Time to Plant!

Sorry we have been a bit MIA here on the website, I assure you it isnt for lack of exciting things happening around here, in fact it’s quite the opposite.  We have had a lot going on and sitting down in front of the computer just has not been my first priority. I hope I’m sure you will understand.

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SO, seeing as we are on the verge of finally exiting this terribly long winter season (I know, I know I am a wimpy Californian.  Anything below 65 is cold to me) I thought I could scrounge up some hearty info on WHAT to plant and to plant for our upcoming growing season.

Tomatoes and Peppers: to be honest, I have yet to grow a decent crop of bell peppers.  I have managed, by pure luck, some hearty jalopeno and habanero peppers but to my delicate taste buds those peppers are utterly useless in my kitchen.  That being said, January (and February) are when you will want to start planting your tomato and pepper seeds indoors. Dont have a greenhouse like us? That’s fine, just plant them and set them by a kitchen winow.  Get creative and use an empty egg carton! It takes most tomatoes an peppers about 6-8 weeks to reach transplant size and then you just tear the carton apart and stick it right in the soil!

Onions: Onions test my patience.  Not only do they take a long time, but most of the exciting growth takes place underground where I can’t watch what’s going on.  Unlike Cauliflower or Artichokes (which also take forever) the maturing “fruit” to be harvested is beneath the soil. My favorite part about gardening is watching the harvest grow and mature.  I love watching the broccoli heads grow or the tomatoes ripen and change color on the vine.  Onions don’t let you see what’s going on underneath until you dig them up, much like potatoes.  For our gardening zone you will want to plant your seeds indoors late January, early February.

Herbs: Before we moved down to the main house on the property I had a wonderful herb garden just a few steps from my front door… Now, call me lazy but it seems like such a far walk up to the garden for a little handfull of herbs to throw in my frying pan for dinner.  Plus it requires a heck of a lot of planning to already know what im going to be cooking for dinner when I make my rounds on the farm at the crack of dawn.  SO it goes without saying I am anxious to get a new herb garden going down closer to my kitchen, and now is as good a time as any. The great thing about herbs is that many of them grow nicely indoors and in small spaces.  For example; Chives, Oregano, Parsley, Thyme, Basil and Dill.  All of these herbs grow well indoors and the more you prune the healtheir and happier the plants will be. So happy cooking!

Broccoli/Cauliflower: Because we are blessed to live in a warmer climate we can squeeze in one more extra brassiac crop than most.  You have to make sure it is a quick growing variety that you can harvest before the Summer heat kicks in.

Lettuce/Spinach:  lettuce and spinach like cooler weather and can grow fairly quick.  Plant some in your garden asap and you’ll get a harvest in before the summer sun scortches everything.

Cabbage: cabbage is similar to broccoli and cauliflower, find a quick growing variety and make sure to water and youll end up with a beautiful plant.  Cabbage does not take up much space but will also only give you ONE head per plant so sew your seeds accordingly.

Beets: Beets do not like being planted indoors, they are happy campers if you just plant them directly into your garden. Plant a variety of beets now for a wonderful summer treat!

Carrots: Planting carrots between now and mid-July provide a delicious harvest.  We love Carnival variety.  They don’t taste much different to me, but the kids love nibbling on purple and yellow carrots as a special snack.

Corn: Some say corn is the most rewarding and fast growing crops to grow. I only partially agree with this statement.  For the children, it is quite magical to watch a plant start out from a little kernal and creep up to the sky. (most) Kids love to eat corn, and as a cook I can think of many ways to use homegrown corn in my kitchen.  But, corn takes a LOT of water. If you are a hand water-er plant to spend a decent amount of time feeding your corn stalks and you will have nice juicy sweet corn at harvest time!

Cucumbers: fast growing vine or bush cucumber plants are my go-to choice everytime.  If you can keep up with their growth you will end up with plenty of cucumbers for your taste buds to enjoy.  Vine cucumbers need more space but you can trellace them and save some room in the soil for other plants.

Melons: Some melons take longer to grow so if you would like an early summer crop go ahead and start some of your favorites now.

Peas: green peas, pole peas, bush peas, snap peas, sugar peas… oh my goodness there are so many and they are delicious!  Peas are so wonderful because one or two plants produce plenty of peas over and over again for a full season, or two if you plan it right.  Sugar peas do better in the later, warmer months but in our climate zone you can pretty much plant them anytime.

Summer Squash: My husband does not appreciate squash season, only because I am guilty of overplanting squash every year and then I have an over abundance of squash and zucchini that then tests my creativity in the kitchen.  My family gets mac N cheese with squash, spagetti with squash, meatloaf with zucchini, zucchini/banana bread, zucchini chips…. so much squash hes all squashed out lol! SO my point is, unless you absolutely LOVE squash in everything, only plant a few, but do so soon!

The end of March/April is when the ground will start to warm up and we can plant a second set of crops that will LOVE the sunshine and toasty soil.

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Happy Planting!