Province Winter/Spring 2016 Planting Journal

With El Nino taking a few weeks off in exchange for temps in the 70s, I caught gardening fever this week. Yesterday I planted the first batch of seed trays for Spring transplants. Seeds will come indoors at night, as nighttime temperatures are still seasonably cool—38 degrees predicted for this Monday February 1st. Fine temperatures for direct sowing cool weather crops like potatoes, chard, cress, bok choi, arugula, parsley, and cilantro.

Since this is my first planting season in L.A., I'm beginning this garden journal to monitor planting dates, fertilizing, seed varieties, crop yields, flavor profiles, etc. I'm also experimenting with off-season planting just to see what this climate will produce and how plants react to our particular micro-climate. Planting baking pumpkins in January, for instance, is certainly not on anybody's planting guide! We live on a southeast facing hilltop, 6 miles north of downtown LA, 20 miles from the coast, and 13 miles from the San Gabriel Mountains. If you garden year-round in Southern California, I'd love to hear what you grow and what your micro-climate is like. Please share in comments below.

Container and Raised Bed Soil

In previous years I was rooftop container gardening in EarthBox®s filled with Baccto® potting mix. I'm now using Kellogg Garden Organics Raised Bed & Potting Mix for all beds and containers. I've wanted to phase out primarily peat-based potting mix due to its environmental impact. Kellogg is the most affordable organic potting medium I've come across. It's composed of:

Recycled forest products, coir, perlite, dehydrated chicken manure, composted chicken manure, hydrolyzed feather meal, peat moss, kelp meal, worm castings, bat guano.

While I was at the garden center reading the ingredient list a customer came up to me and told me it's a good product. I hope he's an avid gardener and not just a plant for the company!

kellogg_potting_mix
The Kellogg Raised Bed & Potting Mix turned out to be a courser and crumblier texture than I'd like. I'm hoping the forest products decay quickly to provide nitrogen to the soil and provide better moisture retention. I don't mind it for an inexpensive "fill" but it's not an ideal seed starting blend, nor is it anywhere near good enough for moisture retention or providing nutrients.  I will amend with manure and compost.

The Kellogg Raised Bed & Potting Mix turned out to be a courser and crumblier texture than I'd like. I'm hoping the forest products decay quickly to provide nitrogen to the soil and provide better moisture retention. I don't mind it for an inexpensive "fill" but it's not an ideal seed starting blend, nor is it anywhere near good enough for moisture retention or providing nutrients.  I will amend with manure and compost.

Planting Log - January 28th, 2016:

 

Indoor FIber Pot ("Jiffypot") Seeding

  • Tomato Atkinson (Baker Creek)
  • Tomato Japanese Trifele Black (Baker Creek)
  • Tomato Wapsipinicon Peach (Seed Savers Exchange)
  • Tomato Black Cherry (Seed Savers Exchange)
  • Eggplant Chinese Long (K-Jay International)
  • Eggplant Purple Pickling (Seed Savers Exchange)
  • Zucchini Black Beauty (Seed Savers Exchange)
  • Winter Melon (unknown source, seed saving)
  • Pie Pumpkin (unknown source, seed saving)
  • Cantaloupe (unknown source, seed saving)
  • Kabocha Squash (unknown source, seed saving)
  • Red Kuri Squash (unknown source, seed saving)
  • Green Bean/Bush Bean Blue Lake (unknown source, seed saving)
  • Green Bell Pepper (unknown source, seed saving)
  • Cucumber Lemon (Baker Creek)
  • Shishito Pepper (numerous sources, seed saving)
  • Basil (unknown source, seed saving)

Outdoor Container Seeding (EarthBox®)

  • Cilantro Long Standing (Botanical Interests)
  • Parsley Moss Curled (Botanical Interests)
  • Garden Cress Lepidium sativum (unknown)
  • Arugula (Kitazawa)
  • Bok choi blend Tasoi Savoy, Extra Dwarf White, Short Stalk White (Kitazawa and others, seed saving)

Outdoor Container Transplants (EarthBox®)

All of my transplants were outdoor grown from seed that I didn't even plant. After we bought our house last summer and I started watering/reviving the garden areas, seeds started randomly sprouting in the ground. In late fall I potted two different varieties of tomatoes. I've kept them outside in containers the entire winter and they've produced nice looking green fruit (though slower growing). I also potted more dill than I can possibly use and plenty of red chard and spinach:

redchard

Just for fun, here are the woody and herbaceous perennial edibles I've planted since we moved in: macadamia nut tree, ice cream banana tree, China white guava tree, strawberrry guava tree, purple passion fruit vine, and dragonfruit cactus. Do you grow tropical or exotic edibles in SoCal? Share in the comments below.