Category: Linda Gilkeson

Linda’s List for March 26th: Digging roots; planting early (or not)

Spring certainly went sproing into nearly summer-like weather last week! Given how long it took the snow to melt from my yard I thought the soil would stay cold longer than usual, meaning no rush to dig up overwintered root crops. At the rate the soil is now warming, however, carrots, beets and other roots should be dug up by the end of March/early April as usual. If left in the garden, they start to grow, using up the sugars stored in their roots to produce a flower stalk. The roots lose flavour and crispness and grow lots of strange little side roots.

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March 1st: Starting Seeds

This chilly weather is certainly dragging on, but if you have good growing conditions for seedlings indoors, it should cheer you up to be starting seeds. I wait until now to sow leeks, onions, celeriac and celery as I have found they grow into plants that are just as productive as ones started earlier in February.

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January 15th: Pruning, Grow Lights, SWD, Yams

Well, I don’t know if there will be a winter this year or not, but other than windstorms, there hasn’t been much winter in evidence. As I started to write this, it was sunny and unusually warm outdoors and I suddenly remembered that early warm weather makes trees bloom early….I leaped up and shot out the door to start pruning my trees and grapes.

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Linda’s List for Dec. 4th : First Cold Snap

Just a quick note that the first cold weather of the year is forecast for this week, with night time lows by Wednesday and Thursday forecast to drop well below freezing in some parts of the region. That’s the signal to finish mulching everything if you haven’t done so already. Now is the time to add mulch right up over the tops of carrots, beets and other roots to make sure the shoulders of the roots don’t get nipped by frost.

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Last sowing, confusing bugs, splitter alert

There is still time to sow hardy winter lettuce and arugula if you do it this week and now is also the perfect time to sow corn salad for winter salads. Pull back mulches and scatter seeds under tomatoes, squash and other plants that will be finished in October. Corn salad seeds may not germinate until the soil cools down, so don’t worry if they don’t come up immediately; it is extremely hardy and one of the few greens that can grow (slowly) during the winter. If you are sowing winter greens in a coldframe, plastic tunnel or unheated greenhouse, you could also sow Chinese cabbage, leaf mustard and other hardy greens now, because the warmer environments provide a little more growing time.

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Linda’s List for Aug. 9: Sow spinach and greens; pests and problems

Yesterday should have been “Spinach Day” in my garden, but it is far too hot to attempt to sow anything right now. I have had good results sowing spinach as late as the middle of August so will wait to until it cools down in a couple of days to plant seeds. The forecast for Saturday is for cooler weather, with a small chance of the ever-receding mirage of rain showers in some places. Gardeners along the outer coast and Strait of Juan de Fuca, where summers are cool and foggy should sow spinach right now to give it time to grow to a good size before winter.

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Heat alert; sowing winter Brassicas

The recent cool weather is giving way to what is forecast to be pretty hot weather starting this weekend. This is a reminder that if you haven’t done so already, do finish mulching vegetables before it gets hot; it will conserve soil moisture and keep roots cool. Some people had quite a bit of rain, others not so much over the last week—but at least it was something after the driest May on record. It was so dry in May that powdery mildew showed up on a variety of plants (strawberries, kale, roses, etc.)–much earlier than we usually see it. On the other hand, some diseases of wet weather, such as apple scab, were noticeably absent.

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Sowing sprouts, irrigation, pest du jour

Just a quick note this time, but I couldn’t let another day go by without reminding everyone that it is time to sow seeds of Brussels sprouts and any cabbage varieties that need over 120 days to mature (e.g., January King, Danish Ballhead, Red Langedijker). Getting the timing right for these crops seems to be a perennial problem for many due to conflicting information on seed packets and from nurseries. The long season cabbages really do need the whole summer to develop a good-sized head, but no matter what size they are by fall, they still provide a harvest. Timing of Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, is a trickier because if sown too late (after the first week of June), plants usually don’t have enough growing season left to produce sprouts before winter—and if they don’t form sprouts by the end of October, they aren’t likely to have them at all. Of course you can sow Br. sprouts earlier, but by waiting until now to sow them, you largely avoid damage to the sprouts from the aphids common on Brassica crops in late summer. Aphids merely distort leaves of Brussels sprouts, but are damaging when aphids get inside the developing sprouts. Sowing in late May to the first week of June produces plant that don’t start to form sprouts until late September, which is when aphids stop reproducing and are leaving plants. You might see some aphids in the oldest sprouts but most of the crop will be free of aphids.

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