too many words by laura lemay

February Garden Update

When my garden blogger friends in New England begin posting about starting seeds, I know I’m totally falling behind. Our weather in Northern California warms up weeks earlier than in colder parts of the country, so I’m supposed to be well along in starting my vegetables right now.

Right now I am not very well along at all. Fortunately if I screw up completely I can fall back on mail order and local garden centers for my plants, or just give up altogether. The garden is a nice to have, but it’s a hobby. It isn’t like I’ll go hungry if I don’t manage to plant something.

If I wanted to grow onions, which I do, I should have started seeds around the first of the year (and possibly earlier; I keep trying onion seeds and moving the start date further back as they often grow slower than I expect them to.) I didn’t start onion seeds at all this year and now it is too late, so last week I ordered onion plants instead. I got a variety called Patterson, which I grew last year. They’re a vigorous hybrid that grows very large and stores well — I still have pounds of last year’s onions in storage and they’re keeping very well.

Cooler-weather vegetables such as the brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) and hardy greens (kale, chard) should have been seeded toward the middle of January. I didn’t do that either. Those plants will grow well into summer, though, so I can run late on those and it just means I have to wait longer to eat broccoli. (I’m still harvesting broccoli from last year’s plants!) Or, I could go down to the garden center and buy some plants (which is likely what I will do.)

Tomatoes and peppers need to be seeded in mid-February, so I’m only a little late for those. I’ll spend some time this week making up my mind what to grow and how much — I have some standbys I grow every year but I like some variety from year to year. I also provide free tomato and pepper started plants for half the neighborhood (it is a good way to make friends with the neighbors), so there will be a lot of plants to manage once I get going on that.

So what have I been up to in the garden if I haven’t been planting seeds? I’m 4 years into a 6 year plan for enlarging the existing garden and moving some of the raised beds around to make better used of the space I have inside the fence. A lot of what I’ve been working on for the last few months has involved moving a lot of dirt from one side of the garden to another. I went into more detail about this in the next post (The Great Garden Enbiggenment of 2016).

In other garden news the garlic is doing very well:

I’m still eating carrots and beets and chard out of this bed:

And we seem already well into spring, with happy daffodils blooming, and plum blossoms bursting out in pink and white all around.