Mar 122014
 

by Avis Licht

chard

Chard can be sowed in the ground or in pots

 

chard

The larger chard in the upper part of the photo was planted in November. The baby chard seedling was sown in January and planted in March. They will provide delicious greens for more than a year.

 You might be surprised at how early you can start sowing and planting your Spring vegetables. Of course, I’m not talking about snow or frosty ground. BUT, still there are a few great crops that can withstand what nature throws at them. If you live in a really cold clime, then you can start sowing indoors in many places. For those of you who live where the snow has left or never been, then consider these great plants.

LETTUCE:  This is one of my family’s favorite foods.  Mixed with other raw vegetables it’s a sure winner. I love butter lettuce, like the Marvel of Four Seasons, Red romaine and baby Bibb.

BOK CHOY: An Asian green that has a delicate flavor and can be eaten  both raw and cooked. You can sow this either in pots or directly in the ground.

CHARD: One of the easiest to grow and most nutrious greens. And it’s not only green. It comes in rainbow colors of red, yellow, orange and green. The variety I like to grow is Rainbow chard, of course. You can sow it in pots early and then transplant them or sow directly in the ground when it’s above 50 degrees.

BROCCOLI: There are different varieties of broccoli. Kale, cabbage and cauliflower are included in this family. But it doesn’t matter which one you grow, they’re all great. After I harvest the main crown from the broccoli, the plant grows many, many side shoots that are just as good. Also, the leaves are good to eat as well.

Bok Choy

Grow small greens in containers for small gardens or decks. This is bok choy.

Seeds of Change

Red lettuce

Red lettuce seedlings are planted between the broccoli plants. They are a good companion plant to broccoli. The broccoli is planted 2 feet apart, which leaves a lot of room between them. While they are small, it’s good to plant the lettuce seedlings which will be harvested before the broccoli gets too big.

very young broccoli

Broccoli seedling started in January, planted outdoors in March. I also sowed radishes in between the broccoli. The radishes will grow quickly and be harvested before the broccoli covers the area.

Check out my Store for tools that I recommend and use myself.  A good tool should last a long time and make your work easier and safer. If you shop through my Amazon store I get a small fee that helps support this free blog.
Gardening tools and seeds

Oct 192012
 
lettuce

by Avis Licht

In Northern California where I live, we can grow many crops over the winter. I’m getting my seedlings in for the Fall and Winter garden.  In this slide show I’m planting lettuce seedlings.  I’ll show you how to gently pry to roots apart and plant them to reduce shock.

Getting the soil ready is an important part of growing healthy plants. In my book The Spring Garden Made Easy, I set forth a simple, straightforward guide to planting that you can use in any season. Check it out!

Water in gently to settle the roots and get the plants going.

Water in gently to settle the roots and get the plants going.

Using a group of seedlings

Using a group of seedlings

Gently break apart in half

Gently break apart in half

Firm in gently around the leaves

Firm in gently around the leaves

Open hole and let roots dangle straight down into opening

Open hole and let roots dangle straight down into opening

IMGP5732

IMGP5732

Water in gently to settle the roots and get the plants going.Using a group of seedlingsGently break apart in halfFirm in gently around the leavesOpen hole and let roots dangle straight down into openingIMGP5732
Using a group of seedlings

Take a clump of seedlings

Gently break apart in half

Gently break apart in half

Open hole and let roots dangle straight down into opening

Open hole and let roots dangle straight down into opening

Firm in gently around the leaves

Firm in gently around the leaves

Water in gently to settle the roots and get the plants going.

Water in gently to settle the roots and get the plants going.

After they are planted you need to make sure they don’t dry out. Check the soil for moisture if it doesn’t rain. Just looking at the surface of the soil doesn’t tell you if it’s moist underneath.  Check with a trowel down a few inches.  If it’s dry at 2 inches or if the plants are wilting, be sure to water them.

You can find out more about extending your season in this article on row covers.

Mar 262012
 
Lettuce and parsley in a pot
Lettuce and parsley in a pot

Herbs and lettuce grow well in pots on the deck.

by Avis Licht

In other posts I’ve written about seeds; where to get them, and how to sow them. Now that they’ve turned into sturdy little seedlings, I’ll show you how to plant them.

1. First thing is to make sure your bed is ready for the seedlings.  This means that the soil should be worked up into a fine tilth so that it is soft and crumbles easily off your trowel. Add whatever amendments you have at hand, like compost, bone meal or manure into the soil before you transplant your seedlings.

2. Depending on how your seeds were started, you will either take them out of their little six packs, or as in the case of these photos, from a bunch of seeds sown in a container.

Pulling apart lettuce seedlings

Gently open the root ball to separate the seedlings (click to enlarge)

Lettuce seedlings

Hold your seedlings gently (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep separating the seedlings until you have them one at a time. Lay them so that the roots are straight down, not crunched up. Gently hold the leaf, open up a hole deep enough to let the roots dangle straight down and not get crunched up. (if you get my drift).  Slowly let the soil back into the hole to cover the roots. Gently firm in the soil around the crown of the seedlings.  You want the roots too make contact with the soil, but not rip the roots by pressing too hard.

Firm in the soil

Gently press the soil around the seedling. (Click to enlarge)

Hold by the leaf and let the roots dangle

Gently hold the leaf and dangle the roots (click to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep the soil below the crown of the leaf so that it doesn’t rot. Be sure to water in your seedlings.  Put the water at the base of the plant slowly so that the water seeps into the soil.  This will allow the roots to make contact with the soil and get moisture. If roots are not in contact with the soil, but are in air holes, they will dry out.

It’s best to plant into moist soil that crumbles in your hand, not too wet and not too dry.

A bed of lettuce

Closely planted lettuce in Spring

lettuce newly planted

This seedling will start growing immediately

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After they are planted you need to make sure they don’t dry out. Check the soil for moisture if it doesn’t rain. Just looking at the surface of the soil doesn’t tell you if it’s moist underneath.  Check with a trowel down a few inches.  If it’s dry at 2 inches or if the plants are wilting, be sure to water them.

Don’t forget to take your walkabout in the garden to keep an eye on your seedlings.  If anyone is causing trouble, like birds or snails, you’ll want to catch them right away. Now all you have to do is be a little patient, then the eating begins.

I took this photo this morning after a gentle rain.

rain on strawberry blossoms

It's late March and the strawberries are starting to blossom

Mar 222012
 
Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star'
Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star'

The first buds opening on my Magnolia (click to enlarge)

 

 

by Avis Licht – Taking a walkabout in the garden each day lets you see the changes taking place in both subtle and not so subtle ways. I take my coffee out in the morning and stroll around the garden.  This quiet time encourages me to see what’s happening, instead of just seeing what work needs to be done.

The first buds on the spring flowers seem to come from nowhere. Overnight they open up.

 

 

Lettuce protected by wire and bird netting

Beautiful red spotted bibb lettuce loves the cool weather

The little lettuce seedlings don’t mind the cool weather and are growing like crazy.

 

But wait, what’s this? Who ate the bok choy? I bend down and find that the tender leaves are being munched.  By noticing this right away, I’m able to protect the young plant before it’s completely eaten.  It’s good to recognize who’s doing the damage so that you can take the right measures to protect the plants.  No point in covering plants with netting if it is snail damage.  And no point in putting out Sluggo snail bait to stop the birds.  Take a look at this photo.  You can clearly see that a bird’s beak has taken a bite out of the leaf.  If you have only a few plants, try this little trick that my friend uses: plastic fruit boxes over their heads.

The Beak has eaten

Tell tale signs of bird damage - a beak bite in bok choy

Protect your seedlings from bird damage

Protecting your seedlings with these reused fruit boxes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early morning walks let us hear the birds singing. We’ve had a pair of California Towhees making a nest in the Manzanita bush near our deck every spring.  When it’s quiet out I can hear them rustling around under the bush looking for nest making materials. They have become so used to us that when we leave our back door open in warm weather they just walk on in to the house.  They like the cat food in the kitchen.  Amazingly enough our cats have never shown any interest in these birds.

 

Since it’s Spring, it’s time to start your vegetable garden in your edible landscape. Do yourself a favor and use my helpful book, The Spring Garden Made Easy.
Here is the information you need to start your Spring garden. Included is information on soil, sites, annuals, perennials, fruits and much more. This is a 20 page guide to get you started on your edible landscape. Forty years of gardening has given me plenty to share. If you have enjoyed my blog, be sure to get my booklet. Great low cost!

Spring Garden Made Easy

 

Early blooming tree, the Crab Apple encourages bees to come to the garden

Crab Apple, an early bloomer, brings bees to the garden

 

Calendula

A light rain moistens the Calendula, which blooms early in Spring. The petals are edible. Use them to decorate your salad.

A little more looking around and I discover that Miner’s Lettuce, Montia perfoliata, is ready to eat.  A native plant with lots of Vitamin C it is mild tasting and wonderful in salads. According to a study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 100 grams of miner’s lettuce—about the size of a decent salad—contains a third of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, 22 percent of the Vitamin A, and 10 percent of the iron. It’s free, it sowed itself and all I have to do is pick it!

Montia perfoliata

Delicious Miner's lettuce, free for the taking

Another plant we think of as a weed, which comes up in profusion in Spring is the wild onion. I harvest it like chives all Spring.  It has a mild oniony flavor. To keep it from taking over, be sure to dig up the roots when you’re weeding it.  Leave a little patch for your fresh early Spring harvest.

Wild onion

The wild onion though lovely in the spring can also be invasive. Keep an eye out for it spreading

 

Pear blossoms

Beautiful white pear blossoms lighten up the sky

My walkabout this morning had a lot going for it.  Let me know what’s happening in your garden!

Nov 292011
 
Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter
Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter

Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter

Lettuce seedlings can be planted in winter. Plant your seedlings in a sunny well drained site

 

Although we’re almost to the shortest day of the year, it’s still possible to work and plant in your winter garden, at least in some parts of the United States. You can look out your window and see if you have snow on the ground or you can look up your planting zones in this nifty site.  Type in your zip code and they will tell you what you can plant and when to plant it.

This is the time of year to choose your sites for deciduous fruit trees and shrubs.  Depending on your available space and sunlight, you can consider dwarf or semi dwarf fruit trees, blueberry shrubs, raspberries, and other cane berries, currants, kiwis and grapes.

Kiwi on fence

This kiwi grows on a strong fence.

 

There are some hardy vegetables like lettuce, chard, kale and all the cabbage family, including broccoli, brussel sprouts and cabbage that can take the cold weather.  A little extra protection provided by row covers can really help your plants grow during the cold weather.

For the very committed gardener  you can use cold frames and green houses to extend your seasons.

There’s no end to the fun one can have in the garden in the winter season.

Oct 032011
 
Winter crops, edible landscaping, lettuce

Lettuce planted for winter harvest (click to enlarge)

Whether you live on the East Coast , the West Coast or in between it’s time to prepare for the winter.  As the days get shorter and the nights longer, everyone needs to put their gardens to sleep.  This means different things in different parts of the country.

In the West Coast,  Southwest and South where the frosts come later (or never) you can put in vegetables now for the winter.  This week I planted lettuce, broccoli, kale, chard, carrots, beets, peas and fava beans. We get below freezing weather in the winter, but if the plants are well established by November, they can thrive just fine over the winter.

Now is the time to clean up fallen fruit, old leaves, clear out the dead plants in the vegetable garden and put everything on the compost.

compost, weeds, winter preparation, edible landscape

These weeds are headed for the compost pile.

Mulch your garden. You will protect the soil from compaction and erosion due to heavy rains,  it will keep roots of perennials from freezing and create humus as it breaks down.

In areas that you can’t grow winter vegetables, you can still  put in cover crops. Planting cover crops in the fall to cover garden beds over the winter is excellent practice—beds under a cover are protected from erosive effects of winter weather. In addition, even if we do not see any obvious growth during the dormant period, root growth continues except when the ground is frozen.

Dried flowers. winter garden, edible landscaping

Drying Zinnia flowers for wreaths

In cold climates you can plant oat, vetch, peas, rye and barley.  If they are frost killed, they still will be useful as mulch to cover the ground.

Ask Avis

CLOSE

Your question has been sent!

Ask Avis any questions about your garden.

Name *
Email *
URL (include http://)
Subject *
Question *
* Required Field

© 2011-2017 Edible Landscaping Made Easy With Avis Licht All Rights Reserved