Del Norte Gardening: What’s in your garden?

By Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayer Williams June 19, 2012 09:24 am

Del Norte Gardening runs monthly. Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayer Williams own Ocean Air Farms in Fort Dick.

The farmer’s market season is under way and off to a great start! We were pleased to have a pretty diverse selection this time of year and enough quantity to serve most of your needs.

Fresh produce at the market is of course top quality, only matched by what your own back yard gardens provide. Where else can you get locally grown produce so fresh it was harvested well within 24 hours? Your back yard, and the local farmerʼs markets, Saturdays 9 a.m.–1 p.m. at the fairgrounds, and Wednesdays on 3rd Street, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. in Crescent City.

So what’s all in your garden? Some folks seemed surprised to see broccoli at our booth, but remember, broccoli likes cool weather.

We had our earliest succession of broccoli under the “remay” (floating row cover, the thin white agricultural fabric) to aid its growth in the extra cold early spring days, and it paid off with lovely green crowns for the first markets. For the rest of the year, we don’t use remay for our broccoli, it’s unnecessary.

Your strawberries should be coming on, June-bearing varieties will be first to produce, then the ever-bearing varieties will kick in and have a long producing window. Greens should be going, tomatoes should be growing, but not producing yet. Fall-planted garlic is heading up, approaching a common July harvest. How about your potatoes, pumpkins and squash?

Besides all the great veggies that you’ll find on our farm, this time of the year you’ll also find a variety of irrigation methods, hoses, drip-tape, single-headed sprinklers, water wands, and 3-inch aluminum hand-lines. All of which you may be using too, minus the large hand-line system. Water is important, plants need it, and like it with consistency.

We also find a lot of bugs this time of year, both good and bad.

You know the saying “the proof is in the pudding?” Well, seeing bug bites on your crops, moths about your brassicas, slugs about your strawberries, assures no pesticides are applied and that makes us happy. No matter how bummed we get over missing and damaged crops from gophers, slugs, flea beetles, cucumber beetles and squash beetles, weʼd still never use pesticides. For us, itʼs just not even an option. Not only do we want healthy vegetables, but also healthy soil, air, water, and future generations. So for us at Ocean Air Farms, no pesticides, no fungicides, and no herbicides.

So, perhaps youʼll need to spend a bit more time in the garden to keep up with the extra pest pressures.

Squash the squash beetles (small and shaped like a ladybug, but with yellow and black stripes) that may be feeding on your summer squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and winter squash.

Cover the extra-sensitive crops (boc choi, arugula, radish and Asian greens for example ) with “remay” for a physical barrier between crops and the tiny black flea beetles that make pinholes in the greens.

Reduce slug habitat by eliminating shady, moist areas near your garden beds. Relocate slugs, lure them into beer baths or slug houses. Of course you can smoosh them, too.

Try a gopher trap like the “black box” or mac-a-bee, or adopt a new cat or two to prey on them. Whatever your techniques may be, do your best, even if it’s just a few minutes a day, to tend your garden, and donʼt worry too much about blemished bounties, pests often indicate the crop is good.

Like always, wash your produce, and enjoy, bug bites and all! Hope to see you at the markets!