Most people love garlic for its pungent and sometimes spicy flavor, and the fullness it adds to dishes when it is used. Many claims are made as to garlic’s healing properties and immune booster qualities. I am a believer and a big fan of the Alliums in general (plants in the onion family). There are some rogues out there, those odd people who you can’t quite trust who for whatever reason hate garlic.  In my house, those people will be disappointed (though still welcomed), since I add garlic to most dishes at a rate far higher than is generally recommended in recipes!

I am always happy to put my garden to bed for the winter after a long season of planting, tending and harvesting. Planting my garlic each fall is symbolic of that seasonal change…it is essentially the last thing I do before stepping aside for shorter days and colder nights.


Gardening in a Time of Climate Change, Wild Fires, and Smoke: This Season’s Most Common Questions Answered!

Edy Cassell, Community Progarams Manager at Sierra Harvest

How is wildfire smoke affecting the plants in my garden?

This is a valid question and one I hear (and ask) a lot.

Falling ash and particulate matter coating the surface of your plants has the potential to inhibit photosynthesis in plants by clogging the stomata, thus slowing growth and production somewhat. An easy solution is to spray off your plants if you see a dusting of ash. Ash, dust and particulates can also infiltrate your house, so your house plants will appreciate a good dusting as well. Heavy smoke cover may have a similar effect, but a surprising amount of light does get through, so even a day that feels hazy and smoky may not be impacting the plants too badly. Have you ever gotten a sunburn on a foggy day? It’s kinda like that. If the sky is not actually dark it is likely that natural processes of photosynthesis are not being terribly inhibited. It has actually been found that the increased Carbon Monoxide in the atmosphere can be good for plants and encourage growth, as long as there is sufficient light.

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Sheet mulching for the win!

Amanda here reporting from our second glorious rainy day of this fall.  I hope you were able to get a good harvest in before the rains- as I type this my house is filled with the sweet smell of roasting tomatoes which will become a bright sauce for the winter.  (In case you’re wondering, I’m going to freeze it- not can it).

As the seasons turn yet again, I have to say that fall is my favorite.  There’s something about the light changing and the shifting that makes me go into squirrel mode.  I’ve been drying pears, making pickles and harvesting herbs and it’s so satisfying!  And, of course, I’ve been thinking about next season, too.

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After the Fall…..Onions and Potatoes and Garlic Oh My!

Potato paradox - WikipediaOk, so fall is really here, and that means you need to be thinking about the next steps in your garden. Hopefully you all read Amanda’s last blog and have been wrapping your heads around the idea of pulling up your beloved plants!

In the coming weeks I would like to start coming around and getting you started as you plant your cover crop, garlic and onions and potatoes if desired, or else just bringing some straw to mulch over the winter.

Cover crop is not a food crop.

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The Autumn Shift

Amanda here- wishing you a happy fall.

One of the things that feels the most profound to me about gardening is getting synced up with rhythms of the year.  No doubt you’ve noticed it too.  Gone are the days of frenetic plant growth, replaced now by a slower, cooler pace.  Mornings are dewy, darkness is falling earlier each night.  In climates like ours, where summer is so intense, the arrival of autumn is a welcome treat.  A deep exhale after a long, hot season.

Doubtless you’ve noticed some powdery mildew on your plants- to me this always signals the end of summer and the permission to begin the destructive act of putting the garden to bed for the winter.

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Preserving the Harvest

Today, I’m going to share a few quick tricks and other ideas for preserving your bounty.  My personal favorite things to preserve seem to be condiments- hot sauces, salsas, ketchup, krauts…for whatever reason (probably because it’s easy) condiments and teas are what I tend to focus on.  I’m also a big fan of freezing things instead of canning because I don’t have a ton of time but we do have a chest freezer.

When it comes to preserving, think about what it is you like to eat and what you have a bounty of!  Preserved foods also make lovely gifts.

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Fall/Winter Garden Planning

…but it’s only July!!  How could we possibly be thinking about fall and winter gardening when it’s 99 degrees outside?  When the sunflowers are blooming, you know it’s time to plant seeds for your fall garden.

The trick about having food into the cooler months is planning for it.  And unfortunately, that means thinking about it now!  Although on days like this when it’s fever temp outside, dreaming up an autumn feast sounds pretty good to me.  I’m ready for fall stews and kale salads with fresh apples….yum.  Can we skip August?

Luckily for you, Edy will be providing you some starts that will be timed perfectly for fall harvest.  Hooray!

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Plant Spacing and Garden Planning Strategies

It’s finally time!  After a seemingly endless winter, now is the time to get plants in the ground!  Depending on where exactly you live, you may want to wait a few more weeks to put the frost sensitive plants out, but for many people you’re in the clear.  Woohoo!  This point in the season is a time of explosive plant growth- peaking at the summer solstice and then waning through the remainder of the summer into the fall.

Old timers say to look for the blackberry buds- if the blackberries have begun blooming you’re in the clear to plant your frost tender plants. 

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