Saturday, November 26, 2011

A new cycle begins at the garden

I just cleared my plot this week after a productive season growing mostly cherry tomatoes and different lettuces and some beans. I tried green peppers this year and managed to produce one pepper from two plants! My strawberries, on the other hand, were juicy and delicious! I just wish I had room to grow more of them.

The green plant in the spiral above is a mimulus, a california native also known as the monkeyflower. I planted it a year or so ago and love the yellow flower it produces in the spring. But it has really spread all over my plot so I'm removing it and will try to transplant some in the tree wells.

After clearing my plot, I planted a bunch of fava beans. Last year, I grew fava beans and enjoyed a big harvest in the spring. This year I'm growing fava beans to enrich my soil with nitrogen. Instead of letting the plants produce beans, I'll cut them down right as they begin to flower and turn them into the soil. Fava beans are an excellent nitrogen-fixing plant. In the early stages of its growth, the plant will take nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil. But once the plant starts to flower it takes nitrogen from the soil. To learn more, check out this video.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Time to make plans for winter gardening

Thanks to all who turned out for last weekend's work day and workshop on winter gardening. We took care of some garden chores but mostly wanted to encourage gardeners to begin making plans for the winter.

Please keep in mind that you have until December 15 to either plant your winter crop or prepare your plot for the winter by sheet mulching it. Gardeners who don't take care of this by then will have to give up their plots to one of the many folks on our waiting list.

Growing winter crops: Catherine gave a great overview of winter gardening options at our gathering last Saturday. If you're looking for some inspiration, check out her garden plot: it's the one with the white pvc frame around it in the middle row at the back of the garden. You'll also find great winter gardening advice in Golden Gate Gardening, Pam Pierce's book in the toolshed. Catherine made copies of some of the most relevant pages from the book with tips on what to plant and when. You'll find them tacked on the inside door of the toolshed. Feel free to take a copy.

If you're looking for another hands-on opportunity to learn about winter gardening, check out Garden for the Environment's workshop on Saturday, November 19.

Sheet mulching your plot: Gabriel also led a demonstration on how to sheet mulch your plot for the winter. Sheet mulching is an excellent way to prepare your plot for the winter because it will help enrich your soil and keep weeds under control during the rainy months. You'll find all the supplies you'll need for sheet mulching in the garden (straw is up front, manure is under the blue tarp, and cardboard is in the toolshed). We've posted a step-by-step guide on sheet mulching previously on the blog. I've also tacked a copy of the sheet mulching instructions on the toolshed bulletin board for easy access while you're at the garden.

Growing a cover crop like fava beans: You can also plant a cover crop like fava beans during the winter. You'll find a bag of fava bean seeds in the toolshed available for planting. Growing fava bean plants is a great way to add nitrogen to your soil but its important to remember to cut the plants down at the base as they begin to flower if that's your goal. Check out this video on planting fava beans to enrich your soil for more details. Of course, you can also let the plants continue to grow and enjoy a nice fava bean crop in the spring (but you won't get the same benefit for your soil).

I hope these tips are helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any assistance. Thanks!