Garden, Plant, Cook!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hot Times In The Garden: I Want You To Do What?

Dear Folks,

It is that time of the year when even us desert lizards change habits and concentrate our outdoor activities to early morning, twilight or later.  And I want you to think about gardening!

But first, my ginger is popping up and I'm pleased to find additional locations where it wants to grow more happily.  For all you folks who ask about things to grow in the shade, or some shade, ginger could be one of them.  I have some ginger growing in a south exposure - in front of the asparagus bed, and the asparagus is now in full 'feather and about 4 feet + tall.

When I harvested the ginger last time (last October 1st) - I re-planted some of the root in a shady spot - north of one of our peaches (deciduous - keep that in mind) and beside the variegated society garlic. I just noticed the new growth yesterday, 3 times the size of the sunny spot location ginger, so I think my usual experimenting process of trying different locations is providing once again information to pass on to you.  Ginger is one of those foods which is so good tasting and so good for you, it is a shame to NOT grow it.

Harvest ginger when the top dies back or flowers - it can take anywhere from 7-10 months.  The sunny spot ginger has been in the ground now about 2 and half years and dutifully comes up, but I'm hoping for more production out of the shady spot ginger.

Read my post of 2 years ago on ginger and my early attempts to grow it.  The picture above is from that post.

Onto gardening in July.

When we are looking at temperatures of 108 - 114 I sure I'm getting the 'eye roll' when I discuss doing soil preparation and seed planting in the middle of all of that, but if you want a fall garden, you have to consider the fundamentals.  If you want pumpkins you have to count backwards 120 days from the holidays.  If you want root vegetables, lettuces, and cool weather herbs like dill and cilantro as soon as the weather is really more comfortable you have to keep in mind when and how those plants germinate -- in the cooling soil.

For easier seeding in, you need either an existing garden bed or one that you can prepare by fluffing up with compost or well-rotted manure.  Did you miss the planting time for tomatoes this spring?  You can sow seeds in an established bed NOW, or you can also start them inside and transplant, in an established bed in mid to late July -- the key to success with that is to sow or plant in amongst summer flowering plants, so they have some canopy from the growing plants and that allows them to get going, while reaching for the sun.  You will get tomatoes producing as soon as the night time temperatures go below the 80s in September and harvest into November.

Most of the heavy fall sowing time begins August 1st - but pumpkins should be sown in starting July 15th.

The list of seeds to be sown then is impressive.  And while not normally listed, you can start basil seeds along with the tomato seeds so you have more basil growing when the tomatoes start producing later on.

Anise;  Beans, Snap (bush and pole);  Bok Choy;  Broccoli;  Brussels Sprouts;  Cabbage;  Caraway;  Carrots;  Cauliflower;  Chervil;  Cilantro;  Corn;  Cucumbers;  Dill;  Fennel;  Greens, all;  Kale;  Kohlrabi;  Lettuce;  Marigolds;  Mustard;  Nasturtium;  Onions, Green;  Parsley;  Portulaca (Moss Rose);  Pumpkin;  Purslane;  Squash, Winter;  Stock;  Sweet Alyssum.

With those types of herbs and lettuces that you may use the most, you can plant successively every 2-4 weeks through November/December.

Choose leaf varieties over "head" type on lettuces and kales - you will have faster and more production.

If you have portulaca (moss rose) growing - you can break off stems and just stick them right back in the ground next to new plants or seeds - they root very easily because they love our sun.  As invasive as that sounds (and their wild cousin can be really invasive) they do you the supreme favor of dying back as soon as the temps cool in the fall.  (The purslane family is edible.)

Give some serious thought to handling the aphids in early to late fall as they really want your dill and cabbage family.  Aside from the safe soil/soap spray referenced here on the blog site, consider the easy method of making up a quart of water with a finger tip of dawn.  Pour a 1/4 cup of this solution right down the center of growing cabbage and dill plants at the first site of aphids and you can do this once a week without harm to plants or soil -- this works because the aphids start out in the leaf axis and are not always easy to spot to until they mass.  You can even do it preventatively when the temperatures are hovering in the high 80s/low 90s in September after the plants are 6 inches tall or so.

As the heat gets more intense and you ramp up the watering (make sure you use your meter to measure soil moisture) you may see yellowing of leaves particularly on trees and shrubs.  This is usually due to the amount of water (necessary) applied which in turns causes the iron in the soil to bind with the calcium and make it unavailable to the plants (Chlorosis - yellowing of the leaves with the green veins standing out).  Easily treated with green sand (natural) or if you can't find it ironite (issues with source of this treatment).  Apply before next watering and the trees should green up in about 2-3 weeks.

. . .

Recipes, I love recipes and cookbooks and of course I'm always experimenting - right now I'm reading Mark Grant's "Roman Cookery: Ancient Recipes for Modern Kitchens" - one of the real original "Mediterranean Diets" :-)

But I am fascinated by a book I have not bought but will purchase shortly.  My kind of cook and writer.

"Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes" by Andrea Reusing.  This Southern gal treats your garden as one of the sources of seasonal produce.  I think this is going to be one of the great cookbooks "of the moment."


And if you need help with when to plant here in the desert don't forget my beginners guide "Edible Landscaping in The Desert Southwest: Wheelbarrow to Plate"  Also available as an ebook or a special pdf for ereaders like Kindle.


Have a great week!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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