Saturday, October 12, 2013

Winter Vegetable Garden In A Bushel Basket

Southwest include Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah
We're most lucky here in southern California and in most of the U.S. sunbelt to be able to year-round garden. Temperatures in the inland valleys are a moderate 60F+ which is wonderful for all root vegetables, lettuces, onions, cabbages, flowers etc.

There's an imaginary line that marks southern California and that is the northern most border of Kern County, Riverside, San Luis Obispo County and San Bernardino County. The latitudes of these counties even on the shortest days of the year have more than nine hours of glorious warm sunlight which makes it most possible to grow almost any crop during the winter months. Most avid vegetable gardeners in these areas take advantage of the moderate temperatures that are similar to Mediterranean climates of Turkey, Italy and parts of Spain and Portugal.

Like I always say, when in Rome.. . grow it! Besides growing the regular cabbage, beets, bok choy, various lettuce and onions, I can get away with growing tomatoes outside until December. Herbs love southern California and the sunbelt during the winter months as well. My basil and oregano flourish more so in Autumn and Winter rather than Summer or Spring.

It's always a 'wow' experience whenever the California Poppies, roses and citrus trees are in full bloom during the winter months.
Seldom does it actually freeze over in southern California. Southwestern states like Arizona, New Mexico do get plenty of frost dates and fall below freezing temperatures that disallow particular crops like fragile lettuces, mustard, broccoli etc.
Because southern California hardly sees freezing temperature or frost that's deep enough to freeze the ground, we can grow just about anything during winter. We have the warm Pacific Ocean breezes, California sunshine and shelter from mountains to thank for long growing seasons.
Excellent vegetables to grow well during Autumn and Winter in zones 8, 9 and 10. Zone 7 can be variable. Keep an eye out for frost and freezing ground temperatures in U.S. hardiness zone 7.
It's always a good idea to start seeds ahead in containers so that you have a good strong plant, no second guessing at where you had sown seeds or a chance that your seeds won't germinate.
Almost all crops can be seeded directly outside by the middle of fall to germinate and grow without any cover necessary. Celery seeds are considered micro seeds and I always recommend sewing them in a container so that you can transplant them into the ground. Celery seed can easily blow away even before they hit the ground.
A helpful hint to know and has always been successful for me is to space winter vegetables a bit further apart than usual. This will allow good air circulation once the weather becomes a bit cooler or wetter. There will be times during the winter months that cool season crops may need some extra babying to get them through hot dry spells that occur or overnight drop in temperatures. 
Keep in mind that Santa Ana winds which are warm winds usually occurring in October - December can dry out or erode your ground. Water them often to keep their roots moist and cool until they get well established.

Published planting guide charts are a good source of information to let you know when to begin or establish particular plants according to their growing seasons but, live on the edge! Try planting seeds out of season to see what happens.
You may be surprised that you can actually grow cabbage during the heat of summer with a bit of extra care or cherry tomatoes that grow until February. Vegetable gardening is all about trial and error. Ground cover, companion planting, old bed sheets can help along vegetable plants that don't normally grow during the winter months.
I've had zucchini grow up until December because, the plant was situated between Detroit Red Beet plants. Weird and surprising things always happen in the garden.
I'm a big fan of square foot gardening. Square foot gardening is based on how many plants can fit into a square foot using companion planting techniques. Many times tall plants will help extend the life of out of season shorter plants. Lettuce is a great ground cover for many plants that need a bit of warmth. Plant lettuce at the base of just about anything. Taller plants help shelter lettuce from cold or the heat of the sun. Experiment with your garden. Experiment with container gardens and plant locations.
The more you know.. .
*Do you have a hot spare bedroom that gets direct sunlight? Why not have a container garden in that hot spare bedroom or corner near the sliding glass window? There's no rule that your veggies need to only grow outside in particular plots. Many times cement retaining walls radiate heat during the winter which will help plants like broccoli and brussel sprouts thrive. Trial and error. It's always a kick to find that 'sweet spot' around the house or outside that allows you to grow a cabbage or bed of spinach. Some climbing vegetables like cucumbers can grow longer, outside of the typical growing season when planted along side of a cement wall. The wall's heat helps the plant live a bit longer.
Squash and tomatoes are always fun to try to grow out of season. I have good success with Hubbard, butternut, acorn squash and cherry tomatoes up until the first frost.
 Recommended Vegetable Seed Companies:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Easy Companion Planting

Vegetable and Flower Garden
Companion Planting Made Simple

Companion planting is when you plant different vegetables or flowers together or in close proximity with the goal of controlling or ridding bad pests (deer, rabbits) and weeds, improving nutrient uptake and fertility, attracting bees, butterflies and other good insects that will improving pollination or rid your plants of damaging insects.

Besides using companion planting to rid pests or attract bees for pollination, companion planting can actually improve your soil or heighten the flavor and aroma of foods because, a companion plant is warding off disease, damaging elements and allow nutrients to easily absorb into a plants root, stem or leaf system.

Companion planting absolutely works because one or more of the following occurs:

One plant will produce a particular substance or substances that help another plant in various ways. Basil will repel aphids from tomato plants.

Growing habits of one plant compliment the growing habits of another which will help the plant thrive to its potential.

One plant will attract insect predators that eat the insect pests on the companion. If you had planted 10 cabbages all together you would almost certainly lose several to moths or caterpillars unless you carried out regular spraying of insecticides which I feel isn't good for your health; however,  if you plant them with celery and beets and some peas, you would have a successful cabbage crop. Caterpillars can't stand the smell of celery.

One plant will repel the pests that eat or damage its companion. For instance, pepper plants near cabbage will repel cabbage moths.

One plant disguises its companion so that pests do not recognize it.

One plant creates a micro-climate for another.

One plant attracts pollinators that are required by its companion. Colorful flowers like marigold or cosmos can attract bees, butterflies and moths that help pollinate the flowers of a pepper or tomato plant.

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Companion Planting

Asparagustomatoes, parsley, basil
Beanspotatoes, carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, cabbage, summer savory, most other vegetables and herbsonions, garlic, gladiolus
Pole Beanscorn, summer savoryonions, beets, kohlrabi
Bush Beanspotatoes, cucumbers, strawberries, celery, summer savoryonions
Beetsonions, kohlrabipole beans
Cabbage Familyaromatic plants, potatoes, dill, celery, chamomile, sage, peppermint, rosemary, beets, onionsstrawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
Carrotspeas, leaf lettuce, chives, onions, leeks, rosemary, sage, tomatoesdill
Celeryleek, tomatoes, c cauliflower, bush beans, cabbage
Chivescarrotspeas, beans
Cornpotatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash
Cucumbersbeans, corn, peas, radishes, sunflowerskohlrabi, potato, fennel, cabbage
Leekonions, celery, carrots
Lettucecarrots, radishes, strawberry, cucumber
(carrots, lettuce and radish make a strong team)
(also Garlic)
beets, strawberry, tomato, lettuce, summer savory,
chamomile (sparsely)
peas, beans
Parsleytomato, asparagus
Peascarrots, turnips, radishes, cucumbers, corn, beans, most vegetables and herbsonions, garlic, gladiolus, potato
Potatobeans, corn, cabbage, horseradish (should be planted at the corner of the patch), marigold, eggplant (as a lure for Colorado Potato beetle)pumpkin, squash, cucumber, sunflower, tomato, raspberry
Radishpeas, nasturtium, lettuce, cucumber
Soybeansgrows with anything, helps everything
Squashnasturtium, corn
Strawberriesbush bean, spinach, borage, lettuce (as a border)cabbage
Tomatochives, onions, parsley, asparagus, marigold, nasturtium, carrots

   Melons              Nasturtium, corn, tomato