Start your garden wish list with fruit trees and berries
CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA (Mar. 18, 2023) — Eating out of your garden is healthy and convenient.
Late fall, I planted six-packs of red chard, Dinosaur and Siberian kale. The repetitive yields have kept me harvesting new heads about every month. It makes me eat more greens and saves me money on groceries.
Bunches of organic chard can cost $4.99 each, while my $4.99 six pack has given me about 18 harvested bunches – and they are still producing. The kale has been equally successful, and the leaves make a great base for my morning juices.
With spring approaching, folks are already asking about summer vegetable installations – when to start seeds or when are the tomato starts are coming into the nursey.
Summer vegetables need the overnight temperatures to be consistently close to 50 degrees, therefore, we are still a few weeks away from tomato planting time.
However, early spring is a good time to install stone fruit trees, leafy greens and other cool season vegetables, grape vines and berry plants.
Strawberries that can’t be beat
Strawberries are super successful raised bed and container installations. Homegrown strawberries are so tender and sweet – significantly better than any grocery strawberry, which has been grown for shape, transportability and shelf longevity.
Install strawberry plants with soil built with sandy loam and rich with organic matter, like earthworm casting, bat guano and sea kelp meal. You may need to mix a couple types of soil to achieve this result. I never use soil with built-in fertilizer. I prefer to add my own fertilizer as the plant needs. Choose various selections of strawberries for better cross-pollination.
Plant blueberries of different types, as well. Jewel, Misty and Emerald selections are all heavy producers that set fruit in winter areas with less chill, like 200-300 hours needed. Many blueberry plants need heavy chill hours for production, so be careful when considering varieties.
Blueberry plants need to be planted in slightly acidic, rich soil, and they prefer a site with only half a day of sun.
Blackberries and raspberries grow like vines, and they will need some type of support. Most selections have thorns, so consider that when planting.
Go for the greens
Salad greens, kale, spinach and chard can be planted now, too. They should be installed this time of year in places that get morning sun, or half a day’s afternoon sun. Many of these greens take only 40 days to harvest if planted from starts, so you will be enjoying the rewards of your planting soon.
Herbs such as thyme, parsley, cilantro, chives, sage and rosemary can also be installed this early. Sugar peas and green beans can be planted now. Install your vegetable starts into rich composted soil and use vegetable fertilizer every month for best results.
More fruit for the taking
Now that our soil is wet, it is a great time to dig some holes for stone fruit trees or table grapes. Peach, nectarine, plum, apple and apricot are successful plantings locally. Cherry and apple installations sometimes need cross-pollinizers for fruit production, so keep that in mind when considering selections. Peaches and nectarines can be prone to leaf blight and may need dormant spray applications. Most stone fruit trees will need three years to settle in before production becomes reliable.
Grape vines take up lots of room, so consider planting to train over an arbor or pergola. The fruit will hang down for easier picking. Fruit trees and grapes need to be regularly fertilized to hold the flowers and grow the fruit.
Go ahead – grow what you like to eat.
Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with questions or comments by email at email@example.com