Category Archives: Gardening

Time to Plant Peas, Potatoes, and Onions

March 17 is the traditional time to plant peas, potatoes, and onions.

 

peaseeds

Peas are a cool-season crop, now coming in three separate varieties to suit your garden and cooking needs. They are: (sweet pea, inedible pod) and snow peas (edible flat pod with small peas inside) and snap peas (edible pod with full-size peas). They are easy to grow, but with a very limited growing season. Furthermore, they do not stay fresh long after harvest, so enjoy them while you can!

plantingpeasPlanting Peas

  • To get the best head start, turn over your pea planting beds in the fall, add manure to the soil, and mulch well.
  • As with other legumes, pea roots will fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available for other plants.
  • Peas will appreciate a good sprinkling of wood ashes to the soil before planting.
  • Sow seeds outdoors 4 to 6 weeks before last spring frost, when soil temperatures reach 45 degrees F.
  • Plant 1 inch deep (deeper if soil is dry) and 2 inches apart.
  • Get them in the ground while the soil is still cool but do not have them sit too long in wet soil. It’s a delicate balance of proper timing and weather conditions. For soil that stays wet longer, invest in raised beds.
  • A blanket of snow won’t hurt emerging pea plants, but several days with temperatures in the teens could. Be prepared to plant again.
  • Peas are best grown in temperatures below 70 degrees F.

Care of Pea Plants

  • Make sure that you have well-drained, humus-rich soil.
  • Poke in any seeds that wash out. (A chopstick is an ideal tool for this.)
  • Be sure, too, that you don’t fertilize the soil too much. Peas are especially sensitive to too much nitrogen, but they may like a little bonemeal, for the phosphorus content.
  • Though adding compost or manure to the soil won’t hurt, peas don’t need heavy doses of fertilizer. They like phosphorus and potassium.
  • Water sparsely unless the plants are wilting. Do not let plants dry out, or no pods will be produced.
  • For tall and vine varieties, establish poles or a trellis at time of planting.
  • Do not hoe around plants to avoid disturbing fragile roots.
  • It’s best to rotate pea crops every year or two to avoid a buildup of soil-borne diseases.

plantingpotatoes_lPlanting Potatoes

  • Plant seed potatoes (pieces of whole potato or a small whole potato, with at least 2 eyes per piece).
  • If you are cutting up potato pieces for planting, do so a 1-2 days ahead of time. This will give them the chance to form a protective layer, both for moisture retention and rot resistance.
  • Old Timers say Good Friday or under the full moon is the best time to plant root crops.  Potatoes can be planted as soon as soil can be worked, but be aware that some crops could be ruined by a frost.
  • Spread and mix in rotted manure or organic compost in the bottom of the trench before planting.
  • Plant seed potatoes one foot apart in a 4-inch deep trench, eye side up.
  • Practice yearly crop rotation.

Care of Potatoes

  • Potatoes thrive in well-drained, loose soil.
  • Potatoes need consistent moisture, so water regularly when tubers start to form.
  • Hilling should be done before the potato plants bloom, when the plant is about 6 inches tall. Hoe the dirt up around the base of the plant in order to cover the root as well as to support the plant. Bury them in loose soil. The idea is to keep the potato from getting sunburned, in which case they turn green and will taste bitter.
  • You will need to hill potatoes every couple of weeks to protect your crop.

Planting Onions

Candy, yellow, red, and white onion sets are now in the store.

Candy onion plants, yellow, red, and white onion sets are now in the store.  Get started now!

Onions are a cold season crop, easy to grow because of their hardiness. We recommend using onion sets, which can be planted without worry of frost damage and have a higher success rate than direct seed or transplants.

  • Till in aged manure or fertilizer the fall before planting.
  • Start seeds indoors about 6 weeks before transplanting. Move transplants into the garden as soon as the ground can be worked.
  • Plant the transplants about three inches apart.
  • Plant sets directly outdoors mid March and early April. Make sure temperature doesn’t go below 20 degrees F.
  • When planting onion sets, don’t bury them completely under the soil; if more than the bottom third of the bulb is underground, growth can be restricted. Set five inches apart.

Care

  • Fertilize when bulbs begin to swell, and again when plants are one foot tall
  • Make sure soil is well-drained. Mulch will help retain moisture and stifle weeds.

Candy onion plants, white, yellow, red onion sets are now in stock.  Come in and visit!

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An Introduction to Permaculture Tools and Methods

Permaculture principles

Permaculture principles

Saturday March 4th, 2017 10am to 12pm – PFH Organics

The goal of Permaculture Design is to provide for the needs of people and communities in a way that is also beneficial to the earth’s natural systems. Starting from the basics of food, water, shelter we plan and build stable and efficient systems and also aim to go beyond toward increased yields, quality of life and community.

Permaculture design is built on a practical, common sense approach, direct observation of nature, learning from historical and cultural successes and technological advancement.

In this introductory workshop we will look at the Permaculture concept in general and learn some of the basic principles and methods of design. The emphasis will be on the local area and the tools and techniques for gardens and farms that can be applied here.

Everyone is welcome with a suggested donation of $8. Proceeds will be given to benefit local agriculture.

Instructor Bio

Our highly qualified Instructor, Aaron Jerad (Heideman), is a Paonia native. He grew up on an organic apple orchard and farm that later became the home of Big B’s Apple Juice.

He encountered the Permaculture concept around 2006 and was immediately drawn to learn more. In 2009 he traveled to Australia to study with some of the leading thinkers and doers of Permaculture including Geoff Lawton and David Holmgren.

After a year of intensive study and hands-on experience, Aaron returned to Colorado and began working with the new principles and methods on his family farm outside Hotchkiss. He continues to practice, teach and learn. He runs two small businesses: a web design and development company and a Permaculture design and consulting company.Permaculturegraphic

Putting the Garden to Bed

Putthegardentobed

Cooler temperatures tell us it’s time to put the garden to bed and store the fall harvest to be enjoyed throughout the winter.

Fall Harvest

At my home, potatoes have been dug up (one of my favorite garden chores) and stored away in a dry, cool place.  I have now harvested half the carrots and left the other half in the ground.  The carrot tops have been removed from the carrots  in the ground and covered with 16 inches of straw.  In mid-to-late winter, I’ll be able to harvest out of the ground the sweetest, tastiest carrots ever because they over-winter well when covered deeply with straw or bags of leaves.

Store up squash and pumpkins

Store up squash and pumpkins

Also, my garden cart is heaped up full, with butternut, delicata and sweet meat squash and pumpkins.  I bake and process the pumpkins for pies and soups.

I also like to roast the pumpkin seeds for munching while they last.  One secret to tasty, nutritious pumpkin seeds is to soak them in water for at least 30 minutes.

Lastly, we’re enjoying kale and swiss chard in soups and stir-fries.  More kale and chard have been frozen – hopefully enough to enjoy in soups and stews this winter and last until spring!

FermentedbeetsFermenting Vegetables

I have also just harvested the last of the beets and turnips and made fermented beets and turnips for the first time.  I learned the art of fermenting  from local fermentation guru, Maria Hodkins.  It’s not to late to ferment just about any leftover/surplus veggies like carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onions, etc without using vinegar, pressure canners or freezers.

Fermentation, makes it’s own vinegar, so-to-speak, which is actually  lactic acid produced by bacteria naturally present in our environment.  Not only are the naturally occurring bacteria beneficial for health and eliminate the canning process, but the fermented veggies can be stored for months in cold storage or refrigerators.

Plant Garlic This Fall

bunch-of-garlic

The best time to plant garlic is in the Fall, 4-6 weeks before the ground freezes.  Netted packages of both types of garlic are now in stock in the store.  Below are the basic types of garlic available and simple planting instructions.

Hard Neck Garlic:

We have a nice assortment of garlic for Fall planting in the store.

We have a nice assortment of garlic for Fall planting in the store.

  • Sharper flavor
  • Produces stiff stem through the center
  • Hardier – best survival during a cold winter
  • Somewhat shorter shelf life

 Soft Neck Garlic:

  • Relatively mild flavor
  • Best choice for garlic braids

garlicplantingPlanting Guidelines:

  • Plant garlic in our area 4-6 weeks before the the ground freezes.  In our area that would be mid-to-late October.
  • If you are replanting garlic you grew this year, choose the largest heads, the bigger you plant, the bigger you will harvest.
  • Loosen the soil, add organic compost, and plant 8 inches apart.

Harvesting and Curing:

  • Garlic will be ready to harvest in late July, when some leaves are beginning to yellow.
  • Be sure to cure the garlic properly for storage, by shaking off most of the dirt, layout on a sheet, not touching each bulb to one-another.  Be sure there is no direct sun on the drying garlic.
  • When the stems are completely dry and papery, exterior has tightened around the clove, remove stems, leaving a 1″ stem.
  • Trim the roots
  • Store in a dry dark place.

    Plant garlic in mid-to late October

    Plant garlic in mid-to late October.  What a great way to get a headstart on next years garden!