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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bearded Iris Planting - Bandera's Waltz

These are the last of the bearded irises  I am planting this season.    For those of you - who are frozen solid,  I can plant all year long in wonderful Southern California.    This will be the last of the bearded irises.  I have over 1000 planted and will start selling rhizomes next spring.

Here is a stock picture of Bandera's waltz.

Flora Flow - Self watering plastic mulch

I installed a 50 foot roll or flora flow plastic mulch.  It has a drip irrigation line built into the plastic.   There are also pre-cut holes to stick the plants.   I have two more rolls to set up - but going to work out the kinks on this one first.   The first set-back was the end of the watering line - popped open at the end, letting all the water run through the line -and out the end.  Working on a solution.  
Here are some pictures of my father and I -laying out the row.  There are a couple more pictures showing the holes for plants.  The row is 4 foot wide with about  1/2 foot on each side covered with dirt to keep the wind from picking up the mulch and blowing it away.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Feast for the critters at Fox Farm

I prepared my first row of vegetables yesterday.   I prepared the row by forming it in a mound, then placing a flora flow watering mat on the row.   The flora flow is a plastic mulch with a low drip irrigation line already in the mat.   There are also pre-punched holes to place the plants.    The mat is 4 feet wide - and you cover the sides with dirt to keep the wind from getting under the mat.  
I planted about napa cabbage plants yesterday.    I was shocked to see each plant was chewed down to the stem either by rabbits or ground squirrels.   Not a single plant was spared.   All my work became a Thanksgiving salad bar.     Here are some pictures of the rows with the Flora Flow mats in place and after I planted the cabbage plants.

Planting Bearded Iris - Black Knight

I planted some more bearded iris.   This variety is Black Knight.   Its a very deep purple that looks almost black.   I planted a 100 rhizomes in a bed that I just pulled a bunch of gladiolus bulbs that had already flowered and were turning brown.

They were small size 2 or 3 rhizomes which if fine because I got them for a really good price and I will grow them out until they are large enough to divide and sell.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

5 Vegetable rows tilles

We finished tilling the first section of the vegetable garden.   We set out the rolls in 50 foot lengths and 3 feet wide.   There is a 20 inch walkway between each 3 foot row.   2-3 inches of compost was placed on the rows before the first tilling.  Some granulate chicken manure was spread on the row and then was tiller 5 times to really work up the soil.  There are 5 rows that are ready to plant.   Here are some pictures of the tilled rows.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Robin - In November

I saw a what I thought looked like a Robin - fluttering around the grass looking for worms.   I have never seen a Robin in Southern California before.  They are typically found in Central California.   He/She was nice enough to sit in a tree long enough to take a picture for proof.   It then flew off into the larger Grapefruit trees.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Planting Update - New Red Fire Leaf Lettuce and Red Ace Beets

I haven't planted any seedling for about 3 months as I am busy transplanting and tending to the started plants.  I have 45 trays of started plants but need to start planting again so I have a steady supply of vegetables.  
I planted New Red Fire Leaf lettuce.  Its a compact leaf lettuce with a nice red and green.  Its slow to bolt and will be ready to harvest in about 45 days.

Here is a stock image of the mature plant

I also planted some Red Ace hybrid seeds.  This is a hybrid of Dark detroit.  It resist bolting in the head and has a very flavorful beet.  

Transplants Update - Growing Well

I have a lot of trays of started plants.  They were started in plug trays - but have been transplanted into peat pots.  They must appreciate the extra growing space as they are all growing well.   Its windy today - so they are leaning some.  That is actually a good thing.  A breeze or light wind will make the plants sturdier.     There are trays of various varieties of cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard and greens.   These will be used for my plant sale next month.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tilling for vegetable rows.

We finally got the tiller running.   We broke the rope to start it yesterday and got that fixed.  We tried a couple rows and but the ground was still too hard and dry so we watered some more.
The ground the was nice and soft today so we made a couple passes with the tiller.   I started tilling, but my father was anxious to run it, so I let him.   Lucy, our corgi was following him and barking at the tiller - probably telling him to drive straight.


Monday, November 17, 2014

Troubled Tree - Scale on a Jacaranda.

There is a Jacaranda tree on the property but I haven't really paid any attention to it as I don't care for Jacaranda trees.   I think they are messy and really don't offer much shade.  Since it isn't a fruit or nut tree,  I have really inspected it closely.   Today I glanced up at a couple low hanging branches and was astonished by the amount of scale on the branches.   They are very large scale also and they seem to be on every single young branch.  This much parasitic action on a tree has to be stressing it out - but it appears healthy.  Here is a picture of some of the branches.  You can see how infested the tree is.  Scale is a type of parasite that attaches to the branch and sucks nutrients from the tree.   It develops a hard shell for protection.   Ants will also farm and protect scale.  It looks really nasty.

Seedling Update

My seedlings in my plug trays are coming along nicely.   The cool evening (low 50s) and warm sunny days - (mid 70's) are causing them to grow fast.   My need to be either transplanted in the ground or peat pots.  Some will go in my vegetable plot and some will be transplanted into peat pots for my annual plant sale in December.
Here are some pictures of them taken 11-17-14.   For those of you snow bound - sorry - this is a benefit of living in Southern California.

Transplanting Plugs

When you start plants in plugs, they can be planted directly in the ground or if you need to grow them out some more,  you cannot keep growing them in the plug trays.  They will become to root bound and will not do well when you do plant them.   I am planting some directly in the ground and some I will be selling at my plant sale next month.  These will be planted in peat pots which can then be planted in directly in the ground at a later date.

Here is a tray of the peat pots filled with potting mix.

Here are some pictures of the plugs - this variety is napa cabbage.  

Here are some pictures of the trays filled with transplants and then put outside to grow.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Barn Own Nest Box Arrived

I received the barn owl next box that I ordered a couple days ago.   First of all, I am surprised how big it is.   I am excited to get it installed.   The pocket gophers are wreaking havoc on my bulbs.  Even though I lined the bottom of the beds, they are climbing over and are still in the raised beds.   According to the instructions,  It needs to be installed on a 8 foot pole.     I was told there used to be barn owls that nested in some of the dead walnut trees, but they never came back.  I decided to call the manufacturer of these boxes who assured me there are barn owls around, but if they nested in a tree, the racoons probably disturbed them or worse, got the babies or eggs.  If the next was unsuccessful, they won't return again to that spot to nest.   Here it is in my house.  

Profitable Urban Farming Workshop: San Diego, November 15 & 16

I attended this workshop this weekend and just returned.   There was a fee for this - but it was worth every penny.   He explained in great detail - how to find a location, prepare it, pick the items you grow and keep records.   He also talked about his mistakes in great detail which will help anyone who wants to start this type of project.   He will be offering the same seminar in Long Beach in February so if anyone is close to LA,   its well worth the trip.    He was friendly and very patient, taking the time to answer questions.
I have learned some things that I am going to change immediately, such as the size of my rows.   Curtis recommends 30" rows for the simple reason that you can straddle them and also its easier to plant, harvest, till, etc.    My rows are 4 feet rows - but since I haven't tilled yet - I can make that change.   He also recommended tilling once, then adding the compost, but as you will see in the pictures below,  I have spread 2-3 inches of compost on the rows.  I will need to realign the rows and must rake some compost around.   I will have to bypass the first tilling without compost, but will make the change.   The rows are 50 feet long.   There is probably enough room allowing a 18 inch  walkway for 25-28 rows.   I probably won't start that many rows.    It used to be a horse corral so the soil is fairly decent.

Here are the pictures of the rows.  I started tilling but decided to water over the weekend.  The tiller wasn't going deep enough and working too hard.    As you can see,  I will have an audience from the neighboring houses.   I  owner of the house directly ahead already was standing on this shed, asking what I was doing. so I explained my plan and he seemed excited about it.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Bearded Iris in Bloom - Clarence

I was surprised to see one of my bearded irises blooming the other day.   Its one that I relocated from my old rented spot to the current spot in June.  This variety is a reblooming variety which makes sense but I thought they bloom earlier in the fall.   Its a very light blue color.   Only 3 plants survived the move they they are thriving.
Here's a picture of it blooming.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Planting Update - Kohlrabi and Pak Choi

I planted some kohlrabi today.  The variety is called winner.   I have never grown kohlrabi before so this will be a learning experience for me.    This was requested by the buyer for the Riverside Food Cooperative.  She wants to include kolhrabi in the monthly produce box.  
This variety grows light green bulbs that weigh about 18 oz when mature and will be ready in 45 days.

I also planted a couple varieties of Pak Choi.    Joi Choi which has white stems and dark green leaves and Mei Qing Choi which has light green stems and leave.  Pak Choi tastes somewhere between and mild cabbage and spinach.   You leaves can be eaten raw in salads, but its best when briefly cooked.  They will be mature enough to harvest in around 55 days

Tilling Garden Rows

I have 5 rows with 3-4 inches of compost spread over them.  The rows are 50 feet long and 4 feet wide.   It took a lot of compost to cover all 5 rows, but compost is the best thing to improve your soil fertility.   I purchased a tiller and started tilling today.  I about broke my back because the soil was so dry and hard.  I did one full row and 1 pass through the second row.  I will water for a couple days to soak deep down into the soil then try again.   I want to mix the compost down as least 6-8 inches and the soil needs to be soft to till that deep.    Here are some pictures of the rows before tilling and then showing the row furthest to the left - completely tilled and one pass down the second row.

Barreto Model 1320 Tiller

This is my first big purchase for my farm.   I purchased this tiller from the gardener who lives on site.  It was a rental from Home Depot - so I am sure it has some hard use in it's background,  but I got it for a good price.   New ones run from $5000-6000.00 and used ones from $1500-3000.   I paid less the $500.00 for it and he had it tuned up also before I purchased it.  Considering that my vegetable rows will be 50 feet long and 4 feet wide, its not possible to till all that by hand.   Hopefully it lasts 3-4 years if I take care of it.
Here are some pictures of the tiller.  The trailer which is custom made for the tiller was included.  

Planting Update - Ithaca MTO Head lettuce.

I planted some more lettuce today.   This variety is Ithaca MTO head lettuce.   Its a lettuce with tightly wrapped heads and frilly leaves.   This variety grows well in the south and west during the cooler winter months.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Planting Update - Preludio Fennel

I planted some fennel seeds today also.   I feel sort of foolish.  I know what fennel looks like when you buy it in the produce aisle.  I also manage an Italian Restaurant and when I opened the pack of seeds,  I realized its the same fennel we add to our lasagna.    Fennel bulbs are white with an anise flavor which I cannot stand.  Reminds me of black licorice which I also hate.   But the seeds as a spice are much different.   This variety has a white bulb with a tender heart and does not bolt easily.  

Here is a picture of the bulbs - and also the seeds - you may recognize them from getting stuck in your teeth from eating Italian food.

Planting Update - Unipack 12 Spinach and Longstanding Bloomsdale Spinach

I planted my first spinach seeds for the season today.  I planted unipack 12 which has round dark green leaves and is a slow bolting spinach.   I should have spinach to pick in 48-50 days.   I am starting the seeds in plugs and will transplant into large pots or directly in the ground.

The second variety that I planted is Longstanding bloomsdale spinach.  This is a old variety that had dark green savoyed leaves and is a highly productive variety of spinach.   Spinach required cold soil to germinate  - around 40 degrees.  It isn't getting that cold here yet - but gets down to the 50's at night so hopefully - I can get it to germinate.  

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Urban Farming Seminar - San Diego 11/15-11/16

I will be attending a two day seminar conducted by Curtis Stone who is from Canada.  He will be covering topics to assist someone who can make $50,000 a year intensively growing vegetables on a 1/4 acre a year.    Here is a flyer for the seminar.   It will be in a good investment for me as I learn my craft.  

Friday, November 7, 2014

Buccaco Gadiolus blooming

I have more glads blooming.   This variety is Buccaco which is a nice dark chocolate color.    I still have a lot of dahlias blooming and this variety of glads just started.    Its nice gardening in Southern California.

Spreading Compost

I spent the morning spread compost over each row so that I can till it in.  The rows were 50 feet lone and 4 feet wide.   I used a small wagon the dumps, about the size of a wheelbarrow.   Its a lot of work, but it will really improve the soil.    Here is a picture of the rows and also - whats left of the pile.  It looks like 6 yards will cover 5-6 rows based on whats left.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Compost - by the truckload

I received a load of compost today.  Since I will be growing organically,  compost is the only real way to improve your soil and fertilize without adding chemical fertilizers.   The soil in the area that I am expanding too is fairly good, but I adding compost will increase my yields.  
I purchased 6 yards which is about 6 pickup loads full.  I paid 20.00 a yard which is much cheaper than buying bags for 5-8.00 at home depot or a garden supply store.   There is a 75.00 delivery fee.  
I purchased it from Growers Choice in Menifee CA.  
It looks really rich and was still a little warm.  He commented that they have been adding coffee to the compost as they get a lot of coffee grounds from a supplier.   It did have a slight coffee smell.
I will be spreading 2-3 inches on top of the ground in each row then tilling it in.  
Here are some picture of the compost.  One of it in the truck,  the pile after he dumped it - and a close up of the compost.