Category: Linda Gilkeson

Linda’s List for Feb. 13: Starting Seeds–or not; Sweet Potato Update

Don’t be in a hurry to plant: A lot of garden failures come from trying to plant seeds or set out seedlings too early. Plants grow slower in cool weather, especially while the soil is still cold, and they are more vulnerable to root diseases, slugs and other pests. You don’t really gain much time by forcing an early start unless you are using a greenhouse. Plants started weeks later outdoors soon catch up to earlier sown plants because growth is so better in warmer conditions. Also, the earlier they are planted, the longer seedlings are at risk of being chewed up by climbing cutworms (caterpillars of the Large Yellow Underwing Moth http://www.lindagilkeson.ca/leaf_chewers.html#25 ). These cutworms spend all winter in the garden and by now they are quite large and can consume a lot of leaf material every night. They reach full size in mid- to late April, then stop eating when they become a pupa, which looks like a dark brown bullet (see photo under the link, above). The adult moths emerge later in the summer. By simply waiting to set out seedlings until late April you can avoid cutworm damage entirely. Cutworms also chew the leaves of overwintered vegetables, but those plants have large, well-established roots and grow leaves quickly when the weather warms up. You will still see ragged holes in leaves until the cutworms pupate, but the plants can withstand the damage and rapidly outgrow it.

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Linda’s List for Jan. 7: Seeds, Weeds, Rodent Deeds

As the days are noticeably lengthening, thoughts of garden plans begin to dance in our heads. I usually start pruning fruit trees in a few weeks, but it is not too early to start now, especially of the early blooming peaches and cherries. With the mild weather so far, people are wondering if buds swelling buds on fruit trees, garlic that has come up and other early growth will be harmed by cold. Some people already have snowdrops in bloom! IF we have several more weeks of mild weather, then a really severe cold period occurring after that could injure them, but usually early buds and shoots are hardy enough to withstand late cold spells. Just keep an eye on the forecast and beef up mulches or throw a tarp over plants if the weather looks dicey.

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Cold Snap Coming; More on Leaf Mulch

Our unusually warm and sunny November is over with the first of the winter’s cold snaps predicted to start dropping temperatures tomorrow. Time to finish mulching the garden! Lows of -4 to -6oC [20-25oF] may materialize by the end of the week and that is getting pretty nippy for winter lettuce and salad greens. Be ready to throw a tarp or plastic sheet over those beds if you are in colder inland or higher elevations locations. The shoulders of carrots, beets and other roots showing above ground can be damaged if they are exposed but will be fine if they are mulched. Winter varieties of cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, leeks, etc. are hardier to lower temperatures and will be fine.

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Linda’s List for Oct. 8: Plant garlic, stake crops, trap pests

With the colder weather this week some gardens may get overnight frost, which means fall really is here. If you were holding out hope of more tomatoes, peppers, etc. ripening on the plants I think it is safe to say that the season is over. Mature tomatoes that have turned from dark green to lighter green will continue to ripen fully off the vine, however, so it is not the end of your fresh tomato eating. Store the unripe tomatoes and peppers in flats or boxes one layer deep, not touching (to avoid one spoiled fruit infecting another) in dark, cool (10-15oC/50-60oF) conditions. Bring them out to ripen at room temperature on your windowsill as you need them.

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Linda’s List for July 30th: Edit the Garden, August Planting

If your tomatoes are slow to ripen, you are not alone! Many people are wondering about it, but this cooler summer is the way our ‘normal’ summers used to be: for those that have forgotten how long it used to take tomatoes to ripen outdoors, this is a reminder. On the other hand, many other crops are doing particularly well this year with more rainfall and fewer hours of high temperatures that slow the growth of cool season crops.

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