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Summer Seeding for a Fall Harvest

August is one of my favorite months in the summer. Tomatoes and peppers are ripening. Days are warm and daylight lasts till 8pm.  August is the perfect month to start seeds. This gives you a chance to start seeds you want to enjoy well into fall.  I had some spinach and radish go to seed before I was able to enjoy their bounty due to high heat this July.

If you’re lucky and in a warmer climate you could plant some zucchini and be enjoying zucchini bread by Halloween! Some great short season zucchini varieties to try are early summer yellow crookneck and cocozelle summer squash both only take 42 days to maturity!

With the soil warm it is a perfect time to direct sow your Brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. These vegetables are in the brassica family. Which seem to taste better with a little frost on them.

You still have time to get a full crop of lettuce, mustard, spinach, and chard growing in the garden. These are all great crops that you can succession plant all through the summer.  Even with a shorter growing season you can eat these as micro greens since these crops don’t have a ripening period, like an apple or an orange.

Don’t forget your roots crops! Like the brassica family root crops don’t mind a little cold snap towards the end of the season, in fact they taste sweeter with a light frost. So find those leftover seed packets half full with beets, radish, carrots, turnips and parsnips!

It’s too early to plant your garlic and shallots but it’s not too early to get your fall garlic and shallot order in! If you’re looking for a great flavored garlic try Inchelim Red or the Spanish Roja! But hurry these varieties go fast!

More varieties below for fall harvest.

Peas

Greens

Pak Choi

Rutabaga

Kohlrabi

Leeks

Parsley

Cilantro

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Harvesting Garlic

Garlic may be one of the most anticipated crops to harvest each year. You planted them all the way back in October, it’s now July and you are ready for some fresh garlic! Garlic harvest can be a little tricky. Depending on your weather, when you planted them, and what varieties you planted, the harvest can be anywhere between late spring and late summer. That’s a big gap! So the big question is how do I know when my garlic is ready to harvest?

 

Since the bulb is in the ground, you are going to look at the leaves. Watch your plants and not the calendar.  The leaves will start to brown from the bottom up. Once about half of the plants’ leaves have browned this is a good sign you may be close to harvest time. Scrape soil away from the bulb by hand to check the bulbs maturity. If the bulb looks too small or the skin is still loose, cover the bulb back up and pat down the soil. Once you have a nice-sized bulb and the skin is tight, you can stop watering for about a week.

It’s important not to wait until all the leaves have died back before you harvest. Without the wrappers protecting the bulb, the cloves will start to separate. This will create some difficulty harvesting your bulbs and they will not store as well.

     

When harvesting, carefully loosen the soil around the bulb with a garden spade or fork. Grab the garlic bulb from the base and pull up.  Brush off the soil but don’t wash the roots since you will need to dry and cure them for long term storage. If you plan to eat some right away you can trim roots and leaves at harvest time.

 

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Succession Planting

Have you ever planted all of your lettuce all in one batch and now its harvest time and you have so much lettuce you don’t know what to do with it? I know this has happened to many gardeners. The trick is to succession plant.  Succession planting is to follow one crop with another. This is a really great tool to learn so you can maximize your gardens yield and enjoy crops for longer. I have come up with a simple chart that will help you know what intervals you should be planting your crops.

Succession Planting Guide

Arugula- 14 Day intervals

Bok Choi-  10 Day intervals

Beets- 14 Day intervals

Bush Beans- 10 Day intervals

Broccoli- 14 Day intervals

Carrots- 21 Day intervals

Cucumbers- 21 Day intervals

Endive- 14 Day intervals

Head Lettuce- 10 Day intervals

Kohlrabi- 10 Day intervals

Leaf Lettuce- 7 Day intervals

Melons- 21 Days

Mustard Greens- 10 Day intervals

Peas- 10 Day intervals

Radishes- 7 Day intervals

Spinach- 7 Day intervals

Summer Squash- 30 Day intervals

Sweet Corn- 7 Day intervals

Swiss Chard- 21 Day intervals

Turnips- 14 Day intervals

 

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Swiss Chard Grow Guide

Swiss Chard Growing Guide

Also know as silverbeet, Swiss chard is a member of the beet family for its edible greens, which can be used in salads or even fried. Its tender leaves taste like spinach, and can be harvested continuously throughout the season.

When to Sow: Early Spring, Fall in mild Winter areas.

Sun/ Part Shade: Sun/ Part shade in summer

Seed Spacing: 1 inch

Row Spacing: 18 inches

Planting Depth: 1/2 inch

Days to Germinate: 7-10 days

Days to Maturity: 85 days

Soil and Fertilizing

Plant after the last spring frost. The soil must be well-drained, and enriched with vegetable food. Feed every four weeks for best results.

Watering

Consistent moisture is important to Swiss chard, especially as the plants grow larger. Water every days.

Harvesting

Break or cut the outer leaves off at the base when they’re 6-8 inches wide. Pick and discard old or tough leaves and flower stalks. Avoid damaging the growing point in the center of the plant. If you plan to harvest whole plants, make succession planting through late summer, so you won’t run out.

Special Notes

  • Swiss chard is a mid-summer green that grows well in heat, but will also last through fall’s first frost.
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How to Grow Spinach

Spinach Growing Guide

 Spinach is one of the healthiest green vegetables you can grow. It’s packed with iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, various B-complex vitamins, and a variety of other nutrients, all in a leaf that tastes delicious in sandwiches, salads, and as a cooked side. Spinach loves cool weather, making it a garden favorite for early spring and late fall.

When to Sow: Early spring, or fall before ground freezes

Sun/Part Shade: Part shade

Seed Spacing: 1 inch

Row Spacing: 12-18 inches

Planting Depth: 1/4 inch

Days to Germinate: 7-21 days

Days to Maturity: 43-60 days

Soil

It’s best to have your soil tested before planting, so you know what nutrients and pH adjustments may be needed to support your crop. For a thorough soil test, consult your local county extension office.

Spinach favors loamy, fertile soil with a loose texture and a high percentage of organic matter (compost works well), with a pH of 5.5-6.8.

Planting

Air temperatures of 50-70° F, with soil temperatures between 35 and 45° F, make the best conditions for spinach. If the temperature rises above 80˚ or the days get longer than 14 hours, spinach will bolt (flower) and become bitter.

Sow spinach seeds directly in the garden, as spinach doesn’t take to transplanting. You can still get an early start in spring, however, by planting up to eight weeks before the last frost. Late September to mid-October are the best times for fall sowing, possibly even a bit later in the deep South.

A place where the plants are shaded during the hottest part of the day is ideal. If you grow spinach in containers, be sure to move them into the shade as necessary.

When you thin your spinach seedlings, keep the culled plants. The tender leaves are tasty in salads.

Watering

Give your plants about one inch of water once a week if you don’t get enough rain. Be sure not to overwater, or you may run into problems with disease. A layer of mulch around the plants will help them conserve water.

 Harvesting & Storing

Mature spinach presents a rosette of 5-6 leaves. Unlike plants like collards or turnips, however, the leaves will not grow back when you pick them, so harvest the entire plant at once.

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For soil testing or other questions specific to your growing climate, please contact your local county extension office. Visit https://nifa.usda.gov/partners-and-extension-map to find the office nearest you.

 

 

 

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Hardening off you Seedlings

How to Harden off Seedlings

You’ve started your seeds indoors and you’ve awaited their germination and now they are growing into strong independent seedlings! The weather is starting to warm up and your thinking your little babies maybe ready to flee the nest! Now lets not get to hasty, were not just going to dump our seedlings to the garden and tell them to fend for themselves!

We need to harden them off first.

Hardening your plants off sounds a little harsh but this is just the process of getting your little indoor seedlings ready to make the transition to the great outdoors.

All seedlings need to spend a week or so outside before being transplanted into the garden. Even if you didn’t plant your transplants from seed and you bought them from a garden center or nursery I would still use this hardening process. About 7-10 days before planting your seedlings into the garden begin adapting them to outside conditions.

I start slow and gradually build each day. Start by placing your seedlings outside in the afternoon for a few hours in partial shade and are protected from the wind. This should happen for two to three days. As the seedlings get more acclimated to the new climate you can keep adding hours and more direct sunlight to them. By the last two days your seedlings should be spending all day and night outdoors. Remember to look at the weather during this time.

Once your seedlings are hardened off they are ready to be transplanted into the garden!

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What you need to know about Strawberries

Strawberries (Everbearing) Growing Guide

Strawberries are a sweet treat in the garden, and it’s no surprise that they’re the most widely grown fruit in the world. Strawberries thrive from tropical to subarctic climates, are easy to grow, and tolerate a wide range of soil types.

Everbearing varieties, like our Albion, Ozark, and Seascape, typically bear fruit in summer and fall.

  •  When to Sow: As soon as soil can be worked
  • Sun/Part Shade: Full Sun
  • Root Spacing: 18 inches
  • Row Spacing: 2 feet
  • Planting Depth: 7-37 Days
  • Days to Maturity: 90-120 Days

Soil and Fertilizing

Strawberries like deep, well-drained sandy loams. They don’t tolerate extremes in pH well, with the ideal pH being slightly acidic at 5.8-6.2. Have your soil tested before planting, using a home tester or asking your local county extension to do it for you.

About 6 weeks after planting, apply two pounds of 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet. Sprinkle the fertilizer evenly over the growing area, avoiding direct contact with the foliage. Add two pounds again after renovating in July.

Planting and Growing

Everbearing strawberries can be grown in-ground, and also in containers and raised beds.

First Year

*Before transplanting, soak the roots for two hours to rehydrate them.

*Dig a hole deep enough so the roots extend vertically and are not bent.

*Cover the plants with soil just below the crown (where the plant top meets the roots). The crown should be at soil surface, not buried.

*Avoid planting strawberries in an area where they were recently grown, or where crops in the tomato family (including eggplants, potatoes, and peppers) have grown, as they may carry a root fungus.

Next Few Years

*If you carefully cover your strawberry plants with straw or mulch, they will overwinter and come back the next year in most climates.

*You can also start fresh with new, disease-free planting stock.

*If growing in containers, replace the growth medium with fresh sterile medium, and replant with new plants.

Thinning

Remove all blossoms 6-8 weeks after planting to improve yields. Clip off runners to keep the plants from getting too crowded.

Watering

Strawberries are shallow rooted. Water often, but keep the plants well-drained.

Harvesting

*To pick strawberries, cradle the fruit in your hand, pinch the stem between thumb and forefinger, and pull. Pick the caps along with the fruit.

 

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How to Grow Peas!

Mouthwatering, tender, sweet fresh peas are a culinary delight and one of the very best reasons for having a garden. Fresh peas have an unparalleled sweetness and are among those vegetables that can never be equaled by supermarket produce.

Growing peas are perfect for the beginner gardener, plant them in minutes and come back weeks later to harvest them.

WHICH PEA TYPE IS FOR YOU?

Shell Pea or English Pea: The tradition pea has a tough usually inedible outer pod with delicate, sweet, tender peas inside.

Snow Pea or Chinese Pea: When you think of stir-fry these sweet-tasting, flat, tender pods come to mind. They are best when harvested will the peas inside them are quite small and undeveloped.

Snap Pea: These sweet, crunchy peas have both a delicate edible pod and full-size peas inside with the sweetness of the best garden pea. They are wonder eaten raw, lightly steamed, or stir-fried.

  • When to Sow: Plant 4-6 weeks before last spring frost.
  • Sun/Part Shade: Full sun, but will tolerate part shade.
  • Seed Spacing: 1 inch
  • Row Spacing: 14 inches
  • Planting Depth: 1 inch
  • Days to Germinate: 6-15 days
  • Days to Maturity: 55-60 days

Soil and Fertilizing

Peas thrive in deep, rich, well- drained soil in a sunny location. The plants do best in soil with a pH ranging from 6.0-7.0. We recommend testing your soil in the fall and adjusting the pH range, if needed. Fall is also a good time for deep spading or double digging (to a depth of 8-12 inches) and for incorporation organic matter into your soil.

Peas don’t require much fertilizer, especially nitrogen, but to help them along, when seedlings are 2-4 inches tall you can fertilize them with a complete organic fertilizer.

Watering

Consistent moisture is important in growing peas. Never let them dry out.

Trellis

All Peas benefit from support. It keeps them from rotting on the ground and lets the pods hang straight down, making them less misshapen and easier to pick. When peas are trellised the vines have air circulating freely around them thus they can’t be easily infected by disease.

 Harvesting

Pick peas each day during the harvest season to harvest the best quality pods and encourage further productions especially with pole types.Pods are ready for picking when they are plump, smooth, and bright green pods. Start harvesting at this stage, beginning at the bottom of the plant and working upwards.The best time to pick is early morning when the pods are crispest. If you can’t pick in the morning, the cool of the evening is another good picking time.

Cooking

Pea’s versatility is limitless. They are delightful raw. They can be boiled, steamed, or stir-fried.  Peas also freeze beautifully. This way you can enjoy them well after summer.

 

 

 

 

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Planting Guide

This spring I have had a ton of questions on when to plant seeds indoors? When to transplant them outdoors? What should be planted directly in the ground? There is no exact answer as we all live in different climates and each have our own micro climate. I have come up with a planting guideline that should help you gardeners out. First things first! You need to find out what your last average spring frost date is. You can get this from senior gardeners in your area or you can call your local state extension agent and they will have an answer for you. For example Ellensburg’s average last frost date is about May 1st.

Planting Guideline


BEANS: Sow directly outdoors, Plant 1-2 weeks after average last spring frost. Minimum soil temp of 52 degrees.

BEETS: Sow directly outdoors, Plant 1-2 weeks after average last spring frost. Minimum soil temp of 50 degrees.

BROCCOLI: Seed indoors. Seed indoors 4-6 weeks before you want to plant outdoors. Transplant outdoors 2-3 weeks before average last spring frost. Minimum soil temp 40 degrees.

BRUSSEL SPROUTS: Seed indoors. Start transplants 8-10 weeks before last frost. Set out transplants 2-4 weeks before average last frost.

CABBAGE: Seed indoors. Start transplants 6-8 weeks before average last spring frost. Transplant outside 2-3 weeks before the last expected frost date.

CARROTS: Sow directly outdoors, Plant 3-5 weeks before the last spring frost date. Minimum soil temp 40 degrees.

CAULIFLOWER: Seed indoors. Start transplants 4-5 weeks before the plants are needed to go outdoors. Plant transplants outdoors 2-3 weeks before the average frost date in spring.

CHARD: Sow seeds indoors or outdoors. Plant outside 2-3 weeks before last spring frost date. Continue planting seeds at 10 day intervals to have all summer.

CORN: Sow directly outdoors. Plant seeds 2 weeks after last spring frost date. Minimum soil temp 60 degrees.

CUCUMBERS: Sow indoors. Plant seeds indoors 3-5 weeks before spring frost date. Transplant outside no earlier than 2 weeks after last frost date.

EGGPLANT: Sow indoors. Plant seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before soil warms up to 60 degrees. Transplant outside when soil warms.

KALE: Seed indoors or sow directly outdoors. Extremely frost hardy. Plant as soon as ground thaws.

LETTUCE: Sow directly outdoors or seed indoors. If seeding indoors start seeds 4-6 weeks before last spring frost. Transplant seedlings 2 weeks before and 2 weeks after last spring frost. If sowing directly outdoors seed as soon as your ground can be worked. Light frost is okay.

MUSKMELONS: Sow indoors or directly outdoors. Muskmelons need at least 70 degree soil temperature to germinate. If planting indoors sow about 4-6 weeks before soil warms up. Transplant when all signs of frost are gone.

ONION TRANSPLANTS OR SETS: Sow directly outdoors. Plant as soon as soil can be worked.

PARSNIPS: Sow directly outdoors. Sow as soon as soil is workable. Cold hardy crop.

PEAS: Sow directly outdoors. Seed outdoors 4-6 weeks before last spring frost.

POTATOES: Sow directly outdoors. Seed outdoors when soil temperature has reached 52 degrees. 2-3 weeks after average spring frost.

PUMPKINS: Sow directly outdoors or sow indoors. If you have a short growing season sow indoors 2-4 weeks before last spring frost. Be sure to harden off seedlings before transplanting.

PEPPERS: Sow indoors. Plant 6-8 weeks before the last average spring frost date. Transplant outside when soil has warmed up and all signs of frost are gone, before transplanting outside make sure you harden off your seedlings.

RADISH: Sow directly outdoors. Plant 4-6 weeks before the average last frost date.

SPINACH: Sow directly outdoors. Plant as soon as the soil can be worked. Spinach need 6 weeks of cool weather. Minimum soil germination temperature 35 degrees.

SQUASH AND ZUCCHINI: Sow indoors. Plant 2-4 weeks before last spring frost. Transplant outside 1-3 weeks after spring frost.

STRAWBERRIES: Sow directly outdoors. Plant as soon as the ground can be tilled.

TOMATOES: Sow indoors. Plant 6-8 weeks before the last average spring frost date. Transplant outside when soil has warmed up and all signs of frost are gone, before transplanting outside make sure you harden off your seedlings.

TURNIPS: Sow directly outdoors. Plant as soon as soil is tillable.

WATERMELON: Sow indoors or directly outdoors. Watermelon need at least 70 degree soil temperature to germinate. If planting indoors sow about 4-6 weeks before soil warms up. Transplant when all signs of frost are gone.

Here is a great resource to find your local extension agents information.

http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services

 

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5 Easy Spring Vegetables to Plant Now!

Spring has finally emerged, and we are just dying to get our hands dirty! Even with a little colder temperatures there are some vegetables that are ready to get in the ground now!

Peas

Mouthwatering, tender, fresh sweet peas are a culinary delight and one of the very best reasons for having a garden. Fresh peas have an unparalleled sweetness and are among those vegetables that can never be equaled by supermarket produce. Growing peas are perfect for the beginner gardener, plant them in minutes and in a few weeks they are ready to harvest. Peas are a cool weather crop that can be planted early and harvest heavy yields into early summer.

Spinach

Spinach is one of the healthiest green vegetables you can grow. It’s packed with iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, various B-complex vitamins, and a variety of other nutrients, all in a leaf that tastes delicious in sandwiches, salads, and cooked. Spinach loves cool weather, seeds will germinate in soils as cold as 35 degrees. Best planted in early spring or fall before the ground freezes. Spinach usually bolts with onset of hot weather.

Strawberries

Sweet, succulent, melt in your mouth goodness! Homegrown strawberries are a must in your home garden. These sweet berries don’t even compete with store bought strawberries.  Plant strawberry roots in spring, in a place with full sun. These berries are easy to grow, tolerate a wide range of soil types and come back year after year!

Onions

Onions are one of the first vegetables that you can plant in your garden. Onion transplants are quite frost hardy and can withstand 20 degree frosts. They should be planted 4-6 weeks prior to the last expected spring frost. The earlier you get your onion transplants in the ground the bigger onion bulb you will harvest! Plant this tasty allium and enjoy them all year long! Perfect for the garden cook!

 

Lettuce

Lettuce, a cool season vegetable, is one of the easiest to grow and the fastest to mature—an ideal combination! Plant some in the spring for mid-summer harvests, and again mid-summer for fall yields. Lettuce is easy to direct sow, and it can grow in many different variations of sun and shade, or directly in the ground or in a container. This is a great way to have fresh lettuce for months.

So gardeners what are you waiting for?! Get in the garden and start planting!

Happy Spring Y’all!