Category Archives: spring gardening

Let Us Spray

Time to spray Dormant oil on your fruit trees

Let Us Spray
by Bob Zimmerman

Do you have fruit trees in your yard? Now is the time to give them a good spraying.  Dormant oil spray can be used safely and is a good deterrent on a number of bugs that can attack your trees. It is just mineral oil with a few drops of detergent as an emulsifier. You can purchase mineral oil at the hardware store and is much cheaper than the oil sold at nurseries. It basically works by coating and suffocating the eggs and emerging larvae.  Using a special spray bottle attached to your garden hose, thoroughly drench the fruit trees before the blossoms open.  It is not 100% effective but does help to reduce the incidence of coddling moth larvae in apples, aphids on cherries and peach tree borer. It’s important to soak the bark of these trees for maximum control.

Coddling moth trap

This is a good time to hang out coddling moth traps near your apple trees as well. They contain a pheromone which attracts the males which then get stuck on the sticky trap, preventing them from mating with females and reducing the number of eggs laid. They are a bit pricey, but worth it ( unless you like having wormy apples!) Water all your fruit trees regularly now that they begin to flower. Stressed out fruit trees will attract pests, especially aphids. I do not recommend chemical sprays for aphid control as that will also kill beneficial ladybugs and lacewings. Just keep your trees well watered throughout fruit production.

Scale on Pinyon tree

This is also a good time to spray your piñon trees with dormant oil too.  If you see little black dots on yellowing needles, that’s piñon scale. It’s endemic here and will not kill the tree, but will cause significant needle drop making the tree look rather anemic.  The oil will suffocate the eggs and larvae of the insect and significantly reduce the infestation. Also, scrape up and dispose of the dried needles underneath the tree.

White fuzzy masses are the nest of the scale insect

 

You may find white fuzzy masses there, which are the nests of the scale insect. Thoroughly soak the area with the dormant oil spray as well. During the spring and summer look for these fuzzy masses on the undersides of the pine branches and hose them off forcefully with hose nozzle.

Using dormant oil spray is an environmentally responsible way to help control a number of pests in your yard.  No harmful chemicals, and the bees and beneficial insects in your yard will love you for it!

Winter/Early Spring Sowing 101

Winter/Early Spring Sowing 101
By Lynne Roberts

An Important message about SEEDS: BUY THEM SOON!!  Last year, 2020, there was a major shortage of seeds across the country and in all the seed markets around the world…None of the Santa Fe garden centers nor plant stores nor the big box stores had any seeds left after the first cycle of early seed buyers…(Many of us who save seeds may have had some seeds for our own gardens and for sharing with friends and neighbors…). And the reason for that major seed shortage: NOT ENOUGH WORKERS TO SOW, HARVEST, PACKAGE, and SHIP those seeds from the farmers and the major seed producing companies, and NO WORKERS to PROCESS ORDERS to stores, in addition to a difficult Covid-19 growing season 2020.  SO, BUY YOUR SEEDS SOON, and locally if possible!!

So don’t despair-those of you who don’t have a greenhouse or cold frames in which to start your COOL SEASON CROP seeds in your garden!  Seeds like lettuce, spinach, Asian greens, cabbage, arugula, and many other cool season crops can be started outside with protection. It is totally possible to start your seeds outdoors, in the freezing cold, with a well-known method of seed germination, requiring just two things:  mini GREENHOUSES (made from recycled plastic/transparent milk-water-juice gallon jugs or large plastic soda or water bottles) and TIME with Olde Mother Nature. It is both easy and economical to start your own garden seeds in your own greenhouses, in your yard.

WINTER SOWING 101
My source is Kevin Lee Jacobs, at his website, “A Garden for the House.com,” who credits TRUDI DAVIDOFF with inventing, in 1999, this outdoor method of seed germination, in even the coldest of temperatures, starting in December, January, or even on February 14, on St Valentines Day and even later. You can google Ms. Davidoff, and see that she still has a foundation for teaching this easy method to students of all ages, around the world…

In 2007, when I first moved to Eldorado—land of gophers, rodents, “mouses,” impossible alkaline soil, and strong Mistral-like winds—I was NOT a happy gardener!!!!!

And then, I read Trudi’s and Kevin’s method for germinating seeds outside in the cold, using recycled mini plastic greenhouses! Ms. Davidoff urges everyone to use whatever free container that they can recycle, including plastic deli, fruit and veggie containers from the supermarket, aluminum foil circular and square containers from the Chinese restaurants and fast food restaurants, etc… Look around and see how much of this free, easy to recycle “stuff” is available to use as planters before it finally goes into the recycle pile at the transfer station.

MAKE A MINI-GREENHOUSE
So, we all know how seed starting indoors –without lights, with very limited space inside your bedroom, in your dining room or living room on wooden tables that will get water damaged from leaking plant pots, with not enough sunny window ledges nor enough Sun coming in anywhere inside your house or apartment –ENDS!!— IN DESPAIR, with irate and annoyed spouses, partners, roommates, and spindly starts, subjected to the dry air loving creatures (spider mites, scale, bugs, things) and mold and mildew or half dead plants…! (YES! YOU! In your HOME!!)

GARDENERS, let’s start out right and be successful!
Instead of leaving that 1/4” of milk, juice, or water in the bottom of the plastic gallon jug and putting it back in your fridge, hoping that someone else living in the house or a passing friend will empty it, rinse it, and take it out to your recycle bin (YES! YOU!), take that same FREE AVAILABLE container or milk/juice/water jug and empty its contents, fill it with some water, and rinse out the water (over your potting soil is good)

1) DISCARD the bottle top/cap of your jug. Take a medium drill bit and your drill (or heat a Phillips screw driver over your gas burner flame), and make enough holes for ventilation in the bottom of the jug (perhaps 10-15 holes) for appropriate drainage and ventilation, about 3-5 holes on each side, and 5-10 holes on the top of your transparent plastic container for ventilation…as your greenhouse will be watered with rain, snow, and sleet…

2) Just below the handle of your jug CUT around the middle of the jug, using an exacto knife, or a VERY sharp knife, or scissors cut about an inch be (add extra duct tape on hinge for support), the handle remains on the jug itself.

3) Add a good quality sterile seed starting or potting soil mix ( DO NOT USE SOIL FROM YOUR GARDEN) and fill the bottom part of your jug with about 2″-3″ of this good potting soil…Soak well, allow to drain thoroughly at the sink or over your pail of seed starting mix or good potting soil.  Add perlite to loosen the soil if your soil is slow draining.

4) Sow your seeds on the surface of the soil.  If your seeds are very small, there is no need for additional soil to cover… Leave them on the surface of your potting soil.  Larger seeds require only 1/8″ planting depth.

5) Labeling and taping-Use a permanent marker to indicate on the jug itself the following information: name of seed, quantity sown, date sown, days to maturity, height, possible planting location in your garden, and any other important info…Then, close the container’s hinged cover, secure it into place with 2-3 pieces of DUCT tape (it’s not necessary that the two halves fit tight; you will be able to open your jug greenhouse to check the water inside–rain, snow, sleet have been watering your greenhouse, supplemented by any additional water that you may need to add–to monitor the progress of your seedlings, and to check ventilation as the greenhouse will heat up and on sunny days become very humid…That is why NO cover or cap is needed on your greenhouse, as the vented top will permit excess heat and humidity to escape!)

6) Move your planted greenhouse jugs outside soon after planting them!  (YES,IN THE FREEZING COLD AND SNOW!!) . I place all the jugs in a shallow plastic box or on a tray with an edge or lip, and place that tray/box containing all the greenhouses (6-8) on a wire mesh patio table or in a large plastic recycle container away from the wind, on the south side of my house or in a very protected area…

When your seedlings are ready to be transplanted in your garden, you can take great pleasure in knowing that you have an easy and economical way to sow more seeds for your garden…And you sowed, nurtured, transplanted, and grew your plants all by yourself!!!  BRAVO, FEARLESS GARDENER!!

Time to plant greens!

April is a great time to plant greens like spinach, lettuce, cabbage and mustard greens. Plant now so you will get some greens to eat before it gets too hot. When it is hot they will bolt and become bitter. They can be grown in part shade to last longer when the heat comes. The spinach was actually started last spring and made it through the winter and the chartreuse and purple bok choi were put out 3 weeks ago. All are covered at night with row cover.

Other good crops to plant in April are bok choi and chard. They are real workhorses in the garden being able to withstand our cold and hot seasons. They can be grown in part shade to full sun.

Also good crops to plant in April are beets and carrots. Be sure to plant these in areas of your garden that are getting full sun and water 2 times a day until they are up.

Of course all this is dependent on your soil being warm enough now. How warm should your soil be? Between 40-60 degrees. How do you know how to tell? Get a soil thermometer and stick it in your soil about 2 inches deep. Here is a soil temperature chart to help you know when to plant veggies.

And these plants should still be covered with row cover at night because of our cold temperatures.

Freeze warning through Sunday-protect your outside plants!

Don’t be caught off guard if you’ve already planted, even cool season crops are in danger with the cold nights coming. To protect your plants, put row cover over them at night. It will add between 4-6°F protection and may help them endure the cold. You can get row cover at Agua Fria, Plants of the Southwest and Paynes Nurseries.

Here is the temperature (lows) forecast for the next 5 nights:

Tonight-Wednesday  29°F

Tomorrow night-Thursday 26°F

Friday night-29°F

Saturday night-28°F

Sunday night-31°F

Cool Season Crops Outside class a success

illustration MG of middlesex countyWell, it looks like many of you are chomping at the bit like I am to get out and start our gardens! 48 people signed up for the class and 45 showed up! Biggest class ever and what a great day it was to get out in a garden and see how to prep the garden beds, go over what plants do well here in Santa Fe and we actually planted some cool season crops-lettuces, kale and chard in Duskin’s plot at Milagro Community Garden. Thanks to all for supporting the class, it was good to see our friends.

Here are the handouts if you missed the class:
Starting Cool Season Crops Outside
WINTER:EARLY SPRING HARDY VEGETABLES
soil temperatures for veggie seeds
PRESPOUTING SEEDS Starting Cool Season Crops Outside
Mycorrhizal benefits

The next class of ours should be fantastic -Making Chevre and Feta cheese on April 19! Don’t wait too long to sign up as that class is limited to 25 lucky people who will learn how to make both cheeses and get to take home some of the cheese as well.

First Home Grown class of 2015!

This is the first of many classes being offered by Home Grown New Mexico this year. It is coming up on Sunday, March 29 and should be a great class. Come out and learn how to plant outside in early spring!!

coldframe crops

Sunday, March 29-CLASS
Starting Cool Season Crops Outside-DEMO
Come learn how to plant cool season crops outside in spring
Time: 12:00 pm-2:00 pm
Instructor: Jannine Cabossel
Location: Milagro Community Garden • 2481 Legacy Court (Off Rodeo Road east of Sam’s Club-Turn north onto Legacy Court-Garden is behind the church, ‘Church of the Servant’ on corner) • Santa Fe

Jannine Cabossel, a Master Gardener and ‘The Tomato Lady’ at the Santa Fe Farmers Market will teach a class on the basics of starting cool season crops outside in spring: Last year’s class we concentrated on seed starting indoors. This year we will be doing a demo in a garden outside. Come learn how to transplant seedlings, what amendments to add to the soil, when to transplant, how to get the very finicky spinach to germinate, how to add mycorrhizal for bigger root systems, and basic cold weather protection for plants during spring’s transitional period from cold to cool to summer. Plus learn varieties that do well in our cold climate in spring. Spring is a great time to grow many varieties that we struggle with once the heat is here!

Jannine has extensive experience in growing vegetables on her 4000 square foot garden using all organic methods. Follow her blog at giantveggiegardener.com

Eventbrite - Starting Cool Season Crops Outside

This class free! Become a 2015 Member for $35 – includes all classes, potlucks and tour. TAX DEDUCTIBLE!