Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Guide for the Winter

One of the most frequent questions I'm asked is "When do I plant this vegetable?"  Followed closely by "How do I grow this vegetable?"  Being Community Garden Coordinator for Community Assistance Network, I'm expected to actually have answers to those questions.  And with a long enough title, people expect you to have a better answer than "Put it in the ground and see what happens," which is what I usually tell myself when I'm thinking about gardening.

The short answer to both of those questions, as well as many other questions about gardening, is that it all depends.  How close are you to the coast?  When is your last winter frost?  Are you growing in a greenhouse?  How much space do you have?  Most people accumulate answers to these questions over years of gardening and working with plants; truly, one of the most fun and exciting aspects of gardening is experimenting and playing around with the idea of "put it in the ground and see what happens," until you have a good sense of what grows best where.

While it is a lot of fun to try to grow as many different crops as you can, planting them in different ways at different times, it's very helpful to have a guide that shows you the optimal times and practices for your region.  Working from a planting guide, along with a planting calendar, you can begin to grasp how different plants have different life cycles; in a way, you begin to understand the parameters for what it takes to grow a certain crop.  Once you know the optimal conditions, you're free to experiment with those parameters and figure out how far you can push an early planting or beets, or how many successions of peas you can get through one season.

With that in mind, I created a planting calendar and a planting guide for the Del Norte coastal region.  These resources will be available to all of CAN's community gardeners; as well as anyone who reads this blog!  Both the calendar and the guide are lifted heavily from the book "The Humboldt Kitchen Gardener" by Humboldt County farmer Eddie Tanner, with modifications and tips based on my own experience gardening and my time at Ocean Air Farms.  Eddie Tanner's book, as well as seed catalogs like Territorial Seeds, and of course the internet, are all great resources to learn more about gardening in our climate.

And remember, these are just guides; take them as a general guideline for when you can do your gardening and what you can grow, and then have fun trying new things with your crops.  Both the calendar and the guide are written for coastal gardening; if you live more inland in places like Gasquet or the Klamath Glen, you can get away with planting warm-season crops outdoors, instead of in greenhouses.

Planting Guide

No comments: