Del Norte Gardening: Think before you plant that next crop

By Paul Madeira and Julie Jo Ayers Williams February 20, 2013 04:56 pm

A goat nibbles on a bag of cabbage at Ocean Air Farms.
A goat nibbles on a bag of cabbage at Ocean Air Farms. Del Norte Triplicate /Michele Postal
Beautiful sunny weather, blue skies, and new farm babies might lull you into a false sense of security that spring is right around the corner and it’s time to get planting!

Before you rush out and start sowing in your garden, it’s time to stop and think and finalize your plan for a successful vegetable and/or flower garden.

February is truly a time of transition at Ocean Air Farms. We harvested our final winter crops and celebrated by opening our farm to our loyal customers for two days. We were thrilled and grateful for the large turnout that kept our farm stand jumping!

An added attraction for our farm guests was our month-old goat kids that kept “kids of all ages” entertained with their antics! Again, this is just the beginning of our season, and we have more goat kids due, as well as Icelandic lambs and calves. Our two dairy cows, our goat does (mamas), and our two pigs provided more opportunities for young and old to share in our farm life.

An added benefit of the day was the opportunity to share recipes with new and old customers. It’s always exciting to hear of someone who tried a vegetable for the first time and loved it! And hooray for the parents and grandparents who are introducing our future generations to the joys of eating healthy.

Thank you to all who bought lettuce mixes, our two types of kale, kohlrabi, cabbage, potatoes, onions, leeks, garlic, carrots, beets, and our own Goat Milk Soap. Thank you to everyone who signed up for CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share boxes and for our third year of the hugely popular market shares. Both memberships are still available, but please contact us now.

CSA shares mean we will supply you with fresh organic vegetables once a week for 20 weeks. We ask you to pre-pay on a sliding scale of $450 to $550 per year, so we can invest it in more seeds and materials to grow your yummy vegetables. Boxes are picked up at your choice of locations in Fort Dick or Crescent City.

After a successful second year, we are again offering market shares, which is a pre-paid flexible credit for transactions at local farmers’ markets. When you prepay $200 to $300, you’ll receive 10 percent in farmers’ market credit to use whenever you want. It’s a great opportunity to select exactly what types and how many veggies you want to fit your family’s needs.

We have already done our strategic planning for the year and have begun sowing onion seeds in our greenhouses.

Home gardeners should make their plans now, if you haven’t already, and keep an eye on the weather. If your pets’ water bowls or birdbaths are frozen in the morning, it is too soon to put your seeds in the ground.

Home gardeners without a greenhouse can still start their seeds now as long as they have a sunny location inside their home. This is our top recommendation for beating a wet spring. Watch your plants’ soil dampness, as more watering may be needed if you keep your home very warm. But too cold inside will delay sprouting.

Once the outside ground temperature has warmed, your seedlings may be transplanted outside.

When selecting vegetables, fruits, and flowers keep in mind our climate. Some crops at Ocean Air Farms we can only grow in greenhouses, but we can grow cool weather crops (lettuce, collards, kale, spinach, and more) when our warmer climate farmers cannot.

Be sure and look for the most sunny location and prep your soil well in advance.  There is an old framed embroidery in our house that says what we believe: “A flower (or vegetable) can not blossom without sunshine, nor a garden without love.”

Put a little love in your garden this year.