Getting a Jump Start on Warm Weather Crops
The spring of 2017 in Oregon may go down as legendary in the amount of rain and cool weather we have been experiencing. We have almost twice (!!!) our annual rainfall at this point in late April. Normally we receive 42″ of rain per year. We have received nearly 80″ thus far and summer is still a ways off.
For those of us who love growing warm season crops – we are positively itching to be able to stretch our wings at this point. Nonetheless, aside from greenhouse growing, we are forced to abide by Nature’s grand design. What is one to do???
Here are some of my hot (no pun intended) tips:
• start cucumbers and summer squash on heat mats then plant to 4″ pots in a greenhouse so that you are ready to plant out large healthy plants once the risk of frost subsides.
• start muskmelons and watermelons on heat mats (that maintain a steady temperature of 70 degrees or more) and then pot up to 4″+ pots to be ready for sunny warm weather to plant outdoors.
• Hopefully by now you have nice tomato, pepper and eggplant starts in your greenhouse or sunny windowsill. Make sure that they are in pots large enough to accommodate their growth until outside temperatures warm enough to plant outside. Snip off flowers that form to keep them growing vegetatively.
• Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to start corn indoors in trays to get a head start. We regularily use Soil Blocks (1 1/4″) to start corn inside 3-4 weeks before planting outside. This also has the added advantage to help create timed isolation for seed saving of multiple corn varieties on the same site.
• While we don’t currently use black plastic as a mulch on our farm, many other colleagues do utilize it to speed the warming of the soil to give heat loving crops a jump start.
Do not despair! There are many blessings that accompany a late start. We are fixing up fencing, gates, refining our cropping plans and exploring a greater diversity of cool loving crops that we can plant currently like Chickpeas, lentils, grains, all the brassicas, fava beans, alliums and more.
May all of your gardening dreams come true!
Permaculture Plant List
By Don Tipping – December 2011
Dynamic Accumulator plants – that gather minerals and nutrients to the benefit of their neighbors:
Species Life Cycle Nutrients it Accumulates
Chives – Allium spp. Biennial Na/Ca
Eyebright – Anagalis arvensis Perennial S/K
Burdock – Arctium manus Annual Fe
Borage – Borago officinalis Annual Si/K
Caraway – Caryn carvi Annual P
Chickory – Chicorium intybus Biennial Ca/K
Carrot – Daucus carrota Biennial Mg/K
Buckwheat – Fagopyrum esculentum Annual P
Cleavers – Galium aparine Annual Na/Ca
Alfalfa – Medicago sativa Perennial N/Fe
Bracken – Pteridum aquilinum Perennial K/Mn/Fe/Cu/Co
Dock – Rumex crispus Biennial Ca/K/P/Fe
Chickweed – Stellaria media Annual K/P/Mn
Comfrey – Symphytum officinale Perennial Si/N/Mg/Ca/K/Fe
Dandelion – Taraxaum vulgare Biennial Na/Si/Mn/Ca/K/P/Fe/C
Clover – Trifolium sp. Perennial N/P
Cattail – Typha latifolia Perennial N
Fruit & Nut Trees Height
Apples 10-30’ – disease resistant varieties: Liberty, Empire, Goldrush
Mulberries 10-45’ – Illinois Everberring fruit late June til Oct.
Hansen’s Cherry 5-10’
Nanking Bush Cherry4-5’
Apricots 10-30’ – plant late blooming types in sheltered
Highbush Cranberry 5-10’ – fruit not sweet
Elderberry 10-25’ – very quick growth, medicinal
Gooseberry / Currant3-6’ – easy to propagate from cuttings
Grapes vining – prop. from cuttings
Walnut/ Heartnut 10-50’ – slow growth,semi-toxic leaf litter to other plants
Almond 10-20’ – plant late blooming types like Hall’s Hardy or All inOne
Asian Pear 10-25’
Rosa Rugosa 5-10’ – Very large, tasty rosehips
Manzanita 10-25’ – Native, edible berries, drought tolerant, strong wood
Filbert/Hazel 10-40’ – Propagate by layered cuttings
Chestnut 10-100’ – needs pollinizer
Fig 5-25’ – propagate from cuttings, plant in sheltered spot
Peach/Nectarine 10-30’ – Plant in sheltered area and use late blooming cultivars
Kiwi vining – The Hardy Kiwi (Actinidia arguta) can survive -20 deg.
Strawberry low – plant every year for consistant fruit set
Blackberry 5-15’ – water for best fruit quality
Nitrogen Fixing Plants: Herbs
Siberian Pea Shrub Dill
Russian Olive/ Autumn Olive Cilantro/ Corriander
Goumi – Eleagnus multiflora Fennel
Fava Beans Celery
Scarlet Runner Beans Lovage
Peas / Chickpeas Borage
Red & White Clover Hops
Birdsfoot trefoil Oregano
Alder Lemon Balm
Wax Myrtle Parsley
Sea Buckthorn Purslane
Black Locust Thyme
Honey Locust Nasturtium
Mountain Mahogany Calendula
Oats, Wheat, Rye, Spelt, Kamut Marigold
Millets Clary Sage
Sunflower Seeds Dandelion
Dry corn Nettles
Lumber & Coppice Edible Flowers
Fir Violet / Pansy
Willow – basketry/wattle
Maple Green Manure Crops
Black Walnut Sunflower
Black Locust – for fence posts
Well spring is in full swing here in the Siskiyous in all of her resplendant, luscious, nectar infused glory. Don’t know bout you, but makes me want to plant something!
I wanted to share some ideas of what might be appropriate to plant at this time so that you might increase your success. Personally I feel that aligning with certain cosmic forces helps to positively influence the invisible, yet invaluable nature spirits that assist with plant growth. In this regard I try to pay attention to the actions of the moon and planets with respect to what constellations they may be stationed in. As a helpful guide, I consult the STELLA NATURA Biodynamic planting calender: http://www.stellanatura.com/ which simplifies understanding the myriad of cosmic rhythms at work in the heavens that stream into all Earthly matter.
Today is the new moon, so a good time for new beginnings. The moon stands in front of the constellation of Pisces, a water sign that has been show to positively influence the leaf and stem portion of plants. To more accurately understand Sideral astronomy, forget astrology and see the constellation s simply as a mapping system for the cosmos. Over the past 90 years a large amount of fairly detailed research has been carried out within the Biodynamic/Anthroposophic community demonstrating positive correlations between water signs and leaf and stem portions of plants, fire signs with the fruiting/warmth process, earth signs with the roots and rooting process and air signs with flowering and pollination.
Considering it is a good time to support leaf and stem growth, we are seeding another round of greens like lettuce, kale, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and other salad crops.
It is also a great time to plant more ROOT crops like beets, carrots, radish, turnips, parsnips, burdock.
We have been potting up eggplants, peppers and tomatoes that we sprouted earlier on heat mats in the green house. But you can still start these crops from seed in a warm place like a cold frame or greenhouse. Germination of hot weather crops like these is enhanced through the use of an electric heat mat, then once they are sprouted they can be moved off the heat.
There is still time to seed peas outside, although I generally plant the quicker to fruit bush types this late in the season.
We will be waiting until May 1st to seed melons in the greenhouse in 3″ pots and then move them outside around June first.
Corn, cucumbers, beans and squash will wait until mid May of June to plant outside.
Protecting young seedlings that are outside from birds, and insects is of paramount importance. We rely heavily upon floating row covers that allow light and moisture through but not pests. Birds routinely will eat young pea and carrot seedlings which can be very frustrating. So cover them and reap the bounty.
Many blessings on your spring garden endeavors!
Brassica Growing Tips
Brassicas: The key to success is having nice big transplants and ample fertility. Our preferred growing method is to plant 2-3 seeds into soil blocks or cells and thin to the most vigorous plant. Grow in a greenhouse or cold frame until they have 2 or 3 true leaves and then plant outside. They can tolerate light frost. We generally grow spring and fall crops, with late summer planted fall crops producing the nicest heads. Quick growth is fostered by planting into fertile soil with plenty of nitrogen. Ideal head formation takes place at temperatures of 60-70 degrees, so plan accordingly. Diseases: a number of fungal diseases can infect broccoli. Supplying seaweed into potting soil helps. If diseased (yellowed or withering) plants are observed, pull them or the infected leaves and compost them. Pests: Cabbage moths can eat young plants. The typical organic control is spraying Bacillus thringiensis (Bt). Seed Specs: 5,000-9,000 seeds per ounce.
Carrot Growing Tips: Carrot seeds are small and take a long time to germinate (up to 2 weeks) and must be direct seeded, so take care in preparing your beds and choosing to plant in silty loam over clay soils. Ideal soil temperature for germination is 55-75 degrees F. Direct seed at a rate of 20-30 seeds per foot and thin to 1-2” in rows 18-24” apart (much like beets, parsnips and radishes). Keep well watered, watering daily if there is no rain and it’s sunny, as they take a long time to germinate and are tiny and can dry out quickly. Diseases and Pests: In wet conditions, fungal leaf blights can negatively impact the foliage. Root maggots burrow into roots making unsightly tracks. Crop rotation between root crops helps tremendously. Gophers love carrots, so keep an eye out for their damage. Buried gopher wire is a sure fire technique, although a good gopher digging dog or cat works wonders too! Seed Specs: 12,000-23,000 seeds per ounce, plants 400-800 row feet.
Growing Tips that apply to most Greens:
When growing for salad mix, it is best to direct sow beginning in mid March and planting once per month to ensure a steady supply of fresh salads that are harvested at the peak of their growth cycle. Our beds are 4 feet wide and we’ll plant 4-5 rows 8-10” apart, seeding fairly thickly (10-15 seeds per foot) within each row. When planted as such greens such as spinach, mustards, cress and orach may be cut about 1-2” above the ground as cut-n-come again salad. In this way tender fresh re-growth is encouraged. Alternately you may grow them as transplants in the greenhouse or coldframe and then plant out in April and beyond . Look out for slugs, flea beetles and earwigs! Floating row covers help control some pests.
Growing Garden Peas: Direct seed from mid February until mid April for spring crop and in mid July for a fall crop. Early planted peas can rot in the soil if it’s rainy and cold. Alternately you can pre-sprout them indoors by soaking for a few hours, drain and rinsie daily until you see a small shoot emerge, at which point you can gently plant them. Plant about 1” deep in rows 18-24” apart for bush types (Cascadia, Sugar Daddy) and 12” apart for climbing types (Sugar Snap). Pests: Our biggest pests are birds. Many gardeners assume their peas are not sprouting, when in actuality, birds are eating them and they never see them emerge. Covering them with floating row covers is an easy solution that also can speed early season growth. Peas are susceptible to a variety of wilts and viruses, the symptoms of which are compounded by hot weather. So grow your peas in the cooler windows of the year. Peas do great as an overwintered greenhouse crop,
Fall Garden Planting Guide
like carrots and beets, and other roots such as parsnips, turnips, radish and burdock. Try and plant carrots and beets by the first week of August in SW Oregon (you have about another week for every 2 degrees latitude you go south). Radishes and Turnips grow more quickly and can be successfully established from a September 1st planting. Parsnips and Burdock take longer and should be growing by now (ideal is June 1st, til July 1st). Please note that carrot seed is small, planted shallow and takes up to 2 weeks to sprout, so keep the seed moist with daily watering (or twice daily if soil is sandy). Using floating row covers helps to conserve moisture. Sweet Onions can be seeded in late August to be transplanted out around early October for a May/June harvest the following year.
Cabbage, Kale, Collards, lettuces, Swiss Chard, more spinach. Cabbages should be started by mid July for mid-August transplanting. Kale, Collards and Chard can be started now in flats then transplanted during a favorable cool period in August. Spinach can be planted in mid August or early September. Lettuce germinates poorly above 75 degrees F., so start in pots/cells in the shade and keep moist. Other greens to consider – lambsquarters, orach and beetberry are heat tolerant. Persian Cress and Chickory/Endive can be started in mid August to mid. September.
late summer basil that you protect in a greenhouse, cloche or with row covers, parsley, dill for fall pickling projects and more cilantro.
not many folks realize that you can grow beautiful crops of fall snap or snow peas here. Try and plant by the first week of August in an area that gets afternoon shade if possible.
Remember that we may eat fresh food from our summer garden for about 3 or maybe 4 months, but the winter garden is what feeds us the rest of that time. So careful planning and action right now really makes a difference in the success of your gardening efforts and their ability to keep fresh food on the table year round. Many blessings on your efforts and may your dance with the good green.
Earth be filled with joy, grace and abundance!
Permaculture Water Systems – Keyline Pond & Swale Irrigation:
Permaculture seed wizard Don Tipping takes us on a 10 minute animated tour of the epic Seven Seeds Farm in the Siskiyou Mountains of Southern Oregon, USA. The farm was designed using Permaculture Principles and Keyline patterning. We follow the water system from top to bottom, and then the amazing downstream effects are revealed. This video was produced by Andrew Millison as part of the course content for his online Advanced Permaculture Design Practicum, Hort 485, taught through the Horticulture department at Oregon State University’s Extended Campus: www.beaverstatepermaculture.com
When to Plant Tender, frost sensitive Annuals:
Aka – When is the Last Spring frost Date Around Here?
Here in Williams, Oregon which is at 42 degrees north Latitude and about 2,000 feet above sea level, June 1st is generally regarded as the safe time to plant tender annuals such as tomatoes, melons, squash, basil, beans, peppers and the the like. Some crops are slightly more hardy to colder weather. These include corn and tomatoes.
While going off a calender date is useful, it is still a fairly arbitrary approach to the subtle nuances of wind and weather, particularily when framed by the backdrop of climate change and shifting seasonal patterns. Heads up to SW Oregon locals, a low of 34 degrees is forecast for Tuesday, June 5th! That pretty much means that is going to frost in parts of the valley, or at least get cold enough to really stunt peppers and melons. Nonetheless, I do encourage you to consult the Seven Seeds Farm planting calender as a guide to help your efforts be successful. I have been curious about finding reliable cues from wild nature as to when the threat of frost has lifted.
Consider that the oaks, wildflowers and other native plants never seem to get frosted out as they have co-evolved with the climate here. They are not impatient, like us silly humans trying to cram in our garden plantings over the weekend between work shifts, spurred on by the sale of transplants at the nursery, the warm sunny day yesterday and the fact that our neighbor planted out their garden. Over the past 15 years I have begun to notice that a few plants always seemed to be in full bloom right around June first. These being Oxeye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)-pictured at top, Wild Rose (Rosa Spp.)pictured in the middle, and California Wild Lilac (Ceanothus integerrimus)pictured at the bottom. I chose to include three plants so that if just one was in bloom due to a warmer micro-climate, I wouldn’t be thrown off and plant too early. By having 3 different indicators I have a good natural gauge on the degree days and soil temperature on my site. Perhaps there are other plants that may be able to be included in this list. I certainly encourage us all to pay close attention to the plant life cycles around your home as
imagine that you will be able to draw your own conclusions that will prove helpful and serve to connect you to the land more and more. In the time before satallite whether reports, the internet and the ability to simply go buy more starts if your garden frosted out from jumping the gun, people looked to nature for the whether report. They would look at the plants, the clouds, the behavior of animals and more for the indigenous clues to reading the book of nature. I hereby empower everyone reading this to do the same, if you are not already and while you are at it, perhaps weave this knowledge into prose, story and humor in order to further encode it in the oral memory of your people.
So good people, when the daisy and the rose dance around the lilac, ’tis time to sow melons!
Successful Summer Plantings:
For us here in the Pacific Northwest the next few weeks are when the vast majority of the summer garden is planted. Beds are being prepared now, compost spread, seedlings watered, last minute seeds being obtained, irrigation set-up and garden plans organized. If you want to manifest abundance in the summer and fall….NOW is the time to make it happen.
For us here at Seven Seeds Farm we have all the spring
plantings out: cabbage, broccoli, carrots, beets, salad mix, lettuce, spinach, fava beans, peas, poppies, kale, collards, arugula, swiss chard, parsnips, and more. We have also planted an early crop of Hooker’s sweet corn that was pre-sprouted indoors (as described below). In about 2 weeks we will be setting out transplants of tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, melons, gourds an winter squash. Direct seeded crops such as squash, cucumbers, corn, beans, melons, quinoa, millet, amaranth, sorgham, sunflowers and more will be planted around June first too. This is when our historical frost free date is, but I urge you to use your best judgement. It is distinctly possible that we are in the clear now with no frosty days ahead, OR it could be a repeat o the previous 2 years when cool wet weather hung around clear until the summer solstice in mid June.
This is a really good time to round up any warm season summer veggie seeds that you still need, AND I happen to know a fine local, organic seed company that probably has what you are looking for and a ew things that you weren’t looking for and just have to have anyways! Please visit the Siskiyou Seeds website at www.siskiyouseeds.com or our seed racks at the Williams General Store, Takubeh, the Ashland Food Coop, Phoenix Organics, Scott Valley Feed & Seed or Berryvale. You can also click the link at left to download our catalog. Many blessings on a wonderful growing season for you and your family.
Early Sweet Corn Trick:
I have been using a fairly simple trick to get an extra early crop of sweet corn.
I soak my seed overnight in a mason jar, then rinse twice daily, allowing to drain in a warm area of my kitchen until sprouts and roots begin to appear(not nearly as much growth as in this picture, or you may risk breaking the tender roots/shoots. This photo was from my sprouted corn tortillas, but gets the point across). Then I plant this out in rows outdoors. Normally I wait until the soil warms to 70 degrees before planting sweet corn. Often this means waiting until June 1st here in SW Oregon, or else the seed may rot. By pre-sprouting I plant as early as May 10th outside, which means sweet corn for eating before August 1st! Good Luck to you.
Seed Starting 101: Time to Plant Good People!
Here in SW Oregon in early March it is time to plant many spring crops:
Outside I suggest planting: Peas (snap, snow & shelling), carrots, beets, lettuces, mustards, arugula, radishes, turnips, parsnips, possibly onions
Inside a greenhouse or coldframe: Onions, Leeks, Lettuces, celery, parsley brassicas such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards and Chinese cabbage and soon I will be planting tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil onto heat mats to speed germination of these warmth loving plants.
You can see our planting guide under the menu tab at the top for more suggestions.
Here is how we start seeds using the Soil Block technique, which has the advantages of avoiding excessive use of plastic, also the roots air prune as opposed to spiraling around as is the case when planting into cell trays or pots. This has the added advantage of the plants experiencing much less transplant shock. Also consider that when transplanting out crops such as lettuce on a 12″ spacing with 3 rows per bed that using 1 & 1/2″ soil blocks equates to the equivalent of spread 5 tons of compost to the acre, right where youÂ want it…at the site of the actual plant.Our potting Mix is comprised of of 10 parts screened compost, 1 part sand, and some crushed eggshells, powdered kelp meal, and soil fungal inoculant made from Brewery wastes. This mixture is moistened to the consistency of cake batter. Then the blocker (Amy is holding it to the right below) is pressed into this mix and popped into flats to form nice formed cubes of soil with a dimple for planting planting into. We love this system and the plants seem to thrive moreso than using plug trays. Soil blockers can be obtained from a variety of sources, such as Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, or Johnny’s Seeds. You can obtain professional floor blockers, or smaller hand models. Elliot Coleman advises using a potting mix with lots of peat moss in it, warning that the blocks will fall apart. We don’t use any peat in our mix and they work great using farm made compost.. Grow your own!!!
Here I am below seeding lettuce (btw…I put 2-4 seeds per block and thin to the most vigorous and healthy one per block), homemade wooden flats (13″ x 25″ = 120 1.25″ blocks or 72 1.5″ blocks), and to the right (my left) is the 20 block 1.25″ floor blocker which costs about $220 from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply. Jasper dreams of gardens to come during his nap.
Fall Clean Up: Biennial Root Crops – Selecting for Seed
The great Seed Round Up is drawing to a close here at Seven Seeds and it’s coming time to begin cleaning the 100+ varieites of seeds that lie dry and snug in the seed barn. This is not really any more planting to do outside at this late stage of the season, so my how to tip this episode centers around selecting roots for replanting for a seed crop next year.
Right Now I am in the midst of digging red Shiraz table Beets to trim, sort and select the best ones for replanting to produce seed next summer. The same process can happen with carrots, turnips, parsnips, leeks and onions.
Garlic Planting Instructions:
pictured at Right – Persian Star garlic – gorgeous & delicious!
General Info: Garlic is a Lily family vegetable that is grown for its swollen bulbs. It was domesticated from a biennial lily bulbing plant in central Eurasia.
åtemperature remains above zero degrees Fahrenheit. In colder climates such as the North Eastern U.S. it is planted in the spring, however larger bulb size is more difficult to obtain with spring planting. We typically plant garlic in the month of October. This enables the plant to grow a healthy root system and some tops in the fall before slowing way down for winter and resuming growth once temperatures warm in February and March. Some hard neck varieties will wait to make any top growth until January & February, but rest assured they are busily making roots. If in doubt, you can dig up some cloves to gauge their progress.
Soil Preparation: Like most Alliums, Garlic is an inefficient feeder. This means that if you want your garlic to size up nicely, you should have supplied adequate to abundant fertility in the form of compost, well-balanced organic nitrogen fertilizer. A good approach is to cover crop your garlic area with buckwheat cover crop prior to planting and till this green manure crop into the soil 2-3 weeks before planting.
Spacing: Garlic does not make a very large plant, but it does take some space to make a nice big plant. We usually space garlic 3-4 rows per 4-foot wide bed with 8-10 inches between plants. Planted closer together and you may sacrifice bulb size and make weeding more difficult.
Planting techniques: Break up the bulb into individual cloves, taking care to try and disturb the clove wrappers as little as possible. Hard neck types tend to lose some wrappers in the process of breaking them up; this is normal. Garlic should be planted within a few weeks of planting to avoid the cloves drying out. Place cloves into the soil as deep as they are long. This usually means planting to a depth where 1-2” of soil covers the tops of the clove. If planted too shallow, the action of frost heave can push garlic right out of the ground. Planted too deeply, garlic can rot in wet soils.
Cultural Techniques: As the saying goes you can grow weeds or garlic, but you can’t grow both.” I find this to be true, however mellow spring weeds such as chickweed, veronica speedwell and spring cress do little to impede growth and provide a nice living mulch if you chose to garden more on the wild permaculture side of life. Otherwise keep your garlic patch well weeded.
Pre-Harvest – Stop watering about 10 days pre-harvest (for us this is about summer solstice, anticipating a July 4th harvest)
Harvest: Harvest your garlic when the leaves begin to yellow and dry down. We usually use the number of remaining green leaves as a gauge to determine the right time to harvest. I want to see a minimum of 5-6 green leaves left as each leave equates to one bulb wrapper, so you can imagine that after cleaning each bulb you’ll want to have some wrappers left for optimal storage ability.
Our hopes are with you for an abundant & rewarding crop of garlic this year!
Fall Garden Success – planning planting & protection:
I wanted to share some of my insights about helping your fall garden to thrive!Â First of all, determine what you would like to grow.Â May I suggest:
* ROOTS: plenty of carrots and beets, and other roots such as parsnips, turnips, radish and burdock.Â Try and plant carrots and beets by the first week of August in SW Oregon (you have about another week for every 2 degrees latitude you go south).Â Radishes and Turnips grow more quickly and can be successfully established from a September 1st planting.Â Parsnips and Burdock take longer and should be growing by now (ideal is June 1st, til July 1st).Â Please note that carrot seed is small, planted shallow and takes up to 2 weeks to
sprout, so keep the seed moist with daily watering (or twice daily if soil is sandy).Â Using floating row covers helps to conserve moisture.
* GREENS: Cabbage, Kale, Collards, lettuces, Swiss Chard, more spinach.Â Cabbages should be started by mid July for mid August transplanting.Â Klae, Collards and Chard can be started now in flats then transplanted during a favorable cool period in August.Â Spinach can be planted in mid August.Â Lettuce germinates poorly above 75 degrees F., so start in pots/cells in the shade and keep moist.Â Other greens to consider – magenta lambsquarters, orach and beetberry are heat tolerant.Â Persian Cress and Chickory/Endive can be started in mid August to mid. September.
* HERBS: late summer basil that you protect in a greenhouse, cloche or with row covers, parsley, dill for fall pickling projects and more cilantro
*PEAS: not many folks realize that you can grow beautiful crops of fall snap or snow peas here.Â Try and plant by the first week of August in an area that gets afternoon shade if possible.
Time to plant for your Fall & Winter Garden
Believe it or not, right now is the time to plant cabbages, brussles sprouts, cauliflower, parsnips and other slower growing cool season crops in order for them to have enough time to size up to maturity before the shorter days and cooler weather of fall settle in.Â In my experience, not much growth takes place after the fall equinox, so that 105 day storage cabbage really needs time to spread its leaves and swell up big.
Please see our planting calender on the main menu toolbar for specific reccomended planting dates.
Remember that we may eat fresh food from our summer garden for about 3 or maybe 4 months, but the winter garden is what feeds us the rest of that time.Â So careful planning and action right now really makes a difference in the success of your gardening efforts and their ability to keep fresh food on the table year round.Â Many blessings on your efforts and may your dance with the good green Earth be filled with joy, grace and abundance!
What to do about Radiation…?
I have had a number of inquiries as to my thoughts as a farmer about the effect that fallout from the Fukushima Nuclear plant disaster in Japan may have upon our gardens and the general safety of organic food in N.America.Â I decided to do a bit of research online,, but was quickly discouraged by the abundance of friendly reassurances found on government websites that we should worry more about airport and dentist x-rays than this situation.Â While I generally like to hear that everything is going to be OK, what I found seemed to be saying, “go back to sleep, and just keep consuming”, more than providing useful information.Â The Oregonian newspaper site said that low levels of radiation were found in Washington and California, but not in Oregon.Â How conveniant!Â We have been spared.Â No worries people, keep doing whatever it is you were doing, never mind those pesky radioactive isotopes they ain’t in OUR back yard.
Well,Â time to wake up people.Â We are fully in the brave new world that Alvin Toffler hinted at in Futureshock, or to quote Wiki,
” society is undergoing an enormous structural change, a revolution from an industrial society to a “super-industrial society“. This change will overwhelm people, the accelerated rate of technological and social change leaving them disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation” â€“ future shocked. Toffler stated that the majority of social problems were symptoms of the future shock. In his discussion of the components of such shock, he also popularized the term “information overload.”
We have no baseline for this type of occurance, it hasn’t happened on this scale before, unimaginable scenarios compounding one another, we have complete political turnover in N.Africa, right after a hugely devastating earthquake in Haiti, only to followed by the big one in Jpapn and resulting Tsunami and nuclear meltdowns, and now a torrent of tornados.Â What’s next?Â The human mind can only cope with so much instability and change.Â Overloaded by information we shut down and thirst for panaceas of peaceful outcomes, and readily gobble up news of no radiation detected.
The way I see it, we have been playing with nuclear energy and unleashing untold amounts of radioactive materials over wide expanses of the earth and sea since the 1940’s.Â In my view cancer is not a disease, it is an environmental holocaust being perpetrated upon the biota of the Earth by misguided / short-sighted techno-industrial zombies who fail to see the dire repercussions of opening Pandora’s box.Â The incidents at Fukushima are merely the cherry on top.Â The list of toxic wastelands created by the nuclear industry is alarmingly long and I don’t wish to go into detail here, but a little digging will reveal their ugly, menacing heads in the form of thousands of square miles of the Earth that will never grow anything green for the rest of our lives.
So should you worry about radiation on your food, in your milk, in your water and elsewhere?
As Helen Caldicott says,
“There is no safe level of radioactive contamination”.
The big question is, what can we do about it?
Well my personal approach has remained the same all along…supercharge the system with fertility, massive amounts of compost in the soil to provide optimal nutrition to the plant, so it can translate minerals in the soil into vascular tissue that we can eat and receive the blessings of the Earth first hand.Â I am using Bokashi, that is a soil or compost innoculant that is a carrier of effective microorganisms that increase the soils ability to interact with plant roots, minerals, fungi and nutrients in the soil.Â We also utilize the Biodynamic <http://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamics> compost preparations and field sprays that function similarily to the Bokashi innoculant with the added benefit of enhancing interactions with cosmic forces and unseen realms of elemental beings.Â Biodynamics is sort of like adjusting the antenna on your TV, except it is working with balancing cosmic and earthly forces through reformating the microbiology of the soil to function more harmoniously with the elements indigenous to the land.
The take home message is to keep growing food, do it as well as you can, supercharge the soil organisms with compost and microbiological innoculants.Â It might be wise to avoid dairy products for awhile as toxins tend to bioaccumulate up the food chain and concentrate in fats like butter especially.Â Fish from the Pacific might be questionable for a time, but the jury is still out on this one.
All of this leads us right back to our garden, which is a pretty good place to be!Â Dig life, and while you’re at it dig some beds, plant some seeds, eat your weeds and share your harvests.
FYI here is a link to the UC Berkeley site that has testing of produce, mushrooms, seaweed, rainwater, etc… – <http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/node/2525>
Go Plant Something!
Hey in Oregon it’s still time to plant peas, carrots, beets, parsnips, lettuce, salad greens, kale, radishes, turnips from seed directly into well prepared garden beds.Â You can also be transplanting broccoli, cabbage, kale, greens, and more.Â I’d wait before putting out any warm season crops such as tomatoes, zucchini, cuccumbers, unless you have a cold frame or greenhouse to protect them.Â Please don’t let fears about radiation fallout dissuade you from growing a garden.Â Please see my latest post under “writing” for more on this topic.
I was just out checking on my first round of peas and am feeling somewhat discouraged…another one of those long wet Oregon springs where those little windows of sun invite us to get early planting in only to watch the seed rot or germinate poorly and struggling seedlings get eaten up by birds.Â So I re-plant and then plant again…’tis the Age old farmer’s quandry, anticipation for the next season…the new fresh food from the land.Â I take solace in seeing arugula, mustards, lettuces and other greens peeking out of the earth in neat little rows…hope for the future.Â Transplants of Broccoli, Kale and Cabbage impress my ordered mind with their thoughtful eqidistant spaced rows….plenty of room to spread out their sumptuous blue green waxy leaves.Â I’m already scheming up another round of peas, roots and the next wave of transplants to go in the ground
The message I hope to convey is one of PERSISTANCE.Â So many forces want to pull the life process down into chaos and entropy, but the forces of life, growth and reproduction are strong and find so many amazing ways to keep on keepin’ on.Â From the Anthroposophical (via Rudolf Steiner) perspective we acknowledge these forces with the term “levity”, which is an equal and opposite force to gravity.Â Plants have much to teach us about unceasing determination forward, always in the present moment – emanations of the etheric / life principle.Â Â Participating in nature as a gardener, wildcrafter, forager, or merely as an observer is a profound meditation and a gift that you give the world community.Â This gift is your thoughtfulness, openness, passivity and empathy and presence in co-creation of the moment!
With the impending collapse of the current version of industrial civilization upon us and the nuclear melt downs, financial melt downs, political melt downs and social melt downs all melding into an alloy of apathy, fear and hopelessness among so many, all I can do is look to the Earth, our Mother for guidance.Â Plants grow, flower, reproduce, disperse seeds and fade away into compost again and again.Â Tis the way of the world.Â Humanity will follow suit, our job right now is to get back up, no matter how many times we get knocked down, hands, knees, feet and then, aha, we’re upright again with the earth under our feet and the heavens shining down on our head.Â As the gravity of physics pulls us down, always remember the levity of spirit and the cosmos is pulling us up.Â Just stay in alignment and visualize activating our awareness of our place in the tapestry of creation.Â Keep planting, be it seeds, thoughtful actions, kind words, reverent silence, or strongly articulated beliefs rooted in love.Â We owe this much to our children and future generations of all species…that is to model Hope for the future, persistance, and determination for a positive future.Keep Planting!
Seed Starting 101:
Here is how we start seeds using the Soil Block technique, which has the advantages of avoiding excessive use of plastic, also the roots air prune as opposed to spiraling around as is the case when planting into cell trays or pots.Â This has the added advantage of the plants experiencing much less transplant shock.Â Also consider that when transplanting out crops such as lettuce on a 12″ spacing with 3 rows per bed that usingÂ 1 & 1/2″ soil blocks equates to the equivalent of spread 5 tons of compost to the acre, right where youÂ want it…at the site of the actual plant.Our potting Mix is comprised of of 10 parts screened compost, 1 part sand, and some crushed eggshells, powdered kelp meal, and soil fungal inoculant made from Brewery wastes.Â This mixture is moistened to the consistency of cake batter.Â Then the blocker (Amy is holding it to the right below) is pressed into this mix and popped into flats to form nice formed cubes of soil with a dimple for planting planting into.Â We love this system and the plants seem to thrive moreso than using plug trays.Â Soil blockers can be obtained from a variety of sources, such as Peaceful Valley Farm Supply, or Johnny’s Seeds.Â You can obtain professional floor blockers, or smaller hand models. Â Elliot Coleman advises using a potting mix with lots of peat moss in it, warning that the blocks will fall apart.Â We don’t use any peat in our mix and they work great using farm made compost..Â Grow your own!!!
Here I am below seeding lettuce (btw…I put 2-4 seeds per block and thin to the most vigorous and healthy one per block), homemade wooden flats (13″ x 25″ = 120 1.25″ blocks or 72 1.5″ blocks), and to the right (my left) is the 20 block 1.25″ floor blocker which costs about $220 from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply.Â Jasper dreams of gardens to come during his nap.