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Del Norte Gardening: Early planting may be a bust, but don’t give up

Well, it looks like this is another spring in Del Norte County where planting your garden is going to be a real challenge.

We create a planting schedule sometime in the winter and do our best to make it happen once the soil dries.

The thing is, sometimes the brief window of dry soil does not correlate with your ability to get out in the garden. Or, even more discouraging, your space has never dried up to begin with.

It may seem like it is just too late for the garden this year. Do not fret! And, definitely, do not give up. You have not missed your opportunity.

We may have missed our opportunity to have an early harvest from the garden, but may I remind you, it is the late summer and fall where we see some of our best weather.

That being said, I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Almost, everything we have planted at Ocean Air Farms (to date) is doing quite poorly.

Last fall, we added lime and amended most of our fields. We grew bigger cover crops than ever before and our soil prep wasn’t too far off.

So, I blame weather for all of these struggling plantings. Are we going to give up? No! Is everything going according to plan?  No, not this time. What we are going to do is keep planting and do our very best to work around the unpredictable weather.

There have been a number of seasons similar to this year, and the same thing has happened each time. The first planting has been terrible, but the second planting of things has done great!

The gamble comes with the crops that are planted once a year.  For example, say you have planted all your potato seed in early May, then it rains most of the month.  You are left with rotted seed and your wasted time.

I know, it’s frustrating!  Sometimes, I get really frustrated, as my friends, family and farm crew can attest. I feel you must have some amount of passion for the garden to be fulfilled, if not, you give up.

If you decide to give up entirely, we will be at all the Farmer’s Markets in Crescent City and Brookings.  You can see what we have been able to grow and harvest, despite the “weird” weather.

I am happy to share every technique we have used to grow fruits and vegetables.

Now, for those of you who have a strong will, my simple piece of advice here, is to keep planting.

If you have planted out every square foot of your garden, well, you put all your eggs in one basket and that hardly ever gives you a long harvest season. Remember, to provide a lengthy harvest, many crops need to be planted often.

For example, we plant broccoli, lettuce, radish and spinach every two weeks. Squash, cucumber and greens we plant two or three times each season. This provides us with a long harvest window and lots of food on a more realistic schedule to eat, preserve, sell or give to the neighbors.

If you have found yourself  frustrated with the late rains, focus on the second and third plantings.  The Saturday Market at the fairgrounds begins June 11 and the Wednesday Downtown Market begins June 15. We will be there to talk gardening and food.

Del Norte Gardening runs the first Thursday of every month. Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayer Williams own Ocean Air Farms in Fort Dick. Have a question or suggestion? Email it to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it and it may be addressed in a future column.


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