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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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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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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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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