Seedybeans Blog

Celebrating the Humble Harvests of High Desert Homesteading

Archive for Sowing Calendars

Planting the Fall Garden

This post is a little over due, that is if you are following my garden advice, but not to worry it is not too late to plant your fall crops.  The past couple of weeks have been busy around here and it seems any garden time I have is going to preserving rather than planting.  But in this high desert garden spring and fall are optimal time for planting and reaping.  The cool weather and rains that the ‘shoulder seasons’ provide are great for greens, roots and many herbs.  Come late July and early August I fill in all those nooks and crannies that have been opened up by summer harvests with all kinds of leafy goodies. For example the garlic bed dug in July is now sprouting with fall lettuce and the potato bed will soon follow with more salad greens.  Sometimes you can even plant among big shady things in the heat of the summer if you know they will be coming out soon enough to give over the light and nutrients to the little guys, this is what they call using a nurse crop.  I harvest my broccoli,  move the irrigation over just a couple of inches and plant spinach.  In a couple of weeks the spinach will have germinated, the brocoli be done and ready to pull out( I actually just cut it off at the base and leave the root as to not disturb the bed too much, when forking happens in spring they will all come out).  When using a bed continuously it does require some top-dressing of compost, but there really is no need to re-dig the whole bed.  Just scratching where you want to seeds and covering them with a light layer of compost should do the trick.

When choosing crops for fall just think of cool season crops and do a little math.  Any good seed packet will say ‘Days to Maturity’ for you crop and variety.  If you figure the last frost date in Santa Fe is October 15th– that is about 60 days from now…so most lettuces are 60-70days to maturity (keep in mind, many people eat lettuce as baby leaves & surely don’t wait 60 days)  Also keep in mind that even if you have some crops that aren’t big enough to eat when the first frost does come, covering crops with cold frames, hoops and row cover and even blankets for the night protects them well and will buy you soon time.  Here in the high desert it takes a while to really have consecutive killing frosts to take a crop down.  Many people, myself included have kale for Christmas (the cold air makes it sweeter!!)

You may also want to keep in mind soil temperature, as that matters more than air temperature for seed germination.  It is more crucial in the spring when the soil is simply too cold to get good germination, but I have also heard if the soil is too hot, cool seasons seeds can have a hard time germinating as well. (Though truthfully I haven’t run into that yet)

This chart was borrowed from CASFS where I studied Ecological Agriculture and they Adapted it from UC Davis Vegetable Research and Information Center’s Seed Germination Temperatures chart (http://vric.ucdavis.edu/veginfo/)
Vegetable   Optimal Soil Temp for Germination   Days to Germinate

Bean, snap                        75 – 80                                    7
Bean, lima                         85                                             7 – 10
Beet                                    75                                              7 – 14
Broccoli                             75                                              7
Cabbage, heading            68 – 75                                    5 – 10
Carrot                                 75                                             12 – 14
Cauliflower                        68 – 86                                   5 – 10
Celery                                 68 – 76                                   10 – 14
Collard                               68 – 76                                    4 – 10
Corn                                    70 – 86                                   7 – 10
Cucumber                          70 – 86                                   7 – 10
Eggplant                             70 – 86                                   10
Endive                                 68 –75                                    10 – 14
Kale                                      68 – 75                                   5 – 10
Leek                                     68 – 70                                   10 – 14
Lettuce                                68 –70                                     7 –10
Melon                                  80 –86                                    4 – 10
Mustard Greens                68 – 70                                    5 – 10
Onion                                  68 – 70                                   10 – 14
Onion, bunching               60 – 68                                   10 – 14
Parsley                                65 – 70                                     11 – 28
Parsnip                               68 – 70                                    14 – 21
Pea                                       65 – 70                                     7 –14
Pepper                                 75 – 85                                     10
Pumpkin                             68 –75                                      7 – 10
Radish                                 65 – 70                                     5 – 7
Spinach                               68 – 70                                     7 – 14
Squash, summer               70 – 85                                     7 – 14
Squash, winter                   70 – 85                                    7 – 14
Tomato                                75 – 80                                    7 – 14
Turnip                                  65 – 70                                     7 – 14

Now if you like charts there is a great one Eliot Coleman has in the back of his book, Four Season Harvest on when to sow fall plantings.

Which I believe they have at the library, which I guarantee if you read the whole thing you will need no advice from me!!

Wow that was a lot of information, but when it is all said and done you could just do what I do; scratch some dirt, throw in some cilantro, lettuce, spinach, dill, arugula, mache, carrot, turnip, beet, kale and chard, cover with compost and call it a day!! Don’t forget to leave a little open space for the October garlic planting, oh, and pray for more rain!!

Here are a few links if you would like to learn more

Home Grown New Mexico

Sow True

Mother Earth News

Organic Gardening

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“What do I plant, and when?”

Over the years I think the most common question I get asked is “What do I plant, and when?” I have answered the best I can, sent people to my favorite books, taught classes, blogged about it….But I fear I may be giving too long and complicated answers… the basic home gardener doesn’t want calculate and compute, they just want to know what to plant and when and get on with it, am I right!!  So here is this years attempt to make gardening in the high desert all the more straight forward and accessible to everyone.  Please keep in mind, many might argue with me, as we gardeners all love our own way of doing things..I am just sharing what I do and what I believe you can do too. This post is loaded with links so be sure to click on them for more info.

January–

Plan– Take a seed count, Order any seeds from your favorite Companies,( Mine are Johnny’s, Seeds Savers Exchange, Native Seed Search , Order potatoes (companies can and do sell out)

PlantGreenhouse (Indoor south-facing window) Onions, Leeks, Scallions, Tomatoes(yes it seems early but is works for me)Lettuce, Cilantro

Cold Frame– Spinach, Mache, Cilantro, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens.

February–

Plan– Decide where you might want to put everything measuring square footage, you can use graph paper, or this fancy software. Once you know how much of what it is you want to grow, you can really start.

Plant- Greenhouse (Indoor south-facing window)Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards  (these can also be direct sown outside next month),Tomatoes

Cold Frame– Spinach, Mache, Cilantro, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens, Carrots, Chard

Outdoors with Row Cover-Spinach, Mache, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Cilantro, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens,

March-

Plan-Order Compost (I like to put down compost every year, about 1inch thick on all my veggie beds, if you can produce this much on sight, well done!!, if not it is worth buying some here) Plan/Purchase Irrigation system–lots to say on this matter, but this year we are going with t-tape.(more on all that later)

Plant

Greenhouse (Indoor south-facing window)

Basil

Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, (can also be planted directly at under cover outside)

Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant

Cucumber, Melon, Winter Squash (Pumpkin, Butternut, Acorn, Etc…)Summer Squash (zucchini, Yellow Squash) These all do well direct seeded outside later in the season

Flowers- Calendula, Marigolds, Sunflowers, Snap Dragons, Tithonia, Zinnias (direct sowing works very well for all of these later in the season, I just have a greenhouse and can’t help myself!)

Cold Frame– Spinach, Mache, Cilantro, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens, Carrots, Chard, Beets

Outdoors with Row Cover-Spinach, Mache, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Cilantro, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, Carrots, Chard,

Outdoors in the great wide open– Potatoes, Spinach, Peas, Radishes, Lettuce, Dill, Chives, Flowers- Sweet Peas…I always try to get these guys in by St. Patty’s day, but am usually about a week or so late.

Just a note-March is when I really start planting outside as I am lazy with cold season watering.  If I were more serious about production I would be gardening year round, but March really feels right to me, everything must rest, right?!!  Remember, once you put seeds in the ground, you need to keep them moist for them to germinate and grow, granted the soil dries-out much slower in the cool season, but this is the desert, so only sow when you are ready to hand water (irrigation usually isn’t turned out till May).  If you are watering outdoors in the cold months (you should be watering perennials and trees every 2-4weeks with these dry winters)…..always drain and unhook your hoses, they can freeze and burst and cause you real trouble!!

April

Plan- Spread compost and lay irrigation if that is part of your plan. Till or dig any bed you plan to turn.

Plant-

Greenhouse (Indoor south-facing window) I am full up in the Greenhouse by this time and just watering my babies.  I always try to have a flat of sunflower sprouts growing, you can sow these once a week.

Cold Frame-Pepper, Eggplant (If your cold frame is tall enough this ensures a nice hot mini greenhouse that you can close up if we get frost before they ripen in the fall)

Outdoors with Row Cover- Spinach, Mache, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Cilantro, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, Carrots, Chard,

Outdoors in the great wide open- Onions, Leeks, Scallions,Potatoes, Spinach, Mache, Lettuce, Arugula, Parsley, Cilantro, Dill, Chives, Peas, Radishes and other cold season greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, Carrots, Chard, Beets, Parsnips, Flowers- Marigolds, Snap Dragons, Sweet Peas 

May (Last Frost date May 15th)

Plan-Spread compost and lay irrigation if that is part of your plan. Till or dig any bed you plan to turn.

Plant-

Outdoors in the great wide open- (Direct seed or transplanted from the greenhouse)

Broccoli, Cabbage, Kale, Collards, Carrots, Chard, Beets, Parsnips, Beans, Corn, Squash, Cucumbers, Melons, Amaranth, Basil, Flowers- Calendula, Marigolds, Sunflowers, nasturtiums, Cosmos, Zinnias

Who Did I Forget?- Garlic is planted in the fall, sweet potatoes I have yet to try though they are getting experimented with in gardens all around me, Bok choy- yet to really succeed against the flea beatles, but will let you know when I truly get a successful crop!

Well I hope that helps– never a short answer from me, but hopefully somewhat simple and straight forward?  Happy gardening!

What to plant when?

This is just a brief little post to link anyone who is interested to a handy spread sheet that tell you what to plant when.  I am not computer savy enough to put into into this blog, but a quick click here will bring you to an excel sheet that Johnny’s seed catalog has put together to help you calculate your planting schedule.  It starts with starting seeds indoors to planting outside.  Hope it brings inspiration to plant those blessed seeds this spring.

Back at it

It has been a while since I have written, the June heat took me down and watering was pretty much all I did.  I think I was so organized this spring, I just needed a break, to sit back and watch the garden grow.  Now that the rain is finally here, I have been reinvigorated to not only reap what I have sown, but start planting again for fall.

Garlic in its many forms, dirty and clean, dry and fresh out of the ground. All harvested in the past couple of weeks.

 

Pretty curly garlic scaps, or flowering tips. I once made a wreath out of them and sold it for $50!!

 

I have starting preserving, freezing and of course eating.  I harvested over 5 lbs of garlic making a huge stock pile of winter hard neck and some beautiful braids of soft neck.  Garlic is pretty much ready to harvest when the leaves start to yellow and flop over.  Many farmers cut off the scaps, the flower buds—you can cook and eat them and I have seen many people at market even selling them as they have a great flavor and can be used in almost any way garlic is used. If you choose to leave the scap on it will produce a little bunch of garlic babies which, when planted will produce garlic in 2 seasons.  I usually plant the cloves of the bulb, but have harvested the result of leaving those little bulbs and sprinkling them through the land 2 years ago.  Booth have produce good crops.

As for what to plant next—I sowed carrots and beets last week and got so super blessed by this rain that they have all germinated beautifully!

Next friday and Saturday the moon will be in a water sign so I will get a bed ready for spinach, lettuce and fall greens, like kale, chard, and collards.  Many folks love fall peas which I will pop in the ground in a couple of weeks too. When I plant spring greens early—March- I usually leave a bunch to bolt in June—by now they are going to seed.

Blessed bolting lettuce this particular variety bolted last year and was the first lettuce to come up in spring. It now has a mind of its own in the garden and saves me lots of trouble by just appearing offering me salad

 

 I simply collect the seed, save some for next spring and plant the rest for fall.  I figure if mother nature is dropping her seed in the garden, I must be time.  

One lettuce plant produces tiny little flowers that look like sunflowers( yep, same family!!) from one flower you get a bunch of seeds, so lettuce is a great plant to save seed from and get big bang for your buck!!

 

Mama knows best , right?  So clear out that garlic and those potatoes, harvest those bolting cilantro and spinach and re sow—the gardening season is no where near done, that is unless you are….

Happy last frost day

 

Corn Maiden- from the Sky Woman by Joanne Shenandoah & Douglas M. George

 

As some readers may know, I have been following the Biodynamic planting calendar this growing season and loving it. I am lucky enough to have time in my days to garden at home and can kind of work my schedule around what needs to be done.  It is tricky for some, as a friend stated, ” I can’t just do everything at once”  for me that is what I like about it.  Plant flowers this day, sow greens this day, etc.. there are even days to check your bees and spread your “preparations”.  It let’s you integrate gardening as a daily practice instead of a weekend warrior thing, which I do realize and respect is real for many of us. By all means power on you weekend warriors, bless those busy hands.  But for me this is a deepening of my garden practice.  For some it is Zen mediation, others, training for the marathon of  a life time, for me it is to become an even more deeply rooted grower.

Cucumbers to be planted in front of greenhouse

 

This week was full of Biodynamic fun.  Thursday was  fruit day– I planted cucumbers and as I went I pulled those luscious lambs quarters that were in my way.  Yes, I could have eaten them , but since the “crop” is abundant this year, I just whistle while I worked and weeded as I sowed.  Acting much as a cover crop, lambs quarters concentrate nitrogen in the soil so I could compost them, or simply lay them right down around the new cucumbers.  I hve taken to this habit mainly cause whenever my husband sees me luggin wheel burrow load sof weeds ot the compst pile he say, why take them all that way so thay can just come right back here…Good point and I have truly seen not only thr lodgic buthe results in this theroy.  Now the once “weeds” will suppress other weeds, trap moisture and help my little cucs little along, while of course giving their bodies back to the soil and all the nitrogen that comes with that.  My nighttime reading lately I wonderful book given to me by the gitty elfin lady who wrote it, Wendy Johnson.  She is a Zen Buddhist, a mother and an amazing garden teacher among many other things.  In her book, Gardening at the Dragon’s Gate she shares her and her teachers wisdom on weeds: “Suzuki Roshi used to say, : ‘Be grateful for the weeds in your life.  Eventually they will enrich your practice.’ In their unruly strength and rank stance, weeds fortify your life.  They stand, rugged, and ancient, among the gleaming crops, anchoring the assembly with an old gravity, reminding all gardeners that flowers fall with our attachment and weeds thrive with our neglect.”

Cucumber is the little yellowish guy in the middle, lambsquarter mulch all around

That same day I planted corn in my little circle garden out back.  Planting corn is something I have to do, though I don’t know exactly why, it just told me so, so I abide.  I claim no real wisdom about, but I will say I love it.  In fact corn is so sacred I have to write a whole post about corn alone.  Choosing what kind to grow this year was pretty funny.  You see while in Tucson this February, a dear friend and I went to Native Seed Search.  She knows it is an important pilgrimage any time I am in Tucson, so she always makes time for it in our visits.  This year my husband circled half the catalog and I went to fulfil the order.  When the bill got over $150 I called him from my cell phone to verify, and yes he did in fact want everything circled.  So now in our seed bank we have over 13 kinds of corn, saved, gifted and bought.

So much corn so little space

 

 I decided on Vadito Blue Corn, From North New Mexico, counted the seeds perfectly and planted.  But then ran out some how….  Corn varaieties needs to be planted at least 1/4 mile apart so they don’t cross-pollinate with each other, as it is pollinated by the wind.  Opps  I disregarded this info and planted the other half of the garden in Taos Blue.  I figured if the cross, they are similar so how bad could it be?  Then I looked over the fence and saw my neighbor had planted his field.  I figure it is corn because that is all he ever grows, oh well, cross-pollinate away, yes, deepening the practice.

On Friday, moon in Taurus (an earth sign) I waited till the evening, after five I was taught is best.  The thunder clouds circled around and danced lightening to the north, then to the west with their light.  I sat in my garden, smelled the rain and for an hour, yes a whole hours stirred my cow horn manure prep for spreading on newly opened ground.  It is a preparation that you spread to inoculate the soil with the life that has concentrated in the buried horn all winter. This of course is a summary of the vast knowledge and depth of Biodynamic philosophy —so if you want more info just email me and I will link you to my teacher and the classes she gives on all this magic.

Swirling vortex of the cosmos on earth

 

As I stirred, I sang and called in the rain..it is supposed to be extra awesome to spread the preparation after a good rain.  And yes, It rained on me as I stirred, and like magical New Mexico rain storms the sun shone bright in the setting light all the while.  My husband laughed out loud at my witchy ways, but then joined me for the spreading.  We sprinkled it over all the open ground we had and then some.. Good Friday night fun on Bouquet Lane!!

stir swirl sing

 

So now the rain has come, the frost has passed, and yes my friends it is time to plant -plant- plant.  Happy growing season from my garden to yours.

The Greenhouse- My happy place

    Today marks the official 1 month till the last frost in Santa Fe County, though we all know whether knows no dates…dates do help guide our hands when we do our gardening planning.  As I mentioned in my last post, I am taking a class on Biodynamic agriculture and have learned about how the moons course across the sky can affect the growth of plants.  The gist of it is that every couple of days the moon crosses in front of a new planet in the zodiac.  The planets themselves have elements with which they are associated, earth, air, water and fire.  So as the moon makes her rounds, that is her rhythm.  The calendar I am following, the North American Biodynamic Sowing and Planting calendar works in that rhythm.  Today for example the moon is in Sagittarius, a fire sign hence sowing fruit.   Tomorrow it will move into Capricorn, an earth sign, I will sow roots.  Once that was pointed out to be, it just popped.  As in permaculture, once you can see patterns, you can not only understand, but work with things in a more intuitive way.  So this morning, I woke up, resowed my melons that didn’t germinate that well, and went on to have breakfast and so on…  having the calender in the greenhouse, just makes my life a fluid planting frenzy.  Our greenhouse is attached to our bedroom, since we don’t have children it is in fact, our nursery.  We wake up in the morning, roll out of bed and visit the babies.  In permaculture everything is designed around zones, making our designs model our behavior.  Everyone knows if it is out-of-the-way, it gets forgotten, so that said, our greenhouse is getting a lot attention these days.  Part of the design is that it heats our house, so part of the visit is to open up the doors and turn on the fans.  Here are some pics from the best room in the house.

Cucurbits!!

 

lovely lettuce

 

Zinnia's Zinnia's & more Zinnia's

Thursday is a leaf day!!

Didn’t plan on posting tonight– but I am gathering my seeds for tomorrow– a Leaf day.  No point in telling you after it has passed, wouldn’t want you to miss out.  I will be planting all these babies outside– Spinach, lettuce, bokchoy, cilantro, Chinese cabbage, mache, parsley.  If I am feeling over protective I might do a few in the cold frames( which can be removed after things are on their feet.  So gather your leaf seeds, let’s plant together.  —

FYI

This weekend is fruit (indoors) Like Tomatoes, melon, pepper, eggplant, etc…

Mon- Wed is root– carrots, beets ( outside in cold frames) & onions, more on that later.

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