Out with the Old and In with the New

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Rita's Monthly Gardening Tips,  January 5, 2016

January is the time to reflect on your garden’s past challenges and successes. Look at your garden space on paper noting what went well and what didn’t during the previous growing season. Make a plan for this upcoming growing season. Some common items on the new garden plan may be:

  • Rotate vegetable crops
  • Try growing a new vegetable
  • Remove perennial plants that don’t suit your needs
  • Grow more drought tolerant, pollinator-friendly plants

The biggest trick to successful gardening is growing plants that have the same requirements for sun, water, soil, space, and temperature that match what your garden can provide.

Another important factor is timing. Most vegetables have a relatively short window of time that they can be planted in order to grow well. Cool season seedlings are planted in February/March and again in August/September. If you are planting transplants from seeds, plant the seeds about six weeks before the best time to plant them out as transplants. Warm season crops are planted in April/May. Make a calendar for the year for when to plant seeds and/or transplant the vegetables that you would like to have. Since there is an overlap of time for when cool season and warm season vegetables will occupy space in your garden, have dedicated cool season and warm season space in your garden. For more information read Golden Gate Gardening: The Complete Guide to Year-Round Food Gardening in the San Francisco Bay Area & Coastal California by Pamela Peirce

Also, consider the design of your garden such as where to plant what. Know how tall plants get so you can either avoid casting shade on other plants or incorporate the shade to benefit other plants as it best fits your garden plan.

In decades gone by companion planting was encouraged as a way to partner plants that “liked” each other. A lack of scientific evidence has made this procedure to be debatable. http://puyallup.wsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/403/2015/03/companion-plantings.pdf

A method of companion planting, or more correctly referred to as plant associations, that is more scientifically proven to be beneficial to your garden, is to include plants in your garden that provide nectar and pollen to pollinators and other beneficial insects. Here is a link that provides more information on beneficial insects: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/QT/beneficialinsectscard.html. The following is a link to help you select good pollinator plants for your garden http://pollinator.org/guides.htm. Also, check out http://www.xerces.org for more great information on supporting beneficial insects in your garden.

Happy Gardening!