March in the Trial Garden
by Lindsay Del Carlo, Trial Garden Manager
We’ve finally had some rain, and are now enjoying calm spring like weather in our northern California Trial Garden. Most of the raised beds are have been planted over the winter with our
Renee's Garden Cover Crop Mix or Soil Building Kodiak Mustard. It’s time to start incorporating these cover crops into the soil to prep the beds for planting. Since we’ve let the cover crop get tall in our large beds, we will first cut it down with a weed whacker, cover the residue with black plastic to hasten the breakdown, and then turn the plant residue into the soil after about 3 to 4 weeks. In
smaller beds that we want to use right away, we will pull the cover crop out by hand and add it to our compost pile. Then we will prepare the bed with our finished compost and sow seeds directly.
Our early sowing of
baby leaf spinach has been covered with white row cover to protect it on cold nights. Row cover does a fine job of insulating and helps seedlings germinate quickly and evenly. Keeping the spinach covered until the first harvest will keep out pests like leaf miner and aphid, so we will have perfect looking spinach ready to enjoy.
We have begun to sow tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in our greenhouse this season and are using these handy “Speedling” plug trays to start the seeds. These polystyrene trays are reusable with individualized pyramid shaped
cells which virtually eliminate transplant shock. The shape of the cells helps roots grow downwards and when the seedlings are well-established, they easily pop out of the tray and are ready for transplanting. Speedling Trays are readily
available on the internet. There are other crafty methods to start seeds using recycled kitchen containers, check out our blogto read about them.