with tiny white spots spider mites Use insecticidal soaps; registered miticides are available
air pollution Rinse off leaves
wilted plants rot rot (fungal disease) Don’t over water; remove affected plant materials; rotate your crops
Vascular wilt – found primarily in tomato, potato, eggplant and peppers Plant resistant varieties; solarize the soil; rotate to other crops.
root knot nematodes Plant resistant varieties; solarize the soil; rotate to other crops
other root-feeding nematodes Solarize soil; have the soil analyzed for nematodes if problem persists.
water-logged soil Improve drainage; use raised beds; correct watering practices.
yellow leaves, but not wilted lack of one or more nutrients Test soil; treat for deficiencies. This may include adjusting the pH
Not enough light Thin crowded plants
Move to sunnier location
brown, shriveled leaf edges soil is too dry Correct watering practices
salt water damage Spa water can contain enogh salts to burn foliage. leak any areas where spas drain,
Chemical fertilizer burn Same as above – bagged fertilizers are concentrated salts. Wash these deeply into the soil to avoid concentrations.
Potassium deficiency Test soil first. Add compost, manure or other potassium bearing fertilizer
Cold burn Floating row covers trap the soils heat and cn protect from frost
White powdery growth on top of leaves Powdery Mildew, a fungus Some varieties are listed as resistant. Treat infected plants with Safer’s sulfur and a surfactant.
Leaves have spotted or mosaic-like discolored patterns, puckered leaves, runty plants Various virus diseases Remove infected plant materials – do not compost them Remove and compost nin-infect plant materials, control weeds, insects (See IPM listing in resources page)
Curled, pucked, distorted leaves Herbicide injury Herbicides drift on the slightest breeze. Be careful of neighbors dispensing herbicides upwind of you.
Virus diseases Remove infect plant materials – do not compost it. Remove and compost non-infected plant materials, control weeds, insects (See IPM listing in resources page)
aphids Soap-based sprays, dormant oil sprays – but only in heavily infested areas. Leave some areas untreated to act as a host crop for predatory insects. Control ants (they farm the aphids for their honeydew)

For more information on plant diseases and their symptoms, refer to the University of California’s IPM diseases web page.

read the next article: Raised Bed Gardening

 

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Recommended Vegetable Varieties

Here is a list for you of crops that grow in Camarillo. The page shows common vegetable crops, along with the Master Gardener’s Handbook’s recommended vegetable varieties for Southern California planting. The column that is labeled ‘MGHB’ contains the Master Gardener’s Handbook recommendation. Varieties I have tested are marked ‘Our Tested Varieties’, and the ‘Notes’ column shows my results. Seed sources for all these veggies that I use and recommend are  Renees GardenSeeds of Change, and  Seeds From Italy

Name MGHB
Recommendation
Our tested
varieties
Notes
Artichoke Emerald, Green Globe, Imperil Star Green Globe They do great in Camarillo; gophers love ‘em. Cut them back to just below ground , withhold water for a few weeks. Summer dormancy results in a fall crop.
Asparagus 500W, Mary Washington, UC72, UC157 Mary Washington Takes time to establish; grows for years
Beans, Lima Fordhook, Baby Fordhook Bush, King of the Garden Pleasnat Valley was the ‘Lima Bean Capitol of the World’ in the 50′s
Beans, Snap (bush) Contender, Harvester, Tendecrop Improved Roma Real confidence builder; lots of beans, fast, easy to produce.
Bush beans take more room, less work than poles beans. Yeids are the same
Beans, Snap (pole) Kentucky Wonder, Romano Kentucky Wonder, Improved Romano,’French Duet’ Ken. Wonder – the absolute classic
Beets Ruby Queen,Detroit Red, Baby Ball Baby Ball, Jewel Tone Blend, Detroit Red, Pronto Mary said the Baby Red Balls are the best. now it may be the Detroit Red’s. Roast them, too!
Broccoli Green  Green Comet, Premium Crop, Green Goliath Renee’s 3-season mix has worked quite well It’s all good, but climate limits production. Three varieities spread out the harvest.
Brussels Sprouts Cross, Long Island Improved, Prince Marvel Renee’s 3-Season, others Use Bt to conUse Bt to control cabbage worms. Aphids can be a problem, control with jets of water to displace aphids. Control ants.
Cabbage Stonehead, Early Jersey Wakefield, Danish Roundhead, Ruby Ball hybrid Bt for cabbage worms
Cabbage, Chinese Chinese-Michili, Jade Pagoda, Napa, Pak-Choy Pak (or Bok Pak (or Bok)Choi Fast germination and growth. Use in every salad, soup. Bolts very easily and quickly. Plant some every couple of weeks.
Cantelopes Samson, Ambrosia, Saticoy Hybrid Galia, Earlidew, Solid Gold Cantelope, Charentais ‘Three Flavor Mix’ contains first 3.
Charentais has outstanding flavor.,
Carrots Short ‘n’ Sweet, Little Finger, Amstel, Mincor
Cauliflower Snow King, Snowball ‘Y’ ???, Broccoli Raab, ‘Long Season Mix’ Use Bt to control cabbage worms
Celery
Chard Arsentata, Forkhook Giant, Rainbow, Bright Lights Bright Lights, Silver Rib, Scarlett Sharlet, Pot o’Gold, Neon Glow Colorful and tasty, easy to grow, adds snap to salads. Red varieties are more willing to bolt. Allow plenty of room between plants.
Chayote (no named varieties)
Chives (No named varieties) Chives, garlic chives Very easy to grow, and very handy in the kitchen. garlic chive flowers are edible and a good topping on salads, guacamole
Corn, sweet (std sugary) Golden Cross bantam, Jubilee, Silver Queen
(sugary enhanced) How Sweet It Is, Breeder’s Choice, Kandy Korn, Concord
(super sweet) Early Xtra Sweet, Illini Gold, Super Sweet Jubilee
Silver queen, Kandy Korn, Illini Gold Standard Sweets are older, lose sweetness quickly
Sugary Enhanced are sweeter
Super sweets do not lose sweetness after harvest, but are less creamy than others.
Cucumbers Liberty Hybrid, Saladin, County Fair, Sweet Success, Sweet Slice, Burpee Hybrid, Slice Nice Hybrid Garden Oasis, Chelsey Pride Chelsey Pride – got way too hot too soon.
Garden Oasis has done well in Camarillo
Eggplant Black Beauty, Epic, Early Bird, Dusky, Rosa Bianca
(Oriental) Ichiban, Tycoon
Ichiban (Mary’s favorite), Little Finger
Endive Full Heart Batavian, Large Green Curled Red/Green Batavian Mix
Fennel Florence Unk. 40 year old strain, now naturalized
Garlic California Late, California Early Inchelium Red, Chilean Silver, Kettle, Transilvanian Grows easily. Many varieties need cold soak to develop cloves. 3 to 4 weeks in the vegtable crisper before planting worked wonders.
Kale Vates Dwarf Blue Curled, Salad Savory, Winterbor Lacinato Can’t keep the rabbits away! We love it, too.
Kohlrabi Grand Duke, Early White Vienna, Purple Vienna
Leeks Large American Flag, Electra, Titan
Lettuce (butterhead) Butter Crunch
(Romaine) Parris Island, Valmaine
(loose leaf) salad Bowl, Oak Leaf, Ruby Red
Romaine, various mixes, Butter Crunch. Iceberg lettuce is difficult to grow at home.
Romaines have proved easy. Succession Plant for longer seaon.
Butter Crunch is wonderful.
Melons Charentais, ‘EarliDew’ Honey Dew, Gallery Galia, Ananas*, Zatta*, Swan Lake*,# Halogen# Ambrosia, Samsom, Saticoy Hybrid Swan Lake produces early fruit, likes reflected heat. Charentais produce well even on the coastal plain. All would do well inland.
Mustard Tendergreen, Southern Giant Curled, Florida Broadleaf Harvest outer leaves; allow inner leaves to mature. Small leaves are eaten raw in salads, larger leaves need cooking. Very old leaves get stringy.
Okra Clemson Spineless, Blondy Wait til soil is warm before starting seeds. Soak in water for 24 hours before planting. Stops bearing if you stop picking pods.
Onions (bulb) (early bulb) Grano, Granes, Calif. Early Red
(late bulb) Feista, Sweet Spanish, Southport, Stockton Yellow
Calif. Early Red, Sweet Spanish, Stockton Yellow Onions are one of the few crops that pests ignore. Harvest when the tops fall over.
Onions (green) Evergreen White, Southport White, White Lisbon “Long Day” varieties require 15-16 hours sun per day
“Short Day” types need ~12 hrs.
Parsely Extra Curled Dwarf, Hamburg, Moss Curled
Parsnips All American, Hollow Crown, Harris Model
Peas (snow) Dwarf Gray, Mammoth Melting Sugar
(green garden) Freezonian, Green Arrow, Maestro
(snap) Sugar Ann, Sugar Snap, Super Snap
Super Sugar Snap, Chinese Pod Peas are very ease and quick to grow.
Besides giving us the peas, the plants fix nitrogen in the soil icon smile Recommended Vegetable Varieties Peas need support
Peppers (hot) Tam Mild Jalapeno, Jalapeno Delicias, Anaheim, Cayenne, Hungaian Yellow Wax, Serrano
(bell) Bell Boy, Calif. Wonder, Yolo Wonder, Golden Bell
(sweet/Cubanelle) Sweet Banana, Gypsy, Cubanene, Nardello
Cayenne, Serrano, Habanero (hot and mild),  Cubanene, Bell If it is a pepper, I’ll grow it. Hot weather and our sandy soils make some fire-breathing treats!
Cubanelles are sweet and very mild
Potatoes,sweet Jersey, Garnet, Jewel
otatoes. white White Rose, Kennebee, Yukon Gold Yukon Gold, various colored potatoes (red, white & blue!) Had great  luck growing potatoes – until I bought a batch of seed potatoes that were blighted. Very interesting to grow.
Pumpkins Spirit, Autumn Gold, Jack O’Lantern, Big Max, Cinderella Wyatt’s Wonder You would be surprised how much pumpkin squirrels can eat…
Radish Cherry Bell, Easter Egg Hybrid, Icicle, snowbelle Cherry Bell, Easter Egg Hybrid, Icicle, snowbelle Extremely quick from seed to table. Great for kids’ garden (short attention span) and the table.
Rubarb Cherry (red salks), Victoria Unk variety from Granny’s garden 50 years ago. Do not eat immature as oxalates present then are harmful to soft tissues.
Spinach Melody Hybrid, Americana New Zealand / Malabar New Zealand spinach has been growing wild here for close to 60 years. Tougher than ‘true’ spinach, but spicy and very tasty.
Squash, summer Peter Pan Hybrid, Scallopini, early Prolific Straightneck, Early Golden Straightneck, Sund  Yellow crook / straight neck Scallopini, early Prolific Straightneck, Early Golden Straightneck
Squash,winter Acorn) Table King, Table Ace, Jersey Golden, Sweett Mama
(butternut) Waltham, Early Butternut, Burpee Butterbush
Tomatoes Ace Hybrid, Better Boy, Big Beef, Carmello, Celebrity, Early Girl, Marvel Stripe, Super Steak Camello, Burbank Slicing, Marvel Stripe, Green Zebra, Roma, Black Krim, Yellow Perfection, Better Boy, Persimon Heirloom varieties taste great, are unusual and eye-catching, but generally lack disease resistance. Rotate your crops to lessen chance of disease!
Watermellon Garden Baby, Calsweet, Crimson Sweet, Sugar Baby Rainbow Sherbet*, Sugar Baby*, Moon And Stars#, Malali# Assumed to need lots of heat, but we grow fine melons, even in Camarillo, given some reflected heat. Rainbow Sherbet, Sugar Baby do surprisingly well near the coast.
stop here

Name

MGHB
Recommendation

Our tested
varieties

Notes

Artichoke

Emerald, Green Globe, Imperil Star

Green Globe

They do great in Camarillo; gophers love ‘em. Cut them back to just below ground , withhold water for a few weeks. Summer dormancy results in a fall crop.

Asparagus

500W, Mary Washington, UC72, UC157

Mary Washington

Takes time to establish; grows for years

Beans, Lima

Fordhook, Baby Fordhook Bush, King of the Garden

Pleasnat Valley was the ‘Lima Bean Capitol of the World’ in the 50′s

Beans, Snap (bush)

Contender, Harvester, Tendecrop

Improved Roma

Real confidence builder; lots of beans, fast, easy to produce.
Bush beans take more room, less work than poles beans. Yeids are the same

Beans, Snap (pole)

Kentucky Wonder, Romano

Kentucky Wonder, Improved Romano,’French Duet’

Ken. Wonder – the absolute classic

Beets

Ruby Queen,Detroit Red, Baby Ball

Baby Ball, Jewel Tone Blend, Detroit Red, Pronto

Mary said the Baby Red Balls are the best. now it may be the Detroit Red’s. Roast them, too!

Broccoli

Green  Green Comet, Premium Crop, Green Goliath

Renee’s 3-season mix has worked quite well

It’s all good, but climate limits production. Three varieities spread out the harvest.

Brussels Sprouts

Cross, Long Island Improved, Prince Marvel

Renee’s 3-Season, others

Use Bt to conUse Bt to control cabbage worms. Aphids can be a problem, control with jets of water to displace aphids. Control ants.

Cabbage

Stonehead, Early Jersey Wakefield, Danish Roundhead, Ruby Ball hybrid

Bt for cabbage worms

Cabbage, Chinese

Chinese-Michili, Jade Pagoda, Napa, Pak-Choy

Pak (or Bok Pak (or Bok)Choi

Fast germination and growth. Use in every salad, soup. Bolts very easily and quickly. Plant some every couple of weeks.

Cantelopes

Samson, Ambrosia, Saticoy Hybrid

Galia, Earlidew, Solid Gold Cantelope, Charentais

‘Three Flavor Mix’ contains first 3.
Charentais has outstanding flavor.,

Carrots

Short ‘n’ Sweet, Little Finger, Amstel, Mincor

Cauliflower

Snow King, Snowball ‘Y’

???, Broccoli Raab, ‘Long Season Mix’

Use Bt to control cabbage worms

Celery

Chard

Arsentata, Forkhook Giant, Rainbow, Bright Lights

Bright Lights, Silver Rib, Scarlett Sharlet, Pot o’Gold, Neon Glow

Colorful and tasty, easy to grow, adds snap to salads. Red varieties are more willing to bolt. Allow plenty of room between plants.

Chayote

(no named varieties)

Chives

(No named varieties)

Chives, garlic chives

Very easy to grow, and very handy in the kitchen. garlic chive flowers are edible and a good topping on salads, guacamole

Corn, sweet

(std sugary) Golden Cross bantam, Jubilee, Silver Queen
(sugary enhanced) How Sweet It Is, Breeder’s Choice, Kandy Korn, Concord
(super sweet) Early Xtra Sweet, Illini Gold, Super Sweet Jubilee

Silver queen, Kandy Korn, Illini Gold

Standard Sweets are older, lose sweetness quickly
Sugary Enhanced are sweeter
Super sweets do not lose sweetness after harvest, but are less creamy than others.

Cucumbers

Liberty Hybrid, Saladin, County Fair, Sweet Success, Sweet Slice, Burpee Hybrid, Slice Nice Hybrid

Garden Oasis, Chelsey Pride

Chelsey Pride – got way too hot too soon.
Garden Oasis has done well in Camarillo

Eggplant

Black Beauty, Epic, Early Bird, Dusky, Rosa Bianca
(Oriental) Ichiban, Tycoon

Ichiban (Mary’s favorite), Little Finger

Endive

Full Heart Batavian, Large Green Curled

Red/Green Batavian Mix

Fennel

Florence

Unk. 40 year old strain, now naturalized

Garlic

California Late, California Early

Inchelium Red, Chilean Silver, Kettle, Transilvanian

Grows easily. Many varieties need cold soak to develop cloves. 3 to 4 weeks in the vegtable crisper before planting worked wonders.

Kale

Vates Dwarf Blue Curled, Salad Savory, Winterbor

Lacinato

Can’t keep the rabbits away! We love it, too.

Kohlrabi

Grand Duke, Early White Vienna, Purple Vienna

Leeks

Large American Flag, Electra, Titan

Lettuce

(butterhead) Butter Crunch
(Romaine) Parris Island, Valmaine
(loose leaf) salad Bowl, Oak Leaf, Ruby Red

Romaine, various mixes, Butter Crunch.

Iceberg lettuce is difficult to grow at home.
Romaines have proved easy. Succession Plant for longer seaon.
Butter Crunch is wonderful.

Melons

Charentais, ‘EarliDew’ Honey Dew, Gallery Galia, Ananas*, Zatta*, Swan Lake*,# Halogen#

Ambrosia, Samsom, Saticoy Hybrid

Swan Lake produces early fruit, likes reflected heat. Charentais produce well even on the coastal plain. All would do well inland.

Mustard

Tendergreen, Southern Giant Curled, Florida Broadleaf

Harvest outer leaves; allow inner leaves to mature. Small leaves are eaten raw in salads, larger leaves need cooking. Very old leaves get stringy.

Okra

Clemson Spineless, Blondy

Wait til soil is warm before starting seeds. Soak in water for 24 hours before planting. Stops bearing if you stop picking pods.

Onions (bulb)

(early bulb) Grano, Granes, Calif. Early Red
(late bulb) Feista, Sweet Spanish, Southport, Stockton Yellow

Calif. Early Red, Sweet Spanish, Stockton Yellow

Onions are one of the few crops that pests ignore. Harvest when the tops fall over.

Onions (green)

Evergreen White, Southport White, White Lisbon

“Long Day” varieties require 15-16 hours sun per day
“Short Day” types need ~12 hrs.

Parsely

Extra Curled Dwarf, Hamburg, Moss Curled

Parsnips

All American, Hollow Crown, Harris Model

Peas

(snow) Dwarf Gray, Mammoth Melting Sugar
(green garden) Freezonian, Green Arrow, Maestro
(snap) Sugar Ann, Sugar Snap, Super Snap

Super Sugar Snap, Chinese Pod

Peas are very ease and quick to grow.
Besides giving us the peas, the plants fix nitrogen in the soil icon smile Recommended Vegetable Varieties Peas need support

Peppers

(hot) Tam Mild Jalapeno, Jalapeno Delicias, Anaheim, Cayenne, Hungaian Yellow Wax, Serrano
(bell) Bell Boy, Calif. Wonder, Yolo Wonder, Golden Bell
(sweet/Cubanelle) Sweet Banana, Gypsy, Cubanene, Nardello

Cayenne, Serrano, Habanero (hot and mild),  Cubanene, Bell

If it is a pepper, I’ll grow it. Hot weather and our sandy soils make some fire-breathing treats!
Cubanelles are sweet and very mild

Potatoes,sweet

Jersey, Garnet, Jewel

otatoes. white

White Rose, Kennebee, Yukon Gold

Yukon Gold, various colored potatoes (red, white & blue!)

Had great  luck growing potatoes – until I bought a batch of seed potatoes that were blighted. Very interesting to grow.

Pumpkins

Spirit, Autumn Gold, Jack O’Lantern, Big Max, Cinderella

Wyatt’s Wonder

You would be surprised how much pumpkin squirrels can eat…

Radish

Cherry Bell, Easter Egg Hybrid, Icicle, snowbelle

Cherry Bell, Easter Egg Hybrid, Icicle, snowbelle

Extremely quick from seed to table. Great for kids’ garden (short attention span) and the table.

Rubarb

Cherry (red salks), Victoria

Unk variety from Granny’s garden 50 years ago.

Do not eat immature as oxalates present then are harmful to soft tissues.

Spinach

Melody Hybrid, Americana

New Zealand / Malabar

New Zealnad spinach has been growing wild here for close to 60 years. Tougher than ‘true’ spinach, but spicy and very tasty.

Squash, summer

Peter Pan Hybrid, Scallopini, early Prolific Straightneck, Early Golden Straightneck, Sund  Yellow crook / straight neck

Scallopini, early Prolific Straightneck, Early Golden Straightneck

Squash,winter

Acorn) Table King, Table Ace, Jersey Golden, Sweett Mama
(butternut) Waltham, Early Butternut, Burpee Butterbush

Tomatoes

Ace Hybrid, Better Boy, Big Beef, Carmello, Celebrity, Early Girl, Marvel Stripe, Super Steak

Camello, Burbank Slicing, Marvel Stripe, Green Zebra, Roma, Black Krim, Yellow Perfection, Better Boy, Persimon

Heirloom varieties taste great, are unusual and eye-catching, but generally lack disease resistance. Rotate your crops to lessen chance of disease!

Watermellon

Garden Baby, Calsweet, Crimsom Sweet, Sugar Baby

Rainbow Sherbet*, Sugar Baby*, Moon And Stars#, Malali#

Assumed to need lots of heat, but we grow fine melons, even in Camarillo, given some reflected heat. Rainbow Sherbet, Sugar Baby do surprisingly well near the coast.

Now that you have selected your varieties to plant, let’s get out the seeds…

 

 

 

Here is a link to Renee’s Kitchen Garden Designs. These downloadable plans are designed for the average family garden and to maximize space for a succession of tasty vegetables and herbs throughout the spring, summer and fall. Each shows you what to plant, when to plant, and what crop follows another as the seasons change. Be sure to check out the other resources provided in the sidebar.

Red the next article: When to plant vegetables

 

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When to Plant Veggies

 

When to Plant Veggies

The following list shows planting times for common vegetable crops. The two sets of planting dates are for coastal regions (Camarillo, Oxnard) and the interior (Thousand Oaks, Ojai). Where there are two possible crops per year, planting dates are separated with’;’. No matter what zone you live in, see the video demo on my Garden Planning software review page.

Name Plant date
Coastal
Plant date
Interior
Warm/Cool
Season
Amount
to plant
Inches
Between
Artichoke May-July July Cool 3-4 plants 48″
Asparagus Jan-Feb Jan-Feb Cool 30-40 plants 12″
Beans, Lima May-Jun May-Jun Warm 15′-30′ row 6″
Beans, Snap March-August, Ap-may;
Jul-Aug
Warm 15′-25′ row 3″ (bush)
24″ (pole)
Beets Jan-Sep Feb-Apr;Aug Cool 10′-15′ row 18″
Broccoli Jun-Jul
Jan-Feb
Dec-Feb
Jul
Cool 6′-10′ row 12″-18″
Brussels Sprouts Jun-Jul —– Cool 15′-20′ row 24″
Cabbage Aug-Feb Jul;Feb Cool 10-15 plant 24″
Cabbage, Chinese Aug-Octb Aug Cool 10′-15′ row 6″
Cantelopes,
other melons
Apr-May Apr-Jun Warm 5-10 hills 12″
Carrots Jan-Sep Aug-Sep;
Feb-Apr
Cool 10′-25′ row 2″
Cauliflower Jul-Oct
Jan-Feb
Jul-Aug Cool 10-15 plants 24″
Celery Apr-Aug Jun-Aug Cool 20′-30′ row 5″
Chard Feb-May Feb-Aug Cool 3-4 plants 12″
Chayote Apr-May Apr-Jun Warm 1-2 plants 72″
Chives Feb-Apr Cool 1 clump
Corn, sweet Mar-Jul Feb-Mar Warm 4 rows x 20′-30′ 12″
Cucumbers Apr-Jun Apr-Jul Warm 6 plants 24″
Eggplant Apr-May Apr-May Warm 4-6 plants 18″
Endive Dec-Aug Jan-Apr
Aug
Cool 10′-15′ row 10″
Fennel Feb-Jul Aug Cool 10′-15′ row 4″
Garlic Oct-Dec Oct-Dec Cool 10′-20′ row 3″
Kale, Aug-Oct Aug-Sep Cool 10′ row 18″-4″
Kohlrabi Jan;
Aug-Sep
Aug Cool 10′-15′ row 3″
Leeks Jan-Apr Jan-Apr Cool 10′ row 2″
Lettuce Aug-Apr Aug;
Nov-Mar
Cool 10-15′ row,
or 5′/month
12″
Mustard Aug-Feb Aug; Apr Cool 10′ row 8″
Okra Apr-May May Warm 10′-20′ row 18″
Onions (bulb) Feb-Mar Nov=Mar Cool 30′-40′ row 3″
Onions (green) All Year Aug-dec Cool
Parsely Mar-Jul Dec-May Cool 1-2 plants 8″
Parsnips Mar-Jul Dec-May Cool 10′-15′ row 3″
Peas Aug;
Dec-Mar
Sep-Jan;
Jan-Feb
Cool 30′-40′ row 2″
Peppers Apr-May May Warm 5-10 plants 24″
Potatoes,sweet Apr-May Apr-Jun Warm 50′-100′ row 12″
Potatoes. white Feb-May;
Jun-Aug
Feb-May;
Jun-Aug
Warm 50′-100′ row 12″
Pumpkins May-Jun May-Jun Warm 1-3 Plants 48″
Radish All Year Sep-Apr Cool 4′ row 1″
Rhubarb Dec-Jan dec-Jan Cool 2-3 plants 36″
Rutabaga Jul-Sep;
Aug-Mar
Jul-Sep;Aug-Mar Cool 10′-15′ row 3″
Spinach Aug-Mar Sep-Jan Cool 10′-20′ row 3″
Squash, summer Apr-Jun Apr-Jul Warm 2-4 plants 24″
Squash,winter Apr-Jun Apr-Jun Warm 2-4 plants 24″
Tomatoes Apr-July15 Apr-May Warm 6-12 plants 18″-36″
Turnips Jan Feb;Aug Cool 10′-15′ row 2″
Watermelon Apr-Jun Apr-Jun Warm 6 plants 60″

 

Software Review

I’m taking advantage of the free trial of the Crop Planning software at GrowVeg.com. It’s an easy-to-use way to plan your garden. You simply set your frost dates, and the program calculates seed sowning and planting dates for you. I’ve put a video review of the program here.

It has a simple drawing program to draw your garden. Next, drag and drop crops to your rows, and pull them to length. Reports show you how many plants you need, distance between, and detailed crop infomation is a click away. You can  print your garden plan, plant list and calendar of gardening tasks.

You are able to create a new planting plan for the next year or next season. Create a new plan from an old one, and the program will warn you if you are not doing proper crop rotation! Very cool. An added surprise comes when a garden task is due – you can choose to get an e-mail reminder of monthly tasks!  You can try it for free. It’s fun and easy to use.

Click the banner below to try the garden planning software – for free

GrowVegAffiliateBanner468x60 When to Plant Veggies

Read the next article: Plant Disease Symptoms and their Causes.

 

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