Whether you are growing vegetables on a large scale or as a home gardener, planting cover crops is a good thing to do for your soil’s health. Cover crops not only increases microbial activity, but helps prevent soil erosion, increases water infiltration, provides weed competition and if your mix includes legumes, it will add nitrogen to the soil. Cover crop seeds can be easily broadcast, raked in and covered with a thin layer of compost or a mulch like straw. Cool-season seeds can be planted in the fall and allowed to grow over the winter and turned under in the spring. The seeds will need to be watered until the fall rains arrive and allowed to establish before freezing temperatures arrive.
Get the Most out of Your Cover Crop
Raw legumes in your cover crops need to be inoculated (coated) with rhizobia bacteria in order to fix nitrogen on their roots. Inoculate your seeds right before you are ready to plant. Put your seeds in a bucket or big bowl and either moisten with non-chlorinated water or a mixture of milk and molasses (one quart and 2 Tbs, respectively). Adjust the amount of liquid you add to just moisten the seed. Sprinkle the inoculant over the seeds and stir to coat. Don’t skimp on the inoculant, more is better than not enough. Plant the seeds right away. The bacteria on the legumes’ roots in your cover crop will take atmospheric nitrogen and fix it in small nodules on the roots. When the roots break down, the nitrogen will be released into the soil.
Dividing Perennials When They Stop Blooming
Best Ways to Store and Preserve Your Garlic
How to Tell When Melons are Ripe
Tips on How to Grow the Biggest Garlic Yet
Tips on How to Summer Prune Your Blackberries
Which Veggies to Grow Now for a Fall-Winter Harvest
Week of July 29, 2021
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Week of July 15, 2021
There are two basic types of garlic available to plant–hardneck and softneck varieties. So how do you decide which one to grow? If you live in a region with very mild winters, the softneck garlic will perform better than hardnecks. Softnecks store much longer and have a milder flavor. Hardneck garlic requires colder winter temperatures to make large bulbs, so plant this variety if you live in a region with very frigid winters.
So now you have settled on either a hardneck or softneck, how do you choose within those groups. Well hardnecks can be mild to very, very spicy. Read the description before buying to get the flavor you desire. If you want something really mild, and you live in a mild winter region, plant some Elephant garlic. It is not even garlic but a member of the leek family, but it smells and tastes like garlic. If you are unsure about what to grow, consider ordering our Garlic Combo Pack. It contains a mix of hardneck, softneck, and elephant garlic along with French Red Shallots.
Week of July 1, 2021
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Week of June 10, 2021
After your garlic has produced scapes (hardneck varieties) your bulbs are really starting to size up. You can start cutting back on the amount of water they are getting, but you don’t want your garlic to dry out. Once your garlic has a couple of dead bottom leaves you will want to stop watering. You can dig your garlic in a couple of weeks. If you are unsure if your hardneck garlic is ready to harvest, look for about 3-4 dried leaves at the bottom of the plant. Dig up a test bulb to see how well the bulb has sized up. If it is nice and large, you can dig up the remaining bulbs. Don’t harvest too soon or you may have small bulbs, too late and the wrappers may have broken down and your garlic may not keep as long. If this happens eat these bulbs first. Softneck garlic is a little different than hardnecks. Softnecks are ready for harvesting when the top of the plant falls over, similar to onions.
Once your garlic is ready to harvest, dig the bulbs up carefully with a garden fork or shovel. Remove most of the soil, being careful not to hit the bulb (it bruises easily), leaving the roots & stems. Cure out of the sun (and rain) in a place with good air circulation. Tie the garlic with twine in bunches of 6 to 12 plants. Hang the bunches in a place out of direct sun and rain. A shed or under a large tree (as long as there is no rain). Temperatures should be around 80°F and garlic should be cured for at least two weeks. Once cured, trim off the leaves (don’t cut too close to the top of the bulb) and roots, leaving about 1/2” of roots. Store in mesh bags at around 60-65°F in an area with some air circulation.
Week of June 3, 2021
Now that your tomatoes are growing like weeds it is time to prune out the suckers. The advantages to pruning out the suckers on your tomatoes are increased fruit size and better air circulation, which will help with disease prevention. The suckers are the stems growing out of the leaf crotch. You should remove the suckers from the bottom of the plant up to the first flower cluster. Remove them before they get too big, less than 2-3” long is a good rule of thumb. You will need to keep an eye on your tomato plants throughout the season and prune the suckers as they get big enough, look for new growth coming up at the ground too and cut those out. Also you want to remove the yellow or dead leaves (especially seen on the bottom of the plant). Only prune the indeterminate varieties; determinate varieties should not get pruned, you can leave the suckers on those plants.
If you are supporting the plants with an overhead trellis with string or wire supported at the top you can allow your plants to develop two leaders or more commonly, it is pruned to a single leader. Prune out suckers along the plant to allow for better air circulation and less weight. You will have a reduced yield, however, the tomatoes that are left will develop earlier and will be bigger.
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Blackberries have three possible growth habits—erect, semi-erect or trailing. The way to train and prune them will depend on the type. If you did not top the new canes during the late summer, you should top them to about 5’ (or the height of your trellis or fence). Dormant pruning of erect blackberries entails removing dead canes (color is brown vs a newer green cane) and cutting back laterals to 12–18”. Semi-erect blackberries should be thinned to 5 to 8 of the strongest canes, shorten the laterals to 12–18” and remove any growing on the lower 3’ section of the main canes. Tie to a fence or trellis to provide support. Trailing blackberries are less cold tolerant and in cold regions the canes can be left on the ground and protected with rowcover or mulch over the winter. In spring the canes can be lifted and tied to a trellis at 3’ and 6’.
Week of December 31, 2020
Bare root trees are shipping out to their new homes and they need to be cared for upon arrival. Take the trees out of the box and inspect them for any damage at the graft, some broken branches are fine, they will regrow quickly in the spring. If you can’t plant your tree in the ground right away, they should be heeled in to protect the roots until planting time. This can be done outside if the ground is not frozen, or if it is, put them in a garage, shed, basement or greenhouse; cover with loose soil, compost or wood shavings (but not cedar, redwood or rice hulls). Keep the roots moist but not soaking wet. Plant your tree as soon as you can and definitely before it breaks dormancy in the spring (leafing out and blooming). If your trees/plants are potted (figs, almonds, pomegranates, olives…), just leave them in the pot and keep them moist over the winter.