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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Aug 28


Posted on August 28, 2015 at 9:13 AM by Emma Detwiler

By Charlene Burgi

The date on the calendar brought me to an abrupt halt as I noted we are at the tail end of August. I haven't begun to plant the fall vegetable seeds! It seems as if the garden production is at a peak level of demand right now. Sitting down with a tall glass of ice tea and putting up my feet sounds far more enticing than adding more garden chores to the list.

Alas, the beet, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Swiss chard and spinach seed packets on my desk spurn me on as I push through the desire to kick back. It also doesn't help when Jack inquires if the seedlings are ready to be planted! Jack's mission is to complete the construction of a wire hoop house this week to protect the fall seedlings from prowling night marauders. 

Actually the project has been fun to design and relatively easy to install. The PVC hoops will be covered in one inch wire allowing bees to enter for pollinating the flowers, but keep birds, and other predators from entering. The floor of the hoop house will also be lined with a small-gauge wire mesh to prevent gophers from also gaining entrance. You can find more information on how to build a hoop house at this webpage.

The block U-shaped raised planting beds will be constructed utilizing ICF blocks left over from our home construction. The cells of the ICF blocks will be filled with amended compost material in order to further insulate the root zone of the vegetables, raspberries and blueberries, two dwarf apricot trees and three potted filbert trees. Cold frames will also work into the plan to help "harden off" the young seedlings coming from the protected greenhouse environment.
Hoop House during construction
 Our hoop house during construction.
Now is the time for starting the seeds. At this moment, the moon is in the wrong phase to plant things such as beets and carrots. Root crops produce better when the moon is waning or dark but all most go in now! Our frost dates in Lassen County can begin any time in September! Grow lights, heating pads and seed starting mix are at the ready. This spring I found the coir pots had much better germination rate than other type of seedling starter pots and luckily extra pots were ordered for autumn. 

How are you doing with your fall planting? In Marin, autumn is the very best time to plant.  Winter rains (we can only hope El Niño comes through this winter) can take care of the irrigation for you. It is proven that plants going into the ground in the fall fare much better than springtime planting. While plants are dormant in winter months, their root system keeps growing.  Come spring, the autumn planted vegetation burst into amazing growth, whereas a spring installed plant spends much of its energy establishing its roots in a new environment.
The clock keeps ticking. You still have time to get started before ol' Jack Frost shows up sometime in November, but get ready before you too run out of time!

Have a great weekend.


Barry Lack
August 28, 2015 at 10:24 AM
Charlene, many, many thanks for all your musings on gardening, water conservation, et. al. This week you mentinoed coir pots you ordered and like to use. I found the coir material/seedling pots to attractive to birds. They would come and tear mine apart, pulling what they want for building nests. Instead, I got hooked on these newspaper paper pots that don't cost anything and are so easy to make and then maintain with seeds and seedlings until I plant the whole thing in the ground. You might want to mention this in a future writing. is one of the better youtube techniques. Have a wonderful weekend. Barry, Mill Valley

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