Cerena writes to help new gardeners get started,
remind experienced gardeners to plant at the best times, inspire us to try new techniques!  Being outdoors gardening is healthy
for our bodies and spirits, provides the most nutritious organic veggies right on your table with no food miles at all! 


Green Bean Connection

Happy St Patrick's Day and Spring Equinox!  

March! Night Air Temps Now 50+ Degrees
How to Transplant for Super Successful Returns!
SoCal Veggie Gardens Successful Drought Choices
Garlic/Onion Rust, That Orange Fungus

Events!  Organic Veggie Gardening, Beekeeping, Permaculture, EARTH DAY!


Dear Pilgrim Terrace Gardeners, Garden Friends,


If you or a friend would like to garden at a community garden, the sooner the better, choose your plot and start working your soil for spring planting right now! 
 



Across-the-Plot Gardening Tips

March! Night Air Temps Now 50+ Degrees

Tomato Tree Epcot Disney Holds World Production Record
Disney's Epcot Greenhouse Tomato Tree, Lycopersicon esculentum, originally engineered by Chinese scientists, yielded a total of 32,000 tomatoes by the time it reached 16 months!  They won a Guinness World Record for the most tomatoes harvested from a single plant in a single year. Hope they taste as good as they look! Buy seeds, plant!

Night air temps are now 50+ degrees if you live coastal SoCal! At Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden, we are about a mile inland. Temps vary if you garden further inland or are in the foothills or quite south of Santa Barbara. Check your soil temps too - 60 to 65°F is good. Master Gardener Yvonne Savio says 'Planting them into the soil when air temperatures are still cool results in growth stress which is difficult for the plants to overcome. Peppers, especially, will just “sulk” if their roots are chilled, and they won’t recuperate quickly [if ever] – best to just wait till the soil has warmed before planting them.' Peppers especially need nighttime temps above 55°F and soil temps above 65°F. Word.

First week of March get 'em in the ground! Seeds and transplants! If you plant transplants, put in seeds at the same time. They will be coming along 6 to 8 weeks behind your transplants so you have a steady supply of yummy veggies! Succession planting makes such good sense. If tending seedlings isn't your cup of tea, just leave space and put in more transplants in 6 to 8 weeks from now.

Choose drought and heat tolerant varieties as possible. If our summer is hotter than usual, good chance of that, enjoy planting plants that need more heat than our coastal veggie gardens usually support. That would be melons, pumpkins, large eggplants, okra!

Timing is important! Plant Winter squash NOW 
so it will have a long enough season to harden for harvest and be done in time for early fall planting. APRIL is true heat lovers time! Eggplant, limas, melons (wait until May for cantaloupe), peppers, pumpkins and squash! Many wait until April to plant tomatoes. Wait until the soil has warmed to 70°F before planting squash and melons. Some gardeners wait until JUNE to plant okra. It really likes heat and grows quickly when happy. Choose faster maturing varieties for coastal SoCal. If you anticipate a HOT summer, plant a tad earlier and be prepared to deal with it if summer is overcast as often is the case after all.   

Right now plant cold tolerating quick maturing tomatoes, and pepper transplants. Outdoors, sow or transplant beets, carrots, celery, chard, herbs, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuces, green onions, bulb onion seed and sets (be sure to get summer- maturing varieties), parsley, peas, peanuts, potatoes, radishes, shallots, spinaches, strawberries, and turnips. Transplant broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and kohlrabi seedlings. Time for heat-resistant, bolt-resistant lettuces of all kinds! Sierra, Nevada, Jericho, Black Seeded Simpson are some.
  • Beans, Cukes, Dill, Radish Combo! Depending on ground temps, tuck in some bean seeds where the peas are finishing, intermingled with cucumber seeds that will grow below the beans, plus a few dill to go with the cukes! Plant radishes with the cukes to deter the Cucumber beetles.
  • Tomato Tips:  La Sumida has the largest tomato selection in the Santa Barbara area! Ask for Judi to help you with your veggie questions. Heirlooms are particularly susceptible to the wilts, Fusarium and Verticillium. Instead, get varieties that have VFN or VF on the tag at the nursery. The V is for Verticillium, the F Fusarium wilt, N nematodes. Ace, Early Girl, Champion, Celebrity, are some that are wilt resistant/tolerant. In these drought conditions, consider getting only indeterminates.
  • This is the LAST MONTH to transplant artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale; also strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry roots so they’ll bear fruit well this year.
  • Indoors, sow eggplant, peppers, and more tomatoes for transplanting into the garden in late April or early May. Also Cucumbers, eggplants, melons, squash and sweet potatoes. 
Plant some lovely chamomile, cosmos, marigold and yarrow to make habitat and bring our beneficial good friends, hoverflies, lacewings, ladybird beetles, and parasitic wasps. 

Please see Drought Choices info before you choose your varieties.

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How to Transplant for Super Successful Returns!

Transplant Roots are super important!
I know these are not veggies. What I want you to see is the roots. Healthy, opened out, pointing down, not rootbound. These little guys will get a good start.

Rather than popping your transplants out of the six pack and stuffing them into the ground unceremoniously, throwing some water at them, 5 minutes and you're gone, consider enhancing that process! It's an investment.

Think how big that rootball will get and generously give the planting spots some wholesome nutrients. Remember, also, hungry micro roots grow laterally searching for food, like from naturally decomposing leaves and insects, so make your planting hole a little larger than that. Do as nature would do.

Put your plant fuels right where they will be used, right in that planting hole! Dig about an 8" to foot diameter hole shovel-blade deep. Throw in a half a shovel of compost if that area hasn't had compost added recently. Add 3/4 cup or so of chicken manure (or your choice), a good handful of bonemeal, handful of nonfat powdered milk, 1/2 C worm castings, maybe a little bit of landscape mix from Island Seed & Feed bulk bins. Could put in 1/4 C or less of coffee grounds. Compost and manures add N (Nitrogen), necessary for growth. Bone meal is high in Phosphorous (for blooming) and takes 6 to 8 weeks before it starts working – perfect timing!  It is also high in calcium, which helps prevent blossom end rot in tomatoes. Nonfat powdered milk, also high in calcium, is for immediate uptake, a natural germicide and boosts the immune system. Worm castings have special plant-growth hormones, improve water holding capacity, suppress several diseases and significantly reduce parasitic nematodes, aphids, mealy bugs and mites. They are not fertilizer. Coffee grounds help prevent soil diseases. You only need very small amounts of castings and coffee grounds to do the job. 

If the roots of your transplant are jammed up a bit, gently pull down their little legs, spread them out. Dig your planting hole wide and deep enough that you can make a little cone of soil in the bottom. The longer roots will dangle down around the cone, happy to be in their natural direction, already starting to be able to reach for deeper soil moisture. Some gardeners trim or cut them off rather than have them curl and fold.  

Sprinkle Mycorrhizal fungi right ON the roots of your transplants when you put them in the ground. It increases uptake of nutrients, water, and phosphorus that helps roots and flowers grow and develop. The exception is the Brassica family - for example, won't work on broccoli, kale, turnips, radish - save your time and money. Ask for it at Island Seed & Feed in Goleta.

If you have a spritz bottle handy, spray the roots and saturate the planting hole with hydrogen peroxide. It gives the little guys a boost of oxygen, uptake of nutrients, kills many disease causing organisms, pests, algae, fungus and spores. H2O2  Important details

Give everybody a drink of water to settle the soil and merge the soil with your roots so they can eat. Be sure where your water will flow. Use trenches, basins/wells, mini embankments, to keep it where you want it, where it is needed. For plants like melon or winter squash, put a stake in the center of the basin where the seeds or transplants are, so you can water right where the roots are. Time to time, restore the basin. As your super healthy plant matures, finding where it starts is often lost among the prolific monster foliage.

After they are in the ground and watered, give them an Aspirin+ bath! Yup. One Aspirin, 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish soap (surfactant), per gallon of water. While you are at it, add a 1/4 C nonfat powdered milk and Tablespoon of Baking Soda as well. Aspirin, triggers a defense response and stimulates growth! As stated above, powdered milk is a natural germicide and boosts the immune system. Baking Soda makes the leaves alkaline and inhibits fungal spores! Use especially on your young bean plants, all your cucurbits – cukes, zuchs, any mildew prone plant. Use a watering can that has a rose (nozzle) that turns upward to get the undersides of leaves as well as their tops. Especially do this for tomatoes! Sometimes I plant one day, give the new babies their treatment the next, depending on how much time and energy I have, how many plants I need to plant.

Last, top off your soil with soil feeding mulch. Straw is simple and allows aeration so soil stays healthy. Apply it thick enough to keep sunlight from getting to the soil. Mulch keeps tomato leaves from picking up wilts from soil. It keeps cucumbers, winter squash and strawberries up off the ground, less susceptible to insects and rot, keeps fruits clean.

Don't forget to put down an organic snail/slug bait, or you may not have plants the next day. If you live in a bird area, cover your new planties with bird net or row covers. 

Soon, very soon, put up trellises by beans and cukes, and install sturdy cages for tomatoes and peppers. Going vertical gives you more space to plant, and keeps fruits clean up off the ground, free of soil diseases and ground crawlies! Convenient picking height too. Eat 'em as you stand there!

Planting Seeds!  Do your soil preparations the same as for transplants! If you aren't putting in your seeds at the same time as you prep your soil, stake the center of the spots where the seeds will go so when you plant their roots will have maximum opportunities for tasty nutrition! Lay down that snail/slug stuff right when you plant. Tiny sprouts are a delicacy. Once your little ones are up about 3, 4 inches, give them their aspirin+ bath, mulch them properly, install their trellises and cages.

Mazel tov!

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SoCal Veggie Gardens Successful Drought Choices

California's 2013 was the driest year on record in 119 years. 

Tomato, Pineapple Heirloom, drought tolerant, suitable for grafting.
This beauty is Territorial Seed's heirloom Pineapple tomato - drought resistant, indeterminate and suited to grafting.

Drought won't stop us from growing tomatoes, but we do need to adjust some of our veggie variety plant choices.

Herbs by nature are naturally drought tolerant since most of them are Mediterranean.
 
Veggies are generally not naturally drought tolerant. Most are seasonally advantageous short rooted annuals, not deep rooted perennials. They grow quickly, need water to do that. Period. To produce fruitfully, they need to be able to make generous leaves to support photosynthesis to produce generous fruits and lots of them. Yet there are more heat loving varieties that do thrive in dry areas.

Some of us very coastal gardeners will be quite happy for the heat! It will mean we can grow plants we couldn't before, like melons, pumpkins, large fruited eggplants, okra, that gardeners further inland, in the hot foothills, or south of us have been enjoying all along! There are even drought tolerant varieties of melons like Blacktail Mountain.

One drought solution is to grow only super prolific plants for the most return per square foot, especially the drought and heat tolerant varieties! These 5 are a great backbone-of-your-garden veggies! 
  • Indeterminate tomatoes produce all summer long from one plant! No need to replant determinates costing periods of time with no production and additional water usage. Of the heirlooms, Pineapple, per Bountiful Gardens is the most cold-hardy and drought resistant large tomato they have seen.
  • Pole beans!  Same issue with bush beans as with determinate toms. No need to replant bush beans costing periods of time with no production and additional water usage. Pole beans produce all summer long. Try Rattlesnake bean, aka Preacher Bean. 100-degree heat doesn't stop them from producing lots of beans. 
  • Zucchini  Dark Star, produces in only 50 days. It is the result of organic growers working together to grow an open-pollinated heirloom-type zucchini that could outdo the modern hybrids. The result is a zucchini with great performance in cooler soils and marginal conditions, along with a big root system that goes deep to find water and resist drought.
  • Giant Fordhook chard, BountifulGardens.org says it is tolerant of drought and heat in our research garden.
  • Kale! In our warmer weather Curly leaf kale, a favorite, is more susceptible to aphids, and those little devils are hard to get out of those convoluted leaves. One thing you can do is pick more frequently to keep new growth coming fast. And it will be a must to do frequent routine pest checks; keep flushing them away. But how about a heat tolerant flat leaf kale like Thousand Headed Kale?! It has many growing points instead of just one, so it puts out a lot more foliage and tender shoots. Huge plants make lots of food. A must for self-sufficiency.
Check out Bountiful Gardens! They specialize in heirloom, untreated, open pollinated varieties for sustainable agriculture. In the drought tolerant section they say, 'Please note that this does not mean that the crops listed don't need some watering - these are crops that will grow with less water and all of these crops will need moisture to get established.' 
 
Prickly Pear - Zapatas, have edible pads and fruits!Try new plants from arid countries. Maria Arroyo at our Santa Barbara Community Gardens office recommends a traditional local plant, zapatas, Prickly Pear! Both pads and the fruits are edible! The fruits, tunas, are used in brilliantly colored healthy anti inflammatory juices, uh, margaritas, a jelly candy, and jams. The pads, nopales, are used various ways. From Phoenix Arizona, here is Kymm Wills' easy Nopales Recipe!  When & how to harvest those dangerous nopales! Or, check out your local Mexican market.
 
I have been thinking of the Santa Barbara Mission traditional La Huerta corn. The cobs are quite small. That is likely what happens generation after generation when there is little water. Bet the New Mexico/desert varieties have small production as well. In some instances we will need to adjust our expectations about how much yield to expect when we use less water. We may need more land to plant more for the same previous yield. 

This is time to check out southern university sites in states like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, maybe Florida, hot states, for their successful heat loving varieties. Please report in to me your location and ones you try that prove successful. Please save those seeds!
 
Our planting techniques need rethinking. One simple change is to plant IN furrows and basins/wells would keep water right and only where it is needed rather than randomly watering an entire area.

Grey-water is king. Think how much an apt building would make. Even a 10-minute shower with a low flow shower-head at 2.5 gallons per minute is 25 gallons of water used per shower. 
 
FYI  Feb 19 I attended the Farm Policy presentation. Here are some notes I took:
  • Santa Barbara County is #12 in California agriculture production.
  • Broccoli is our #2 crop (strawberries #1), 20% of US production! Most of what is exported goes to Japan, cut in special forms to their taste!
  • Farm production is up to 3B/yr.
  • We could be in a 500 year drought. Farming as we know it will be changing. Wells are drying up.
  • Nutrition is the base cause of noncommunicable diseases, 50+% overweight, 8% diabetes, our life expectancy now declining.
  • Amazingly, we import 95% of our fruits and vegetables. Yes, you read that right. Suggestions - increase local food distribution, grow more at home!
  • Mexico has the highest obesity rate in the world.
  • Europe now has a 50% reduction of meat and dairy use.
  • The Santa Ynez Valley Fruit and Vegetable Rescue gleans a 2nd harvest of unused produce, ie misshapen, too small, from farms, farmers' markets, for seniors, youth, and others in need. Wonderful story!

Which Landscape Plants to Save? TREES! 

Trees are long term plants, and they make shade. Shade means cooler, less evaporation, and though trees use water, they also preserve water.

I like Joan S Bolton's thorough and thoughtful, informative professional post. HOW TO KEEP YOUR TREES HEALTHY DURING THE DROUGHT

Here are some more details at SB County Agriculture & Weights & Measures Newlsetter. See Page 4, Our Oaks are Thirsty by Heather Scheck.

Stay strong in these challenging times. Enjoy the changes. To your good health and happiness!



Garlic/Onion Rust, That Orange Fungus

Handsome Hardneck Garlic at Ontos Farm, Australia
Ontos Farm in Australia says the flavour of the garlic also depends on soil and climate.  The ideal climate is cool with cold winters and no rain after October, our April, during the bulb filling period. Santa Barbara CA climate may be getting a little too warm to grow garlic? Most of this 'winter' here has been like summer.

The question was 'What do you think of bleach as a rust treatment?'

Bleach is safe to use; you can try it. 1/4 c per gallon of water, drench your plant once a day for a week. If that seems to be working, try maintenance applications once a week after that. But. I'm not seeing it referenced online as a rust cure. In fact, I'm not seeing anything where anyone reports success getting rid of rust. Rust is wind-borne and once in your soil, it's the devil to pay. 

I let it be on my large bunch onions. Pulling away infected leaves, I use the remaining central stems, which is all I need. But the reports about garlic are that rust infected plants have stunted dry bulbs. Unfortunately that would be more so as you remove infected leaves, reducing the plant's ability to grow. More energy goes into survival than production. It might 'catch up,' but it takes a long time to grow anyway, so not really worth the wait.
 
UC Davis has little to say, crop rotation, get rid of infected plants, use a fungicide. What commercial organic growers do is probably the best solution. It's a strong fungus. DO NOT COMPOST infested plants and spread rust throughout your soil by applying that compost. Maybe sometimes polite, cute or light weight organic remedies work; often they don't. This is one of the times it doesn't. When I had cancer I did both alternative stuff and heavy hitting chemo and radiation. It worked. I would put cancer and rust just about in the same category. Neem is probably the toughest of organic remedies I saw mentioned and online reports are it doesn't work on rust either. 

Prevention. Others mention shade and soil issues. Right now our Pilgrim Terrace community gardener Shannon has over 2' tall garlic with not a speck of rust on them! She makes super prodigious steer manure/alfalfa compost and uses it generously every year. Religion. You can just see there is a lot of soil organism action happening. Her soil is ALIVE! She plants a lot of garlic because her Sweetie loves it. She also gets great okra, another heavy feeder. I would start with your soil. Make it super rich. Don't be squeamish about manures. Use the righteous potent stuff. Alfalfa is more nutritious than straw, poor man's alfalfa. Alfalfa is high in nitrogen where straw is really best for aeration as a mulch. Shannon mulches generously with straw, so her plants are being fed from above and below.
 
Since soil infestation is a problem, just start with new soil each year! Remove entire old beds immediately after harvest if you decide to let your infected plants grow through for the small bulbs. Take that soil somewhere away from where you are planting; spread it out thinly so it will dry out, causing the fungus to die. You could use it as a 'mulch' in landscape areas where the fungus won't hurt those other types of plants, still far, far away from garlic or onion planting areas. Before your new planting time, build new beds with super charged compost. Or if you start 2 or 3 months sooner, you could build compost in place. Thin layers of manures, kitchen green wastes, alfalfa. Throw in some worms and whatever else makes your heart sing!

Garlic The United States is the world’s largest import market for fresh garlic, in 2010 importing 164.4 million pounds of fresh garlic valued at $130 million. and 30,170 MT of dried garlic valued at $32.6 million. China accounted for the majority of total U.S. garlic imports. Being so tasty, and healthy for us, let's successfully grow our own!
 




Upcoming Garden Events!

Walk or bike to events as possible!

Oscar Carmona Santa Barbara CAOrganic Vegetable Gardening with Oscar Carmona
Vegetables: Saturday March 1, 3:00 PM
Tomatoes: Saturday March 8, 3:00 PM
La Sumida Nursery, 165 S. Patterson Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA


Fairview Gardens DOCENT TRAINING!
Saturday, March 1, 9 to Noon at the Garden, Goleta CA

Hundreds of people tour Fairview Gardens' outdoor classroom each year, from classrooms, elderly centers, foodie groups and universities. Become part of the magic of this community farm! We will teach you everything you need to know to give educational tours of the farm and help bring excitement to food systems and knowing where food comes from. LEARN MORE
 

Permaculture Convergence at Temecula CA 2014! Register ASAP, this event sells out early!

2014 Southern California Permaculture VOICES
March 13 to 16 
at the Pechanga Resort, Temecula CA

Toby Hemenway, the author of Gaia’s Garden, will be there, and permaculturist Geoff Lawton, whom John Liu collaborates with in the video above. Geoff's wife Nadia Abu Yahia Lawton will be there too! She works to establish permaculture women’s groups and school projects in English and Arabic.

LAST YEAR (2013) THIS EVENT SOLD OUT almost immediately!  REGISTER NOW!

Permaculture Design Certificate Course (PDC) – March 18-29, 2014 at Pri Tipuana Farm
 


Bees Honey Hive Andrew West at Fairview Gardens Goleta CA

Tasty Introduction to Beekeeping with Andrew West

Saturday, April 5th, 9am – 1pm
At 1pm there is an optional visit to the apiary!
Fairview Gardens, 598 N. Fairview Avenue, Goleta, CA

Learn respectful and organic ways of keeping honeybees, basic beekeeping skills; topics covered include honeybee society and biology, equipment, starting colonies, spring management requirements. Please bring long sleeve and pants as well as gloves and a bee suit if you have one if you want to visit the apiary.


Earth Day Festival, Community Environmental Council
Save these dates!

CEC's Earth Day Festival!

Alameda Park, Santa Barbara CA 

Saturday, April 26 (11am-7pm)

Sunday, April 27 (11am-6pm)

Exhibitor registration opens Monday, February 3 at 12:00 pm.




Leave a wild place, untouched, in your garden!  It’s the place the faeries and elves, the little people can hang out.  When you are down on your hands and knees, they will whisper what to do.  All of a sudden an idea pops in your mind….

Cerena

In the garden of thy heart, plant naught but the rose of love. – Baha’U’Uah
"Earth turns to Gold in the hands of the Wise" Rumi

 
Delicious, nutritious winter veggies - lettuces, broccoli, chard, cabbage!

Cerena Childress, Plot 46
elist holder Pilgrim Terrace Community Garden
805-898-7888

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