Last Friday a small group met at the garden at 4:30pm to visit and share gardening information. (Remember, we now have the last Friday of each month as a gathering time in the garden after work–to share what we know, and ask questions)
Luanna Helfman, our new member and recently retired from the staff at Sunnyside Nursery generously shared information and answered questions.
Here are some notes from our gathering in case you couldn’t make it. Good idea to print out and save for future reference:
February is the time to clean up the garden if you haven’t already. Debris–old plant material provides an overwintering breeding ground for pests and you can reduce their populations by getting rid of their hiding places. This is also the time to:– prune roses. Cut them way back because new growth is where the roses will grow from. And by the way, if you want great blooming roses, fertilize with “MAXSEA”! Wait until March 15, or even April 1 (depending on weather.). You don’t want to stimulate too much new growth that can be killed by frost.
–spray dormant spray on fruit trees. Copper spray reduces the fungus population so you won’t have peach leaf curl. Don’t worry about it being not organic or toxic. It is a very small amount and it dissolves quickly. Spray Roses and Fruit trees with dormant oil for overwintering insects, mixed ( or not) with copper sulfate–Sluggo Plus is a good safe pesticide. It works with iron as the ingredient.. It’s safe. Neem oil works and Safer Soap. Safer soap is good only for aphids
–pest control is also effectively approached in a positive way, meaning, if you plant “beneficials”–beneficial plants which support the habitat of insects which eat the bad insects, you encourage a healthy balance.. Sweet Allysum is a good example of a beneficial which attracts and supports pollinators.
The two most effective means of non-toxic pest control are exclusion (floating row cover) and hand picking (but you have to be dedicated).
Beneficials are planted to attract both pollinators and predators.
–Now is the time to plant frost tolerant vegetables in this “pulse” of a growing window with rain and cool weather. We are lucky to have the sunshine in the garden so our plants will grow nicely. To prevent birds from eating your plants, use “row cover” material. It is a water and light permeable special fabric that sits right on the plants. Hold it down on the sides with just some boards or weights. It is used commercially and isn’t expensive. You can purchase it online at Home Depot. If your plants have already been badly nibbled, they will probably recover nicely after just a couple of weeks if you put the row cover over the bed.
–plants for now: leafy greens, onions, garlic, broccoli, beets, radishes, turnips, roots, snap peas, chard.
also plant fennel, green onions, favas, carrots, kale, collards, mustard, arugala, (those leafy greens)…anything that is frost tolerant.
Don’t waste time and space on summer crops in February. They will be unhappy with cold wet feet.
–Another good organic fertilizer is Fish Emulsion. Look for the term OMRI on your labels Fish emulsion is a source of nitrogen only, which promotes overall and vegetative growth. It is not a substitute for a balanced fertilizer.I have MUCH more to say on fertilizing, which I’ll try to get to one way or another.
The white stuff on my bed is dolomite lime, which, along with oyster shell lime, provide calcium to the soil, helping prevent blossom end rot on tomatoes, zukes, etc. It is best applied earlier in the season.