Garden Tip of the Week: 18

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(. . . Where did summer go?)

So you’ve successfully grown a crop of winter squash (Butternut, Buttercup, Delicata, Kuri or other varieties) and are wondering when to harvest them. Winter squash are ripe when you can’t pierce the skin with your thumbnail. They benefit from ripening further on the vine and even a light frost, however, so leave them until the vine begins to die back. Cut through the woody stem at least an inch above the fruit. Clean them, if necessary, with a damp cloth, and allow them to cure for two weeks in a warm dry place out of the sun. Store winter squash in a cool, dry place, dark if possible, and check them every few weeks for signs of spoilage. If you see some, cook and freeze the good parts.

Note that Acorn squash belong to a different family. They need to be stored in cooler, moister conditions (e.g. the fridge) and don’t last as long as the other varieties.

Garden Tip of the Week: 13

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Oops!  The post is late this week, sorry!  I’ve had my head in the canning kettle.  It’s that time of year again, when we preserve the garden’s rewards for the winter months ahead.  Still, your vegetable patch requires some work!

If your wax or filet beans are flowering but not producing beans, now is not the time to give up and pull the plants!  Beans become stressed in the heat, and they may sulk for awhile.  Keep watering them and they’ll produce again when it the air is a little cooler.  Continue to pick them (don’t let them go to seed) and they’ll reward you with a longer harvest.

Garden Tip of the Week: 12

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Let’s talk tomatoes (and peppers!) this week.  Happy to see the “Good Toms” above, ripening!

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Big, fat “Scatalone” heirloom tomatoes waiting their turn to redden in the sun . . .

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Other varietals enjoying the heat in Penticton

Epsom salts are a great mid season fertilizer for tomatoes and peppers.  Epsom salts contain magnesium, a primary nutrient for plants.  Magnesium deficiency can result in poor fruit set, brown leaves, weak stems and in tomatoes and peppers, blossom end rot.  Sprinkle 1 tbsp of epsom salts around the base of each plant or mix 1tbsp of epsom salts with 1 gallon of water and use as a foliar spray.  Be careful not to overuse epsom salts as Magnesium is motile in soil and can leach into water systems.  I usually find that one application in July keeps my plants looking their best for the rest of the season.

PS:  Thanks to all who are reading,  “liking” and sharing these posts!

Garden Tip of the Week: 11

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The time to harvest your garlic crop is when approximately half the leaves have turned yellow.  This usually happens mid to late July. Pull the plants, and gently brush any soil off the bulbs.  Be careful not to break the papery skin that encases the bulb.  “Cure” the bulbs outside on a tray out of direct sunlight for a few days to harden the outer skin for storage.  (Do not separate the individual cloves.)  Store in a cool, dry, dark place such as your  basement  pantry.

A garden tip on planting garlic will appear in early autumn.  Until then, enjoy your harvest!

A reminder: be sure to check out our “Courses” page, for summer and fall course offerings and instructions for registration!

Garden Tip of the Week: 10

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After you’ve cut the main heads from your plants, fresh broccoli enjoyment can go on and on! To prolong your harvest of broccoli, use mulch to protect its roots from hot sun.  Keep on harvesting the side shoots after you cut the main heads.  And be generous with the broccoli’s water supply, because tough stems are a result of not enough moisture to the roots.

If you didn’t grow your own broccoli this year, try it next spring.  It tastes a lot better than the stuff that comes from far away, and you’ll be impressed at the brilliant green color when it’s cooked and on your plate.

Garden Tip of the Week: 6

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Last week we talked about cool nights causing basil to suffer. Cool nights can have a slowing effect on other growth, too. A number of you have expressed concern about the small size of your tomato plants. They particularly don’t like those cold winds, and the drops in temperature after rain storms. When I plant my tomatoes out in early to mid-May, I put a plastic wall about two feet high around each one. In my location, the main purpose is to shield them from cold north winds, but the plastic also holds in a little of the day’s warmth. Now, in the third week of June, the plants are peering above the plastic, and I can safely remove the walls.

Eat Locally and Support the C.Urb Project!

We’re excited to announce that we’ll be offering a monthly local produce box program for the months of October through April.  It is a fundraiser called the Farm Bag Program and it will help us raise money for our C.Urb site at the corner of Nanaimo and Ellis – 20% of every sale goes towards helping us build a stellar Centre for Urban Agriculture!

What does it cost?

The program is $175 for 7 months – that’s $25/month for 20 lbs of local produce!

What do you get?

  • Each month you come to a central location to pick up a 20 lbs seasonal collection of locally-grown produce.
  • The first time you come, you receive a Farm Bag program reusable bag into which you can put your produce.
  • Each month the produce will vary, according to what is available.  Throughout the winter, the contents will consist of cold-stored goods.  Where possible the produce is organic.
  • An informative newsletter is provided with each month’s produce with recipes and information about the contents.

How do I buy a Farm Bag?

  1. Visit http://farmbag.littlegreenbook.ca
  2. Click on ‘Buy a Farm Bag’ in the top left corner
  3. Choose Penticton Urban Agriculture Association
  4. Follow the prompts for placing your order (you’ll receive a confirmation email when the order has been submitted)
  5. Pop a cheque in the mail  right away!

When is my order due?

  • Orders need to be in by September 28th, 2011 to receive an October Farm Bag.
  • The first delivery will be either October 12/13.  You will be notified in advance of time, date and location.
  • Late orders will be added to the next delivery month, and the program cost will be $25/month for the remaining months in the season (it ends in April).

Where can I learn more?

This program is a locally-developed concept between Localmotive and Little Green Book in an effort to help schools and community organizations raise much-needed money and support local agriculture.

You can visit the Farm Bag Fundraiser website to learn more about the program.

You can email pentictonurbanag@gmail.com if you have any questions.