It is hard not to appreciate these warm beautiful days though I know most of wish it was raining. Its been a long time since I have had to stay inside all day because of rain. Last weekend’s rain barely did anything for our rain numbers. I think we all need to start planning for how to reduce water in our homes. I think growing food is still a good use of water but we may want to look at our ornamentals and our lawns pretty seriously. It is great year to put in a laundry to landscape greywater system and water those landscape plants with used water!
With this warm spell, I have started planting spring vegetables early. I usually wait until the first warm spell in late January or early February to plant my first crops but this week is so warm that I decided to start now. I think you could try planting arugula, Asian greens like mizuna and tatsoi, kale, lettuce, spinach and peas. What happens in February weather wise may make some of these plants struggle some or need some cover but if it stays relatively warm you may have a great early year. Early planting is dependent on soil temperature, many plants simply won’t germinate unless the soil is warmer than 40 degrees. That is why this warm spell is a good time to get things to germinate. Early spring plantings are always pretty high risk due to birds, slugs and irregular weather, you may have to replant. Also protect from birds with soil fabric or strawberry baskets covering young plants and sprinkle some Sluggo around new plantings.
It is so dry out that you need to keep an eye on pots and raised beds. Most ground soil is moist enough, but you might want to check that also. Giving things a bit of water might be necessary. Mulched areas should not need water as the little bit of moisture there is usually stays in the ground.
A reminder as you are beginning to plant your spring gardens, it is good to rotate your crops. Hopefully you have mapped out what you grew in each area in the past, and then make sure you rotate new types of crops in. Crop rotation helps prevent disease and also is good for balanced use of soil nutrients as some plants use more of one nutrient than another. For disease it is good to rotate with crop families, an example is tomatoes are in the same family as eggplant, peppers and potatoes. You should not plant any of that same family in the same place year after year. I am not strict with crop rotation, I just try to keep it in mind and as much as possible try to rotate.
As you start thinking of buying seed, do support small scale seed companies, also seed catalogs give you a bigger choice of variety. Remember that we have here in the county the West County Community Seed Exchange that offers free seed that has been grown locally by seed savers. They meet the last Saturday of the month with their seed library open for check-out from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. at St. Stephen’s Church, 500 Robinson Rd., Sebastopol.