Our energetic volunteers are helping us to double dig the last of our beds. Now that the rains have begun we will direct-sow winter cover crops into some and transplant winter wheat, favas, rye, and barley into others. Planting grains is a relaxing and meditative task. We use a dibble board to press in dowels for the 5″ spaced holes, and then hand transplant the little grass seedlings. Our leeks will be planted out next week, now that they are as thick as pencils. Garlic cloves will also be separated and planted pointy-side up, at a shallow depth.
We have already gotten to harvest some fall crops: the sprouting broccoli, red kale, and bok choi. We will wait until spring to harvest the copenhagen cabbage and napa cabbage when it has made nice large heads.
The range of seeds we plant gets smaller as the days get colder. Lettuce is one that can still be propagated. As well as the volunteers, the snails and slugs also love it…. We plan to grow enough for all our visitors.
Get your seeds from Bountiful Gardens, and plant your winter garden! Keeping the garden planted during the rainy season will prevent soil erosion, and nutrients from leaching out of the garden. Even if you don’t harvest the crops to eat, at the end of winter you will have biomass for the compost pile.
Our early warm season crops (beans, some of the corn and amaranth, potatoes, turnips, etc.) have now finished and have been cleared from the beds. Our main warm season crops (tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, quinoa, sorghum, more corn and amaranth) are producing like mad.
This week we planted our fresh shipment of open-pollinated heirloom Bountiful Gardens seeds for all of our Fall and some of our Winter crops. For Fall we have cabbage, kale, beets, turnips, spinach, romaine and amish lettuce, and others. For over wintering we’ve started leeks, onions, parsnips, and favas (mainly for compost material).
Bees are going mad for all of the mustard and herbs that we have let go to seed. Soon we’ll cut the best basil, cilantro, and mustard green plants to dry and save seed from. The plums, pluots, apricots, and peaches are long gone, but the apples and figs are swelling rapidly, and we have harvested loads of elderberries for making concentrated juice to use in baking, drinks, and sauces.
August is the time to get your fall and some of your winter garden going- get your seeds started today!
Since June, all four classes of Young Life Christian Preschool have come and visited Common Ground Garden! Each group started off by reading the book “The Vegetable Garden,” a story about where food comes from and all the parts needed for a healthy garden (good soil, water, and sunlight).
Next, the preschoolers took a sensory tour of the garden. We took a look in the worm box, identifying critters that are helpful for creating rich soil. For June, we sampled rattlesnake beans and strawberries, two tasty treats in season this month. Next, we sniffed some rosemary leaves and discussed what type of food they reminded us of. (Baked chicken?) Finally, we got up close and personal with some sunflowers, feeling their prickly stems and rough leaves. The kids were amazed to see how tall the stalks were – even taller than all the adults!
These mini classes give the preschoolers the chance to experience outdoor education early on, and gain a foundational appreciation of where their food comes from. Every student may know what a strawberry looks like, but seeing a ripe one growing on the bush is a whole different experience! The lessons change every month to reflect which fruits and vegetables are in season.
August 6th from 2-4pm, Tom Cronin will be running Summer Fruit Tree Thinning and Pruning for Quality. Tom will be teaching the art of growing beautiful fruit trees that also produce prolifically. This will help enable participants to start their own backyard orchard.
This class is part of the ‘Home Orchard’ series, including ‘Summer Fruit Tree Thinning and Pruning for Quality’ (8/6/2016), ‘Fall Fruit Tree Pruning for Beauty and Bounty’ (10/22/2016), and ‘Bare-root Fruit Tree Planting’ (1/14/2016). Purchase tickets for all three and save!
Here is a teaser from Tom:
When is less, more? When you should thin fruit (yes- cut it off the tree!) to increase the size, sweetness and quality of your fruit harvest. For example: Learn how not to use stakes to hold up drooping and weighted branches.
Here are four benefits of thinning fruit:
1. Discourage overbearing and early fruit drop.
2. Improve remaining fruit size, color, & quality.
3. Help to avoid limb damage from a heavy fruit load.
4. Stimulate next year’s crop and help avoid heavy/light fruit years.”
Tom Cronin has gardened for over 25 years, and he is extensively involved in a number of local projects, such as City Trees and Incredible Edible Redwood City. To read all about his experience, visit his website, Tom’s Edible Gardens.
Our beds are finally set for the summer: the sweet potatoes are taking off, the corn is nearly at the ‘milk-ripe’ stage (good for harvesting as sweet corn), the sorghum is making seed heads, and after several tries, the amaranth and the quinoa are in and thriving! This is the season for harvesting, and we are happily inundated with zucchini, tomatoes, spring parsnips, turnips, pluots, apriums, and more. In between enjoying the delicious harvest, we are starting to dream about cool Fall rains, and are planning what to plant in August and September for Fall harvesting…