Urban Farming: On your marks, set, go!

Urban Farming: On your marks, set, go!
Planting Garden

Once March comes around I feel like I’m in a race against the weather to get the vegetable garden in. Even though we have no snow and very little frost in Sacramento, March/April is when we get most of our rain. This year we decided to create raised beds in an area we cleared last fall. We took advantage of the last few clear days to build the beds, get all the soil in them, and the first vegetable starts planted. We made it just in time. It started to rain again today. Actually, we almost got it all done. We have a few more seeds and starts to do this weekend. So now we have four beds we will be planting this year.

The best bed we have for vegetables is a 24×3 foot bed that is on the north side of the lot against the garage. This is were I will plant the heirloom tomatoes (two brandywine and two sun gold cherries). We saved seeds from last years sun gold cherries and will start them this weekend. We are a little behind to start seeds, but the growing season is very long here in Sacramento, so I am hoping for the best. I think this year I will also try a boarder of carrots in this bed. We’ll sow the carrot seeds and tomato starts in mid-April after we get back from Idaho for Easter break. After the carrots are mature and harvested, I plan on putting in an herb or flower boarder. I haven’t decide what exactly.

The next sunniest box is a small 3×6 foot raised bed. The kids and I planted strawberries with a garlic boarder. It is very late to be planting both of these, so we got starts at the nursery and hoping for the best. If you are even going to attempt strawberries this time of year, definitely get started plants and the everbearing varieties will work the best.

The medium sized bed is just west and behind the small bed. It’s 2.5×10 feet long and only gets a few hours (2 or so) of sun per day right now. We planted it right now with lettuce, kale, and parsley with an onion boarder. We are hoping this will produce until it starts to get hotter (June ) and then it will be replaced with cucumber plants.

The largest bed, 12X3 feet, and is farthest west and backed by our fence. Right now only half the bed gets light and so we are only planting half of it with peas and more kale. I still have some onion starts that I could use as a boarder. Come June/July we will replace these crops with beans and zucchini.

I will plant herbs all summer as I find open spaces with enough light and I always plant mint in a container. As it can easily get out of control. I try to buy heirloom and/or organic varieties of all our vegetables, but it’s not always possible to find. It’ easiest to find heirloom seeds through catalogues or groups that collect and share seeds. I am relatively new to this and luckily our local nursery carries quite a few. Here is a blog about Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They are one of the largest heirloom seed catalogues out there.

The best advice I can give you is to know your site. Know the amount and what kind of light it gets. The type of soil, sandy or clay. If you live in the Sacramento area chances are you have a clay soil, that will take some time working with lighter soils, compost, and mulch. Also, this year we have tried something new for mulch. You may have read our previous blog about using coffee chaff in the chicken coop. I also used it as a mulch around our newly planted veggies. I have read that coffee may help to deter slugs and I had a garbage can full of chaff, so I tried it. I’ll let you know if it works. I also found this great website (CLICK HERE) that gives you the best times to plant fruits/vegetables in the Sacramento area.

I wish you all a wonderful and bountiful Spring!